Table of contents

Support tasks for CKAN

CKAN is the publishing application for ckanext-datagovuk is the primary CKAN extension for


There are three environments for CKAN:

You can SSH onto these machines in same way as all other GOV.UK AWS applications. The machine node class is ckan.

Managing CKAN

First check to see if it is possible to complete the task through the web interface (credentials are available in the govuk-secrets password store, under datagovuk/ckan).

For commands not available via the user interface you must connect to the server to perform these tasks. Most of the commands to interact with CKAN use a tool called paster. Many of these commands take a path to the config file with the -c option, which is located at /var/ckan/ckan.ini in our deployments.

On GOV.UK servers paster should be run with:

cd /var/apps/ckan
sudo -u deploy govuk_setenv ckan venv/bin/paster [COMMAND] -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Initialising the database

There may be times when you need to start with an empty database (e.g. on integration). The following commands will create the relevant schema for core CKAN and the harvesting extension on integration.

. /var/apps/ckan/venv/bin/activate
paster --plugin=ckan db init -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini
paster --plugin=ckanext-harvest harvester initdb -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Accessing the CKAN API

There are times when it can be useful to access the CKAN API when debugging or resolving issues. Note that the responses will be different depending on your access permissions.

For APIs that require an ID, the ID can be specified as either the GUID or the URL slug (referred to as a URL name in CKAN) e.g.

Here are some more complex examples of using the API, as well as some where the documentation is more sparse.

# Find all packages created during a specific timeframe[2017-06-01T00:00:00Z%20TO%202017-06-30T00:00:00Z]

# Find all packages modified during a specific timeframe[2017-06-01T00:00:00Z%20TO%202017-06-30T00:00:00Z]

# List all publishers

# View a publisher record

# View a user (e.g. to get CKAN API key for a publishing user)

Creating a system administrator account

paster --plugin=ckan sysadmin add USERNAME email=EMAIL_ADDRESS -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

You will be prompted twice for a password.

Removing a system administrator account

paster --plugin=ckan sysadmin remove USERNAME -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Managing users

Listing users

paster --plugin=ckan user list -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Viewing a user

paster --plugin=ckan user USERNAME -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Adding a user

paster --plugin=ckan user add USERNAME email=EMAIL_ADDRESS -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Removing a user

paster --plugin=ckan user remove USERNAME -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Changing a user’s password

paster --plugin=ckan user setpass USERNAME -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Deleting a dataset

CKAN has two types of deletions, the default soft-delete, and a purge. The soft delete gives the option of undeleting a dataset but the purge will remove all trace of it from the system.

Where the following commands mention DATASET_NAME, this should either be the slug for the dataset, or the UUID.

Deleting a dataset:

  1. Find the dataset in the CKAN UI
  2. Click on the ‘Manage’ button, then the 'Delete’ button at the bottom of the page

The 'Delete’ button is currently not available for draft datasets. In order to soft-delete a draft dataset, follow the above steps, but manually change 'edit’ to 'delete’ on the 'Manage’ page for the dataset.

Purging a dataset:

paster --plugin=ckan dataset purge DATASET_NAME -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

There may be times when a large number of datasets must be deleted. This can be done remotely from your machine using the CKAN API. Your API key is required, which can be obtained from your user profile on the web interface. Put a list of dataset slugs or GUIDs in a text file, with one dataset per line, then run the following.

while read p; do curl --request POST --data "{\"id\": \"$p\"}" --header "Authorization: <your_api_key>"; done < list_of_ids.txt

After deleting or purging a dataset, it will take up to 10 minutes to update on Find, due to the sync process.

Rebuilding the search index

CKAN uses Solr for its search index, and occasionally it may be necessary to interact with it to refresh the index, or rebuild it from scratch.

Refresh the entire search index (this adds/removes datasets, but does not clear the index first):

paster --plugin=ckan search-index rebuild -r -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Rebuild the entire search index (this deletes the index before re-indexing begins):

paster --plugin=ckan search-index rebuild -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Rebuilding the entire search index immediately removes all records from the search before re-indexing begins. No datasets will be served from the package_search API endpoint until the re-index has completed. This command should therefore only be used as a last resort since it will cause the sync process to assume there is no data for a period of time.

Only reindex those packages that are not currently indexed:

paster --plugin=ckan search-index -o rebuild -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Managing the harvest workers

Although harvesters can mostly be managed from the user interface, it is sometimes easier to perform these tasks from the command line.

Listing current jobs

Returns a list of currently running jobs. This will contain the JOB_ID necessary to cancel jobs.

paster --plugin=ckanext-harvest harvester jobs -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

It may be faster to run a SQL query to get the ID of a specific harvest job.

psql ckan_production -c "SELECT id FROM harvest_source WHERE name = '[NAME]'"

Cancelling a current job

To cancel a currently running job, you will require a JOB_ID from the Listing current jobs section.

paster --plugin=ckanext-harvest harvester job_abort JOB_ID -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

This can also be done by running SQL:

psql ckan_production -c "UPDATE harvest_job SET finished = NOW(), status = 'Finished' WHERE source_id = '[UUID]' AND NOT status = 'Finished';"

Purging all currently queued tasks

It may be necessary, if there is a schedule clash and the system is too busy, to purge the queues used in the various stages of harvesting


This command will empty the Redis queues

paster --plugin=ckanext-harvest harvester purge_queues -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Restarting the harvest queues

If the queues stall, it may be necessary to restart one or both of the harvest queues.

The gather jobs retrieve the identifiers of the updated datasets and create jobs in the fetch queue.

sudo initctl restart harvester_gather_consumer-procfile-worker

The fetch job retrieve the datasets from the remote source and perform the relevant updates in CKAN.

sudo initctl restart harvester_fetch_consumer-procfile-worker

Change a publisher’s name

Change the name in the publisher page then reindex that publisher:

paster --plugin=ckan search-index rebuild-publisher [PUBLISHER] -c /var/ckan/ckan.ini

Register a brownfield dataset

See the supporting manual.

This page was last reviewed on 30 May 2019. It needs to be reviewed again on 30 November 2019 by the page owner #govuk-platform-health .
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