Setting up a Kallithea instance

Some further details to the steps mentioned in the overview.

Create low level configuration file

First, you will need to create a Kallithea configuration file. The configuration file is a .ini file that contains various low level settings for Kallithea, e.g. configuration of how to use database, web server, email, and logging.

Change to the desired directory (such as /srv/kallithea) as the right user and run the following command to create the file my.ini in the current directory:

kallithea-cli config-create my.ini http_server=waitress

To get a good starting point for your configuration, specify the http server you intend to use. It can be waitress, gearbox, gevent, gunicorn, or uwsgi. (Apache mod_wsgi will not use this configuration file, and it is fine to keep the default http_server configuration unused. mod_wsgi is configured using httpd.conf directives and a WSGI wrapper script.)

Extra custom settings can be specified like:

kallithea-cli config-create my.ini host= "[handler_console]" formatter=color_formatter

Populate the database

Next, you need to create the databases used by Kallithea. Kallithea currently supports PostgreSQL, SQLite and MariaDB/MySQL databases. It is recommended to start out using SQLite (the default) and move to PostgreSQL if it becomes a bottleneck or to get a “proper” database. MariaDB/MySQL is also supported.

For PostgreSQL, run pip install psycopg2 to get the database driver. Make sure the PostgreSQL server is initialized and running. Make sure you have a database user with password authentication with permissions to create databases - for example by running:

sudo -u postgres createuser 'kallithea' --pwprompt --createdb

For MariaDB/MySQL, run pip install mysqlclient to get the MySQLdb database driver. Make sure the database server is initialized and running. Make sure you have a database user with password authentication with permissions to create the database - for example by running:

echo 'CREATE USER "kallithea"@"localhost" IDENTIFIED BY "password"' | sudo -u mysql mysql
echo 'GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON `kallithea`.* TO "kallithea"@"localhost"' | sudo -u mysql mysql

Check and adjust sqlalchemy.url in your my.ini configuration file to use this database.

Create the database, tables, and initial content by running the following command:

kallithea-cli db-create -c my.ini

This will first prompt you for a “root” path. This “root” path is the location where Kallithea will store all of its repositories on the current machine. This location must be writable for the running Kallithea application. Next, db-create will prompt you for a username and password for the initial admin account it sets up for you.

The db-create values can also be given on the command line. Example:

kallithea-cli db-create -c my.ini --user=nn --password=secret --repos=/srv/repos

The db-create command will create all needed tables and an admin account. When choosing a root path you can either use a new empty location, or a location which already contains existing repositories. If you choose a location which contains existing repositories Kallithea will add all of the repositories at the chosen location to its database. (Note: make sure you specify the correct path to the root).


It is also possible to use an existing database. For example, when using PostgreSQL without granting general createdb privileges to the PostgreSQL kallithea user, set sqlalchemy.url = postgresql://kallithea:password@localhost/kallithea and create the database like:

sudo -u postgres createdb 'kallithea' --owner 'kallithea'
kallithea-cli db-create -c my.ini --reuse


You are now ready to use Kallithea. To run it using a gearbox web server, simply execute:

gearbox serve -c my.ini
  • This command runs the Kallithea server. The web app should be available at The IP address and port is configurable via the configuration file created in the previous step.
  • Log in to Kallithea using the admin account created when running db-create.
  • The default permissions on each repository is read, and the owner is admin. Remember to update these if needed.
  • In the admin panel you can toggle LDAP, anonymous, and permissions settings, as well as edit more advanced options on users and repositories.

Internationalization (i18n support)

The Kallithea web interface is automatically displayed in the user’s preferred language, as indicated by the browser. Thus, different users may see the application in different languages. If the requested language is not available (because the translation file for that language does not yet exist or is incomplete), English is used.

If you want to disable automatic language detection and instead configure a fixed language regardless of user preference, set i18n.enabled = false and specify another language by setting i18n.lang in the Kallithea configuration file.

Using Kallithea with SSH

Kallithea supports repository access via SSH key based authentication. This means:

  • repository URLs like ssh://
  • all network traffic for both read and write happens over the SSH protocol on port 22, without using HTTP/HTTPS nor the Kallithea WSGI application
  • encryption and authentication protocols are managed by the system’s sshd process, with all users using the same Kallithea system user (e.g. kallithea) when connecting to the SSH server, but with users’ public keys in the Kallithea system user’s .ssh/authorized_keys file granting each user sandboxed access to the repositories.
  • users and admins can manage SSH public keys in the web UI
  • in their SSH client configuration, users can configure how the client should control access to their SSH key - without passphrase, with passphrase, and optionally with passphrase caching in the local shell session (ssh-agent). This is standard SSH functionality, not something Kallithea provides or interferes with.
  • network communication between client and server happens in a bidirectional stateful stream, and will in some cases be faster than HTTP/HTTPS with several stateless round-trips.


At this moment, repository access via SSH has been tested on Unix only. Windows users that care about SSH are invited to test it and report problems, ideally contributing patches that solve these problems.

Users and admins can upload SSH public keys (e.g. .ssh/ through the web interface. The server’s .ssh/authorized_keys file is automatically maintained with an entry for each SSH key. Each entry will tell sshd to run kallithea-cli with the ssh-serve sub-command and the right Kallithea user ID when encountering the corresponding SSH key.

To enable SSH repository access, Kallithea must be configured with the path to the .ssh/authorized_keys file for the Kallithea user, and the path to the kallithea-cli command. Put something like this in the .ini file:

ssh_enabled = true
ssh_authorized_keys = /home/kallithea/.ssh/authorized_keys
kallithea_cli_path = /srv/kallithea/venv/bin/kallithea-cli

The SSH service must be running, and the Kallithea user account must be active (not necessarily with password access, but public key access must be enabled), all file permissions must be set as sshd wants it, and authorized_keys must be writeable by the Kallithea user.


The authorized_keys file will be rewritten from scratch on each update. If it already exists with other data, Kallithea will not overwrite the existing authorized_keys, and the server process will instead throw an exception. The system administrator thus cannot ssh directly to the Kallithea user but must use su/sudo from another account.

If /home/kallithea/.ssh/ (the directory of the path specified in the ssh_authorized_keys setting of the .ini file) does not exist as a directory, Kallithea will attempt to create it. If that path exists but is not a directory, or is not readable-writable-executable by the server process, the server process will raise an exception each time it attempts to write the authorized_keys file.


It is possible to configure the SSH server to look for authorized keys in multiple files, for example reserving ssh/authorized_keys to be used for normal SSH and with Kallithea using .ssh/authorized_keys_kallithea. In /etc/ssh/sshd_config set AuthorizedKeysFile .ssh/authorized_keys .ssh/authorized_keys_kallithea and restart sshd, and in my.ini set ssh_authorized_keys = /home/kallithea/.ssh/authorized_keys_kallithea. Note that this new location will apply to all system users, and that multiple entries for the same SSH key will shadow each other.


The handling of SSH access is steered directly by the command specified in the authorized_keys file. There is no interaction with the web UI. Once SSH access is correctly configured and enabled, it will work regardless of whether the Kallithea web process is actually running. Hence, if you want to perform repository or server maintenance and want to fully disable all access to the repositories, disable SSH access by setting ssh_enabled = false in the correct .ini file (i.e. the .ini file specified in the authorized_keys file.)

The authorized_keys file can be updated manually with kallithea-cli ssh-update-authorized-keys -c my.ini. This command is not needed in normal operation but is for example useful after changing SSH-related settings in the .ini file or renaming that file. (The path to the .ini file is used in the generated authorized_keys file).

Integration with issue trackers

Kallithea provides a simple integration with issue trackers. It’s possible to define a regular expression that will match an issue ID in commit messages, and have that replaced with a URL to the issue.

This is achieved with following three variables in the ini file:

issue_pat = #(\d+)
issue_server_link ={repo}/issue/\1
issue_sub =

issue_pat is the regular expression describing which strings in commit messages will be treated as issue references. The expression can/should have one or more parenthesized groups that can later be referred to in issue_server_link and issue_sub (see below). If you prefer, named groups can be used instead of simple parenthesized groups.

If the pattern should only match if it is preceded by whitespace, add the following string before the actual pattern: (?:^|(?<=\s)). If the pattern should only match if it is followed by whitespace, add the following string after the actual pattern: (?:$|(?=\s)). These expressions use lookbehind and lookahead assertions of the Python regular expression module to avoid the whitespace to be part of the actual pattern, otherwise the link text will also contain that whitespace.

Matched issue references are replaced with the link specified in issue_server_link, in which any backreferences are resolved. Backreferences can be \1, \2, … or for named groups \g<groupname>. The special token {repo} is replaced with the full repository path (including repository groups), while token {repo_name} is replaced with the repository name (without repository groups).

The link text is determined by issue_sub, which can be a string containing backreferences to the groups specified in issue_pat. If issue_sub is empty, then the text matched by issue_pat is used verbatim.

The example settings shown above match issues in the format #<number>. This will cause the text #300 to be transformed into a link:

<a href="">#300</a>

The following example transforms a text starting with either of ‘pullrequest’, ‘pull request’ or ‘PR’, followed by an optional space, then a pound character (#) and one or more digits, into a link with the text ‘PR #’ followed by the digits:

issue_pat = (pullrequest|pull request|PR) ?#(\d+)
issue_server_link =\2
issue_sub = PR #\2

The following example demonstrates how to require whitespace before the issue reference in order for it to be recognized, such that the text issue#123 will not cause a match, but issue #123 will:

issue_pat = (?:^|(?<=\s))#(\d+)
issue_server_link =\1
issue_sub =

If needed, more than one pattern can be specified by appending a unique suffix to the variables. For example, also demonstrating the use of named groups:

issue_pat_wiki = wiki-(?P<pagename>\S+)
issue_server_link_wiki =\g<pagename>
issue_sub_wiki = WIKI-\g<pagename>

With these settings, wiki pages can be referenced as wiki-some-id, and every such reference will be transformed into:

<a href="">WIKI-some-id</a>

Refer to the Python regular expression documentation for more details about the supported syntax in issue_pat, issue_server_link and issue_sub.

Hook management

Custom Mercurial hooks can be managed in a similar way to that used in .hgrc files. To manage hooks, choose Admin > Settings > Hooks.

To add another custom hook simply fill in the first textbox with <name>.<hook_type> and the second with the hook path. Example hooks can be found in kallithea.lib.hooks.

Kallithea will also use some hooks internally. They cannot be modified, but some of them can be enabled or disabled in the VCS section.

Kallithea does not actively support custom Git hooks, but hooks can be installed manually in the file system. Kallithea will install and use the post-receive Git hook internally, but it will then invoke post-receive-custom if present.

Changing default encoding

By default, Kallithea uses UTF-8 encoding. This is configurable as default_encoding in the .ini file. This affects many parts in Kallithea including user names, filenames, and encoding of commit messages. In addition Kallithea can detect if the chardet library is installed. If chardet is detected Kallithea will fallback to it when there are encode/decode errors.

The Mercurial encoding is configurable as hgencoding. It is similar to setting the HGENCODING environment variable, but will override it.

Celery configuration

Kallithea can use the distributed task queue system Celery to run tasks like cloning repositories or sending emails.

Kallithea will in most setups work perfectly fine out of the box (without Celery), executing all tasks in the web server process. Some tasks can however take some time to run and it can be better to run such tasks asynchronously in a separate process so the web server can focus on serving web requests.

For installation and configuration of Celery, see the Celery documentation. Note that Celery requires a message broker service like RabbitMQ (recommended) or Redis.

The use of Celery is configured in the Kallithea ini configuration file. To enable it, simply set:

use_celery = true

and add or change the celery.* configuration variables.

Configuration settings are prefixed with ‘celery.’, so for example setting broker_url in Celery means setting celery.broker_url in the configuration file.

To start the Celery process, run:

kallithea-cli celery-run -c my.ini

Extra options to the Celery worker can be passed after -- - see -- -h for more info.


Make sure you run this command from the same virtualenv, and with the same user that Kallithea runs.

Proxy setups

When Kallithea is processing HTTP requests from a user, it will see and use some of the basic properties of the connection, both at the TCP/IP level and at the HTTP level. The WSGI server will provide this information to Kallithea in the “environment”.

In some setups, a proxy server will take requests from users and forward them to the actual Kallithea server. The proxy server will thus be the immediate client of the Kallithea WSGI server, and Kallithea will basically see it as such. To make sure Kallithea sees the request as it arrived from the client to the proxy server, the proxy server must be configured to somehow pass the original information on to Kallithea, and Kallithea must be configured to pick that information up and trust it.

Kallithea will by default rely on its WSGI server to provide the IP of the client in the WSGI environment as REMOTE_ADDR, but it can be configured to get it from an HTTP header that has been set by the proxy server. For example, if the proxy server puts the client IP in the X-Forwarded-For HTTP header, set:

remote_addr_variable = HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR

Kallithea will by default rely on finding the protocol (http or https) in the WSGI environment as wsgi.url_scheme. If the proxy server puts the protocol of the client request in the X-Forwarded-Proto HTTP header, Kallithea can be configured to trust that header by setting:

url_scheme_variable = HTTP_X_FORWARDED_PROTO

HTTPS support

Kallithea will by default generate URLs based on the WSGI environment.

Alternatively, you can use some special configuration settings to control directly which scheme/protocol Kallithea will use when generating URLs:

  • With url_scheme_variable set, the scheme will be taken from that HTTP header.
  • With force_https = true, the scheme will be seen as https.
  • With use_htsts = true, Kallithea will set Strict-Transport-Security when using https.

Nginx virtual host example

Sample config for Nginx using proxy:

upstream kallithea {
    # add more instances for load balancing

## gist alias
server {
   listen          443;
   access_log      /var/log/nginx/gist.access.log;
   error_log       /var/log/nginx/gist.error.log;

   ssl on;
   ssl_certificate     gist.your.kallithea.server.crt;
   ssl_certificate_key gist.your.kallithea.server.key;

   ssl_session_timeout 5m;

   ssl_protocols SSLv3 TLSv1;
   ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;

   rewrite ^/(.+)$$1;
   rewrite (.*);

server {
   listen          443;
   access_log      /var/log/nginx/kallithea.access.log;
   error_log       /var/log/nginx/kallithea.error.log;

   ssl on;
   ssl_certificate     your.kallithea.server.crt;
   ssl_certificate_key your.kallithea.server.key;

   ssl_session_timeout 5m;

   ssl_protocols SSLv3 TLSv1;
   ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;

   ## uncomment root directive if you want to serve static files by nginx
   ## requires static_files = false in .ini file
   #root /srv/kallithea/kallithea/kallithea/public;
   include         /etc/nginx/proxy.conf;
   location / {
        try_files $uri @kallithea;

   location @kallithea {


Here’s the proxy.conf. It’s tuned so it will not timeout on long pushes or large pushes:

proxy_redirect              off;
proxy_set_header            Host $host;
## needed for container auth
#proxy_set_header            REMOTE_USER $remote_user;
#proxy_set_header            X-Forwarded-User $remote_user;
proxy_set_header            X-Url-Scheme $scheme;
proxy_set_header            X-Host $http_host;
proxy_set_header            X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
proxy_set_header            X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
proxy_set_header            Proxy-host $proxy_host;
proxy_buffering             off;
proxy_connect_timeout       7200;
proxy_send_timeout          7200;
proxy_read_timeout          7200;
proxy_buffers               8 32k;
client_max_body_size        1024m;
client_body_buffer_size     128k;
large_client_header_buffers 8 64k;

Apache virtual host reverse proxy example

Here is a sample configuration file for Apache using proxy:

<VirtualHost *:80>

        <Proxy *>
          # For Apache 2.4 and later:
          Require all granted

          # For Apache 2.2 and earlier, instead use:
          # Order allow,deny
          # Allow from all

        #important !
        #Directive to properly generate url (clone url) for Kallithea
        ProxyPreserveHost On

        #kallithea instance
        ProxyPass /
        ProxyPassReverse /

        #to enable https use line below
        #SetEnvIf X-Url-Scheme https HTTPS=1

Additional tutorial

Apache as subdirectory

Apache subdirectory part:

<Location /PREFIX >
  SetEnvIf X-Url-Scheme https HTTPS=1

Besides the regular apache setup you will need to add the following line into [app:main] section of your .ini file:

filter-with = proxy-prefix

Add the following at the end of the .ini file:

use = egg:PasteDeploy#prefix
prefix = /PREFIX

then change PREFIX into your chosen prefix

Apache with mod_wsgi

Alternatively, Kallithea can be set up with Apache under mod_wsgi. For that, you’ll need to:

  • Install mod_wsgi. If using a Debian-based distro, you can install the package libapache2-mod-wsgi:

    aptitude install libapache2-mod-wsgi
  • Enable mod_wsgi:

    a2enmod wsgi
  • Add global Apache configuration to tell mod_wsgi that Python only will be used in the WSGI processes and shouldn’t be initialized in the Apache processes:

    WSGIRestrictEmbedded On
  • Create a WSGI dispatch script, like the one below. The WSGIDaemonProcess python-home directive will make sure it uses the right Python Virtual Environment and that paste thus can pick up the right Kallithea application.

    ini = '/srv/kallithea/my.ini'
    from logging.config import fileConfig
    fileConfig(ini, {'__file__': ini, 'here': '/srv/kallithea'})
    from paste.deploy import loadapp
    application = loadapp('config:' + ini)
  • Add the necessary WSGI* directives to the Apache Virtual Host configuration file, like in the example below. Notice that the WSGI dispatch script created above is referred to with the WSGIScriptAlias directive. The default locale settings Apache provides for web services are often not adequate, with C as the default language and ASCII as the encoding. Instead, use the lang parameter of WSGIDaemonProcess to specify a suitable locale. See also the Installation overview section and the WSGIDaemonProcess documentation.

    Apache will by default run as a special Apache user, on Linux systems usually www-data or apache. If you need to have the repositories directory owned by a different user, use the user and group options to WSGIDaemonProcess to set the name of the user and group.

    Once again, check that all paths are correctly specified.

    WSGIDaemonProcess kallithea processes=5 threads=1 maximum-requests=100 \
        python-home=/srv/kallithea/venv lang=C.UTF-8
    WSGIProcessGroup kallithea
    WSGIScriptAlias / /srv/kallithea/dispatch.wsgi
    WSGIPassAuthorization On

Other configuration files

A number of example init.d scripts can be found in the init.d directory of the Kallithea source.