11.1. Set Up

Everything you need to know to prepare the cluster for the installation of CouchDB.

11.1.1. Firewall

If you do not have a firewall between your servers, then you can skip this.

CouchDB in cluster mode uses the port 5984 just as standalone, but it also uses 5986 for node-local APIs.

Erlang uses TCP port 4369 (EPMD) to find other nodes, so all servers must be able to speak to each other on this port. In an Erlang Cluster, all nodes are connected to all other nodes. A mesh.


If you expose the port 4369 to the Internet or any other untrusted network, then the only thing protecting you is the cookie.

Every Erlang application then uses other ports for talking to each other. Yes, this means random ports. This will obviously not work with a firewall, but it is possible to force an Erlang application to use a specific port rage.

This documentation will use the range TCP 9100-9200. Open up those ports in your firewalls and it is time to test it.

You need 2 servers with working hostnames. Let us call them server1 and server2.

On server1:

erl -sname bus -setcookie 'brumbrum' -kernel inet_dist_listen_min 9100 -kernel inet_dist_listen_max 9200

Then on server2:

erl -sname car -setcookie 'brumbrum' -kernel inet_dist_listen_min 9100 -kernel inet_dist_listen_max 9200
An explanation to the commands:
  • erl the Erlang shell.
  • -sname bus the name of the Erlang node.
  • -setcookie 'brumbrum' the “password” used when nodes connect to each other.
  • -kernel inet_dist_listen_min 9100 the lowest port in the rage.
  • -kernel inet_dist_listen_max 9200 the highest port in the rage.

This gives us 2 Erlang shells. shell1 on server1, shell2 on server2. Time to connect them. The . is to Erlang what ; is to C.

In shell1:


This will connect to the node called car on the server called server2.

If that returns true, then you have an Erlang cluster, and the firewalls are open. If you get false or nothing at all, then you have a problem with the firewall. First time in Erlang? Time to play!

Run in both shells:

register(shell, self()).


{shell, car@server2} ! {hello, from, self()}.


{shell, bus@server1} ! {"It speaks!", from, self()}.



To close the shells, run in both:

q(). Make CouchDB use the open ports.

Open vm.args, on all nodes, and add -kernel inet_dist_listen_min 9100 and -kernel inet_dist_listen_max 9200 like below:

-name ...
-setcookie ...
-kernel inet_dist_listen_max 9100
-kernel inet_dist_listen_max 9200

11.1.2. The Cluster Setup Wizard

Setting up a cluster of Erlang applications correctly can be a daunting task. Luckily, CouchDB 2.0 comes with a convenient Cluster Setup Wizard as part of the Fauxton web administration interface.

After installation and initial start-up, visit Fauxton at You will be asked to set up CouchDB as a single-node instance or set up a cluster.

When you click “setup cluster” you are asked for admin credentials again and then to add nodes by IP address. To get more nodes, go through the same install procedure on other machines. Be sure to specify the total number of nodes you expect to add to the cluster before adding nodes.

In file etc/vm.args change the the line -name couchdb@ to -name couchdb@<this-nodes-ip-address| FQDN> for each node which defines the node and must be seperate for each node. For clustered setup, each node in system must have a unique name. Can also be a valid FQDN not necessarily the IP.

Before you can add nodes to form a cluster, you must have them listening on an IP address accessible from the other nodes in the cluster. Do this once per node:

curl -X PUT[email protected]<this-nodes-ip-address>/_config/admins/admin -d '"password"'
curl -X PUT[email protected]<this-nodes-ip-address>/_config/chttpd/bind_address -d '""'

Now you can enter their IP addresses in the setup screen on your first node. And make sure to put in the admin username and password. And use the same admin username and password on all nodes.

Once you added all nodes, click “Setup” and Fauxton will finish the cluster configuration for you.

See to get a list of all the nodes in your cluster.

Now your cluster is ready and available. You can send requests to any one of the nodes and get to all the data.

For a proper production setup, you’d now set up an HTTP proxy in front of the nodes, that does load balancing. We recommend HAProxy. See our example configuration for HAProxy. All you need is to adjust the ip addresses and ports.

11.1.3. The Cluster Setup API

If you would prefer to manually configure your CouchDB cluster, CouchDB exposes the _cluster_setup endpoint for that. After installation and initial setup, we can set up the cluster. On each node we need to run the following command to set up the node:

curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" http://admin:[email protected]:5984/_cluster_setup -d '{"action": "enable_cluster", "bind_address":"", "username": "admin", "password":"password", "node_count":"3"}'

After that we can join all the nodes together. Choose one node as the “setup coordination node” to run all these commands on. This is a “setup coordination node” that manages the setup and requires all other nodes to be able to see it and vice versa. Set up will not work with unavailable nodes. The notion of “setup coordination node” will be gone once the setup is finished. From then on, the cluster will no longer have a “setup coordination node”. To add a node run these commands for each node you want to add:

curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" http://admin:[email protected]:5984/_cluster_setup -d '{"action": "enable_cluster", "bind_address":"", "username": "admin", "password":"password", "port": 15984, "node_count": "3", "remote_node": "<remote-node-ip>", "remote_current_user": "<remote-node-username>", "remote_current_password": "<remote-node-password>" }'
curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" http://admin:[email protected]:5984/_cluster_setup -d '{"action": "add_node", "host":"<remote-node-ip>", "port": <remote-node-port>, "username": "admin", "password":"password"}'

This will join the two nodes together. Keep running the above commands for each node you want to add to the cluster. Once this is done run the following command to complete the setup and add the missing databases:

curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" http://admin:[email protected]:5984/_cluster_setup -d '{"action": "finish_cluster"}'

Verify install:

curl http://admin:[email protected]:5984/_cluster_setup



Verify cluster nodes:

curl http://admin:[email protected]:5984/_membership


    "all_nodes": [
        "[email protected]",
        "[email protected]",
    "cluster_nodes": [
        "[email protected]",
        "[email protected]",

You CouchDB cluster is now set up.