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To use ckanbuild you must first install the following dependencies:

For example, to install these dependencies on Ubuntu 12.04:

sudo apt-get install python git python-virtualenv rubygems
sudo gem install fpm

There are further dependencies that need to be satisifed in order to build the packages required by ckan:

sudo apt-get install python-dev libpq-dev

Then to get ckanbuild itself simply clone the ckanbuild git repo:

git clone


The idea behind ckanbuild is to incrementally build your python virtualenv, starting with the simplest base case of ckan and its dependencies. The tools with which to do this are a bit immature and fragmented at the moment, so it's still quite manual.

I've been using the following workflow and conventions:

Directory Layout on the build server

ckanbuild has been extracted to /home/okfn/build/ckanbuild on s084. From now on, I'll refer to directories relative to this one. I've been using the following convention for organising the different builds:

|--- 1.3.3-s075
|--- 1.5.1c-fixes-iati
|--- 1.7.1

This shows 3 separate build projects. The name of the project determines the name of the resulting package, so 1.3.3-s075 produces packages named like ckan_1.3.3-s075-20120807131804_amd64.deb.

Each project acts as a kind of workspace to build up what you want packaged. The packaging script currently only packages the two sub-directories etc and usr. This means anything outside these two directories will not end up in the debian package.

Each project has a README file with notes on how the pyenv was created, any problems encountered, and how they were resolved. It also shows the extensions that are installed. Although that's not really necessary as a pip freeze output is built and distributed with each built package, its useful to see at a glance what extensions are availble.

Creating a new project

To create a new project:

# This will generate a bootstrap file.

# This will create a new virtualenv in ./builds/<project-name>/usr/lib/ckan
# The /usr/lib/ckan is very important, and should not be changed.
python ./builds/<project-name>/usr/lib/ckan

# Alternatively, to specify a particular ckan version:
python --ckan-location=git+ \

# Also, a flag can be set to **not** automatically install CKAN's dependencies.
# This is useful if trying to build an old version of CKAN.
python --ignore-ckan-dependencies \
                         --ckan-location=git+ \

Installing further dependencies

You can now add further dependencies to your pyenv (this is still very manual):

# Activate the virtualenv
source ./builds/<project-name>/usr/lib/ckan/bin/activate

# Install something useful
# And don't forget to install any of its dependencies too...
pip install -e git+

# Once your done you can deactivate the virtualenv

Note: this can be run even after creating a package, to create a more up to date package.

Further configuration

As part of the packaging, any files in ./etc and ./usr (relative to the ckanbuild directory, not the project directory) are copied into the project directory if they are more up-to-date than the files already in the project directory. This means you can selectively edit config files to be packaged, or add additional files to be packaged.

Note: this isn't perfect. If for example you merge some upstream changes in the ckanbuild repo that update files in ./etc, then they'll be more up-to-date that the ones you may have edited in your project directory. So please be careful, until this issue is sorted out!


When you're happy with your virtualenv and config files, it's time to package it up:

./ ./builds/<project-name>

All going well, you should end up with a new debian file in ./packages/<project-name>, and a pip-freeze file to match.

On s084, this ./packages directory is being served. It's just a bog-standard listing, ie - it's not a repository. Rather, it's just an easy way of downloading the package to the target machine.

Installing the package

Finally, to install the packge on the target machine:

# After downloading it
sudo dpkg -i <debian-package-location>

Preparing the target machine

The target machine is the machine that will host the deployment.

Different types/classes/profiles of servers have different scripts which can be run on them. To configure a webserver, and assuming the ckanbuild has been installed you should run:


To install the database machine:


Otherwise assuming it's a fresh installation of Ubuntu 12.04 Server Edition (64 bit):

# Install dependencies
sudo apt-get install postgresql-9.1 postgresql-9.1-postgis solr-jetty openjdk-6-jdk apache2 libapache2-mod-wsgi nginx

# Configure jetty
sudo sed -e 's/#JAVA_HOME=/JAVA_HOME=\/usr\/lib\/jvm\/java-1.6.0-openjdk-amd64\//g' \
         -e 's/#JETTY_PORT=8080/JETTY_PORT=8983/g' \
         -e 's/#JETTY_HOST.*/JETTY_HOST=' \
         -e 's/NO_START=1/NO_START=0/g' \
         -i /etc/default/jetty
sudo service jetty restart

# TODO: install and configure elastic search

# Check services are running:
/etc/init.d/postgresql status


If you get errors from fpm like one of these:

`utime': No such file or directory - /tmp/package-dir-staging20120703-30729-jkji81/usr/lib/ckan/src/ckan/who.ini

`utime': Operation not permitted - /tmp/package-dir-staging20120703-28058-164vj7h/usr/lib/ckan/lib/python2.7/ (Errno::EPERM)

try downgrading to fpm 0.4.9: gem install fpm -v 0.4.9

How it Works

ckanbuild is a script for deploying and managing single or multiple CKAN websites. is a virtualenv bootstrap script (see Creating Your Own Bootstrap Scripts in the virtualenv documentation) that creates a new Python virtual environment, installs CKAN and its dependencies into it, creates a CKAN config file, etc. Note that is a generated file, you shouldn't edit it manually. is the script that creates, it contains the code that specifies how should install CKAN and its dependencies into the virtualenv, create the CKAN config file, etc. To update you would edit then run it to generate the new is a shell script that packages a virtualenv using fpm.

In ./etc/apache2/sites-available/ckan there should be one Apache config file for each CKAN website on the server (todo).

In ./etc/ckan/ there should be a subdir for each CKAN site containing apache.wsgi, ckan.ini and who.ini config files (todo).

./usr/bin/ckan is a script for running paster commands on CKAN instances.

./activate is a script for activating the CKAN virtual environment after it has been installed via the .deb package to /usr/lib/ckan. After creating the virtualenv, copies thie activate script over the virtualenv's default activate script.

(The directories follow the Debian directory structure for packaging.)


build script for setting up ckan






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