Firefox Sync Server

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This page is about special operations required in order to install Mozilla Sync Server.

Newer versions of Mozilla Firefox feature bookmarks, passwords, settings and browsing history synchronization between all your computers and devices. Mozilla Foundation provides a public Sync server, but you can host your own one if you want.



Before proceeding, you need to install python2, python2-virtualenv, sqlite3, mercurial and make, all available in the official repositories.


If you intend to use your server with itinerant clients, you should install it on an Internet reachable computer.

Administration Rights

All installation instructions are commands relying on the superuser privileges, so open a terminal and type:

$ su -


Mozilla Sync Server depends on Python 2 during installation. Arch Linux provides Python 3 as default Python version so there are special tweaks needed before running Mozilla Sync Server setup. Setup process creates an isolated Python environment in which all necessary dependencies are downloaded and installed. Afterwards, running the server only relies on the isolated Python environment, independently of the system-wide Python.

Python preparation

Mozilla Sync Server setup needs Python 2.6 or newer. In default configuration, /usr/bin/python is a symbolic link to /usr/bin/python3 whereas Python 2 is /usr/bin/python2.

Before running setup, we must check the link and change it if necessary:

# cd /usr/bin
# ls -l python

    lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7  5 sept. 07:04 python -> python3

# ln -sf python2 python


Installation instructions:

# mkdir -p /opt/weave
# cd /opt/weave
# hg clone

      ... source repository cloning messages ...

# cd server-full
# make build

      ... many build messages, including harmless warnings ...

      ... end of the successful build messages:

Building the app 
  Checking the environ   [ok]
  Updating the repo   [ok]
  Building Services dependencies 
    Getting server-core     [ok]
    Getting server-reg     [ok]
    Getting server-storage     [ok]  [ok]
  Building External dependencies   [ok]
  Now building the app itself   [ok]

Check the end of the build messages, they should state "[done]". Otherwise, look at the first error messages, they give you hints on the problem and how to solve it.

Python initial state restoration

# cd /usr/bin
# ln -sf python3 python


Server-side configuration files

Configuration files are used to define where databases and logs will be created. We will place databases in /opt/weave/data and log files in /var/log/weave, so we must create the directories.

# mkdir /opt/weave/data /var/log/weave

At least two configuration files must be changed in /opt/weave/server-full in order to reflect these choices: development.ini and etc/sync.conf.

In development.ini, locate the line:

args = ('/tmp/sync-error.log',)

and change it to:

args = ('/var/log/weave/sync-error.log',)

In etc/sync.conf, locate the line:

sqluri = sqlite:////tmp/test.db

and change it to:

sqluri = sqlite:////opt/weave/data/sync.db

This statement appears twice in the file, both should be modified.

Bump the disk quota from 5 to 25 MB:

quota_size = 25600

The fallback node URL must reflect the server's hostname (here server-name.domain-name). Change:

fallback_node = http://localhost:5000/


fallback_node = http://server-name.domain-name:5000/

Unprivileged User

It is a good practice to run daemons as an unprivileged user. Create the group weave and the user sync for that purpose:

 # groupadd weave
 # useradd -d /opt/weave -g weave -r -s /bin/bash sync

This new user must have read and write access on every file in /opt/weave and /var/log/weave

# chown -R sync:weave /opt/weave/*
# chown -R sync:weave /var/log/weave

Automatic Startup of the Server

In order to make the Sync Server start automatically at boot-time, create a startup script:



. /etc/rc.conf
. /etc/rc.d/functions

PID=`pidof -x -o %PPID paster`
case "$1" in
    stat_busy "Starting Mozilla Sync Server"
    [ -d $RUNDIR ] || mkdir $RUNDIR
    [ -z "$PID" ] && su sync -c "cd /opt/weave/server-full && bin/paster serve development.ini &>$MESSAGELOG &"
    if [ $? -gt 0 ]; then
      PID=`pidof -x -o %PPID paster`
      echo $PID >$PIDFILE
      add_daemon weave
    stat_busy "Stopping Mozilla Sync Server"
    [ ! -z "$PID" ]  && kill $PID &>/dev/null
    if [ $? -gt 0 ]; then
      rm_daemon weave
    $0 stop
    $0 start
    echo "usage: $0 {start|stop|restart}"  
exit 0

The script must have execution rights:

# chmod 755 /etc/rc.d/mozillaweave

Start the Sync Server at boot by including mozillaweave in the Daemon list. It depends on the network so it should be placed accordingly.

Client-side configuration

Use the Sync Configuration Wizard in Firefox' Settings to create a new account on the server. Don't forget to choose "Custom server..." in the list, and input the server address: http://server-name.domain-name:5000/

The "Advanced Settings" button allows fine tuning of the synchronized elements list, and the definition of the client hostname.

See also