If your local install was made before 24 April 2018, the database needs to be updated. See the "Updating Your Local Install" section in Using Your Local Install to Modify Habitica's Website and API

The first step to contributing code to Habitica's website is setting up a local instance of the website to test your changes. This page contains instructions for how to do that in Linux. If you are using a different operating system (or a virtual machine hosted on Linux but containing a different operating system), please refer to Setting up Habitica Locally. This page is not relevant for contributing to development for the mobile apps.

Read each section on this page in order, ensuring that every instruction is followed before moving on to the next. If you experience errors, always stop and solve them before moving on to the next step.

It is important to also read Guidance for Blacksmiths for background information about coding for Habitica.

Prepare for Troubleshooting Edit

A local install does not always go smoothly but we will be happy to help you! Habitica uses a lot of software and we understand that it can be complicated to install it all until you are used to it. Please follow all the steps in this section before you experience errors so that, if necessary, you can ask for help easily and we can assess your problem rapidly.

As you are installing Habitica:

  • Record every command that you type and the full output of every command - save all the commands and outputs into text file(s) in case we need to see them later.
  • Carefully read all output messages to look for errors.
    • If you see an error, do not proceed further until the error has been resolved because later steps are likely to not work correctly.
  • If you need to deviate from any instructions anywhere on this page, record what you have done that is different and why. If you later need assistance, it is vital that the people helping you know about those differences, otherwise time can be spent on advice that isn't relevant to you.

If you need help with fixing any errors, upload all of the information you have gathered so far onto a site such as GitHub Gist, then log an issue in GitHub and tell us:

  • what version of Linux you are using
  • any deviations you needed to make from the standard instructions
  • any other information the instructions on this page asked you to record
  • links to your uploaded file(s)
  • what problem you're experiencing

Install Git Edit

Create a GitHub account if you don't already have one.

Install git on your machine (installation instructions available here).

Set Up a Swap FileEdit

If your computer does not have much RAM, it is likely that you will need a swap file of at least 4 GB, otherwise you will have persistent errors when running the "npm install" and "npm start" commands (for examples of errors, see this GitHub issue). If you have a relatively new computer with good RAM, you can probably ignore this section.

Your computer might already have a swap file. Find appropriate instructions on the internet for viewing or creating a swap file for your platform.

If you have a swap file but still cannot run the "npm install" and "npm start" commands successfully, try increasing the size of the swap file.

Record the size of your swap file now. If you later need to ask for help, include it in the troubleshooting information if you give us.

Install Build ToolsEdit

Command-line tools for building software such as make and gcc will be used by packages that you will be installing in later steps on this page. It is possible that your Linux box already has them installed so the commands below might tell you that nothing needs to be installed; that will not be an error and you can continue with the next section on this page.

For Ubuntu, Debian, and distributions based on them, run:
sudo apt-get install build-essential

For RedHat, CentOS, and similar distributions, run:
sudo yum install gcc-c++ make.

For any other distribution, if installing tools to build software from source seems necessary, consult the distribution's documentation to find out how.

Install MongoDBEdit

Install MongoDB in the appropriate way for your type of Linux. You must install version 3.4 (later versions will give you errors because they don't have the $pushall operator, which is used by Habitica's dependencies). It is recommended that, where possible, you follow MongoDB's official instructions for Linux: Install MongoDB Community Edition on Linux. Those instructions are broken down by distribution, so follow the appropriate link from that page.

  • For CentOS, use the RedHat instructions.
  • For Ubuntu versions greater than 14.10, if the instructions have not yet been updated for your version, try one of these unofficial workarounds: (workaround 1, workaround 2), but please assess them carefully to determine suitability for your system.

Start the MongoDB server if it was not started during the installation process (the instructions above should tell you how).

Install Node and NPMEdit

This section takes you through the process of installing node and npm. Important: You must install node 10 and npm 6. You will experience errors if you use any other versions. If you need to use different versions on your development machine for work not related to Habitica, you can use nvm to manage the versions.

When you install Node, a Node executable file will be installed on your system. It might be called either node or nodejs. All of the commands below assume it is called node but if you see errors saying that node does not exist, type nodejs instead.

  1. Check that inappropriate versions of node and npm are not installed:
    node --version; npm --version
    • If that command shows that node is not installed, proceed to the next step.
    • If it shows that you have a version of node that is different than the required version, uninstall it. On Ubuntu, the commands to uninstall it are:
      sudo apt-get purge nodejs -y; sudo apt-get purge node -y
  2. Install the correct version of node for your Linux distribution using the source code or a binary distribution, or a package manager.
    • For Ubuntu, whose software repositories may run a few months behind the latest revisions, install NodeJS from an updated repository. For example, if Node 8 needs to be installed:
      wget -qO- | sudo bash -
      sudo apt-get install nodejs
    • For CentOS 7, if Node 8 needs to be installed:
      curl --location | sudo bash -
      sudo yum install -y nodejs
  3. Check that you installed node successfully and that it is the correct version:
    node --version
  4. Installing node also installs npm. Check that that has been done and that the version is correct:
    npm --version
    • If you have any other version of npm, upgrade it to the correct version. For example, if npm 6 needed to be installed but you had a different version:
      sudo npm install -g npm@6

If you discovered that your Node executable file is called nodejs, create a link to the name node using this command:
sudo ln -s `which nodejs` /usr/bin/node

Install Other Generic RequirementsEdit

Execute this command:
sudo npm install -g mocha

After finishing the above steps, it is important that from this point onwards you are logged in to your computer using the same user account that you will use when you will be developing code for Habitica. Do not log in as root. When elevated permissions are needed, this page will tell you to use sudo. Using elevated permissions at other times will cause problems.

Close any command windows or terminal windows that you have open from previous steps. When you need a command/terminal window again, open a new one so that your shell environment is aware of the software you have installed so far.

Fork and Clone HabiticaEdit

Acquire a copy of Habitica's codebase. There are multiple methods of doing this; the following is the simplest method, and is based on GitHub's Fork A Repo article.

  1. Fork Habitica's repository by going to and clicking on the "Fork" button. This creates a copy of Habitica's repository in your own GitHub account.
  2. On your machine, open a command prompt or terminal window. Change to the directory that you want to Habitica's codebase to be copied under.
  3. Clone your copy of Habitica's repository with the command below (replace "YourUsername" with your GitHub username). This will copy Habitica's code onto your machine, placing the repository into a new "habitica" directory under your current directory.
    git clone
  4. Change into the "habitica" directory that was created by the above step:
    cd habitica
    Remain in that directory for all future steps on this page, unless advised otherwise.
  5. Configure Git to sync your fork with Habitica's repository.
    git remote add upstream
  6. Verify that everything is set up properly by typing git remote -v which should produce output the same as the following but with your GitHub username in place:
  origin (fetch)
  origin (push)
  upstream (fetch)
  upstream (push)

Remain in the Correct Branch and DirectoryEdit

After you have cloned Habitica's repository, you will be in the develop branch by default. This is the correct branch to be in when installing Habitica locally. You do not need to change to any other branches but if you do for any reason, you must switch back to the develop branch with git checkout develop before proceeding further with the installation. You can check which branch you are on with git branch (the branch with a star next to it is the branch you are currently on).

After you have followed all the steps above, you will be in Habitica's top-level directory. You must remain in that directory for all future steps on this page, unless advised otherwise. All commands below are written on the assumption that you are in that directory. If you change out of that directory for any reason, change back into it before continuing with the instructions on this page. If you want to check whether you are in the correct directory, look for a file called config.json.example - if you see that in your current directory, then you are in the right one.

Initial Habitica ConfigurationEdit

Create the config.json configuration file by copying (not renaming) the example one:
cp config.json.example config.json

If desired, edit config.json.

  • Normally you do not need to do this but if you are aware of any reason to, you can do it now. You can also edit it at any later time if needed.
  • One possible reason for editing config.json is to change the port that Habitica's Express server uses. By default, it uses port 3000 and there's no reason to change that unless you know that you are running other software on your machine that uses the same port. If you are, find the line saying "PORT":3000, in config.json and change the port to a suitable number.
  • There is no reason to change the values for ADMIN_EMAIL, SMTP_USER, SMTP_PASS and SMTP_SERVICE. They are used to configure the sending of emails and the email features will not work in development, even with those values supplied.
  • Do not edit config.json.example

Install Habitica-Specific RequirementsEdit

Install the Habitica-specific npm packages:
npm install

If that command shows errors, try rerunning it two or three times in case the failures are from timeouts while retrieving packages from the internet.

If you still see any errors or if any subsequent steps on this page show errors about missing modules or files, the npm install command might not have run correctly. You can seek help in the Aspiring Blacksmiths (Habitica Coders) guild.

Start the Habitica Web ServerEdit

  1. Ensure that the MongoDB database server is running. It should be if you have just completed the above steps, but if you are returning to your local install after a break, it might need to be restarted; refer to online MongoDB instructions for your operating system or ask in the Aspiring Blacksmiths (Habitica Coders) guild if you need help.
  2. Ensure that the time set on your computer or virtual machine is accurate to the nearest second, otherwise you will see "RequestTimeTooSkewed" errors.
  3. In one command prompt or terminal, start the Habitica web server with:
    npm start
  4. In a second command prompt or terminal window, build the website client with npm run client:dev. This will rebuild itself automatically as you save changes to client files and will inform you of any errors.
  5. Review the output of both of those commands as described below.

Review the Server OutputEdit

Blacksmiths setting up npm start output

Normal output from the server.

The output from starting the server (from the npm start command) typically looks something like the image to the right. You are likely to see slight differences in your system (e.g., different dates, times, version numbers).
Blacksmiths setting up npm run client dev output

Normal output from website client.

The inital output from building the website client (from the npm run client:dev command) typically looks something like the image to the right and there will probably be a pause of at least several seconds before additional output appears, if any. As long as the additional output does not contain obvious error messages, everything is probably fine.

Significant differences to those screenshots might indicate a problem.

If you see any other errors or warning messages, before going any further, resolve them yourself or report them using the guidelines in the "Prepare for Troubleshooting" section at the top of this page.

If the outputs from both npm start and npm run client:dev look good, proceed to the next section to test the website. If you're not completely sure if they are good or not, proceed anyway but if the website fails it's likely that you'll need to resolve problems shown in the outputs.

Test the Website in your BrowserEdit

Open a browser to http://localhost:8080 to test the application. The website should look the same as and work identically except that on the Tasks page in the bottom left-hand corner there will be a "Debug" menu (ignore it for now; it's described in the documentation linked at the end of this page but you don't need to use it yet).

If you get to the website's front page but it doesn't finish loading or if you get to the login screen but the login button does nothing, clear local storage for the "localhost" domain. You can do that by clicking the red "Clear Data" button at http://localhost:8080/static/clear-browser-data or by using your browser's JavaScript console (google for information about how to clear local storage in your preferred browser). Then reload the front page.

Create one or more accounts for your testing. The database used by your local install is hosted on your machine; it is not the same database that is used by Habitica itself and so your normal Habitica account will not be available to you.

Next Steps: Using Your Local InstallEdit

Now that you have a working local install of the Habitica website, please read Using Your Local Install to Modify Habitica's Website and API to learn how to contribute code.

It is also important that you read Guidance for Blacksmiths, which has information about the technologies used, how the Habitica code is structured, ideas for how you can help, and other information.