2.1. Installation on Unix-like systems

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

This document is the canonical source 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. If you’re running into trouble, be sure to check out the wiki. If you have any tips to share, please also update the wiki so that others can benefit from your experience.

2.1.1. Troubleshooting

Please work through these in order if you experience any problems.

2.1.2. Dependencies

You should have the following installed:

It is recommended that you install Erlang OTP R13B-4 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.

Debian-based Systems

You can install the dependencies by running:

sudo apt-get install build-essential
sudo apt-get install erlang-base-hipe
sudo apt-get install erlang-dev
sudo apt-get install erlang-manpages
sudo apt-get install erlang-eunit
sudo apt-get install erlang-nox
sudo apt-get install libicu-dev
sudo apt-get install libmozjs-dev
sudo apt-get install libcurl4-openssl-dev

There are lots of Erlang packages. If there is a problem with your install, try a different mix. There is more information on the wiki. Additionally, you might want to install some of the optional Erlang tools which may also be useful.

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

Unfortunately, it seems that installing dependencies on Ubuntu is troublesome.

RedHat-based (Fedora, Centos, RHEL) Systems

You can install the dependencies by running:

sudo yum install autoconf
sudo yum install autoconf-archive
sudo yum install automake
sudo yum install curl-devel
sudo yum install erlang-asn1
sudo yum install erlang-erts
sudo yum install erlang-eunit
sudo yum install erlang-os_mon
sudo yum install erlang-xmerl
sudo yum install help2man
sudo yum install js-devel
sudo yum install libicu-devel
sudo yum install libtool
sudo yum install 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 till brew install couchdb step.

2.1.3. Installing

Once you have satisfied the dependencies you should run:


This script will configure CouchDB to be installed into /usr/local by default.

If you wish to customise 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 install CouchDB you should run:

make && sudo make install

You only need to use sudo if you’re installing into a system directory.

Try gmake if make is giving you any problems.

If everything was successful you should see the following message:

You have installed Apache CouchDB, time to relax.


2.1.4. First Run

You can start the CouchDB server by running:

sudo -i -u couchdb couchdb

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

When CouchDB starts it should eventually display the following message:

Apache CouchDB has started, time to relax.


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

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


2.1.5. Security Considerations

You should create a special couchdb user for CouchDB.

On many Unix-like systems you can run:

adduser --system \
        --home /usr/local/var/lib/couchdb \
        --no-create-home \
        --shell /bin/bash \
        --group --gecos \
        "CouchDB Administrator" couchdb

On Mac OS X you can use the Workgroup Manager to create users.

You must make sure that:

  • The user has a working POSIX shell
  • The user’s home directory is /usr/local/var/lib/couchdb

You can test this by:

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

Change the ownership of the CouchDB directories by running:

chown -R couchdb:couchdb /usr/local/etc/couchdb
chown -R couchdb:couchdb /usr/local/var/lib/couchdb
chown -R couchdb:couchdb /usr/local/var/log/couchdb
chown -R couchdb:couchdb /usr/local/var/run/couchdb

Change the permission of the CouchDB directories by running:

chmod 0770 /usr/local/etc/couchdb
chmod 0770 /usr/local/var/lib/couchdb
chmod 0770 /usr/local/var/log/couchdb
chmod 0770 /usr/local/var/run/couchdb

2.1.6. Running as a Daemon

SysV/BSD-style Systems

You can use the couchdb init script to control the CouchDB daemon.

On SysV-style systems, the init script will be installed into:


On BSD-style systems, the init script will be installed into:


We use the [init.d|rc.d] notation to refer to both of these directories.

You can control the CouchDB daemon by running:

/usr/local/etc/[init.d|rc.d]/couchdb [start|stop|restart|status]

If you wish to configure how the init script works, you can edit:


Comment out the COUCHDB_USER setting if you’re running as a non-superuser.

To start the daemon on boot, copy the init script to:


You should then configure your system to run the init script automatically.

You may be able to run:

sudo update-rc.d couchdb defaults

If this fails, consult your system documentation for more information.

A logrotate configuration is installed into:


Consult your logrotate documentation for more information.

It is critical that the CouchDB logs are rotated so as not to fill your disk.