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Setting things up

Before proceeding to install PYBOSSA, you will need to configure some other applications and libraries in your system. In this page, you will get a step by step guide on how to install all the required packages and libraries for PYBOSSA using the latest Ubuntu Server Long Term Support version available at the moment:

PYBOSSA hosted servers

Checkout Scifabric’s hosted PYBOSSA servers.

Installing git - a distributed version control system

PYBOSSA uses the git distributed version control system for handling the PYBOSSA server source code as well as the template projects.

Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to extensive projects with speed and efficiency.

To install the software, all you have to do is:

sudo apt-get install git

Installing the PostgreSQL database

PostgreSQL is a powerful, open source object-relational database system. It has more than 15 years of active development and a proven architecture that has earned it a strong reputation for reliability, data integrity, and correctness.

PYBOSSA uses PostgreSQL as the main database for storing all the data. To install it follow the next steps:

sudo apt-get install postgresql postgresql-server-dev-all libpq-dev python3-psycopg2 libsasl2-dev libldap2-dev libssl-dev python3-dev

We recommend installing PYBOSSA using a virtualenv as it will create a an isolated Python environment, helping you to manage different dependencies and versions without having to deal with root permissions in your server machine.

virtualenv creates an environment that has its installation directories that doesn’t share libraries with other virtualenv environments (and optionally doesn’t access the globally installed libraries either).

You can install the software if you want at the system level if you have root privileges; however, this may lead to broken dependencies in the OS for all your Python packages, so if possible, avoid this solution and use the [virtualenv] solution.

Installing virtualenv in the Ubuntu server:

sudo apt-get install python3-venv

After installing the software you will be able to create independent virtual environments for the PYBOSSA installation as well as for the template projects.

Installing the PYBOSSA Python requirements

Installing the required libraries for PYBOSSA is a step that will need to use some compilers and dev libraries to work. Thus, you will need to install the following packages:

sudo apt-get install python-dev build-essential libjpeg-dev libssl-dev libffi-dev
sudo apt-get install dbus libdbus-1-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev libldap2-dev libsasl2-dev

Then, you are ready to download the code and install the required libraries for running PYBOSSA.


We recommend you to install the required libraries using a virtual environment with the command virtualenv (you can install the package python-virtualenv). This will allow having all the libraries for PYBOSSA in one folder of your choice, so cleaning the installation would be as simple as deleting that folder without affecting your system.


You might need to use pyenv to install a python 3.6 version in order to run the right version. Please check the official documentation of pyenv.

If you decide to use a virtualenv then, follow these steps (lines starting with # are comments):

# get the source code
git clone --recursive
# Access the source code folder
cd pybossa
python3 -mvenv env
# Activate the virtual environment
source env/bin/activate
# Upgrade pip to latest version
pip install -U pip
# Install the required libraries
pip install -r requirements.txt

Otherwise, you should be able to install the libraries in your system like this:

# get the source
git clone --recursive
# Access the source code folder
cd pybossa
# Upgrade pip to latest version
pip install -U pip
# Install the required libraries
pip install -r requirements.txt


Vim editor is a very popular text editor for GNU/Linux systems, however, it may be difficult for some people if you have never used it before. Thus, if you want to try another and much simpler editor for editing the configuration files you can use the GNU Nano editor.

Create a settings file and enter your SQLAlchemy DB URI (you can also override default settings as needed):

# now edit ...


Alternatively, if you want your config elsewhere or with different name: cp /my/config/file/somewhere export PYBOSSA_SETTINGS=/my/config/file/somewhere.

Create the alembic config file and set the sqlalchemy url to point to your database:

    cp alembic.ini.template alembic.ini
    # now set the sqlalchemy.url ...

Installing Redis

PYBOSSA uses Redis not only for caching objects and speed up the site, but also for limiting the usage of the API requests.

You can install the latest Redis version downloading the package directly from its official site site. Since Ubuntu 14.04 you can also, use the internal package:

sudo apt-get install redis-server

Once you have downloaded it and installed it, you will need to run two instances:

  • Redis-server: as a master node, accepting read and write operations.
  • Redis-sentinel: as a sentinel node, to configure the master and slave Redis nodes.


If you have installed the server via your distribution package system, then, the server will be running already. If this is not the case, check the official documentation of Redis to configure it and run it. The default values should be OK.


Please, make sure that you are running version >= 2.6


If you have installed the software using the source code, then, check the contrib folder, as there is a specific folder for Redis with init.d start scripts. You only have to copy that file to /etc/init.d/ and adapt it to your needs.


You can run Redis in sentinel mode with the –sentinel arg, or by its command named: redis-sentinel. This will vary from your distribution and version of Redis, so check its help page to know how you can run it.

In any case, you will need to run a sentinel node, as PYBOSSA uses it to load-balance the queries, and also to autoconfigure the master and slaves automagically.

To run PYBOSSA, you will need first to configure a Sentinel node. Create a config file named sentinel.conf with something like this:

sentinel monitor mymaster 6379 2
sentinel down-after-milliseconds mymaster 60000
sentinel failover-timeout mymaster 180000
sentinel parallel-syncs mymaster 1

In the contrib folder, you will find a file named sentinel.conf that should be enough to run the sentinel node. Thus, for running it:

redis-server contrib/sentinel.conf --sentinel


Please, make sure that you are running version >= 2.6


If you have installed the software using the source code, then, check the contrib folder, as there is a specific folder for Redis with init.d start scripts. You only have to copy that file to /etc/init.d/ and adapt it to your needs.

Speeding up the site

PYBOSSA comes with a cache system that is disabled by default. PYBOSSA uses the Redis server to cache some objects like projects, statistics, etc. The system uses the Sentinel feature of Redis, so you can have several master/slave nodes configured with Sentinel, and your PYBOSSA server will use them “automagically.”

Enabling the cache

Once you have started your master Redis-server to accept connections, Sentinel will manage it and its slaves. If you add a slave, Sentinel will find it and start using it for load-balancing queries in PYBOSSA Cache system.

For more details about Redis and Sentinel, please, read the official documentation.

If you want to disable it, you can do it with an environment variable:


Then start the server, and nothing will be cached.


We highly recommend you not to disable the cache, as it will boost the performance of the server caching SQL queries as well as page views. If you have lots of projects with hundreds of tasks, you should enable it.

Running asynchronous tasks in the background

PYBOSSA uses the Python libraries RQ and RQScheduler to allow slow or computationally-heavy tasks to be run in the background in an asynchronous way.

Some of the tasks are run on a periodic, scheduled, basis, like the refreshment of the cache and notifications sent to users, while others, like the sending of emails, are created in real time, responding to events that may happen inside the PYBOSSA server (i.e. sending an email with a recovery password).

To allow all this, you will need two additional Python processes to run in the background: the worker and the scheduler. The scheduler will create the periodic tasks while other tasks will be generated dynamically. The worker will process each of them.

To run the scheduler, just run the following command in a terminal:

rqscheduler --host IP-of-your-redis-master-node

Similarly, to get the tasks done by the worker, run:

python scheduled_jobs super high medium low email maintenance

We also recommend using supervisor for simply running these processes with a single command.


PYBOSSA relies on the scheduler and the worker for the normal functioning of the server, so make sure you run both services.

Configuring the DataBase

You need first to add a user to your PostgreSQL database:

sudo su postgres
createuser -d -P pybossa

Use password tester when prompted.


You should use the same username that you have used in the and alembic.ini files.

After running the last command, you may also have to answer to these questions:

  • Shall the new role be a super user? Answer n (press the n key).
  • Shall the new role be allowed to create databases? Answer y (press the y key).
  • Shall the new role be allowed to create more new roles? Answer n (press the n key).

And now, you can create the database:

createdb pybossa -O pybossa

Finally, exit the postgresql user:


Then, populate the database with its tables:

python db_create

Run the web server:


Open in your web browser the following URL: http://localhost:5000

Updating PYBOSSA

PYBOSSA v2.9.0 starts using JSONB data type format within the PostgreSQL database. The upgrade should not break anything, but be aware that all the materalized views will need to be dropped. This is required because some of these views use the info field and we cannot migrate to JSONB without recreating them.

Thus, be sure to take a full backup before upgrading of your database. Then, delete all your materialized views that create a conflict (by default PYBOSSA handles the basic ones, but if you have created your own leaderboards, this will not be handled by the script).

Run the migration (see next section) and re-create your materialized views. Most of these views are automatically handled by the background jobs, so all of them should be recreated by the system without your intervention.

Updating PYBOSSA core and migrating the database table structure

Sometimes, the PYBOSSA developers add a new column or table to the PYBOSSA server, forcing you to carry out a migration of the database. PYBOSSA uses Alembic for performing the migrations, so in case that your production server needs to upgrade the DB structure to a new version, all you have to do is to:

git pull origin master
pip install -U pip
pip install -U -r requirements.txt
alembic upgrade head

The first command will get you the latest source code. The second command updates the libraries. Finally, Alembic upgrades the database structure.

Very occasionally, updates to the core system will also be required. For example, updating pybossa.js in your PYBOSSA theme. To update the default theme, you can do this:

cd home/pybossa/pybossa/themes/default
git pull origin master


If you are using the virtualenv be sure to activate it before running the Alembic upgrade command.

Migrating Your Old DB Records

In versions before v0.2.3, the default supported option for the ‘long_description’ field in projects was HTML. In new versions of PYBOSSA, the default option is Markdown. However, you can use HTML instead of Markdown by modifying the default PYBOSSA theme or using your own forked from the default one.

If you were have been using PYBOSSA for a while you might have projects in your database whose ‘long_description’ is in HTML format. Hence, if you are using the default theme for PYBOSSA, you will no longer see them rendered as HTML and may have some issues.

To avoid this, you can run a simple script to convert all the DB project’s ‘long_description’ field from HTML to Markdown, just by running the following commands:

pip install -U pip
pip install -U -r requirements.txt
python markdown_db_migrate

The first command will install a Python package that will handle the HTML to Markdown conversion, while the second one will convert your DB entries.


As always, if you are using the virtualenv be sure to activate it before running the pip install command.


The latest version of PYBOSSA requires PostgreSQL >= 9.3 as it is using materialized views for the dashboard. This feature is only available from PostgreSQL 9.3, so please upgrade the DB as soon as possible. For more information about upgrading the PostgreSQL database check this page.