With all prerequisites in place, we can now install AiiDA and its python dependencies.

Virtual python environment

AiiDA depends on a number of third party python packages, and usually on specific versions of those packages. In order not to interfere with third party packages needed by other software on your system, we strongly recommend isolating AiiDA in a virtual python environment. In the following, we describe how to create a virtual python environment using the virtualenv tool, but feel free to use your preferred environment manager (e.g. conda).

Creating the virtual environment

To create and activate a new virtual environment, run the following commands:

pip install --user --upgrade virtualenv   # install virtualenv tool
virtualenv ~/aiidapy                      # create "aiidapy" environment
source ~/aiidapy/bin/activate             # activate "aiidapy" environment

This will create a directory in your home directory named aiidapy where all the packages will be installed. After activation, your prompt should have (aiidapy) in front of it, indicating that you are working inside the virtual environment. The activation script ensures that the python executable of the virtualenv is the first in PATH, and that python programs have access only to packages installed inside the virtualenv.

To leave or deactivate the environment, simply run:

(aiidapy) $ deactivate


You may need to install pip and setuptools in your virtual environment in case the system or user version of these tools is old:

(aiidapy) $ pip install -U setuptools pip

Creating an .aiida folder in your virtualenvironment

When you run AiiDA in multiple virtual environments, it can be convenient to use a separate .aiida folder for each virtualenv. To do this, you can use the AIIDA_PATH mechanism as follows:

  1. Create your virtualenv, as described above

  2. Create a .aiida directory in your virtualenv directory:

    mkdir ~/.virtualenvs/my_env/.aiida
  3. At the end of ~/.virtualenvs/my_env/bin/activate, add the following line:

    export AIIDA_PATH='~/.virtualenvs/my_env'
  4. Deactivate and re-activate the virtualenv

  5. You can test that everything is set up correctly if you can reproduce the following:

    (my_env)$ echo $AIIDA_PATH
    >>> ~/.virtualenvs/my_env
    (my_env)$ verdi profile list
    >>> Configuration folder: /home/my_username/.virtualenvs/my_env/.aiida
    >>> Stopping: No configuration file found
    >>> Note: if no configuration file was found, it means that you have not run
    >>> 'verdi setup' yet to configure at least one AiiDA profile.
  6. Continue setting up AiiDA with verdi setup or verdi quicksetup.

Aiida python package

AiiDA can be installed either from the python package index PyPI (good for general use) or directly from the aiida-core github repository (good for developers).

Install the aiida python package from PyPI using:

pip install --pre aiida


If you are installing AiiDA in your system environment, consider adding the --user flag to avoid the need for administrator privileges.

This will install the aiida-core package along with the four base plugins:

  • aiida-ase
  • aiida-codtools
  • aiida-nwchem
  • aiida-quantumespresso

Alternatively, you can create a directory where to clone the AiiDA source code and install AiiDA from source:

mkdir <your_directory>
cd <your_directory>
git clone
pip install -e aiida_core

There are additional optional packages that you may want to install, which are grouped in the following categories:

  • atomic_tools: packages that allow importing and manipulating crystal structure from various formats
  • ssh_kerberos: adds support for ssh transport authentication through Kerberos
  • REST: allows a REST server to be ran locally to serve AiiDA data
  • docs: tools to build the documentation
  • advanced_plotting: tools for advanced plotting
  • notebook: jupyter notebook - to allow it to import AiiDA modules
  • testing: python modules required to run the automatic unit tests

In order to install any of these package groups, simply append them as a comma separated list in the pip install command:

(aiidapy) $ pip install -e aiida_core[atomic_tools,docs,advanced_plotting]


If you are installing the optional ssh_kerberos and you are on Ubuntu you might encounter an error related to the gss package. To fix this you need to install the libffi-dev and libkrb5-dev packages:

sudo apt-get install libffi-dev libkrb5-dev

AiiDA profile setup

After successful installation, you need to create an AiiDA profile via AiiDA’s command line interface verdi.

Most users should use the interactive quicksetup:

verdi quicksetup <profile_name>

which leads through the installation process and takes care of creating the corresponding AiiDA database.

For maximum control and customizability, one can use verdi setup and set up the database manually as explained below.

Database setup

AiiDA uses a database to store the nodes, node attributes and other information, allowing the end user to perform fast queries of the results. Currently, only PostgreSQL is allowed as a database backend.

To manually create the database for AiiDA, you need to run the program psql to interact with postgres. On most operating systems, you need to do so as the postgres user that was created upon installing the software. To assume the role of postgres run as root:

su - postgres

and launch the postgres program:


Create a new database user account for AiiDA by running:

CREATE USER aiida WITH PASSWORD '<password>';

replacing <password> with a password of your choice. Make sure to remember it, as you will need it again when you configure AiiDA to use this database through verdi setup. If you want to change the password you just created use the command:

ALTER USER aiida PASSWORD '<password>';

Next we create the database itself. Keep in mind that we enforce the UTF-8 encoding and specific locales:


and grant all privileges on this DB to the previously-created aiida user:


You have now created a database for AiiDA and you can close the postgres shell by typing \q. To test if the database was created successfully, you can run the following command as a regular user in a bash terminal:

psql -h localhost -d aiidadb -U aiida -W

and type the password you inserted before, when prompted. If everything worked well, you should get no error and see the prompt of the psql shell.

If you uses the same names used in the example commands above, during the verdi setup phase you want to use the following parameters to use the database you just created:

Database engine: postgresql_psycopg2
PostgreSQL host: localhost
PostgreSQL port: 5432
AiiDA Database name: aiidadb
AiiDA Database user: aiida
AiiDA Database password: <password>


Do not forget to backup your database (instructions here).


If you want to move the physical location of the data files on your hard drive AFTER it has been created and filled, look at the instructions here.

Database setup using Unix sockets

Instead of using passwords to protect access to the database (which could be used by other users on the same machine), PostgreSQL allows password-less logins via Unix sockets.

In this scenario PostgreSQL compares the user connecting to the socket with its own database of users and will allow a connection if a matching user exists.

Assume the role of postgres by running the following as root:

su - postgres

Create a database user with the same name as the user you are using to run AiiDA (usually your login name):

createuser <username>

replacing <username> with your username.

Next, create the database itself making sure that your user is the owner:

createdb -O <username> aiidadb

To test if the database was created successfully, you can run the following command as your user in a bash terminal:

psql aiidadb

Make sure to leave the host, port and password empty when specifying the parameters during the verdi setup phase and specify your username as the AiiDA Database user:

Database engine: postgresql_psycopg2
PostgreSQL host:
PostgreSQL port:
AiiDA Database name: aiidadb
AiiDA Database user: <username>
AiiDA Database password:

Setup instructions

After the database has been created, do

verdi setup <profile_name>

where <profile_name> is a profile name of your choosing. The verdi setup command will guide you through the setup process through a series of prompts.

The first information asked is your email, which will be used to associate the calculations to you. In AiiDA, the email is your username, and acts as a unique identifier when importing/exporting data from AiiDA.


The password, in the current version of AiiDA, is not used (it will be used only in the REST API and in the web interface). If you leave the field empty, no password will be set and no access will be granted to the user via the REST API and the web interface.

Then, the following prompts will help you configure the database. Typical settings are:

Default user email:
Database engine: postgresql_psycopg2
PostgreSQL host: localhost
PostgreSQL port: 5432
AiiDA Database name: aiida_dev
AiiDA Database user: aiida
AiiDA Database password: <password>
AiiDA repository directory: /home/wagner/.aiida/repository/
Configuring a new user with email ''
First name: Richard
Last name: Wagner
Institution: BRUHL, LEIPZIG
The user has no password, do you want to set one? [y/N] y
Insert the new password:
Insert the new password (again):

Remember that in order to work with AiiDA through for example the verdi command, you need to be in your virtual environment. If you open a new terminal for example, be sure to activate it first with:

source ~/aiidapy/bin/activate

At this point, you can choose to read on for additional installation details and configuration options, or you can choose to start using AiiDA and go straight to the section get started.

Configure AiiDA

Verdi tab-completion

The verdi command line interface has many commands and options, which can be tab-completed to simplify your life. Enable tab-completion with the following shell command:

eval "$(_VERDI_COMPLETE=source verdi)"

Place this command in your startup file, i.e. one of

  • the startup file of your shell (.bashrc, .zsh, …), if aiida is installed system-wide
  • the activate script of your virtual environment
  • a startup file for your conda environment

In order to enable tab completion in your current shell, make sure to source the startup file once.


This line replaces the eval "$(verdi completioncommand)" line that was used in aiida-core<1.0.0. While this continues to work, support for the old line may be dropped in the future.

Adding AiiDA to the PATH

If you used a virtual environment for the installation of AiiDA, the required commands such as verdi should have been added automatically to your PATH. Otherwise, you may have to add the install directory of AiiDA manually to your PATH so that the binaries are found.

For Linux systems, the path to add is usually ~/.local/bin:

export PATH=~/.local/bin:${PATH}

For Mac OS X systems, the path to add is usually ~/Library/Python/2.7/bin:

export PATH=~/Library/Python/2.7/bin:${PATH}

After updating your PATH you can check if it worked in the following way:

  • type verdi on your terminal, and check if the program starts (it should provide a list of valid commands). If it doesn’t, check if you correctly set up the PATH environment variable above.

  • go into your home folder or in another folder different from the AiiDA folder, run python or ipython and try to import a module, e.g. by typing:

    import aiida

    If the setup is ok, you shouldn’t get any error. If you do get an ImportError instead, check that you are in the correct virtual environment. If you did not install AiiDA within a virtual environment, you will have to set up the PYTHONPATH environment variable in your .bashrc:

    export PYTHONPATH="${PYTHONPATH}:<AiiDA_folder>"

Customizing the configuration directory location

By default, the AiiDA configuration is stored in the directory ~/.aiida. This can be changed by setting the AIIDA_PATH environment variable. The value of AIIDA_PATH can be a colon-separated list of paths. For each of the paths in the list, AiiDA will look for a .aiida directory in the given path and all of its parent folders. If no .aiida directory is found, ~/.aiida will be used.

For example, the directory structure in your home might look like this

├── .aiida
├── project_a
│   ├── .aiida
│   └── subfolder
└── project_b
    └── .aiida

If you set

export AIIDA_PATH='~/project_a:~/project_b'

the configuration directory used will be ~/project_a/.aiida. The same is true if you set AIIDA_PATH='~/project_a/subdir', because subdir itself does not contain a .aiida folder, so AiiDA will first check its parent directories.

If you set AIIDA_PATH='.', the configuration directory used depends on the current working directory. Inside the project_a and project_b directories, their respective .aiida directory will be used. Outside of these directories, ~/.aiida is used.

An example for when this option might be used is when two different AiiDA versions are used simultaneously. Using two different .aiida directories also allows running two daemon concurrently. Note however that this option does not change the database cluster that is being used. This means that by default you still need to take care that the database names do not clash.

Using AiiDA in Jupyter

Jupyter is an open-source web application that allows you to create in-browser notebooks containing live code, visualizations and formatted text.

Originally born out of the iPython project, it now supports code written in many languages and customized iPython kernels.

If you didn’t already install AiiDA with the [notebook] option (during pip install), run pip install jupyter inside the virtualenv, and then run from within the virtualenv:

jupyter notebook

This will open a tab in your browser. Click on New -> Python and type:

import aiida

followed by Shift-Enter. If no exception is thrown, you can use AiiDA in Jupyter.

If you want to set the same environment as in a verdi shell, add the following code to a .py file (create one if there isn’t any) in <home_folder>/.ipython/profile_default/startup/:

    import aiida
except ImportError:
    import IPython
    from import load_ipython_extension

    # Get the current Ipython session
    ipython = IPython.get_ipython()

    # Register the line magic

This file will be executed when the ipython kernel starts up and enable the line magic %aiida. Alternatively, if you have a aiida_core repository checked out locally, you can just copy the file <aiida_core>/aiida/tools/ipython/ to the same folder. The current ipython profile folder can be located using:

ipython locate profile

After this, if you open a Jupyter notebook as explained above and type in a cell:


followed by Shift-Enter. You should receive the message “Loaded AiiDA DB environment.” This line magic should also be enabled in standard ipython shells.