Firefox Sync Server

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Revision as of 23:07, 25 November 2011 by Mister Fred (talk | contribs) (New topic : Unprivileged User)
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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 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 (adapted from Mozilla Howto, Copyright 2010 Mozilla Foundation, CC BY-SA 2.5):

# 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



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/weav/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, around line 12 and around line 24. Both should be modified.

Near line 15, we bump the disk quota from 5 to 25 MB:

quota_size = 25600

Near line 28, the fallback node URL must reflect our server's name (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. We will create the group weave and the user sync for that purpose.

 # groupadd weave
 # adduser

Login name for new user []: sync

User ID ('UID') [ defaults to next available ]: 

Initial group [ users ]: weave

Additional groups (comma separated) []: 

Home directory [ /home/sync ] /opt/weave/home

Shell [ /bin/bash ] 

Expiry date (YYYY-MM-DD) []: 

New account will be created as follows:

Login name.......:  sync
UID..............:  [ Next available ]
Initial group....:  weave
Additional groups:  [ None ]
Home directory...:  /opt/weave/home
Shell............:  /bin/bash
Expiry date......:  [ Never ]

This is it... if you want to bail out, hit Control-C.  Otherwise, press
ENTER to go ahead and make the account.

Creating new account...

Changing the user information for sync
Enter the new value, or press ENTER for the default
        Full Name []: 
        Room Number []: 
        Work Phone []: 
        Home Phone []: 
        Other []: 
Enter new UNIX password: 
Retype new UNIX password: 
passwd: password updated successfully

Account setup complete.

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