Configuration Overview

How to configure your Bacalhau node.

Bacalhau employs the viper and cobra libraries for configuration management. Users can configure their Bacalhau node through a combination of command-line flags, environment variables, and the dedicated configuration file.

The Bacalhau Repo

Bacalhau manages its configuration, metadata, and internal state within a specialized repository named .bacalhau. Serving as the heart of the Bacalhau node, this repository holds the data and settings that determine node behavior. It's located on the filesystem, and by default, Bacalhau initializes this repository at $HOME/.bacalhau, where $HOME is the home directory of the user running the bacalhau process.

To customize this location, users can:

  1. Set the BACALHAU_DIR environment variable to specify their desired path.

  2. Utilize the --repo command line flag to specify their desired path.

Upon executing a Bacalhau command for the first time, the system will initialize the .bacalhau repository. If such a repository already exists, Bacalhau will seamlessly access its contents.

Structure of a Newly Initialized .bacalhau Repository

Below is the structure of a freshly initialized .bacalhau repository:

$ tree ~/.bacalhau
├── QmdGUjsMHEgtAfdtw7U62yPEcAZFtA33tKMsczLToegZtv-compute/
   ├── executions.db
   └── jobStats.json
├── QmdGUjsMHEgtAfdtw7U62yPEcAZFtA33tKMsczLToegZtv-requester/
   └── jobs.db
├── config.yaml
├── executor_storages/
├── libp2p_private_key
├── plugins/
├── repo.version
└── user_id.pem

This repository comprises four directories and seven files:


  1. user_id.pem:

    • This file houses the Bacalhau node user's cryptographic private key, used for signing requests sent to a Requester Node.

    • Format: PEM.

  2. repo.version:

    • Indicates the version of the Bacalhau node's repository.

    • Format: JSON, e.g., {"Version":1}.

  3. libp2p_private_key:

    • Stores the Bacalhau node's libp2p private key, essential for its network identity. The NodeID of a Bacalhau node is derived from this key.

    • Format: Base64 encoded RSA private key.

  4. config.yaml:

    • Contains configuration settings for the Bacalhau node.

    • Format: YAML.

  5. update.json:

    • A file containing the date/time when the last version check was made.

    • Format: JSON, e.g., {"LastCheck":"2024-01-24T11:06:14.631816Z"}

  6. tokens.json:

    • A file containing the tokens obtained through authenticating with bacalhau clusters.


  1. QmdGUjsMHEgtAfdtw7U62yPEcAZFtA33tKMsczLToegZtv-compute:

    • Contains the BoltDB executions.db database, which aids the Compute node in state persistence. Additionally, the jobStats.json file records the Compute Node's completed jobs tally.

    • Note: The segment QmdGUjsMHEgtAfdtw7U62yPEcAZFtA33tKMsczLToegZtv is a unique NodeID for each Bacalhau node, derived from the libp2p_private_key.

  2. QmdGUjsMHEgtAfdtw7U62yPEcAZFtA33tKMsczLToegZtv-requester:

    • Contains the BoltDB jobs.db database for the Requester node's state persistence.

    • Note: NodeID derivation is similar to the Compute directory.

  3. executor_storages:

    • Storage for data handled by Bacalhau storage drivers.

  4. plugins:

    • Houses binaries that allow the Compute node to execute specific tasks.

    • Note: This feature is currently experimental and isn't active during standard node operations.

Configuring a Bacalhau Node

Within a .bacalhau repository, a config.yaml file may be present. This file serves as the configuration source for the bacalhau node and adheres to the YAML format.

Although the config.yaml file is optional, its presence allows Bacalhau to load custom configurations; otherwise, Bacalhau is configured with built-in default values, environment variables and command line flags.

Modifications to the config.yaml file will not be dynamically loaded by the Bacalhau node. A restart of the node is required for any changes to take effect. Bacalhau determines its configuration based on the following precedence order, with each item superseding the subsequent:

  1. Command-line Flag

  2. Environment Variable

  3. Config File

  4. Defaults

Relationship Between config.yaml and Bacalhau Environment Variables

Bacalhau establishes a direct relationship between the value-bearing keys within the config.yaml file and corresponding environment variables. For these keys that have no further sub-keys, the environment variable name is constructed by capitalizing each segment of the key, and then joining them with underscores, prefixed with BACALHAU_.

For example, a YAML key with the path Node.IPFS.Connect translates to the environment variable BACALHAU_NODE_IPFS_CONNECT and is represented in a file like:

        Connect: value

There is no corresponding environment variable for either Node or Node.IPFS. Config values may also have other environment variables that set them for simplicity or to maintain backwards compatibility.


  • Bacalhau leverages the BACALHAU_ENVIRONMENT environment variable to determine the specific environment configuration when initializing a repository. Notably, if a .bacalhau repository has already been initialized, the BACALHAU_ENVIRONMENT setting will be ignored.

    By default, if the BACALHAU_ENVIRONMENT variable is not explicitly set by the user, Bacalhau will adopt the production environment settings.

    Below is a breakdown of the configurations associated with each environment:

    1. Production (public network)

    • Environment Variable: BACALHAU_ENVIRONMENT=production

    • Configurations:

      • Node.ClientAPI.Host: ""

      • Node.Client.API.Host: 1234

      • ...other configurations specific to this environment...

    2. Staging (staging network)

    • Environment Variable: BACALHAU_ENVIRONMENT=staging

    • Configurations:

      • Node.ClientAPI.Host: ""

      • Node.Client.API.Host: 1234

      • ...other configurations specific to this environment...

    3. Development (development network)

    • Environment Variable: BACALHAU_ENVIRONMENT=development

    • Configurations:

      • Node.ClientAPI.Host: ""

      • Node.Client.API.Host: 1234

      • ...other configurations specific to this environment...

    4. Local (private or local networks)

    • Environment Variable: BACALHAU_ENVIRONMENT=local

    • Configurations:

      • Node.ClientAPI.Host: ""

      • Node.Client.API.Host: 1234

      • ...other configurations specific to this environment...

    Note: The above configurations provided for each environment are not exhaustive. Consult the specific environment documentation for a comprehensive list of configurations.

Usage Examples

How to initialize a Bacalhau Server for a local private network

$ env BACALHAU_ENVIRONMENT=local ./bin/darwin_arm64/bacalhau serve
INF pkg/repo/fs.go:187 > Initializing repo at '/Users/frrist/.bacalhau' for environment 'local'

How to initialize a Bacalhau Server with a custom repo path

$ bacalhau --repo=/path/to/repo serve
INF pkg/repo/fs.go:187 > Initializing repo at '/path/to/repo' for environment 'production'


$ export BACALHAU_DIR=/path/to/repo
$ bacalhau serve
INF pkg/repo/fs.go:187 > Initializing repo at '/path/to/repo' for environment 'production'

How to start a Bacalhau Server with DEBUG logs

$ env LOG_LEVEL=debug ./bin/darwin_arm64/bacalhau serve
DBG pkg/system/environment.go:53 > Defaulting to production environment: os.Args: [./bin/darwin_arm64/bacalhau serve]

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