Installing Arches on a Linux (Ubuntu 12.04)

The following instructions were written with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS in mind. Other versions of Ubuntu or other Linux distributions might have some different steps, but the general outline should be similar. All instructions assume that they are entered through the terminal and that the user has root privileges. Installing on alternate flavors of Linux will follow a similar pattern.

Of course, you may use the same instructions to install Arches either an in-house or remote server. And, while this guide does not cover it, Arches can be installed across multiple machines for deployments that demand high fault tolerance.

Step 1: Download Arches

Create the following folder on your computer:


Download the Arches v2.0 code and copy it to the archesproject folder (be sure and unzip if necessary).

Step 2: Install Required Dependencies

This step installs PostgreSQL, PostGIS, GEOS and the latest JDK by running a single script.


If you would rather install the components seperately, simply open the script file and run only the portions of the script you want.

Open a terminal and navigate to:


Run the following script to build install PostgreSql, PostGIS, GEOS and the latest JDK:



PostgreSQL Warnings

If you experience errors during the installation, please check that the setting ‘standard_conforming_strings’ in ‘postgresql.conf’ is uncommented and set to ‘off’.

See this question on stackoverflow for more information.

Step 3: Install Web Framework and Search Engine

Arches uses the Django web framework ( and the ElasticSearch engine ( This step installs these technologies. Open a command window and navigate to:


Then run the following script:


Once this script runs you’ll need to start the Django development server and ElasticSearch search engine, by navigating to the root folder and running the following script:



If you get an error similar to this, “Could not import user-defined GEOMETRY_BACKEND “geos””, you might try adding the path to the GDAL dll to your archesproject/ file (for more information see the django docs):

GDAL_LIBRARY_PATH = '/path/to/'  #<-- make sure this path is correct and points to the actual .so file, note the forward slashess


A note about runserver.bat

Running runs two process, one for the inbuilt Django webserver, the other for the Elasticsearch search engine.

If you happen to run again without first killing both of those processes then you’ll end up with mulitple instances of the webserver and search engine running. The search engine can consume a lot of resources and additionaly will try and replicate itself to the new instance, taking up additional memory and hard drive space. If you want to disable this “feature” then

uncomment line 87 in the archesproject/arches/Search/engines/elasticsearch-0.90.3/config/elasticsearch.yml file where it says: #node.max_local_storage_nodes: 1


We use the Django development server to make it easy for you to confirm that Arches has installed properly. You WILL NEED to configure Arches to use a production quality web server such as Apache if you want to use Arches in production. See the chapter on Arches configuration for guidance on how to complete this step.

Step 4: Install and Build Arches

Open a new terminal window, and navigate to:


Run the following script to build core Arches:



Database Password

You may be prompted for a password to the Arches database. The default password is: postgis. You can open in the arches root folder to change the default arches password, or to install Arches on to an existing instance of PostgreSQL/PostGIS.

Next Steps

You’ve just completed the steps needed to install the core Arches application. To confirm that Arches installed properly, open a new command window, and navigate to:


Run the following script to build Arches:


Confirm that Arches is running by typing the following URL


Arches requires that you load a data management package before you can start working with your cultural heritage data. Jump to the chapter entitled Loading the CDS Package to install a cultural heritage data management package based on the CIDOC Core Data Standard.

You may also check the website to see whether the community has developed other data management packages.

It’s also possible to create your own Arches Data Management Package. You’ll want to review an existing package (such as the CDS Package) to see how to structure an Arches package. You can find more information on creating packages by joining the Arches Discussion Forum (

Installing Arches on a Mac (notes only)

There are no official instructions for installing Arches on a Mac other then to say that it closesly follows the instructions for installing Arches on Ubuntu linux. Several of us have installed Arches successfully on Macs, so we know it can be done.

Here’s a good resource for information about installing some of the software that Arches depends on:


If you run into issues with GDAL you might want to look at this thread You may need to add entries into your file for the locations of your GDAL and GEOS libraries (GEOS_LIBRARY_PATH and GDAL_LIBRARY_PATH settings).