Installing Tahoe-LAFS

Welcome to the Tahoe-LAFS project, a secure, decentralized, fault-tolerant storage system. See Welcome to Tahoe-LAFS! for an overview of the architecture and security properties of the system.

This procedure should work on Windows, Mac, OpenSolaris, and too many flavors of Linux and of BSD to list.

First: In Case Of Trouble

In some cases these instructions may fail due to peculiarities of your platform.

If the following instructions don’t Just Work without any further effort on your part, then please write to the tahoe-dev mailing list where friendly hackers will help you out.

Pre-Packaged Versions

You may not need to build Tahoe at all.

If you are on Windows, please see Building Tahoe-LAFS on Windows for platform-specific instructions.

If you are on a Mac, you can either follow these instructions, or use the pre-packaged bundle described in OS-X Packaging. The Tahoe project hosts pre-compiled “wheels” for all dependencies, so use the --find-links= option described below to avoid needing a compiler.

Many Linux distributions include Tahoe-LAFS packages. Debian and Ubuntu users can apt-get install tahoe-lafs. See OSPackages for other platforms.


If you don’t use a pre-packaged copy of Tahoe, you can build it yourself. You’ll need Python2.7, pip, and virtualenv. On unix-like platforms, you will need a C compiler, the Python development headers, and some libraries (libffi-dev and libssl-dev).

On a modern Debian/Ubuntu-derived distribution, this command will get you everything you need:

apt-get install build-essential python-dev libffi-dev libssl-dev python-virtualenv

On OS-X, install pip and virtualenv as described below. If you want to compile the dependencies yourself (instead of using --find-links to take advantage of the pre-compiled ones we host), you’ll also need to install Xcode and its command-line tools.

Python 2.7

Check if you already have an adequate version of Python installed by running python -V. The latest version of Python v2.7 is recommended, which is 2.7.11 as of this writing. Python v2.6.x and v3 do not work. On Windows, we recommend the use of native Python v2.7, not Cygwin Python. If you don’t have one of these versions of Python installed, download and install the latest version of Python v2.7. Make sure that the path to the installation directory has no spaces in it (e.g. on Windows, do not install Python in the “Program Files” directory):

% python --version
Python 2.7.11


Many Python installations already include pip, but in case yours does not, get it with the pip install instructions:

% pip --version
pip 8.1.1 from ... (python 2.7)


If you do not have an OS-provided copy of virtualenv, install it with the instructions from the virtualenv documentation:

% virtualenv --version

C compiler and libraries

Except on OS-X, where the Tahoe project hosts pre-compiled wheels for all dependencies, you will need several C libraries installed before you can build. You will also need the Python development headers, and a C compiler (your python installation should know how to find these).

On Debian/Ubuntu-derived systems, the necessary packages are python-dev, libffi-dev, and libssl-dev, and can be installed with apt-get. On RPM-based system (like Fedora) these may be named python-devel, etc, instead, and cam be installed with yum or rpm.

Install the Latest Tahoe-LAFS Release

We recommend creating a fresh virtualenv for your Tahoe-LAFS install, to isolate it from any python packages that are already installed (and to isolate the rest of your system from Tahoe’s dependencies).

This example uses a virtualenv named venv, but you can call it anything you like. Many people prefer to keep all their virtualenvs in one place, like ~/.local/venvs/ or ~/venvs/.

It’s usually a good idea to upgrade the virtualenv’s pip and setuptools to their latest versions, with venv/bin/pip install -U pip setuptools. Many operating systems have an older version of virtualenv, which then includes older versions of pip and setuptools. Upgrading is easy, and only affects the virtualenv: not the rest of your computer.

Then use the virtualenv’s pip to install the latest Tahoe-LAFS release from PyPI with venv/bin/pip install tahoe-lafs. After installation, run venv/bin/tahoe --version to confirm the install was successful:

% virtualenv venv
New python executable in ~/venv/bin/python2.7
Installing setuptools, pip, wheel...done.

% venv/bin/pip install -U pip setuptools
Downloading/unpacking pip from
Successfully installed pip setuptools

% venv/bin/pip install tahoe-lafs
Collecting tahoe-lafs
Installing collected packages: ...
Successfully installed ...

% venv/bin/tahoe --version
tahoe-lafs: 1.12.1
foolscap: ...


On OS-X, instead of pip install tahoe-lafs, use this command to take advantage of the hosted pre-compiled wheels:

venv/bin/pip install --find-links= tahoe-lafs

Install From a Source Tarball

You can also install directly from the source tarball URL:

% virtualenv venv
New python executable in ~/venv/bin/python2.7
Installing setuptools, pip, wheel...done.

% venv/bin/pip install
Installing collected packages: ...
Successfully installed ...

% venv/bin/tahoe --version
tahoe-lafs: 1.12.1

Hacking On Tahoe-LAFS

To modify the Tahoe source code, you should get a git checkout, and install with the --editable flag. You should also use the [test] extra to get the additional libraries needed to run the unit tests:

% git clone

% cd tahoe-lafs

% virtualenv venv

% venv/bin/pip install --editable .[test]
Obtaining file::~/tahoe-lafs
Successfully installed ...

% venv/bin/tahoe --version
tahoe-lafs: 1.12.1.post34.dev0

This way, you won’t have to re-run the pip install step each time you modify the source code.

Running the tahoe executable

The rest of the Tahoe-LAFS documentation assumes that you can run the tahoe executable that you just created. You have four basic options:

  • Use the full path each time (e.g. ~/venv/bin/tahoe).
  • Activate” the virtualenv with . venv/bin/activate, to get a subshell with a $PATH that includes the venv/bin/ directory, then you can just run tahoe.
  • Change your $PATH to include the venv/bin/ directory, so you can just run tahoe.
  • Symlink from ~/bin/tahoe to the tahoe executable. Since ~/bin is typically in your $PATH (at least if it exists when you log in), this will let you just run tahoe.

You might also find the pipsi tool convenient: pipsi install tahoe-lafs will create a new virtualenv, install tahoe into it, then symlink just the executable (into ~/.local/bin/tahoe). Then either add ~/.local/bin/ to your $PATH, or make one last symlink into ~/bin/tahoe.

Running the Self-Tests

To run the self-tests from a source tree, you’ll need tox installed. On a Debian/Ubuntu system, use apt-get install tox. You can also install it into your tahoe-specific virtualenv with pip install tox.

Then just run tox. This will create a new fresh virtualenv, install Tahoe (from the source tree, including any changes you have made) and all its dependencies (including testing-only dependencies) into the virtualenv, then run the unit tests. This ensures that the tests are repeatable and match the results of other users, unaffected by any other Python packages installed on your machine. On a modern computer this will take 5-10 minutes, and should result in a “all tests passed” mesage:

% tox
GLOB sdist-make: ~/tahoe-lafs/
py27 recreate: ~/tahoe-lafs/.tox/py27
py27 inst: ~/tahoe-lafs/.tox/dist/
py27 runtests: commands[0] | tahoe --version
py27 runtests: commands[1] | trial --rterrors allmydata
    test_authenticated ...                                           [OK]
    test_missing_signature ...                                       [OK]
Ran 1186 tests in 423.179s

PASSED (skips=7, expectedFailures=3, successes=1176)
__________________________ summary ___________________________________
  py27: commands succeeded
  congratulations :)

Common Problems

If you see an error like fatal error: Python.h: No such file or directory while compiling the dependencies, you need the Python development headers. If you are on a Debian or Ubuntu system, you can install them with sudo apt-get install python-dev. On RedHat/Fedora, install python-devel.

Similar errors about openssl/crypto.h indicate that you are missing the OpenSSL development headers (libssl-dev). Likewise ffi.h means you need libffi-dev.

Using Tahoe-LAFS

Now you are ready to deploy a decentralized filesystem. You will use the tahoe executable to create, configure, and launch your Tahoe-LAFS nodes. See How To Run Tahoe-LAFS for instructions on how to do that.