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Installing MusicBrainz Server

The easiest method of installing a local MusicBrainz Server may be to use the MusicBrainz Docker Compose project, which can be used for a website/web service mirror, testing, or development. In case you only need a replicated database, you should consider using mbdata.

If you want to manually set up MusicBrainz Server from source, read on!


  1. A Unix based operating system

    The MusicBrainz development team uses a variety of Linux distributions, but Mac OS X will work just fine, if you're prepared to potentially jump through some hoops. If you are running Windows we recommend you set up a Ubuntu virtual machine.

    This document will assume you are using Ubuntu (at least 14.04) for its instructions.

  2. Perl (at least version 5.30)

    Perl comes bundled with most Linux operating systems, you can check your installed version of Perl with:

    perl -v
  3. PostgreSQL (at least version 12)

    PostgreSQL version 12 or higher is required, along with its development libraries. To install using packages, run the following:

    sudo apt-get install \
        postgresql-${POSTGRES_VERSION} \
        postgresql-contrib-${POSTGRES_VERSION} \

    If needed, packages of all supported PostgreSQL versions for various Ubuntu releases are available from the PostgreSQL apt repository.

    Alternatively, you may compile PostgreSQL from source, but then make sure to also compile the cube and earthdistance extensions found in the contrib directory. The database import script will take care of installing those extensions into the database when it creates the database for you.

  4. Git

    The MusicBrainz development team uses Git for their DVCS. To install Git, run the following:

    sudo apt-get install git
  5. Redis

    Sessions and cached entities are stored in Redis, so a running Redis server is required. Redis can be installed with the following command and will not need any further configuration:

    sudo apt-get install redis-server

    The databases and key prefix used by musicbrainz can be configured in lib/ The defaults should be fine if you don't use your redis install for anything else.

  6. Node.js (at least version 16) and Yarn

    Node.js is required to build (and optionally minify) our JavaScript and CSS. If you plan on accessing musicbrainz-server inside a web browser, you should install Node and the package manager Yarn. Do this by running:

    sudo apt-get install nodejs

    Depending on your Ubuntu version, another package might be required, too:

    sudo apt-get install nodejs-legacy

    This is only needed where it exists, so a warning about the package not being found is not a problem.

    Next you need Yarn to install the JS dependencies. There are a variety of installation methods described on their website, located here:

  7. Standard Development Tools

    In order to install some of the required Perl and Postgresql modules, you'll need a C compiler and make. You can install a basic set of development tools with the command:

    sudo apt-get install build-essential

Server configuration

  1. Download the source code.

    git clone --recursive git://
    cd musicbrainz-server
  2. Modify the server configuration file.

    cp lib/ lib/

    Fill in the appropriate value (according to comments) for WEB_SERVER. If you are using a reverse proxy, you should set the environment variable MUSICBRAINZ_USE_PROXY=1 when starting the server. This makes the server aware of it when checking for the canonical uri.

    Determine what type of server this will be and set REPLICATION_TYPE accordingly:

    1. RT_SLAVE (mirror server)

      A mirror server will always be in sync with the master database at by way of an hourly replication packet. Mirror servers do not allow any local editing. After the initial data import, the only changes allowed will be to load the next replication packet in turn.

      Mirror servers will have their WikiDocs automatically kept up to date.

      If you are not setting up a mirror server for development purposes, make sure to set DB_STAGING_SERVER to 0.

      If you're setting up a slave server, make sure you have something set up for the READONLY database setting in lib/; it can just be a copy of what's in READWRITE if you don't need anything fancy.

    2. RT_STANDALONE (for development)

      A stand alone server is recommended if you are setting up a server for development purposes. They do not accept the replication packets and will require manually importing a new database dump in order to bring it up to date with the master database. Local editing is available, but keep in mind that none of your changes will be pushed up to

    3. RT_MASTER

      Almost certainly not what you want, this is what the main site runs on. It's different from standalone in that it's able to produce replication packets to be applied on slaves. For more details, see

    The server type cannot easily be changed after data import.

Installing Perl dependencies

The fundamental thing that needs to happen here is all the dependency Perl modules get installed, somewhere where your server can find them. There are many ways to make this happen, and the best choice will be very site-dependent. MusicBrainz recommends the use of local::lib, which will install Perl libraries into your home directory, and does not require root permissions and avoids modifying the rest of your system.

Below outlines how to setup MusicBrainz server with local::lib.

  1. Prerequisites

    Before you get started you will actually need to have local::lib installed. There are also a few development headers that will be needed when installing dependencies. Run the following steps as a normal user on your system.

    sudo apt-get install \
        libdb-dev \
        libexpat1-dev \
        libicu-dev \
        liblocal-lib-perl \
        libpq-dev \
        libxml2 \
        libxml2-dev \
        cpanminus \
  2. Enable local::lib

    local::lib requires a few environment variables are set. The easiest way to do this is via .bashrc, assuming you use bash as your shell. Simply run the following to append local::lib configuration to your bash configuration:

    echo 'eval $( perl -Mlocal::lib )' >> ~/.bashrc

    Next, to reload your configuration, either close and open your shell again, or run:

    source ~/.bashrc
  3. Install dependencies

    To install the dependencies for MusicBrainz Server, make sure you are in the MusicBrainz source code directory and run the following:

    cpanm --installdeps --notest .

    (Do not overlook the dot at the end of that command.)

Building static web resources

To build everything necessary to access the server in a web browser (CSS, JavaScript), run the following command:


This command takes care of installing Node.js dependencies for you, including development dependencies. If you're just setting up a mirror and don't plan to hack on any code, you can save a bit of time and space by excluding the devDependencies (listed in package.json):

NODE_ENV=production ./script/

Creating the database

  1. Setup PostgreSQL authentication

    For normal operation, the server only needs to connect from one or two OS users (whoever your web server/crontabs run as), to one database (the MusicBrainz Database), as one PostgreSQL user. The PostgreSQL database name and user name are given in (look for the READWRITE key). For example, if you run your web server and crontabs as "www-user", and you have kept the default PostgreSQL user name ("musicbrainz"), the following configuration recipe may prove useful:

    # in pg_hba.conf (Note: The order of lines is important!):
    local    musicbrainz_db    musicbrainz    ident    map=mb_map
    # in pg_ident.conf:
    mb_map    www-user    musicbrainz

    Alternatively, if you are running a server for development purposes and don't require any special access permissions, the following configuration in pg_hba.conf will suffice (make sure to insert this line before any other permissions):

    local   all    all    trust

    Note that a running PostgreSQL will pick up changes to configuration files only when being told so via a HUP signal (or by using pg_ctlcluster, specifying reload as action).

    You do not need to create the PostgreSQL user ("musicbrainz", or whatever name you configured in yourself; the next step will do so (using the password from if it does not exist yet.

  2. Create the database

    You have three options when it comes to the database. You can opt for a clean database with just the schema, a sample of database content (useful for developers with limited disk space), or you can import a full database dump.

    1. Use a clean database

      To use a clean database, all you need to do is run:

      ./admin/ --createdb --clean
    2. Import a database dump

      Our database dumps are provided twice a week and can be downloaded from from a variety of locations. That page also describes the contents of the various dump files.

      To get going, you need at least the mbdump.tar.bz2, mbdump-editor.tar.bz2 and mbdump-derived.tar.bz2 archives, but you can grab whichever dumps suit your needs.

      Assuming the dumps have been downloaded to /tmp/dumps/ you can verify that the data is correct by running:

      pushd /tmp/dumps/ && md5sum -c MD5SUMS && popd

      You can also verify that the data dumps were indeed created by MusicBrainz verifying them against our GPG signing key:

      gpg --recv-keys C777580F
      gpg --verify-files /tmp/dumps/*.asc

      Before you can actually import the dumps, make sure that bzip2 is installed:

      apt-get install bzip2

      If the GPG signing key is OK and you wish to continue, you can import them with:

      ./admin/ --createdb --import /tmp/dumps/mbdump*.tar.bz2 --echo

      --echo just gives us a bit more feedback in case this goes wrong, you may leave it off. Remember to change the paths to your mbdump*.tar.bz2 files, if they are not in /tmp/dumps/.

      By default, the archives will be extracted into the /tmp directory as an intermediate step. You may specify a different location with the --tmp-dir option.

    3. Import a database sample

      If a full dump is too large for your purposes, but you would like to have some real data to test with for development, you can download our database sample, published once a month. This can be found at the same places the full dump is found (see above), but using sample instead of fullexport in the URL. For example:

      You can import this sample dump in the same way as the full dump above.

    4. Build materialized tables (optional but recommended)

      MusicBrainz Server makes use of materialized (or denormalized) tables in production to improve the performance of certain pages and features. These tables duplicate primary table data and can take up several additional gigabytes of space, so they're optional but recommended. If you don't populate these tables, we'll generally fall back to slower queries in their place.

      In order to build them initially, run the following script:

      ./admin/BuildMaterializedTables --database=MAINTENANCE all

      Once this is done, the tables will be kept up-to-date automatically via triggers. (This is true even on replicated slaves. Generally, triggers are not created on slaves, but since these materialized tables aren't replicated, we install a set of slave-only triggers to manage them.)

    If this process gets interrupted or fails, you will need to manually drop the musicbrainz_db database in order to be able to run ./admin/ --createdb again.

    MusicBrainz Server doesn't enforce any statement timeouts on any SQL it runs. If this is an issue in your setup, you may want to set a timeout at the database level:

    ALTER DATABASE musicbrainz_db SET statement_timeout TO 60000;

Starting the server

You should now have everything ready to run the development server!

The development server is a lightweight HTTP server that gives good debug output and is much more convenient than having to set up a standalone server. Just run:

plackup -Ilib -r

Visiting http://your.machines.ip.address:5000/ should now present you with your own running instance of the MusicBrainz Server.

If you'd like a more permanent setup, the plackup documentation may prove useful in setting up a server such as nginx, using FastCGI.

Rate limiting

The server by itself doesn't rate limit any request it handles. If you're receiving 503s, then you're likely performing search queries without having set up a local instance of the search server along with the search index rebuilder. By default, search queries are sent to and are rate limited.

Once you set up your own instance, change SEARCH_SERVER in lib/ to point to it.


If you intend to run a server with translations, there are a few steps to follow:

  1. Prerequisites

    Make sure gettext is installed (you need msgmerge and msgfmt, at least):

    sudo apt-get install gettext

    This will enable you to compile and install the translations that are in the source repository.

    If you want to get the latest translation files or partial work-in-progress translations, or wish to work on translations yourself, you will need to create a Transifex account and install its client software (tx):

    sudo apt-get install transifex-client

    More information (and alternative ways to install the client) can be found here.

    Next, create an API token and use it to configure your credentials in ~/.transifexrc.

    Finally, you will need to join the MetaBrainz Foundation organization on Transifex to get access to the translations. If you wish to work on translations, you will also need to join a language team. More information on how to get started can be found on the MusicBrainz site.

  2. Change to the po directory

    cd po/
  3. Get translations

    tx pull -l {a list of languages you want to pull}

    This will download the .po files for your language(s) of choice to the po/ folder with the correct filenames. Languages are written as an ISO language code, optionally followed by an underscore and an ISO country code (e.g. fr for French, fr_CA for Canadian French).

    Or, if you want to get all translations instead:

    tx pull -a

    If you get Forbidden errors from tx pull, you will need to make sure you have joined the MusicBrainz organization and/or project (see point 1).

  4. Install translations

    make install

    This will compile and install the files to lib/LocaleData/{language}/LC_MESSAGES/{domain}.mo.

  5. Add the languages to MB_LANGUAGES in These should be formatted {lang}-{country}, e.g. 'es', or 'fr-ca', in a space-separated list.

  6. Ensure you have a system locale for any languages you want to use. For many languages, this will suffice:

    sudo apt-get install language-pack-{language code}


If you have any difficulties, feel free to ask in #metabrainz on, or ask on our forums.

Please report any issues on our bug tracker.

Good luck, and happy hacking!