Installation and Deployment of AiiDA

Supported architecture

AiiDA has a few strict requirements, in its current version: first, it will run only on Unix-like systems - it is tested (and developed) in Mac OS X and Linux (Ubuntu), but other Unix flavours should work as well.

Moreover, on the clusters (computational resources) side, it expects to find a Unix system, and the default shell is required to be bash.

Installing python

AiiDA requires python 2.7.x (only CPython has been tested). It is probable that you already have a version of python installed on your computer. To check, open a terminal and type:

python -V

that will print something like this:

Python 2.7.3

If you don’t have python installed, or your version is outdated, please install a suitable version of python (either refer to the manual of your Linux distribution, or for instance you can download the ActiveState Python from ActiveState. Choose the appropriate distribution corresponding to your architecture, and with version 2.7.x.x).

Installation of the core dependencies

Other core dependencies

Before continuing, you still need to install a few more programs. Some of them are mandatory, while others are optional (but often strongly suggested), also depending for instance on the type of database that you plan to use.

Here is a list of packages/programs that you need to install (for each of them, there may be a specific/easier way to install them in your distribution, as for instance apt-get in Debian/Ubuntu -see below for the specific names of packages to install- or yum in RedHat/Fedora).

  • git (required to download the code)
  • python-pip (required to automatically download and install further python packages required by AiiDA)
  • ipython (optional, but strongly recommended for interactive usage)
  • python 2.7 development files (these may be needed; refer to your distribution to know how to locate and install them)
  • To support SQLite:
    • SQLite3 development files (required later to compile the library, when configuring the python sqlite module; see below for the Ubuntu module required to install these files)
  • To support PostgreSQL:
    • PostgreSQL development files (required later to compile the library, when configuring the python psycopg2 module; see below for the Ubuntu module required to install these files)

For Ubuntu, you can install the above packages using (tested on Ubuntu 12.04, names may change in different releases):

sudo apt-get install git
sudo apt-get install python-pip
sudo apt-get install ipython
sudo apt-get install python2.7-dev
sudo apt-get install libsqlite3-dev
sudo apt-get install postgresql-server-dev-9.1


For the latter line, please use the same version (in the example above is 9.1) of the postgresql server that you installed (in this case, to install the server of the same version, use the sudo apt-get install postgresql-9.1 command).

If you want to use postgreSQL, use a version greater than 9.1 (the greatest that your distribution supports).

For Mac OS X, you may either already have some of the dependencies above (e.g., git), or you can download binary packages to install (e.g., for PostgreSQL you can download and install the binary package from the official website).

Downloading the code

Download the code using git in a directory of your choice (~/git/aiida in this tutorial), using the following command:

git clone ~/git/aiida

(or use if you are downloading through SSH; note that this requires your ssh key to be added on the Bitbucket account.)

Python dependencies

Python dependencies are managed using pip, that you have installed in the previous steps.

As a first step, check that pip is at its most recent version.

One possible way of doing this is to update pip with itself, with a command similar to the following:

sudo pip install -U pip

Then, install the python dependencies is as simple as this:

cd ~/git/aiida # or the folder where you downloaded AiiDA
pip install --user -U -r requirements.txt

(this will download and install requirements that are listed in the requirements.txt file; the --user option allows to install the packages as a normal user, without the need of using sudo or becoming root). Check that every package is installed correctly.


This step should work seamlessly, but there are a number of reasons for which problems may occur. Often googling for the error message helps in finding a solution. Some common pitfalls are described in the notes below.


if the pip install command gives you this kind of error message:

OSError: [Errno 13] Permission denied: '/usr/local/bin/easy_install'

then try again as root:

sudo pip install -U -r requirements.txt

If everything went smoothly, congratulations! Now the code is installed! However, we need still a few steps to properly configure AiiDA for your user.


if the pip install command gives you an error that resembles the one shown below, you might need to downgrade to an older version of pip:

Cannot fetch index base URL

To downgrade pip, use the following command:

sudo easy_install pip==1.2.1


Several users reported the need to install also libqp-dev:

apt-get install libqp-dev

But under Ubuntu 12.04 this is not needed.


If the installation fails while installing the packages related to the database, you may have not installed or set up the database libraries as described in the section Other core dependencies.

In particular, on Mac OS X, if you installed the binary package of PostgreSQL, it is possible that the PATH environment variable is not set correctly, and you get a “Error: pg_config executable not found.” error. In this case, discover where the binary is located, then add a line to your ~/.bashrc file similar to the following:

export PATH=/the/path/to/the/pg_config/file:${PATH}

and then open a new bash shell. Some possible paths can be found at this Stackoverflow link and a non-exhaustive list of possible paths is the following (version number may change):

  • /Applications/
  • /Applications/
  • /Library/PostgreSQL/9.3/bin/pg_config

Similarly, if the package installs but then errors occur during the first of AiiDA (with Symbol not found errors or similar), you may need to point to the path where the dynamical libraries are. A way to do it is to add a line similar to the following to the ~/.bashrc and then open a new shell:


(you should of course adapt the path to the PostgreSQL libraries).

AiiDA configuration

Path configuration

The main interface to AiiDA is through its command-line tool, called verdi. For it to work, it must be on the system path, and moreover the AiiDA python code must be found on the python path.

To do this, add the following to your ~/.bashrc file (create it if not already present):

export PYTHONPATH=~/git/aiida:${PYTHONPATH}
export PATH=~/git/aiida/bin:${PATH}

and then source the .bashrc file with the command source ~/.bashrc, or login in a new window.


replace ~/git/aiida with the path where you installed AiiDA. Note also that in the PYTHONPATH you simply have to specify the AiiDA path, while in PATH you also have to append the /bin subfolder!


if you installed the modules with the --user parameter during the pip install step, you will need to add one more directory to your PATH variable in the ~/.bashrc file. For Linux systems, the path to add is usually ~/.local/bin:

export PATH=~/git/aiida/bin:~/.local/bin:${PATH}

For Mac OS X systems, the path to add is usually ~/Library/Python/2.7/bin:

export PATH=~/git/aiida/bin:~/Library/Python/2.7/bin:${PATH}

To verify if this is the correct path to add, navigate to this location and you should find the executable supervisord in the directory.

To verify if the path setup is OK:

  • type verdi on your terminal, and check if the program starts (it should provide a list of valid commands). If it doesn’t, check if you correctly set up the PATH environmente variable above.

  • go in your home folder or in another folder different from the AiiDA folder, run python or ipython and try to import a module, e.g. typing:

    import aiida

    If the setup is ok, you shouldn’t get any error. If you do get an ImportError instead, check if you correctly set up the PYTHONPATH environment variable in the steps above.

Bash completion

verdi fully supports bash completion (i.e., the possibility to press the TAB of your keyboard to get a list of sensible commands to type. We strongly suggest to enable bash completion by adding also the following line to your .bashrc, after the previous lines:

eval "$(verdi completioncommand)"

If you feel that the bash loading time is becoming too slow, you can instead run the:

verdi completioncommand

on a shell, and copy-paste the output directly inside your .bashrc file, instead of the eval "$(verdi completioncommand)" line.

Remember, after any modification to the .bashrc file, to source it, or to open a new shell window.


remember to check that your .bashrc is sourced also from your .profile or .bash_profile script. E.g., if not already present, you can add to your ~/.bash_profile the following lines:

if [ -f ~/.bashrc ]
    . ~/.bashrc

AiiDA first setup

Run the following command:

verdi install

to configure AiiDA. The command will guide you through a process to configure the database, the repository location, and it will finally (automatically) run a django migrate command, if needed, that creates the required tables in the database and installs the database triggers.

The first thing that will be asked to you is the timezone, extremely important to get correct dates and times for your calculations.

AiiDA will do its best to try and understand the local timezone (if properly configured on your machine), and will suggest a set of sensible values. Choose the timezone that fits best to you (that is, the nearest city in your timezone - for Lausanne, for instance, we choose Europe/Zurich) and type it at the prompt.

If the automatic zone detection did not work for you, type instead another valid string. A list of valid strings can be found at but for the definitive list of timezones supported by your system, open a python shell and type:

import pytz
print pytz.all_timezones

as AiiDA will not accept a timezone string that is not in the above list.

As a second parameter to input during the verdi install phase, the “Default user email” is asked.

We suggest here to use your institution email, that will be used to associate the calculations to you.


In AiiDA, the user email is used as username, and also as unique identifier when importing/exporting data from AiiDA.


Even if you choose an email different from the default one (aiida@localhost), a user with email aiida@localhost will be set up, with its password set to None (disabling access via this user via API or Web interface).

The existence of a default user is internally useful for multi-user setups, where only one user runs the daemon, even if many users can simultaneously access the DB. See the page on setting up AiiDA in multi-user mode for more details (only for advanced users).


The password, in the current version of AiiDA, is not used (it will be used only in the REST API and in the web interface). If you leave the field empty, no password will be set and no access will be granted to the user via the REST API and the web interface.

Then, the following prompts will help you configure the database. Typical settings are:

Insert your timezone: Europe/Zurich
Default user email:
Database engine: sqlite3
AiiDA Database location: /home/wagner/.aiida/aiida.db
AiiDA repository directory: /home/wagner/.aiida/repository/
Configuring a new user with email ''
First name: Richard
Last name: Wagner
Institution: BRUHL, LEIPZIG
The user has no password, do you want to set one? [y/N] y
Insert the new password:
Insert the new password (again):


When the “Database engine” is asked, use ‘sqlite3’ only if you want to try out AiiDA without setting up a database.

However, keep in mind that for serious use, SQLite has serious limitations!! For instance, when many calculations are managed at the same time, the database file is locked by SQLite to avoid corruption, but this can lead to timeouts that do not allow to AiiDA to properly store the calculations in the DB.

Therefore, for production use of AiiDA, we strongly suggest to setup a “real” database as PostgreSQL or MySQL. Then, in the “Database engine” field, type either ‘postgres’ or ‘mysql’ according to the database you chose to use. See here for the documentation to setup such databases (including info on how to proceed with verdi install in this case).

At the end, AiiDA will also ask to configure your user, if you set up a user different from aiida@localhost.

If something fails, there is a high chance that you may have misconfigured the database. Double-check your settings before reporting an error.

Start the daemon

If you configured your user account with your personal email (or if in general there are more than just one user) you will not be able to start the daemon with the command verdi daemon start before its configuration.

If you are working in a single-user mode, and you are sure that nobody else is going to run the daemon, you can configure your user as the (only) one who can run the daemon.

To configure the deamon, run:

verdi daemon configureuser

and (after having read and understood the warning text that appears) insert the email that you used above during the verdi install phase.

To try AiiDA and start the daemon, run:

verdi daemon start

If everything was done correctly, the daemon should start. You can inquire the daemon status using:

verdi daemon status

and, if the daemon is running, you should see something like:

* aiida-daemon[0]        RUNNING    pid 12076, uptime 0:39:05
* aiida-daemon-beat[0]   RUNNING    pid 12075, uptime 0:39:05

To stop the daemon, use:

verdi daemon stop

A log of the warning/error messages of the daemon can be found in in ~/.aiida/daemon/log/, and can also be seen using the verdi daemon logshow command. The daemon is a fundamental component of AiiDA, and it is in charge of submitting new calculations, checking their status on the cluster, retrieving and parsing the results of finished calculations, and managing the workflow steps.

Congratulations, your setup is complete!

Before going on, however, you will need to setup at least one computer (i.e., on computational resource as a cluster or a supercomputer, on which you want to run your calculations) and one code. The documentation for these steps can be found here.

Optional dependencies

CIF manipulation

For the manipulation of Crystallographic Information Framework (CIF) files, following dependencies are required to be installed:

First two can be installed from the default repositories:

sudo pip install pycifrw==
sudo apt-get install jmol

ASE has to be installed from source:

curl > python-ase-
gunzip python-ase-
tar -xvf python-ase-
cd python-ase- build install

For the setting up of cod-tools please refer to installation of cod-tools.

Further comments and troubleshooting

  • For some reasons, on some machines (notably often on Mac OS X) there is no default locale defined, and when you run verdi install for the first time it fails (see also this issue of django). To solve the problem, first remove the sqlite database that was created.

    Then, run in your terminal (or maybe even better, add to your .bashrc, but then remember to open a new shell window!):

    export LANG="en_US.UTF-8"
    export LC_ALL="en_US.UTF-8"

    and then run verdi install again.

  • [Only for developers] The developer tests of the SSH transport plugin are performed connecting to localhost. The tests will fail if a passwordless ssh connection is not set up. Therefore, if you want to run the tests:

    • make sure to have a ssh server. On Ubuntu, for instance, you can install it using:

      sudo apt-get install openssh-server
    • Configure a ssh key for your user on your machine, and then add your public key to the authorized keys of localhsot. The easiest way to achieve this is to run:

      ssh-copy-id localhost

      (it will ask your password, because it is connecting via ssh to localhost to install your public key inside ~/.ssh/authorized_keys).