Note: these installation instructions are also available in executable form for use with vagrant under vagrant/

Installing the Required Software

These instructions expect that you have a freshly installed Ubuntu 20.04.

Make sure all packages are are up-to-date by running:

sudo apt update -qq

Now you can install all packages needed for Nominatim:

sudo apt install -y php-cgi
sudo apt install -y build-essential cmake g++ libboost-dev libboost-system-dev \
                    libboost-filesystem-dev libexpat1-dev zlib1g-dev \
                    libbz2-dev libpq-dev libproj-dev \
                    postgresql-server-dev-12 postgresql-12-postgis-3 \
                    postgresql-contrib-12 postgresql-12-postgis-3-scripts \
                    php php-pgsql php-intl libicu-dev python3-dotenv \
                    python3-psycopg2 python3-psutil python3-jinja2 python3-icu

System Configuration

The following steps are meant to configure a fresh Ubuntu installation for use with Nominatim. You may skip some of the steps if you have your OS already configured.

Creating Dedicated User Accounts

Nominatim will run as a global service on your machine. It is therefore best to install it under its own separate user account. In the following we assume this user is called nominatim and the installation will be in /srv/nominatim. To create the user and directory run:

sudo useradd -d /srv/nominatim -s /bin/bash -m nominatim

You may find a more suitable location if you wish.

To be able to copy and paste instructions from this manual, export user name and home directory now like this:

export USERNAME=nominatim
export USERHOME=/srv/nominatim

Never, ever run the installation as a root user. You have been warned.

Make sure that system servers can read from the home directory:

chmod a+x $USERHOME

Setting up PostgreSQL

Tune the postgresql configuration, which is located in /etc/postgresql/12/main/postgresql.conf. See section Postgres Tuning in the installation page for the parameters to change.

Restart the postgresql service after updating this config file.

sudo systemctl restart postgresql

Finally, we need to add two postgres users: one for the user that does the import and another for the webserver which should access the database for reading only:

sudo -u postgres createuser -s $USERNAME
sudo -u postgres createuser www-data

Installing Nominatim

Building and Configuration

Get the source code for the release and unpack it

tar xf Nominatim-3.7.2.tar.bz2

The code must be built in a separate directory. Create this directory, then configure and build Nominatim in there:

mkdir $USERHOME/build
cd $USERHOME/build
cmake $USERHOME/Nominatim-3.7.2
sudo make install

Nominatim is now ready to use. You can continue with importing a database from OSM data. If you want to set up a webserver first, continue reading.

Setting up a webserver

The webserver should serve the php scripts from the website directory of your project directory. Therefore set up a project directory and populate the website directory:

mkdir $USERHOME/nominatim-project
cd $USERHOME/nominatim-project
nominatim refresh --website

Option 1: Using Apache

Apache has a PHP module that can be used to serve Nominatim. To install them run:

sudo apt install -y apache2 libapache2-mod-php

You need to create an alias to the website directory in your apache configuration. Add a separate nominatim configuration to your webserver:

sudo tee /etc/apache2/conf-available/nominatim.conf << EOFAPACHECONF
<Directory "$USERHOME/nominatim-project/website">
  Options FollowSymLinks MultiViews
  AddType text/html   .php
  DirectoryIndex search.php
  Require all granted

Alias /nominatim $USERHOME/nominatim-project/website

Then enable the configuration and restart apache

sudo a2enconf nominatim
sudo systemctl restart apache2

The Nominatim API is now available at http://localhost/nominatim/.

Option 2: Using nginx

Nginx has no native support for php scripts. You need to set up php-fpm for this purpose. First install nginx and php-fpm:

sudo apt install -y nginx php-fpm

You need to configure php-fpm to listen on a Unix socket.

sudo tee /etc/php/7.4/fpm/pool.d/www.conf << EOF_PHP_FPM_CONF
; Replace the tcp listener and add the unix socket
listen = /var/run/php7.4-fpm.sock

; Ensure that the daemon runs as the correct user
listen.owner = www-data = www-data
listen.mode = 0666

; Unix user of FPM processes
user = www-data
group = www-data

; Choose process manager type (static, dynamic, ondemand)
pm = ondemand
pm.max_children = 5

Then create a Nginx configuration to forward http requests to that socket.

sudo tee /etc/nginx/sites-available/default << EOF_NGINX_CONF
server {
    listen 80 default_server;
    listen [::]:80 default_server;

    root $USERHOME/nominatim-project/website;
    index search.php index.html;
    location / {
        try_files \$uri \$uri/ @php;

    location @php {
        fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME "\$document_root\$uri.php";
        fastcgi_param PATH_TRANSLATED "\$document_root\$uri.php";
        fastcgi_param QUERY_STRING    \$args;
        fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php7.4-fpm.sock;
        fastcgi_index index.php;
        include fastcgi_params;

    location ~ [^/]\.php(/|$) {
        fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+?\.php)(/.*)$;
        if (!-f \$document_root\$fastcgi_script_name) {
            return 404;
        fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php7.4-fpm.sock;
        fastcgi_index search.php;
        include fastcgi.conf;

Enable the configuration and restart Nginx

sudo systemctl restart php7.4-fpm nginx

The Nominatim API is now available at http://localhost/.