Using CouchDB in Rookeries – Part 3 – Configuring a Remote CouchDB Server

In the previous instalment of this series I wrote about installing and
managing on a remote server. Now lets talk about configuring CouchDB so that
it can run as a production server. This will not cover CouchDB’s
configuration extensively, rather I will touch on the parts relevant to

Configuring CouchDB

CouchDB can be configured in two way: either by modifying the INI setting files
located in the /etc/couchdb/ or by visiting the Configuration UI in Futon:
e.g. http://localhost:5984/_utils/config.html I went with the route of editing the local.ini file via Ansible.

Configuring Users Authentication on CouchDB

The default installation of CouchDB does not force you to declare and secure
users. Users and user authentication is totally optional. However since I
did not want open up my production database to the world.

Adding an Admin User

I first added an admin user to the CouchDB configuration. This user being the
admin user for the entire CouchDB server, rather than an individual database.
The change consisted of adding a value for the user and password, under the
admins section:

admin = password

If you’re worried about leaving your password in plain-text in the
configuration, then don’t. After restarting CouchDB (via the Upstart service)
this password gets hashed.

Admin Party No More – Enforcing User Authentication

By default CouchDB runs in what is “admin party” mode, meaning you do not need to log in to make admin or user changes on the server. Naturally for a production server that is not something you want to do. So you have to enable requiring user login:

require_valid_user = true

Getting CouchDB to Talk with the Rest of the World

This part is optional, however if you want CouchDB accessible from more than
the localhost you have configure it to allow connections from multiple sites.
I needed this since I use Codeship as a continuous integration (CI) service for Rookeries, and I wanted to run integration and end-to-end tests using my production database server. (In an ideal world I would have a separate CouchDB server just for testing or have a CI that has a local instance of CouchDB.)

Binding Addresses

The trick to allowing this is to set the right binding address for CouchDB.
This can be done by changing the bind_address value in the httpd section of the configuration as such:

bind_address =

By default this just localhost or You can also setup the
configuration differently. One thing that I am not sure of is passing a
range or a list of different bind addresses. I am not sure this is possible
based on the documentation that I have seen.

What about HTTPS?

CouchDB has options to handle HTTPS and SSL natively. I personally have not configured my site to use HTTPS, since none of my sites
do so currently. Getting certificates and everything setup for all my sites
is a bit involved so I have avoided the issue for the time being. I plan on
getting around to do so in the future.

However if you have the time and option to setup HTTPS, please do so! Putting
up another layer of security around a production CouchDB will help. More
importantly HTTPS gives you and your end users a degree of privacy, that is
rare in these Post-Snowdown times.