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 20.04 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 Development Environment will be installed with a PostgreSQL database, OpenProject on-premises installation shall NOT be present before.

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

Remark: At the time of writing in this page refers to 12/10/2021

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

CPU recommendation: 4 CPUs, Memory recommendation: 8 better 16 GB (in general we need double the amount of a normal production installation)

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install git curl build-essential zlib1g-dev libyaml-dev libssl-dev libpq-dev libreadline-dev

Install Ruby

Use rbenv and ruby-build to install Ruby. We always require the latest ruby versions, and you can check which version is required by checking the Gemfile for the ruby "~> X.Y" statement. At the time of writing, this version is “3.3.2”

Install rbenv and ruby-build

rbenv is a ruby version manager that lets you quickly switch between ruby versions. ruby-build is an addon to rbenv that installs ruby versions.

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

# Run rbenv-init and follow the instructions to initialize rbenv on any shell
~/.rbenv/bin/rbenv init
# Issue the recommended command from the stdout of the last command
echo 'eval "$(rbenv init - bash)"' >> ~/.bashrc
# Source bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Installing ruby-build

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

git clone ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build

Installing ruby

With both installed, we can now install ruby. You can check available ruby versions with rbenv install --list. At the time of this writing, the latest stable version is 3.3.2 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
rbenv install 3.3.2

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

rbenv global 3.3.2
rbenv rehash

You also need to install bundler, the ruby gem bundler (remark: if you run into an error, first try with a fresh reboot).

If you get Command 'gem' not found... here, ensure you followed the instructions rbenv init command to ensure it is loaded in your shell.

Setup PostgreSQL database

Next, install a PostgreSQL database.

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

Create the OpenProject database user and accompanied database.

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

# Run nodenv init and follow the instructions to initialize nodenv on any shell
~/.nodenv/bin/nodenv init
# Issue the recommended command from the stdout of the last command
echo 'eval "$(nodenv init -)"' >> ~/.bashrc
# Source bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Install node-build

git clone $(nodenv root)/plugins/node-build

Install latest LTS node version

You can find the latest LTS version here:

At the time of writing this is v20.9.0 Install and activate it with:

nodenv install 20.9.0
nodenv global 20.9.0
nodenv rehash

Update NPM to the latest version

npm install npm@latest -g

Verify your installation

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

ruby --version
ruby 3.3.2 (2024-05-30 revision e5a195edf6) [arm64-darwin23]

bundler --version
Bundler version 2.5.11

node --version

npm --version

Install OpenProject Sources

In order to create a pull request to the core OpenProject repository, you will want to fork it to your own GitHub account. This allows you to create branches and push changes and finally opening a pull request for us to review.

To do that, go to and press “Fork” on the upper right corner.

# Download the repository
# If you want to create a pull request, replace the URL with your own fork as described above
mkdir ~/dev
cd ~/dev
git clone
cd openproject

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

To configure the environment variables such as the number of web server threads OPENPROJECT_WEB_WORKERS, copy the .env.example to .env and add the environment variables you want to configure. The variables will be automatically loaded to the application’s environment.

Finish the Installation of OpenProject

Install code dependencies, link plugin modules and export translation files.

  • gem dependencies (If you get errors here, you’re likely missing a development dependency for your distribution)
  • node_modules
  • link plugin frontend modules
  • and export frontend localization files

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

RAILS_ENV=development bin/rails db:seed

Run OpenProject through overmind

You can run all required workers of OpenProject through overmind, which combines them in a single tab. Optionally, you may also run overmind as a daemon and connect to services individually. The bin/dev command will first check if overmind is available and run the application if via if possible. If not, it falls back to foreman, installing it if needed.


The application will be available at To customize bind address and port copy the .env.example 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 and it has known issues with regards to memory (see background worker section below). To disable the worker process:

echo "OVERMIND_IGNORED_PROCESSES=worker" >> .overmind.env

For more information refer to the great Overmind documentation usage section.

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

RAILS_ENV=development bin/rails server

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

Angular frontend

To run the frontend server, please run

RAILS_ENV=development npm run serve

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 frontend part.

You can then access the application either through localhost:3000 (Rails server) or through the frontend proxied http://localhost:4200, which will provide hot reloading for changed frontend code.

Background job worker

RAILS_ENV=development bundle exec good_job start

This will start a Delayed::Job worker to perform asynchronous jobs like sending emails.

Known issues

Spawning a lot of browser tabs

If you haven’t run this command for a while, chances are that a lot of background jobs have queued up and might cause a significant amount of open tabs (due to the way we deliver mails with the letter_opener gem). To get rid of the jobs before starting the worker, use the following command. This will remove all currently scheduled jobs, never use this in a production setting.

RAILS_ENV=development bin/rails runner "Delayed::Job.delete_all"

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 in log/development.log.

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.