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weave-minimal: a Firefox Sync Server that just works™


This is a lightweight implementation of Mozillas' User API v1.0 and Storage API v1.1 without LDAP, MySQL, Redis etc. overhead. It is multi users capable and depends only on werkzeug.

I mean, really lightweight and really simple to install. No hg-attack clone fetch fail apt-get install. It just works.

Note, that the name originates from the deprecated Weave Minimal Server, but shares nothing beside the name; see FSyncMS for a still working, PHP based sync server.

Setup and Configuration

You need Python 2.6, 2.7 or 3.3. See weave-minimal --help for a list of parameters and a short description.

$ pip install weave-minimal
$ weave-minimal --enable-registration
 * Running on

To run weave-minimal as a daemon, consider this SysVinit script:

$ cat /etc/init.d/weave-minimal



if [ ! -d $DBPATH ]; then
  mkdir /var/lib/weave-minimal
  chown $USER /var/lib/weave-minimal

case $1 in
        echo -n "Starting $NAME."
        start-stop-daemon --start --background --pidfile /var/run/$ \
        --chuid $USER --make-pidfile --exec $CMD -- --data-dir=$DBPATH \
        --port=$PORT --enable-registration
    stop)  start-stop-daemon --stop --pidfile /var/run/$
$ chmod +x /etc/init.d/weave-minimal
$ sudo update-rc.d weave-minimal defaults 99
$ sudo invoke-rc.d weave-minimal start

See also

Setting up Firefox

  1. Migrate from the official servers: write down your email address and sync key (you can reset your password anyway) and unlink your client. If you want to keep your previous sync key, enter the key in the advanced settings.

  2. Create a new account in the sync preferences. Choose a valid email address and password and enter the custom url into the server location (leave the trailing slash!). If you get an error, check the SSL certificate first.

  3. If no errors come up, click continue and wait a minute. If you sync tabs, quit, re-open and manually sync otherwise you'll get an empty tab list.

  4. Connect other clients is as easy as with the mozilla servers (the client actually uses mozilla's servers for this): click I already have an account and write the three codes into an already linked browser using Pair Device. Optionally you can use the manual prodecure but the you have to enter your sync key by hand.

  5. If you have connected your clients, you can close the registration by running weave-minimal without the --enable-registration flag.

Q: Is this implementation standard compliant?
A: Yes, it passes the official functional test suite (with minor modifications).

Q: Is it compatible with the latest version of Firefox?
A: Not guaranteed. There is a new API draft, but not used in Firefox/Firefox ESR before 2014.

Q: Can I use a custom certificate for HTTPS?
A: Yes, but import the CA or visit the url before you enable syncing. Firefox will show you a misleading error "invalid url" if you did not accept this cert before! If you are using Firefox on Android, you have to accept the certificate with the default Android Browser (called "Browser"). Also see here for information on a bug in Firefox for Android that might cause you troubles.

Q: It does not sync!
A: Make sure, that $ curl http://example.tld/prefix/user/1.0/example/node/weave returns the correct sync url. Next, try to restart your browser. If that doesn't help, please file a bug report.

Using a Custom Username

Mozilla assumes, you're using their services, therefore you can not enter a non-valid email-address and Firefox will prevent you from doing this. But there's an alternate way:

Instead of entering all your details into the first screen of "Firefox Sync Setup" you click on "I already have a Firefox Sync Account". Before you can go to the next step, you have to set up a user account in weave.

$ weave-minimal --register bob:secret123
[info] database for `bob` created at `.data/bob.c203011d1453ba7c`

Now you can continue your Firefox Sync Setup and click "I don't have the device with me" and enter your username, password, "use custom server" -> url and secret passphrase. That's all.

Webserver Configuration

using lighttpd and mod_proxy

To run weave-minimal using lighttpd and mod_proxy you need to pass the public url, e.g. weave-minimal --base-url= ...

$HTTP["url"] =~ "^/weave/" {
    proxy.server = ("" =>
       (("host" => "", "port" => 8080)))
    setenv.add-request-header  = ("X-Forwarded-Proto" => "https") # optionally for HTTPS


location ^~ /weave/ {
    proxy_set_header        Host $host;
    proxy_set_header        X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
    proxy_set_header        X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
    proxy_set_header        X-Script-Name /weave;
    proxy_pass    ;

using apache and mod_proxy, with SSL

<Location /sync>
    RequestHeader set X-Forwarded-Proto "https"

You can skip RequestHeader, if apache proxies the service on regular http.

SSL and Firefox for Android

If Firefox for Android fails to sync properly, yet doesn't give any error messages either, check out adb logcat. You might get an error similar to this: No peer certificate

That's because Firefox for Android has a nasty bug that doesn't allow you to use self-signed certificates or certain ciphers.

For some reason, this error occurs not because your certificate is untrusted, but because of ciphers. Adding RC4+RSA to the server's cipher list "fixes" that issue.

For nginx the code to add would be:

server {
    # ...
    # this makes ssl connections less secure!
    ssl_ciphers HIGH:!aNULL:!MD5:RC4+RSA;
    # ...


For higher concurrency (if possible at all with SQLite), gevent will be used if installed (pip install gevent). Furthermore, weave-minimal exports an application object for uWSGI and Gunicorn, e.g.:

$ env ENABLE_REGISTRATION=1 DATA_DIR=/var/lib/... gunicorn weave -b localhost:1234

Do not use multiple processes to run weave-minimal. The code does not acquire inter-process locks on the database and I have no plans to add an IPC concurrency pattern to the rather simple code base (programmer's lame excuse, I know).


lightweight firefox weave/sync server







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