OpenProject development Setup on Debian / Ubuntu

To develop OpenProject a setup similar to that for using OpenProject in production is needed.

This guide assumes that you have a Ubuntu 16.04. installation installation with administrative rights. This guide will work analogous with all other distributions, but may require slight changes in the required packages. Please, help us to extend this guide with information on other distributions should there be required changes.

OpenProject will be installed with a PostgreSQL database. This guide will work analagous with a MySQL installation, though.

Please note: This guide is NOT suitable for a production setup, but only for developing with it!

If you find any bugs or you have any recommendations for improving this tutorial, please, feel free to send a pull request or comment in the OpenProject forums.

Prepare your environment

We need an active Ruby and Node JS environment to run OpenProject. To this end, we need some packages installed on the system.o

[dev@ubuntu]# sudo apt-get update
[dev@ubuntu]# sudo apt-get install git curl build-essential zlib1g-dev libyaml-dev libssl-dev libmysqlclient-dev libpq-dev libsqlite3-dev libreadline-dev libffi6

Install Ruby 2.4.

Use rbenv and ruby-build to install Ruby 2.4.1.

Install rbenv

rbenv is a ruby version manager that lets you quickly switch between ruby versions.

# Install rbenv locally for the dev user
[dev@ubuntu]# git clone ~/.rbenv
# Optional: Compile bash extensions 
[dev@ubuntu]# cd ~/.rbenv && src/configure && make -C src
# Add rbenv to the shell's $PATH.
[dev@ubuntu]# echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.rbenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bash_profile

# Run rbenv-init and follow the instructions to initialize rbenv on any shell
[dev@ubuntu]# ~/.rbenv/bin/rbenv init
# Source bash_profile
[dev@ubuntu]# source ~/.bash_profile

Installing ruby-build

ruby-build is an addon to rbenv that installs ruby versions

[dev@ubuntu]# git clone ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build

Installing ruby-2.4

With both installed, we can now install the actual ruby version 2.4. You can check available ruby versions with rbenv install --list. At the time of this writing, the latest stable version is 2.4.1, which we also require.

We suggest you install the version we require in the Gemfile. Search for the ruby '~> X.Y.Z' line and install that version.

# Install the required version as read from the Gemfile
[dev@ubuntu]# rbenv install 2.4.1

This might take a while depending on whether ruby is built from source. After it is complete, you need to tell rbenv to globally activate this version

[dev@ubuntu]# rbenv global 2.4.1

You also need to install bundler, the ruby gem bundler.

[dev@ubuntu]# gem install bundler

Setup PostgreSQL database

Next, install a PostgreSQL database. If you wish to use a MySQL database instead and have installed one, skip these steps.

[dev@debian]# sudo apt-get install postgresql postgresql-client

Create the OpenProject database user and accompanied database.

[dev@ubuntu]# sudo su postgres
[postgres@ubuntu]# createuser -d -P openproject

You will be prompted for a password, for the remainder of these instructions, we assume its openproject-dev-password.

Now, create the database openproject_dev and openproject_test owned by the previously created user.

[postgres@ubuntu]# createdb -O openproject openproject_dev
[postgres@ubuntu]# createdb -O openproject openproject_test

# Exit the shell as postgres
[postgres@ubuntu]# exit

Install Node.js

We will install the latest LTS version of Node.js via nodenv. This is basically the same steps as for rbenv:

Install nodenv

# Install nodenv
[dev@ubuntu]# git clone ~/.nodenv
# Optional: Install bash extensions
[dev@ubuntu]# cd ~/.nodenv && src/configure && make -C src
# Add nodenv to the shell's $PATH.
[dev@ubuntu]# echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.nodenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bash_profile

# Run nodenv init and follow the instructions to initialize nodenv on any shell
[dev@ubuntu]# ~/.nodenv/bin/nodenv init
# Source bash_profile
[dev@ubuntu]# source ~/.bash_profile

Install node-build

[dev@ubuntu]# git clone $(nodenv root)/plugins/node-build

Install latest LTS node version

You can find the latest LTS version here: Currently, this is v6.11.0. Install and activate it with:

[dev@ubuntu]# nodenv install 6.11.0
[dev@ubuntu]# nodenv global 6.11.0

Verify your installation

You should now have an active ruby and node installation. Verify that it works with these commands.

[dev@ubuntu]# ruby --version
ruby 2.4.1p111 (2017-03-22 revision 58053) [x86_64-linux]

[dev@ubuntu]# bundler --version
Bundler version 1.15.1

[dev@ubuntu]# npm --version

Install OpenProject

# Download the repository
[dev@ubuntu]# git clone
[dev@ubuntu]# cd openproject

# Install gem dependencies
# If you get errors here, you're likely missing a development dependency for your distribution
[dev@ubuntu]# bundle install

# Install node_modules
[dev@ubuntu]# npm install

Note that we have checked out the dev branch of the OpenProject repository. Development in OpenProject happens in the dev branch (there is no master branch). So, if you want to develop a feature, create a feature branch from a current dev branch.

Configure OpenProject

Create and configure the database configuration file in config/database.yml (relative to the openproject-directory.

[dev@debian]# vim config/database.yml

Now edit the config/database.yml file and insert your database credentials. It should look like this (just with your database name, username, and password):

default: &default
  adapter: postgresql
  encoding: unicode
  host: localhost
  username: openproject
  password: openproject-dev-password

  <<: *default
  database: openproject_dev

  <<: *default
  database: openproject_test

NOTE: If you want to use MySQL instead and have a database installed, simply use the MySQL section of the exemplary database.yml.example configuration file.

Finish the Installation of OpenProject

Now, run the following tasks to migrate and seed the dev database, and prepare the test setup for running tests locally.

[dev@ubuntu]# export RAILS_ENV=development
[dev@ubuntu]# ./bin/rake db:migrate db:seed db:test:prepare

Run OpenProject through foreman

You can run all required workers of OpenProject through foreman, which combines them in a single tab. This is useful for starting out, however most developers end up running the tasks in separate shells for better understanding of the log output, since foreman will combine all of them.

[dev@ubuntu]# gem install foreman
[dev@ubuntu]# foreman start -f

The application will be available at To customize bind address and port copy the .env.sample provided in the root of this project as .env and configure values as required.

By default a worker process will also be started. In development asynchronous execution of long-running background tasks (sending emails, copying projects, etc.) may be of limited use. To disable the worker process:

echo "concurrency: web=1,assets=1,worker=0" >> .foreman

For more information refer to Foreman documentation section on default options.

You can access the application with the admin-account having the following credentials:

Username: admin
Password: admin

Run OpenProject manually

To run OpenProject manually, you need to run the rails server and the webpack frontend bundler to:

Rails web server

[dev@ubuntu]# RAILS_ENV=development ./bin/rails server

This will start the development server on port 3000 by default.

Webpack bundling

[dev@ubuntu]# RAILS_ENV=development npm run webpack-watch

This will watch for any changes within the frontend/ and compile the application javascript bundle on demand. You will need to watch this tab for the compilation output, should you be working on the TypeScript / angular.js frontend part.

Start Coding

Please have a look at our development guidelines for tips and guides on how to start coding. We have advice on how to get your changes back into the OpenProject core as smooth as possible. Also, take a look at the doc directory in our sources, especially the how to run tests documentation (we like to have automated tests for every new developed feature).


The OpenProject logfile can be found here:


If an error occurs, it should be logged there (as well as in the output to STDOUT/STDERR of the rails server process).

Questions, Comments, and Feedback

If you have any further questions, comments, feedback, or an idea to enhance this guide, please tell us at the appropriate forum. Follow OpenProject on twitter, and follow the news to stay up to date.


You can find the master document in GitHub. You can propose a change to this guide by creating a pull request on GitHub.

Go to GitHub