Run your own Software Heritage

This tutorial will guide from the basic step of obtaining the source code of the Software Heritage stack to running a local copy of it with which you can archive source code and browse it on the web. To that end, just follow the steps detailed below.

Step 0 — get the code

The swh-environment Git (meta) repository orchestrates the Git repositories of all Software Heritage modules. Clone it:

git clone

then recursively clone all Python module repositories. For this step you will need the mr tool. Once you have installed mr, just run:

cd swh-environment


From now on this tutorial will assume that you run commands listed below from within the swh-environment directory.

For periodic repository updates just re-run bin/update.

Step 1 — install system dependencies

You need to install three types of dependencies: some base packages, Node.js modules (for the web app), and Postgres (as storage backend).

Package dependencies

Software Heritage requires some dependencies that are usually packaged by your package manager. On Debian/Ubuntu-based distributions:

sudo apt-get install curl ca-certificates
curl | sudo bash
curl | sudo apt-key add -
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb $(lsb_release -cs)-pgdg main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pgdg.list'
sudo apt update
sudo apt install python3 python3-venv libsvn-dev postgresql-10 nodejs \
                 libsystemd-dev libpython3-dev


You need a running Postgres instance with administrator access (e.g., to create databases). On Debian/Ubuntu based distributions, the previous step (installation) should be enough.

For other platforms and more details refer to the PostgreSQL installation documentation.

You also need to have access to a superuser account on the database. For that, the easiest way is to create a PostgreSQL account that has the same name as your username:

sudo -u postgres createuser --createdb --superuser $USER

You can check that this worked by doing, from your user (you should not be asked for a password):

psql postgres

Node.js modules

If you want to run the web app to browser your local archive you will need some Node.js modules, in particular to pack web resources into a single compact file. To that end the following should suffice:

cd swh-web
npm install
cd -

You are now good to go with all needed dependencies on your development machine!

Step 2 — install Python packages in a virtualenv

From now on you will need to work in a virtualenv containing the Python environment with all the Software Heritage modules and their dependencies. To that end you can do (once):

python3 -m venv .venv

Then, activate the virtualenv (do this every time you start working on Software Heritage):

source .venv/bin/activate

You can now install Software Heritage Python modules, their dependencies and the testing-related dependencies using:

pip install $( bin/pip-swh-packages --with-testing )

Step 3 — set up storage

Then you will need a local storage service that will archive and serve source code artifacts via a REST API. The Software Heritage storage layer comes in two parts: a content-addressable object storage on your file system (for file contents) and a Postgres database (for the graph structure of the archive). See the Data model for more information. The storage layer is configured via a YAML configuration file, located at ~/.config/swh/storage/storage.yml. Create it with a content like:

  cls: local
    db: "dbname=softwareheritage-dev"
      cls: pathslicing
        root: /srv/softwareheritage/objects/
        slicing: 0:2/2:4

Make sure that the object storage root exists on the filesystem and is writable to your user, e.g.:

sudo mkdir -p /srv/softwareheritage/objects
sudo chown "${USER}:" /srv/softwareheritage/objects

You are done with object storage setup! Let’s setup the database:

swh-db-init storage -d softwareheritage-dev

softwareheritage-dev is the name of the DB that will be created, it should match the db line in storage.yml

To check that you can successfully connect to the DB (you should not be asked for a password):

psql softwareheritage-dev

You can now run the storage server like this:

python3 -m --host localhost --port 5002 ~/.config/swh/storage/storage.yml

Step 4 — ingest repositories

You are now ready to ingest your first repository into your local Software Heritage. For the sake of example, we will ingest a few Git repositories. The module in charge of ingesting Git repositories is the Git loader, Python module swh.loader.git. Its configuration file is at ~/.config/swh/loader/git-updater.yml. Create it with a content like:

  cls: remote
    url: http://localhost:5002

It just informs the Git loader to use the storage server running on your machine. The url line should match the command line used to run the storage server.

You can now ingest Git repository on the command line using the command:

python3 -m swh.loader.git.updater --origin-url GIT_CLONE_URL

For instance, you can try ingesting the following repositories, in increasing size order (note that the last two might take a few hours to complete and will occupy several GB on both the Postgres DB and the object storage):

python3 -m swh.loader.git.updater --origin-url
python3 -m swh.loader.git.updater --origin-url
python3 -m swh.loader.git.updater --origin-url

# WARNING: next repo is big
python3 -m swh.loader.git.updater --origin-url

Congratulations, you have just archived your first source code repositories!

To re-archive the same repositories later on you can rerun the same commands: only new objects added since the previous visit will be archived upon the next one.

Step 5 — browse the archive

You can now setup a local web app to browse what you have locally archived. The web app uses the configuration file ~/.config/swh/web/web.yml. Create it and fill it with something like:

  cls: remote
    url: http://localhost:5002

Nothing new here, the configuration just references the local storage server, which have been used before for repository ingestion.

You can now run the web app, and browse your local archive:

make run-django-webpack-devserver
xdg-open http://localhost:5004

Note that the make target will first compile a webpack with various web assets and then launch the web app; for webpack compilation you will need the Node.js dependencies discussed above.

As an initial tour of the web app, try searching for one of the repositories you have ingested (e.g., entering the hylang or ocaml keywords in the search bar). Clicking on the repository name you will be brought back in time, and you will be able to browse the source code and development history you have archived.