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Installing the Looker Application

This page describes how to install the Looker application for a customer-hosted deployment.

Hosting the Looker application is independent of where your data resides; data always remains in-database, and is not copied to the Looker instance.

Deployment Specifications

If you’re going to run Looker on a network that does not connect to the Internet, you may need to set up a proxy server to communicate with Looker’s license server or use serverless web services that only make web calls, like Big Query.

Install the Looker application on a dedicated machine that meets the following minimum requirements:

In order to avoid maintenance and resource conflicts, you should not use the Looker server to host other applications.

Enable ntpd or chronyd

NTP stands for Network Time Protocol. It enables your host’s system clock to always maintain the correct time, which is important for Looker to function correctly. Looker does not require any particular time synchronization software be used as long as times remain in sync. It is NOT necessary to run an NTP server; only the NTP client is needed. You may substitute chronyd for NTP.

Consult your OS vendor’s documentation for information on enabling ntpd or chronyd.

Install the Looker Application

  1. Create group looker.

    sudo groupadd looker
  2. Create user looker and its home directory.

    sudo useradd -m  -g looker  looker
  3. Switch to the looker user; do not run Looker as root.

    sudo su - looker
  4. Create looker subdirectory in the home directory.

    mkdir ~/looker
  5. Change to the looker subdirectory.

    cd ~/looker
  6. Make sure you are in the correct directory.


    If your user directories are under /home, the output of this command should be /home/looker/looker.

  7. Download the desired Looker JAR file (Looker 6.16 and earlier) or JAR files (Looker 6.18 and later) through one of the methods on the Downloading the Looker JAR File documentation page. If installing Looker 6.18 or later, ensure that both JAR files are the same version; using different versions of the core and dependency JAR files can cause instability in your Looker installation.

    Starting in Looker 6.18, the Looker JAR file has been split into two separate JAR files: the Looker core JAR file and a Looker dependencies JAR file. If you are installing Looker 6.18 or later, be sure to download both JAR files.

  8. Download the latest startup script at this GitHub repo.

  9. Move the startup script (named looker) and Looker JAR file (Looker 6.16 and earlier) or JAR files (Looker 6.18 and later) named looker-x.x.x.jar and, if installing Looker 6.18 or later, looker-dependencies-x.x.x.jar, where x.x.x is the version number to the new ~/looker directory.

  10. Rename looker-x.x.x.jar to looker.jar and if installing Looker 6.18 or later, looker-dependencies-x.x.x.jar to looker-dependencies.jar.

  11. The startup script automatically determines how much Java memory to allocate to Looker. If you would like to customize this value manually, see Recommended Java Memory Settings for more information.

  12. Make the Looker startup script executable (set the permissions to 0750).

    chmod 0750 looker
  13. Start the Looker process from shell as the looker user.

    ./looker start
  14. For startup flag help, use:

    java -jar looker.jar --help

    Or, for startup command help, use:

    java -jar looker.jar help
  15. Open a browser to https://hostname:9999 where hostname is the DNS name of the host running Looker.

    You should use https in the URL, which will create a security warning that you will need to bypass. This warning will persist until a valid SSL certificate is installed on the server.

  16. Enter the license key obtained from your Looker representative.

  17. Enter a name, an email, and a password to create your first account.

Create a DNS Record

Add a looker.[yourdomain].com DNS record for the server. This step is optional, but recommended.

Deploying Looker Automatically

Looker may be deployed using a configuration management tool such as Ansible or Chef. An example Ansible role for automated deployment is available on the Configuration Management Tools documentation page.

Hypervisor Tuning

Looker runs as a Java virtual machine. If your Looker instance is on a VMware guest, you may need to do some performance tuning. Please see the VMware Java best practices guide.

On other virtualization platforms, it may improve performance to reserve the Looker host’s memory from the hypervisor. This is not controllable on Amazon EC2; however, for other vendors, please consult their documentation.

Next Step

After you have installed Looker, you’re ready to configure Looker startup options.