Installation on MacOS X

We don't recommend using OS X in production, but if you want to get Alaveteli running on your Mac for development, these guidelines should help.

Note that there are other ways to install Alaveteli.

MacOS X 10.7

Follow these instructions to get Alaveteli running locally on an OS X machine. These instructions have been tested with Xcode 4.1 on OS X Lion (10.7). We do not recommend using OS X in production.

Note: This guide is currently incomplete. Please help by posting issues to the alaveteli-dev Google group or by submitting pull requests.


If you are using OS X Lion, download Command Line Tools for Xcode from Apple. This is a new package from Apple that provides the command-line build tools separate from the rest of Xcode. You need to register for a free Apple Developer account.

Note: As of Xcode 4.2, a non-LLVM version of GCC is no longer included. Homebrew has dealt with it by switching to Clang. However, you may encounter errors installing RVM. Please report these on the mailing list. The following instructions have been tested with Xcode 4.1. If necessary, you can install GCC from Xcode 4.1 by running:

brew install


Homebrew is a package manager for OS X. It is preferred over alternatives such as MacPorts and Fink. If you haven’t already installed Homebrew, run the command:

ruby <(curl -fsSkL

Next, install packages required by Alaveteli:

brew install catdoc elinks gnuplot gs imagemagick libmagic libyaml links mutt poppler tnef wkhtmltopdf wv xapian unrtf

Install postgresql

Alaveteli uses PostgreSQL by default. If you’ve tested Alaveteli with MySQL or SQLite, let us know in the alaveteli-dev Google group.

brew install postgresql
initdb /usr/local/var/postgres
mkdir -p ~/Library/LaunchAgents
cp /usr/local/Cellar/postgresql/9.0.4/org.postgresql.postgres.plist ~/Library/LaunchAgents/
launchctl load -w ~/Library/LaunchAgents/org.postgresql.postgres.plist

PDF Toolkit

Download the installer package and install.


Install RVM

RVM is the preferred way to install multiple Ruby versions on OS X. Alaveteli uses Ruby 1.8.7. The following commands assume you are using the Bash shell.

curl -L | bash -s stable

Read rvm notes and rvm requirements carefully for further instructions. Then, install Ruby:

rvm install 1.8.7
rvm install 1.9.3
rvm use 1.9.3 --default

Install mahoro and pg with flags

The mahoro and pg gems require special installation commands. Rubygems must be downgraded to 1.6.2 to avoid deprecation warnings when running tests.

rvm 1.8.7
gem update --system  2.1.11
gem install mahoro -- --with-ldflags="-L/usr/local/Cellar/libmagic/5.09/lib" --with-cppflags="-I/usr/local/Cellar/libmagic/5.09/include"
env ARCHFLAGS="-arch x86_64" gem install pg


As of August 22, 2012 or earlier, you can install mahoro in Ruby 1.9.3 on OS X 10.7 Lion with:

brew install libmagic
gem install mahoro


The following is mostly from the manual installation process.

Configure database

Create a database for your Mac user as homebrew doesn’t create one by default:


Create a foi user from the command line, like this:

createuser -s -P foi

Note: After running this command you will be prompted to set a password for the user. Don’t leave it blank if you are new to PostgreSQL, or it could be difficult to set later for you.

We’ll create a template for our Alaveteli databases:

createdb -T template0 -E UTF-8 template_utf8
echo "update pg_database set datistemplate=true where datname='template_utf8';" | psql

Then create the databases:

createdb -T template_utf8 -O foi alaveteli_production
createdb -T template_utf8 -O foi alaveteli_test
createdb -T template_utf8 -O foi alaveteli_development

Clone Alaveteli

git clone
cd alaveteli
git submodule init
git submodule update

Configure Alaveteli

Copy the example configuration files and configure database.yml.

cp -f config/general.yml-example config/general.yml
cp -f config/memcached.yml-example config/memcached.yml
cp -f config/database.yml-example config/database.yml
sed -i~ 's/<username>/foi/' config/database.yml
sed -i~ 's/<password>/foi/' config/database.yml
sed -i~ 's/  port: 5432//' config/database.yml
sed -i~ 's/ # PostgreSQL 8.1 pretty please//' config/database.yml


Install the gems and finish setting up Alaveteli.

rvm 1.8.7
bundle exec rake db:create:all
bundle exec rake db:migrate
bundle exec rake db:test:prepare


Ruby version

Ensure you are using the latest versions of Ruby. For example, some versions of Ruby 1.8.7 will segmentation fault, for example:

/Users/james/.rvm/gems/ruby-1.8.7-p357/gems/json-1.5.4/ext/json/ext/json/ext/parser.bundle: [BUG] Segmentation fault
ruby 1.8.7 (2011-12-28 patchlevel 357) [i686-darwin11.3.0]

Running rvm install 1.8.7 should install the latest Ruby 1.8.7 patch level. Remember to switch to the new Ruby version before continuing.

Rake tasks

Remember to run Rake tasks with bundle exec. To run the tests, for example, run bundle exec rake.