Developing, Hacking & Extending BigCouch

NB: if you only want to use or deploy BigCouch, you should use these instructions instead.


You will need the following installed in order to build BigCouch:

Instructions for obtaining these dependencies on various platforms can be found at

Installing prerequisites on Ubuntu

sudo apt-get install erlang libicu42 libicu-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev

To install Spidermonkey 1.9.2 from PPA:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 74EE6429 sudo bash -c 'echo "deb karmic main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/commonjs.list' sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install libmozjs-1.9.2 libmozjs-1.9.2-dev sudo ln -s /usr/lib/ /usr/lib/

Installing prerequisites on Mac OS X with Homebrew

brew install erlang icu4c spidermonkey brew ln icu4c

Installing prerequisites on RedHat/Centos

yum install js-devel libicu libicu-devel openssl openssl-devel python python-devel

Erlang and LibCurl need to be installed from source to meet version requirements

Building and installing BigCouch

$CLOUDANT_SRC is the directory holding your downloaded source files, while $PREFIX is the prefix to which the software is installed (defaults to /opt/bigcouch):

cd $CLOUDANT_SRC ./configure -p $PREFIX make sudo make install

sudo is only necessary when installing to a prefix which is not user-writeable. In any case, the installer tries to chown the database directory and logfile to the user who configured BigCouch.

Local development cluster

The make dev target will build a three-node cluster under the rel/ directory. Get the nodes running, like above, by doing the following (in separate terminals):

./rel/dev1/bin/bigcouch ./rel/dev2/bin/bigcouch ./rel/dev3/bin/bigcouch

These development nodes listen on ports 15984/15986 (dev1), 25984/25986 (dev2), and 35984/35986 (dev3). Now, once the nodes are started, join the dev2 node by sending this PUT to dev1’s listening backend port:

curl -X PUT -d {}

To verify the two-node cluster has been linked properly, on either node (via proper frontend port), try:


You should see something similar to this:


Add node 3 to the cluster by sending a similar PUT to either of the first two nodes.