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Installing Covalent with Systemd

We recommend that you not install Covalent directly at the system level as its Python version and package dependencies can conflict with those of the system. Instead, create a Python virtual environment with Covalent installed and manage Covalent with the systemd service. This approach prevents any Python conflicts.


In these installation instructions, we assume Python3.8 is available on the system and that all the commands are issued as root.

To install Covalent on a Linux physical or virtual host with systemd, do the following:


On Debian/Ubuntu based systems, install the virtualenv Python module at the system level:

python3 -m pip install virtualenv


1. Create the Python virtual environment in which to install Covalent:

python3 -m virtualenv /opt/virtualenvs/covalent

2. Install Covalent in the virtual environment:

/opt/virtualenvs/covalent/bin/python -m pip install covalent

This ensures that the latest release of Covalent along with all its dependencies are properly installed in the virtual environment.

3. If you plan to use the AWS executor plugins with your Covalent deployment, install the covalent-aws-plugins:

/opt/virtualenvs/covalent/bin/python -m pip install 'covalent-aws-plugins[all]'

4. Create a systemd unit file for Covalent. Use the systemd Environment and EnvironmentFile directives to configure environment variables that determine Covalent’s startup and runtime behavior.

Customize the following sample covalent.service systemd unit file to your needs for hosting Covalent. On most Linux systems, this service file can be installed under /usr/lib/systemd/system. For more information about the service file, see the systemd documentation here.

Description=Covalent Dispatcher server

ExecStartPre=-/opt/virtualenvs/covalent/bin/covalent stop
ExecStart=/opt/virtualenvs/covalent/bin/covalent start
ExecStop=/opt/virtualenvs/covalent/bin/covalent stop


5. Configure a service account on the server with only the privileges required to ensure proper Covalent functionality. Running Covalent as the root user is not recommended; this compromises security on the server. For one thing, the Covalent GUI’s built-in terminal provides a login shell as the Covalent user – so if the Covalent server is running as root, users have access to a root shell on the server.

6. To ensure that systemd invokes the Covalent server from within the virtual environment created earlier, set the VIRTUAL_ENV environment variable to the location of the virtual environment:


This ensures that the proper Python interpreter is used by Covalent at runtime.

7. (Optional) Customize Covalent-specific environment variables: Create the file specified in the In the [Service] directive EnvironmentFile location (in the above example, /etc/covalent/covalent.env).

Populate the file with Covalent-specific environment variables such as COVALENT_CACHE_DIR, COVALENT_DATABASE, COVALENT_SVC_PORT and so on to customize Covalent’s runtime environment.

8. Once all the settings have been configured, start Covalent:

systemctl daemon-reload
systemclt start covalent.service


You only need to update systemd by executing the systemd daemon-reload command when a unit file is modified.

9. Check the status of the service at any time with:

systemctl status covalent

10. (Optional) Configure covalent.service to start on system bootup:

systemctl enable covalent.service

11. Once the service is running properly, connect to the Covalent GUI from a browser. Use the server hostname and port configured in the COVALENT_SVC_PORT environment variable. By default, Covalent starts on port 48008.

12. If you need to stop the server, use:

systemctl stop covalent.service