2.1. Installation on Unix-like systems

A high-level guide to Unix-like systems, including Mac OS X and Ubuntu.

This document as well as the INSTALL.Unix document in the official release are the canonical sources of installation information. However, many systems have gotchas that you need to be aware of. In addition, dependencies frequently change as distributions update their archives.

2.1.1. Dependencies

You should have the following installed:

It is recommended that you install Erlang OTP R16B03-1 or above where possible. You will only need libcurl if you plan to run the JavaScript test suite. And help2man is only need if you plan on installing the CouchDB man pages. Python and Sphinx are only required for building the online documentation. Documentation build can be disabled by adding the --disable-docs flag to the configure script.

Debian-based Systems

You can install the dependencies by running:

sudo apt-get --no-install-recommends -y install \
    build-essential pkg-config erlang \
    libicu-dev libmozjs185-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev

Be sure to update the version numbers to match your system’s available packages.

RedHat-based (Fedora, Centos, RHEL) Systems

You can install the dependencies by running:

sudo yum install autoconf autoconf-archive automake \
    curl-devel erlang-asn1 erlang-erts erlang-eunit \
    erlang-os_mon erlang-xmerl help2man \
    js-devel-1.8.5 libicu-devel libtool perl-Test-Harness

While CouchDB builds against the default js-devel-1.7.0 included in some distributions, it’s recommended to use a more recent js-devel-1.8.5.

Mac OS X

Follow Installation with Homebrew reference for Mac App installation.

If you are installing from source, you will need to install the Command Line Tools:

xcode-select --install

You can then install the other dependencies by running:

brew install autoconf autoconf-archive automake libtool \
    erlang icu4c spidermonkey curl pkg-config

You will need Homebrew installed to use the brew command.

Some versions of Mac OS X ship a problematic OpenSSL library. If you’re experiencing troubles with CouchDB crashing intermittently with a segmentation fault or a bus error, you will need to install your own version of OpenSSL. See the wiki, mentioned above, for more information.

See also


FreeBSD requires the use of GNU Make. Where make is specified in this documentation, substitute gmake.

You can install this by running:

pkg install gmake

2.1.2. Installing

Once you have satisfied the dependencies you should run:


If you wish to customize the installation, pass --help to this script.

If everything was successful you should see the following message:

You have configured Apache CouchDB, time to relax.


To build CouchDB you should run:

make release

Try gmake if make is giving you any problems.

If include paths or other compiler options must be specified, they can be passed to rebar, which compiles CouchDB, with the ERL_CFLAGS environment variable. Likewise, options may be passed to the linker with the ERL_LDFLAGS environment variable:

make release ERL_CFLAGS="-I/usr/local/include/js -I/usr/local/lib/erlang/usr/include"

If everything was successful you should see the following message:

... done
You can now copy the rel/couchdb directory anywhere on your system.
Start CouchDB with ./bin/couchdb from within that directory.


Note: a fully-fledged ./configure with the usual GNU Autotools options for package managers and a corresponding make install are in development, but not part of the 2.0.0 release.

2.1.3. User Registration and Security

For OS X, in the steps below, substitute /Users/couchdb for /home/couchdb.

You should create a special couchdb user for CouchDB.

On many Unix-like systems you can run:

adduser --system \
        --shell /bin/bash \
        --group --gecos \
        "CouchDB Administrator" couchdb

On Mac OS X you can use the Workgroup Manager to create users up to version 10.9, and dscl or sysadminctl after version 10.9. Search Apple’s support site to find the documentation appropriate for your system. As of recent versions of OS X, this functionality is also included in Server.app, available through the App Store only as part of OS X Server.

You must make sure that the user has a working POSIX shell and a writable home directory.

You can test this by:

  • Trying to log in as the couchdb user
  • Running pwd and checking the present working directory

As a recommendation, copy the rel/couchdb directory into /home/couchdb or /Users/couchdb.

Ex: copy the built couchdb release to the new user’s home directory:

cp -R /path/to/couchdb/rel/couchdb /home/couchdb

Change the ownership of the CouchDB directories by running:

chown -R couchdb:couchdb /home/couchdb

Change the permission of the CouchDB directories by running:

find /home/couchdb -type d -exec chmod 0770 {} \;

Update the permissions for your ini files:

chmod 0644 /home/couchdb/etc/*

2.1.4. First Run

You can start the CouchDB server by running:

sudo -i -u couchdb /home/couchdb/bin/couchdb

This uses the sudo command to run the couchdb command as the couchdb user.

When CouchDB starts it should eventually display following messages:

{database_does_not_exist,[{mem3_shards,load_shards_from_db,"_users" ...

Don’t be afraid, we will fix this in a moment.

To check that everything has worked, point your web browser to:

From here you should verify your installation by pointing your web browser to:


Finally, to configure your cluster see The Cluster Setup Wizard.

2.1.5. Running as a Daemon

CouchDB no longer ships with any daemonization scripts.

The CouchDB team recommends runit to run CouchDB persistently and reliably. According to official site:

runit is a cross-platform Unix init scheme with service supervision, a replacement for sysvinit, and other init schemes. It runs on GNU/Linux, *BSD, MacOSX, Solaris, and can easily be adapted to other Unix operating systems.

Configuration of runit is straightforward; if you have questions, contact the CouchDB user mailing list or IRC-channel #couchdb in FreeNode network.

Let’s consider configuring runit on Ubuntu 16.04. The following steps should be considered only as an example. Details will vary by operating system and distribution. Check your system’s package management tools for specifics.

Install runit:

sudo apt-get install runit

Create a directory where logs will be written:

sudo mkdir /var/log/couchdb
sudo chown couchdb:couchdb /var/log/couchdb

Create directories that will contain runit configuration for CouchDB:

sudo mkdir /etc/sv/couchdb
sudo mkdir /etc/sv/couchdb/log

Create /etc/sv/couchdb/log/run script:

exec svlogd -tt /var/log/couchdb

Basically it determines where and how exactly logs will be written. See man svlogd for more details.

Create /etc/sv/couchdb/run:

export HOME=/home/couchdb
exec 2>&1
exec chpst -u couchdb /home/couchdb/bin/couchdb

This script determines how exactly CouchDB will be launched. Feel free to add any additional arguments and environment variables here if necessary.

Make scripts executable:

sudo chmod u+x /etc/sv/couchdb/log/run
sudo chmod u+x /etc/sv/couchdb/run

Then run:

sudo ln -s /etc/sv/couchdb/ /etc/service/couchdb

In a few seconds runit will discover a new symlink and start CouchDB. You can control CouchDB service like this:

sudo sv status couchdb
sudo sv stop couchdb
sudo sv start couchdb

Naturally now CouchDB will start automatically shortly after system starts.

You can also configure systemd, launchd or SysV-init daemons to launch CouchDB and keep it running using standard configuration files. Consult your system documentation for more information.

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