SDK Setup

Supported Platforms

  • Ubuntu 16.04 (LTS) x86_64

  • Ubuntu 18.04 (LTS) x86_64

  • MacOS 10.13 (High Sierra)

  • MacOS 10.14 (Mojave)


The following dependencies need to be installed in order to run applications created with the Lisk SDK:

Dependencies Version





Redis (optional)





Create a new user

To install the required prerequisites, it is necessary to have a user with sudo rights on the server. The lisk user itself does not need any sudo rights to run the node.

To run and manage a node in the future, please create a separate lisk user. E.g. execute:

  • Ubuntu

  • MacOS

sudo adduser lisk

It is not essentially needed to set up a lisk user, especially when you are running a local instance for development purposes. If you still want to do it, we recommend to create the user using the macOS GUI:

Toolchain components

Used for compiling dependencies.

  • Ubuntu

  • MacOS

sudo apt install -y libtool automake autoconf curl python-minimal build-essential

Ensure that both XCode and Homebrew are installed.

brew install autoconf automake libtool


To install PostgreSQL follow the intructions descibed below, depending on the operating system your machine is running on.

Two different ways of installing Docker on your system are described below. If you run into issues when trying to set up PostgreSQL on your machine, try to install it inside of a docker container.

We recommend using PostgreSQL with Docker for a quick and straight forward setup of PostgreSQL, and PostgreSQL system-wide for production environments.
  • PostgreSQL system wide

  • PostgreSQL with Docker

See intructions for MacOS below.


Firstly, install postgreSQL on your machine:

sudo apt-get purge -y postgres* (1)
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb $(lsb_release -cs)-pgdg main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pgdg.list'
sudo apt install wget ca-certificates
wget --quiet -O - | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt update
sudo apt install postgresql-10
1 remove all already installed postgres versions

After installation, you should see the PostgreSQL database cluster, by running


Drop the existing database cluster, and replace it with a cluster with the locale en_US.UTF-8:

sudo pg_dropcluster --stop 10 main
sudo pg_createcluster --locale en_US.UTF-8 --start 10 main

Create a new database user called lisk and grant it rights to create databases. Then create the database with the lisk user as owner. In the last step, define the password for the lisk user:

sudo -u postgres -i createuser --createdb lisk
sudo -u postgres -i createdb lisk_dev --owner lisk
sudo -u postgres psql -d lisk_dev -c "alter user lisk with password 'password';"
Change password to a secure password of your choice. Don’t forget to update this password in the Lisk SDK configuration later on.


Install PostgreSQL version 10:

brew install postgresql@10

Execute the following to have PostgreSQL commands (e.g. psql) in your PATH:

echo 'export PATH="/usr/local/opt/postgresql@10/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bash_profile
source ~/.bash_profile

Start PostgreSQL, create the lisk user and the database:

pg_ctl -D /usr/local/var/postgresql@10 start
createuser lisk
createdb --owner=lisk lisk_dev
psql --dbname=lisk_dev --command="ALTER USER lisk WITH PASSWORD 'password';"
Change password to a secure password of your choice. Don’t forget to update this password in the Lisk SDK configuration later on.

Running PostgreSQL inside a Docker container will setup the correct version of PostgreSQL and containerize it away from any existing versions you may have locally on your machine. Choose this setup if you are not familiar with PostgreSQL, or if you run in to issues with a previously installed version of PostgreSQL.

Install Docker

To perform the command below successfully, install Docker first:

Supported Platforms: Please refer to

Mac OS X

Please refer to Please note that Docker for Mac already includes Docker Compose. Install make using XCode


Start the Docker container

If you have other versions of PostgreSQL installed on your machine, make sure to stop them before starting the docker container.
docker run --name lisk_db -p 5432:5432 -e POSTGRES_USER=lisk -e POSTGRES_PASSWORD=password -e POSTGRES_DB=lisk_<NETWORK> -d postgres:10

This will install PostgreSQL version 10 (postgres:10) in a container with name lisk_db and binds the port 5432 of the container with the same port of the machine. As environment variables we expose POSTGRES_USER=lisk to create the lisk user and POSTGRES_PASSWORD=password to set the password for the lisk user. Finally the environment variable POSTGRES_DB creates the database lisk_<NETWORK> with the lisk user as owner.

The above should be enough to set up the database ready to use with the Lisk SDK. To manage the Docker container, use the following commands:

docker stop lisk_db (1)
docker start lisk_db (2)
docker restart lisk_db (3)
docker rm lisk_db (4)
1 stop the container
2 start the container
3 restart the container
4 remove the container

In case you want to access PostgreSQL inside the container via CLI, run:

docker exec --tty --interactive lisk_db psql -h localhost -U lisk -d postgres


Node.js serves as the underlying engine for code execution. There are several different ways and version managers to install Node.JS on your system. We recommend one of the following two:

  • Option A - Node Version Manager

  • Option B - Node.js package

We recommend using a Node version manager such as NVM. NVM is a bash script that enables you to manage multiple active Node.js versions.

  1. Install nvm following these instructions

  2. Install the correct version of Node.js using NVM:

nvm install 10.15.3

If you do not want to use NVM or other package managers, you can install the Node package globally on your system alternatively:


curl -sL | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs


brew install node@10.15.3

PM2 (optional)

Install PM2 for managing start/stop of the app process in the background:

npm install pm2 -g


To install the NPM package lisk-sdk, run:

npm install lisk-sdk