Deploying MediaGoblin

This deployment guide will take you step-by-step through setting up your own instance of MediaGoblin.

MediaGoblin most likely isn’t yet available from your operating system’s package manage, however, a basic install isn’t too complex in and of itself. We recommend a setup that combines MediaGoblin, virtualenv, Waitress and Nginx on a .deb or .rpm-based GNU/Linux distribution.

Experts may of course choose other deployment options, including Apache. See our Deployment wiki page for for more details. Please note that we are not able to provide support for these alternative deployment options.


These tools are for site administrators wanting to deploy a fresh install. If you want to join in as a contributor, see our Hacking HOWTO instead.


Throughout the documentation we use the sudo command to indicate that an instruction requires elevated user privileges to run. You can issue these commands as the root user if you prefer.

If you need help configuring sudo, see the Debian wiki or the Fedora Project wiki.

Prepare System


MediaGoblin has the following core dependencies:

These instructions have been tested on Debian 10, CentOS 8 and Fedora 31. These instructions should approximately translate to recent Debian derivatives such as Ubuntu 18.04 and Trisquel 8, and to relatives of Fedora such as CentOS 8.

Issue the following commands:

# Debian 10
sudo apt update
sudo apt install automake git nodejs npm python3-dev python3-gi \
python3-gst-1.0 python3-lxml python3-pil virtualenv

# Fedora 31
sudo dnf install automake gcc git-core make nodejs npm python3-devel \
python3-lxml python3-pillow virtualenv


MediaGoblin now uses Python 3 by default. To use Python 2, you may instead substitute from “python3” to “python” for most package names in the Debian instructions and this should cover dependency installation. Python 2 installation has not been tested on Fedora.

For a production deployment, you’ll also need Nginx as frontend web server and RabbitMQ to store the media processing queue:

# Debian
sudo apt install nginx-light rabbitmq-server

# Fedora
sudo dnf install nginx rabbitmq-server

Configure PostgreSQL


MediaGoblin currently supports PostgreSQL and SQLite. The default is a local SQLite database. This will “just work” for small deployments. For medium to large deployments we recommend PostgreSQL. If you don’t want/need PostgreSQL, skip this section.

These are the packages needed for PostgreSQL:

# Debian
sudo apt install postgresql python3-psycopg2

# Fedora
sudo dnf install postgresql postgresql-server python3-psycopg2

Fedora also requires that you initialize and start the PostgreSQL database with a few commands. The following commands are not needed on a Debian-based platform, however:

# Feora
sudo /usr/bin/postgresql-setup initdb
sudo systemctl enable postgresql
sudo systemctl start postgresql

The installation process will create a new system user named postgres, which will have privileges sufficient to manage the database. We will create a new database user with restricted privileges and a new database owned by our restricted database user for our MediaGoblin instance.

In this example, the database user will be mediagoblin and the database name will be mediagoblin too. We’ll first at the user:

sudo --login --user=postgres createuser --no-createdb mediagoblin

Then we’ll create the database where all of our MediaGoblin data will be stored:

sudo --login --user=postgres createdb --encoding=UTF8 --owner=mediagoblin mediagoblin


Where is the password?

These steps enable you to authenticate to the database in a password-less manner via local UNIX authentication provided you run the MediaGoblin application as a user with the same name as the user you created in PostgreSQL.

More on this in Drop Privileges for MediaGoblin.

Drop Privileges for MediaGoblin

MediaGoblin does not require special permissions or elevated access to run. As such, the preferred way to run MediaGoblin is to create a dedicated, unprivileged system user for the sole purpose of running MediaGoblin. Running MediaGoblin processes under an unprivileged system user helps to keep it more secure.

The following command will create a system account with a username of mediagoblin.

If you are using a Debian-based system, enter this command:

# Debian
sudo useradd --system --create-home --home-dir /var/lib/qmediagoblin \
--group www-data --comment 'GNU MediaGoblin system account' mediagoblin

# Fedora
sudo useradd --system --create-home --home-dir /var/lib/mediagoblin \
--group nginx --comment 'GNU MediaGoblin system account' mediagoblin

This will create a mediagoblin user and assign it to a group that is associated with the web server. This will ensure that the web server can read the media files that users upload (images, videos, etc.)

Many operating systems will automatically create a group mediagoblin to go with the new user mediagoblin, but just to be sure:

sudo groupadd --force mediagoblin
sudo usermod --append --groups mediagoblin mediagoblin

No password will be assigned to this account, and you will not be able to log in as this user. To switch to this account, enter:

sudo su mediagoblin --shell=/bin/bash

To return to your regular user account after using the system account, type exit or Ctrl-d.

Create a MediaGoblin Directory

You should create a working directory for MediaGoblin. This document assumes your local git repository will be located at /srv/ Substitute your preferred local deployment path as needed.

Setting up the working directory requires that we first create the directory with elevated privileges, and then assign ownership of the directory to the unprivileged system account.

To do this, enter the following commands, changing the defaults to suit your particular requirements:

# Debian
sudo mkdir --parents /srv/
sudo chown --no-dereference --recursive mediagoblin:www-data /srv/

# Fedora
sudo mkdir --parents /srv/
sudo chown --no-dereference --recursive mediagoblin:nginx /srv/

Install MediaGoblin and Virtualenv

We will now switch to our ‘mediagoblin’ system account, and then set up our MediaGoblin source code repository and its necessary services. You should modify these commands to suit your own environment.

Switch to the mediagoblin unprivileged user and change to the MediaGoblin directory that you just created:

sudo su mediagoblin --shell=/bin/bash
$ cd /srv/


Unless otherwise noted, the remainder of this document assumes that all operations are performed using the unprivileged mediagoblin account, indicated by the $ prefix.

Clone the MediaGoblin repository and set up the git submodules:

$ git clone --depth=1 \
  --branch stable --recursive
$ cd mediagoblin

Set up the environment:

$ ./
$ VIRTUALENV_FLAGS='--system-site-packages' ./configure
$ make


If you’d prefer to run MediaGoblin with Python 2, pass in --without-python3 to the ./configure command.

Create and set the proper permissions on the user_dev directory. This directory will be used to store uploaded media files:

$ mkdir --mode=2750 user_dev

This concludes the initial configuration of the MediaGoblin environment. In the future, when you update your codebase, you should also run:

sudo su mediagoblin --shell=/bin/bash
$ cd /srv/
$ git submodule update && ./bin/python develop --upgrade && ./bin/gmg dbupdate


Note: If you are running an active site, depending on your server configuration, you may need to stop it first or the dbupdate command may hang (and it’s certainly a good idea to restart it after the update)

Deploy MediaGoblin Services

Edit site configuration

Edit mediagoblin.ini and update email_sender_address to the address you wish to be used as the sender for system-generated emails.


If you’re changing the MediaGoblin directories or URL prefix, you may need to edit direct_remote_path, base_dir, and base_url.


The default config is stored in mediagoblin.example.ini in case you ever need it.

Configure MediaGoblin to use the PostgreSQL database

If you are using PostgreSQL, edit the [mediagoblin] section in your mediagoblin.ini and remove the # prefix on the line containing:

sql_engine = postgresql:///mediagoblin

This assumes you are running the MediaGoblin application under the same system account and database account; both mediagoblin.

Update database data structures

Before you start using the database, you need to run:

$ ./bin/gmg dbupdate

to populate the database with the MediaGoblin data structures.

Create an admin account

Create a MediaGoblin account with full administration access. Provide your own email address and enter a secure password when prompted:

$ ./bin/gmg adduser --username you --email
$ ./bin/gmg makeadmin you

Test the Server

At this point MediaGoblin should be properly installed. You can test the deployment with the following command:

$ ./ --server-name=broadcast

You should be able to connect to the machine on port 6543 in your browser to confirm that the service is operable. You should also be able to log in with the admin username and password.

Type Ctrl-c to exit the above server test.

The next series of commands will need to be run as a privileged user. To return to your regular user account after using the system account, type exit or Ctrl-d.

Waitress and Nginx

This configuration example will use Nginx, however, you may use any webserver of your choice. If you do not already have a web server, consider Nginx, as the configuration files may be more clear than the alternatives.

Create a configuration file at /srv/ and create a symbolic link into a directory that will be included in your nginx configuration (e.g. “/etc/nginx/sites-enabled or /etc/nginx/conf.d) with the following commands:

# Debian
sudo ln --symbolic /srv/ /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/mediagoblin.conf
sudo rm --force /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default
sudo systemctl enable nginx

# Fedora
sudo ln -s /srv/ /etc/nginx/conf.d/mediagoblin.conf
sudo systemctl enable nginx

You can modify these commands and locations depending on your preferences and the existing configuration of your Nginx instance. The contents of this /srv/ file should be modeled on the following:

server {
 # Stock useful config options, but ignore them :)
 include /etc/nginx/mime.types;

 autoindex off;
 default_type  application/octet-stream;
 sendfile on;

 # Gzip
 gzip on;
 gzip_min_length 1024;
 gzip_buffers 4 32k;
 gzip_types text/plain application/x-javascript text/javascript text/xml text/css;

 # Mounting MediaGoblin stuff
 # This is the section you should read

 # Change this to update the upload size limit for your users
 client_max_body_size 8m;

 # prevent attacks (someone uploading a .txt file that the browser
 # interprets as an HTML file, etc.)
 add_header X-Content-Type-Options nosniff;

 access_log /var/log/nginx/mediagoblin.example.access.log;
 error_log /var/log/nginx/mediagoblin.example.error.log;

 # MediaGoblin's stock static files: CSS, JS, etc.
 location /mgoblin_static/ {
    alias /srv/;

 # Instance specific media:
 location /mgoblin_media/ {
    alias /srv/;

 # Theme static files (usually symlinked in)
 location /theme_static/ {
    alias /srv/;

 # Plugin static files (usually symlinked in)
 location /plugin_static/ {
    alias /srv/;

 # Forward requests to the MediaGoblin app server.
 location / {

The first four location directives instruct Nginx to serve the static and uploaded files directly rather than through the MediaGoblin process. This approach is faster and requires less memory.


The user who owns the Nginx process, normally www-data or nginx, requires execute permission on the directories static, public, theme_static and plugin_static plus all their parent directories. This user also requires read permission on all the files within these directories. This is normally the default.

Nginx is now configured to serve the MediaGoblin application. Perform a quick test to ensure that this configuration works:

sudo nginx -t

If you encounter any errors, review your Nginx configuration files, and try to resolve them. If you do not encounter any errors, you can start your Nginx server (may vary depending on your operating system):

sudo systemctl restart nginx

Now start MediaGoblin to test your Nginx configuration:

sudo su mediagoblin --shell=/bin/bash
$ cd /srv/
$ ./ --server-name=main

You should be able to connect to the machine on port 80 in your browser to confirm that the service is operable. If this is the machine in front of you, visit <http://localhost/> or if it is a remote server visit the URL or IP address provided to you by your hosting provider. You should see MediaGoblin; this time via Nginx!

Try logging in and uploading an image. If after uploading you see any “Forbidden” errors from Nginx or your image doesn’t show up, you may need to update the permissions on the new directories MediaGoblin has created:

# Debian
sudo chown --no-dereference --recursive mediagoblin:www-data /srv/

# Fedora
sudo chown --no-dereference --recursive mediagoblin:nginx /srv/


If you see an Nginx placeholder page, you may need to remove the Nginx default configuration, or explictly set a server_name directive in the Nginx config.

Type Ctrl-c to exit the above server test and exit or Ctrl-d to exit the mediagoblin shell.

Create the directory for your log file:

Production logs for the MediaGoblin application are kept in the /var/log/mediagoblin directory. Create the directory and give it the proper permissions:

sudo mkdir --parents /var/log/mediagoblin
sudo chown --no-dereference --recursive mediagoblin:mediagoblin /var/log/mediagoblin

Run MediaGoblin as a system service

To ensure MediaGoblin is automatically started and restarted in case of problems, we need to run it as a system service. If your operating system uses Systemd, you can use Systemd service files to manage both the Celery and Paste processes.

Place the following service files in the /etc/systemd/system/ directory. The first file should be named mediagoblin-celeryd.service. Be sure to modify it to suit your environment’s setup:

# Set the WorkingDirectory and Environment values to match your environment.
Description=MediaGoblin Celeryd

Environment=MEDIAGOBLIN_CONFIG=/srv/ \
ExecStart=/srv/ worker \
            --logfile=/var/log/mediagoblin/celery.log \


The second file should be named mediagoblin-paster.service:

# Set the WorkingDirectory and Environment values to match your environment.

ExecStart=/srv/ serve \
            /srv/ \
            --log-file=/var/log/mediagoblin/mediagoblin.log \


Enable these processes to start at boot by entering:

sudo systemctl enable mediagoblin-celeryd.service && sudo systemctl enable mediagoblin-paster.service

Start the processes for the current session with:

sudo systemctl start mediagoblin-celeryd.service
sudo systemctl start mediagoblin-paster.service

If either command above gives you an error, you can investigate the cause of the error by entering either of:

sudo systemctl status mediagoblin-celeryd.service
sudo systemctl status mediagoblin-paster.service

The above systemctl status command is also useful if you ever want to confirm that a process is still running. If you make any changes to the service files, you can reload the service files by entering:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload

After entering that command, you can attempt to start the Celery or Paste processes again using restart instead of start.

Assuming the above was successful, you should now have a MediaGoblin server that will continue to operate, even after being restarted. Great job!


The configuration described above is sufficient for development and smaller deployments. However, for larger production deployments with larger processing requirements, see the “Considerations for Production Deployments” documentation.


This configuration supports upload of images only, but MediaGoblin also supports other types of media, such as audio, video, PDFs and 3D models. For details, see “Media Types”.