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On-Premises Installation of Rendering Software

In order to send or download data in image-based formats, such as PNG or PDF files, Looker requires rendering software. This page explains how to install rendering software on your on-premises instance of Looker.

Installing Rendering Software to Run the Enhanced Rendering Labs Feature

The Enhanced Rendering Labs feature can be enabled to better render specific image-based data formats for sending and scheduling Looks and dashboards and downloading data.

Enhanced Rendering requires rendering software called Chromium. For Looker-hosted instances, installation is done automatically. For on-premises Looker instances, the Looker admin needs to install Chromium.

Chromium

The Chromium Project is an open source project started by Google to share the non-proprietary parts of Google Chrome.

If your instance is hosted by Looker, this software is already installed. If you’re hosting your Looker instance on premises and have enabled the Enhanced Rendering Labs feature, follow the instructions below.

Currently, Chromium is best supported on Ubuntu and Debian systems. Make sure you install Chromium into an executable path on the machine that hosts the Looker instance. The Looker application needs to access Chromium using the chromium command or via a custom path set with the CHROMIUM_PATH environment variable.

Chromium 65 or later is required. If you are using a Debian 8 (jessie) Linux system, then you cannot use this feature because Debian 8 only supports up to Chromium version 57. However, Debian 9 (stretch) includes the security updates and latest features, including support for the latest Chromium version.

If you are installing Chromium on a clustered Looker intallation, the Chromium version on each node must be fully identical. Even minor differences, such as different build numbers, can prevent enabling the Enhanced Rendering Labs feature.

To install Chromium on Ubuntu:

  1. Fonts must be installed on the system for Chromium to start. You can install fonts using the command line interface. For example, this command installs the default fonts on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS:

    $apt-get install fonts-freefont-otf
    
  2. On the command line, enter the following command:

    apt-get update && apt-get install -y chromium-browser
    
  3. Ubuntu may need to either alias chromium-browser as chromium or export the environment variable. To alias chromium-browser as chromium, place the following in the ~/.bashrc file:

    alias chromium='chromium-browser'
    

    To make this alias known to Looker, run this command on the command line:

    sudo ln -s /usr/bin/chromium-browser /usr/bin/chromium
    
  4. After setting any environment variables, restart the Looker application for them to take effect. You may also need to restart any open terminal sessions, or run source ~/.bash_profile to get the terminal to read the new configuration.

  5. After installing Chromium you should get a valid response from either chromium --version or $CHROMIUM_PATH --version depending on whether you set the environment variable.

To install Chromium on Debian:

  1. On the command line, enter the following command:

    apt-get update && apt-get install -y chromium
    
  2. If you are using Docker with a bare-bones Debian install, you will need to install procps and ensure you are not running as root.

  3. After setting any environment variables, restart the Looker application for them to take effect. You may also need to restart any open terminal sessions, or run source ~/.bash_profile to get the terminal to read the new configuration.

  4. After installing Chromium you should get a valid response from either chromium --version or $CHROMIUM_PATH --version depending on whether you set the environment variable.

Optional Environment Variables:

Installing Rendering Software to Run Standard Looker Features

If the Enhanced Rendering Labs feature is not enabled on your on-premises instance, a Looker admin needs to install rendering software called PhantomJS for the out-of-the-box Looker features described below.

When scheduling or sending Looks and dashboards, PhantomJS is required to render these data formats:

When downloading data, PhantomJS is required to render these data formats:

PhantomJS

PhantomJS is a headless browser, scriptable with Javascript, required for rendering image-based data formats.

If your instance is hosted by Looker, this software is already installed.

If you’re hosting your Looker instance on premises, follow the instructions below to install PhantomJS. Make sure you install PhantomJS into an executable path on the same machine as the one on which the Looker instance is hosted. Looker requires PhantomJS 2.1.1+ to run. When upgrading from earlier versions of PhantomJS, you must restart Looker for the new version to be recognized. If Looker detects an older version, it will default to the old behavior where PDFs have one page per visualization instead of the optimized dashboard layout.

To install PhantomJS:

  1. Get the correct binary for your platform from the official PhantomJS repository. PhantomJS is available for Mac, Windows, and various distributions of Linux. For example, the 64-bit Linux version 2.1.1 is:

    wget https://bitbucket.org/ariya/phantomjs/downloads/phantomjs-2.1.1-linux-x86_64.tar.bz2
    

    On Linux, you will need to untar the file. For example:

    tar -xjf phantomjs-2.1.1-linux-x86_64.tar.bz2
    
  2. Copy the bin/phantomjs binary to a place that is in your system's path. On Ubuntu we recommend /usr/local/bin. For example:

    mv phantomjs-2.1.1-linux-x86_64/bin/phantomjs /usr/local/bin/
    
  3. Verify that PhantomJS is installed and is the correct version: phantomjs --version

  4. You should now be able to schedule, send, and download data in image-based formats.

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