Manual Setup

This guide explains how to build, install and configure Photoview on a fresh installation of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS to run directly on the system without using Docker.


Make sure you got the necessary tools and libraries in order to build and run Photoview.

# Make sure your computer is up to date
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt upgrade

# Install tools used in this guide
$ sudo apt install git curl wget

# Install necessary repositories
$ sudo apt install software-properties-common
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:strukturag/libheif
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:strukturag/libde265

# Install dependencies required to build and run Photoview
$ sudo apt install libdlib-dev libblas-dev libatlas-base-dev liblapack-dev libjpeg-turbo8-dev build-essential \
libdlib19 libdlib-dev libblas-dev libatlas-base-dev liblapack-dev libjpeg-dev libheif-dev pkg-config gpg

Install Golang by following the instructions for Linux from their Download and install Go page, the steps should be something like the following.

# Download Go
$ wget

# Install Go
$ sudo tar -C /usr/local -xzf go1.16.linux-amd64.tar.gz
$ rm go1.16.linux-amd64.tar.gz

# Add Go to the path of your user
$ echo 'export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/go/bin' >> "$HOME/.bashrc" && source "$HOME/.bashrc"

# Verify that go is now installed
$ go version
# Expected output: go version go1.16 linux/amd64

Now install Node 16 and NPM if you've not done so already (it installs npm automatically)

$ curl -fsSL | sudo -E bash -
$ sudo apt install nodejs

Download and build Photoview

Navigate to Photoview Releases and download the source code for the latest version, extract it and open the extracted directory in the terminal.

$ cd /opt
$ git clone
$ cd photoview/

Build the Web user-interface

$ cd ui/
$ npm install
$ npm run build

This builds the UI source code and saves it in the ui/build/ directory.

Build the API back-end

$ cd api/
$ go build -v -o photoview .

This builds the server executable to api/photoview.

Copy needed files

Make a new directory and move the needed files to it.

$ cd /opt/photoview
$ mkdir app
$ cp -r ui/build/ app/ui/
$ cp api/photoview app/photoview
$ cp -r api/data/ app/data/

Setup database

It's highly recommended to configure a full database, but Sqlite is also supported though it might be substantially slower on big media libraries. If you decide to use Sqlite, you can skip this step.

If you don't already have a database you can configure one by following this guide on installing MySQL on Ubuntu 20.04.

If you've not done already, configure a new database and user to use with Photoview.

$ sudo mysql
# Create new user named 'photoview'
mysql> CREATE USER 'photoview'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'Photo_Secret#12345';
# Create new database named 'photoview'
mysql> CREATE DATABASE photoview;
# Grant user full access to the newly created database
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON photoview.* TO 'photoview'@'localhost';

This will create a new user photoview with the password Photo_Secret#12345 and a new database named photoview.

When you're done you should have a running MySQL database with a new user identified by a username and password and an empty database.

Configure Photoview

Photoview is configured through environment variables. It will also load environment variables from a .env file. We will use that to configure Photoview.

Copy the api/example.env file to the output directory, and name it .env.

$ cp api/example.env app/.env

To configure the database to use our MySQL database, edit PHOTOVIEW_MYSQL_URL to match our database configuration. Replace user, password and dbname.



See environment variables for more details.

Install optional dependencies

Photoview can use some external programs to do more advanced things, these programs are not required to use Photoview but some functionality will only be avaliable with them installed.

RAW photo support

Photoview can use Darktable to convert RAW photos to JPEGS when scanning. To enable this install Darktable and make sure the darktable-cli binary is in your $PATH environment variable.

$ sudo apt install darktable

Video transcoding

Photoview can use ffmpeg to convert video files that cannot be played directly in the browser.

$ sudo apt install ffmpeg

Exif parsing

Photoview can optionally use exiftool to parse EXIF metadata faster and more reliably. Without it it will use its internal exif parser.

$ sudo apt install exiftool

Post installation

If you've made it this far, you should be able to start Photoview. (Skip this step if you are using the systemd unit file.)

$ ./photoview

Once it has started it should print something like the following. (If using the systemd unit, this message should be visible in the output of the systemctl status command.)

Photoview UI public endpoint ready at http://localhost:4001/

Navigate to http://localhost:4001/ and you should be presented with the "Initial Setup" wizard. From here enter a new username and password. For the Photo Path enter the filepath for your media, you can always change this later from the settings.

Next click Setup Photoview to create the new admin user.

Now navigate to the Settings page and click on Scan All. The scanner should now begin to scan for new media.


Short version, you will download the latest version, rebuild, and copy the needed files. You can follow the "Download and build Photoview" section above.

If you've made no changes to the database, photo directories, or cache directories you should be done.