MusicBrainz Server/Setup

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< MusicBrainz Server
Revision as of 22:11, 27 October 2013 by B.m.andrews (talk | contribs) (Added instructions on migrating from virtual machine to physical machine.)

MusicBrainz Server virtual machine

Running a MusicBrainz Server as a virtual machine requires some Linux knowledge, but it is vastly simpler than installing the server from scratch. The pre-built virtual image can be imported into either VirtualBox or VMware. If you are using Amazon EC2 you can not use this virtual image and will instead have to follow the steps outlined in the source code To set up a virtual machine instance, download the torrent file and follow these steps:

MusicBrainz Server Virtual Machine
Download via BitTorrent: MusicBrainz VM 2013-08-01
Size: 10.13GB Open Virtualization Archive (OVA)
(the extracted virtual drive is then 27 GB and can extend up to 40 GB)
Version: 2013-08-01 (beta version)
MD5: 717726cbea28a4fce51ae6ae803b8a6a

Running with VMware

  1. Download VMware Player for Windows/Linux or VMware Fusion for Mac.
  2. Import the downloaded .ova

Running with VirtualBox

Currently (20130801 beta VM) the .ova file doesn't work directly with VirtualBox so you have to do some additional steps until a fixed VM is realeased.

  1. Download and install VirtualBox on your machine.
  2. Extract the virtual disk (vmdk) from the ova file and create a VirtualBox hard disk (vdi). This can be done with:
    tar -xf "MusicBrainz 2013-08-01.ova" && VBoxManage clonehd MusicBrainz_2013-08-01-disk1.vmdk MusicBrainz130801.vdi --format VDI
    This command will create a 27 GB file (the virtual hard drive), which can grow up to 40 GB later on when using the VM.
    Make sure you don't use the vmdk directly after extracting it, since the VBoxManage command might fail otherwise. If that happens you should untar the .ova again to get an untouched vmdk.
  3. Create a new VirtualBox VM with Type "Linux" and Version "Ubuntu (64 bit)". You should give at least 1 GB RAM.
  4. Add the previously generated MusicBrainz130801.vdi as hard disk

Running with QEMU/KVM

  1. Extract the disk image:
    tar -xf MusicBrainz\ 2013-08-01.ova
  2. Covert it from VMWare format:
    virt-convert -D qcow2 MusicBrainz\ 2013-08-01.ovf /var/lib/libvirt/images
  3. Create and start the new VM:
    virt-image --os-type=linux --os-variant=ubuntuprecise /var/lib/libvirt/images/Musicbrainz-Server-2013-08-01.virt-image.xml
    This only works on a 64-bit host machine. If you wish to try it on a 32-bit host use the following instead, but beware that performance will be frustratingly poor:
    virt-install --virt-type qemu --os-type=linux --os-variant=ubuntuprecise --arch x86_64 --ram 1024 --name MusicBrainz_2013-08-01 --import --disk /var/lib/libvirt/images/MusicBrainz_2013-08-01-disk1.qcow2

Starting the VM

  1. Once the instance has started up, log in on the console using the username vm and password musicbrainz. This account has sudo privileges -- if you would like to set a root password, you can do that via sudo.
  2. Get the IP address of your virtual machine. Note this down from "inet addr" with this command:
    ifconfig | grep eth0 -A 1
    NOTE: if eth0 is not configured correctly, perhaps you've encountered this problem.
  3. Optional: The console for Virtual Box is very slow. It may be faster to SSH into the virtual box with a good terminal program.
  4. The MusicBrainz server starts automatically. Now you can reach the MusicBrainz server by pointing your browser to port 5000 of the IP address in step 5.
    • e.g If your IP address from step 6 was:, then point your browser to
    • If the server looks like it started correctly and you cannot connect in your browser, try pinging it from your host operating system command line
      ping <inet addr>
      If you cannot ping it, you may have a VirtualBox network configuration problem. Try the instructions here to switch your VM to using a bridged connection rather than NAT. Restart the virtual machine and find the new IP address in step 6 again.

Tuning your VM

We recommend that you give your VM 2GB of ram, if that is possible. The more RAM you give to the VM, the faster it is going to run. To change the memory settings, you will need to shut down the VM, change the settings and then re-start the VM. The Postgres database will be automatically tuned based on the available RAM when the VM starts up.

Running Replication

This VM comes "replication ready". To enable replication, and have the database catch up with the latest replication packets, do this:

bin/replicate now

This will load all of the changes to the database since the VM update.

NOTE: Loading replication changes might take a long time. If the VM is more than a couple of weeks old, it might be better for you to import a fresh data set. Drop pre-filled database using command

dropdb musicbrainz_db

and check the file for how to import new data.

Automating Replication

To turn on background replication, run:

bin/replicate start

to turn it off:

bin/replicate stop

We recommend leaving replication off for the time being, until you've built search indexes for the VM.

Building search indexes

The VM comes with support to build search indexes. In order to build the indexes, log in to the account and then:


Depending on your machine, this may take quite a long time. We recommend that you leave this running overnight. After the indexes are complete, you should be able to carry out indexed searches in your VM.

Accessing the database

To access the main postgres database, you can do this:

sudo su - musicbrainz
cd musicbrainz-server/admin

If you would like to access the DB from outside the virtual box, take a look at how to change postgres connection settings.

Turning the VM into development box

If you would like to use the VM to do development instead of using it as a simple database slave, you'll need to edit lib/ and set REPLICATION_TYPE to RT_STANDALONE and run admin/psql READWRITE and execute the following queries:

DELETE FROM annotation WHERE editor > (SELECT max(id) FROM editor);
DELETE FROM release_annotation WHERE NOT EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM annotation WHERE = release_annotation.annotation);

then from the command line execute:

admin/psql READWRITE < admin/sql/CreateFKConstraints.sql
admin/psql READWRITE < admin/sql/CreateFunctions.sql

TODO: The server will probably run out of disk space during this process. We need to add instructions on how to move the DB to a new partition.

Migrating the MusicBrainz Server from a Virtual Machine to a Physical Machine

Taken from AskUbuntu.

It is possible to migrate the MusicBrainz Server image (or any virtual image) from a virtual machine onto bare metal, should you desire to.


  • A LiveCD or LiveUSB (this walkthrough will assume you are using a Ubuntu variant as that is what the image is based on.) If you are using an image from 2013-08-01 or earlier, you must have a Ubuntu 12.04.1 Live media.
  • USB media large enough to store the raw disk image for writing on a new computer.
  • Patience

Step 1: Converting the Disk to a Raw format

This step is included mostly for the sake of convenience. By doing some prep work on the image before writing, standard Linux tools can be used to write to and manipulate the disk afterwards. This can be done from your current host environment without booting to your LiveCD.

  • Load a terminal
cd /path/to/image/ 
# for VMWare
sudo apt-get install qemu-kvm
qemu-img convert your-vmware-disk.vmdk -O raw disk.img
# For VirtualBox
VBoxManage internalcommands converttoraw your-virtualbox-disk.vdi disk.img
  • Move disk.img to somewhere that you're not about to write to. If your target is another physical machine, then an external medium is probably the most convenient way to move the image. These instructions assume that you have moved it to /media/external/disk.img. Adjust accordingly.
  • Before you do anything permanent, make sure you do backups. These instructions will erase anything on the target disk or partition. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Option 1: Write the Image to it's Own Disk

This assumes that you're going to overwrite an entire disk. This is the most ideal situation since the server will have an entire disk to work with. If you're looking to have the image installed along side an existing operating system, skip to Option 2.

  • Boot into your LiveCD and Click Try Ubuntu.
  • Mount the volume where disk.img resides to somewhere safe (like /media/external).
  • Determine which volume is your target using a command like lsblk or blkid
  • Then we copy the contents of the image to the drive Replace sdX with the correct destination disk. The password for sudo is blank.
sudo dd if=/media/external/disk.img of=/dev/sdX
  • After this has finished, you can use gparted or another utility to manipulate the partition table to the desired layout. It is recommended to have a sizeable swap partition (see this article for some recommendations on how big it should be) as well as expand the root partition to use all remaining available space on the disk. If you desire a seperate boot partition for the system as well, set aside some space here. (Steps for this can be found in the Ubuntu community documentation)
  • If you are using an image from 2013-08-01 or earlier, please see here.

Option 2: Installing the Image Alongside Another OS

This is potentially safer than the above method and is very similar. Your LiveCD must be the same Ubuntu version as the virtual image.

  • Boot into the LiveCD and click Install Ubuntu.
  • Follow the installer prompts, repartition things as you see fit. When the installer finishes, it will ask you to reboot. Do not reboot. You must be in the Live environment for the next instructions.
  • Mount your new Ubuntu install (target) and your external disk where you stored disk.img earlier.
  • Mount disk.img.
sudo mkdir /media/oldinstall
sudo mount -o loop /media/external/disk.img /media/oldinstall
  • From there you can either cherry pick files or copy over everything on top of your target. For example, using rsync:
sudo rsync /media/oldinstall /media/newinstall

Changing Kernel Versions

Parts taken from the Ubuntu community documentation.

For images from 2013-08-01 and older, you will need to change the kernel flavour from -virtual to -generic. The -virtual kernel flavour is lighter, but only supports hardware typically seen in virtual environments while -generic provides support for a wider range of hardware, such as what you would see in a physical server. Both of these versions are provided in the default Ubuntu repositories.

  • Boot into your LiveCD. Click "Try Ubuntu"
  • Open a terminal.
  • Determine which disk is yours using a command like sudo lsblk or sudo blkid.
  • Mount your root partition. X is the drive letter and Y is the partition number:
sudo mount /dev/sdXY /mnt
    • If you have a seperate boot partition, mount it as well (Z is the boot partition number):
sudo mount /dev/sdXZ /mnt/boot
  • Mount the virtual filesystems using the following single command:
for i in /dev /dev/pts /proc /sys /run; do sudo mount -B $i /mnt$i; done
  • Chroot into your installation
sudo chroot /mnt
  • Install the latest -generic image and headers by installing the metapackage. This will regenerate GRUB's configuration.
sudo apt-get install linux-image-generic linux-header-generic
  • Purge the -virtual image and headers. This should also regenerate GRUB's configuration:
sudo apt-get purge --auto-remove linux-image-virtual linux-header-virtual
  • Check for leftover -virtual images in /boot. If you find any, remove them and then run sudo update-grub
  • Reboot into your installation.

Setup MusicBrainz Server from source code

This can potentially be a very laborious and time consuming method of getting a functioning MusicBrainz server. Using the virtual machine is recommended.

Get a copy of musicbrainz-server from git:

git clone --recursive musicbrainz-server
cd musicbrainz-server

And follow the instructions in the INSTALL file.


The setup process may look daunting, but please don't let this discourage you; the INSTALL is thorough and contains a lot of information, and we are willing to provide assistance. If you have questions about installing, join us in the #musicbrainz-devel IRC channel or post a question on the developers mailing list and we will attempt to help you out.

We recommend that you dive in and give it a try - who knows how far you'll get and what you might learn along the way!


In order to set up a running MusicBrainz server with the full database you will need:

  • A linux box, preferably Ubuntu.
  • 8GB of free disk space, (if you are a developer and only want the server code and database structure 2GB is more than enough).
  • Git knowledge which will enable you to check out the source code.

As a developer the following knowledge/skills are beneficial:

  • Apache, Perl, mod_perl, PostgreSQL and a number of perl modules.
  • How to compile and install packages from source on a Linux box.
  • How to patch existing packages, although we can help you out if you have questions about that.

Note: The server has never been ported to Windows, and we suspect that it would be a fair amount of work to make that happen.