Setting up a Barbican Development Environment

These instructions are designed to help you setup a standalone version of Barbican which uses SQLite as a database backend. This is not suitable for production due to the lack of authentication and an interface to a secure encryption system such as an HSM (Hardware Security Module). In addition, the SQLite backend has known issues with thread-safety. This setup is purely to aid in development workflows.

Installing system dependencies

Ubuntu 15.10:

# Install development tools
sudo apt-get install git python-tox

# Install dependency build requirements
sudo apt-get install libffi-dev libssl-dev python-dev gcc

Fedora 30:

# Install development tools
sudo dnf install git python3-tox

# Install dependency build requirements
sudo dnf install gcc libffi-devel openssl-devel redhat-rpm-config

Setting up a virtual environment

We highly recommend using virtual environments for development. You can learn more about Virtual Environments in The Python Tutorial.

If you installed tox in the previous step you should already have virtualenv installed as well.

# Clone barbican source
git clone
cd barbican

# Create and activate a virtual environment
virtualenv .barbicanenv
. .barbicanenv/bin/activate

# Install barbican in development mode
pip install -e $PWD

Configuring Barbican

Barbican uses oslo.config for configuration. By default the api process will look for the configuration file in $HOME/barbican.conf or /etc/barbican/barbican.conf. The sample configuration files included in the source code assume that you’ll be using /etc/barbican/ for configuration and /var/lib/barbican for the database file location.

# Create the directories and copy the config files
sudo mkdir /etc/barbican
sudo mkdir /var/lib/barbican
sudo chown $(whoami) /etc/barbican
sudo chown $(whoami) /var/lib/barbican
cp -r etc/barbican /etc
tox -e genconfig
cp etc/oslo-config-generator/barbican.conf /etc/barbican/barbican.conf
sed -i 's/\/v1: barbican-api-keystone/\/v1: barbican_api/' /etc/barbican/barbican-api-paste.ini

All the locations are configurable, so you don’t have to use /etc and /var/lib in your development machine if you don’t want to.

Running Barbican

If you made it this far you should be able to run the barbican development server using this command:


An instance of barbican will be listening on http://localhost:9311. Note that the default configuration uses the unauthenticated context. This means that requests should include the X-Project-Id header instead of including a keystone token in the X-Auth-Token header. For example:

curl -v -H 'X-Project-Id: 12345' \
        -H 'Accept: application/json' \

For more information on configuring Barbican with Keystone auth see the Keystone Configuration page.

Building the Documentation

You can build the html documentation using tox:

tox -e docs

Running the Unit Tests

You can run the unit test suite using tox:

tox -e py36