Set Up OSM Nominatim Geocoding Server on Ubuntu 20.04

In a previous tutorial, I explained the process of building your own OSM tile server on Ubuntu 20.04. This tutorial is going to show you how to set up Nominatim Geocoding server on Ubuntu 20.04. Nominatim provides search functionality for OpenStreetMap, so if a visitor enters an address in a search box, the latitude/longitude location for that address will be returned.

Step 1: Build Nominatim From Source

Install dependency packages to build Nominatim.

sudo apt update

sudo apt install build-essential cmake g++ libboost-dev libboost-system-dev libboost-filesystem-dev libexpat1-dev zlib1g-dev libbz2-dev libpq-dev libproj-dev apache2 php php-pgsql libapache2-mod-php php-intl python3-setuptools python3-dev python3-pip python3-psycopg2 python3-tidylib git clang-tidy postgresql-server-dev-12

Create the nominatim user. (No need to create a password for this user.)

sudo useradd -d /srv/nominatim -s /bin/bash -m nominatim

Change to the /srv/nominatim/ directory.

cd /srv/nominatim/

Grant permissions to your own user account.

sudo apt install acl

sudo setfacl -R -m u:username:rwx /srv/nominatim/

Download Nominatim from the official website.

wget https://nominatim.org/release/Nominatim-3.5.1.tar.bz2

Extract the tarball.

tar xvf Nominatim-3.5.1.tar.bz2

Create the build directory.

mkdir build

Change to this directory and configure the build environment.

cd build

cmake /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1

Compile the source code.

make

Build Nominatim From Source

Step 2: Configure Nominatim

The default configuration file for Nominatim is /srv/nominatim/build/settings/settings.php. We can create a local.php file and add our modifications there.

sudo nano /srv/nominatim/build/settings/local.php

Add the following lines in the file.

<?php
 @define('CONST_Website_BaseURL', '/nominatim/');
 @define('CONST_Default_Lat', 55.0);
 @define('CONST_Default_Lon', 1.0);
 @define('CONST_Default_Zoom', 6);
 @define('CONST_Map_Tile_URL', 'https://tile.linuxbabe.com/osm/{z}/{x}/{y}.png');

The above configuration defines

  • The path of the Nominatim instance relative to your tile server.
  • Default latitude, longitude, and zoom level.
  • URL of your OSM tile server. By default, Nominatim uses the public openstreetmap.org tile server. Here I use my own tile server.

You can also take a look at the /srv/nominatim/build/settings/settings.php file and add your own customizations if the need arises. For example, if you are going to import a large dataset (Europe, North America, planet, etc.), it’s a good practice to enable flat node storage of node locations, so node coordinates will be stored in a simple file instead of the database, saving you import time and disk storage.

@define('CONST_Osm2pgsql_Flatnode_File', '/srv/nominatim/flatnode.file');

Save and close the file.

Step 3: Import OSM Database

Download Wikipedia importance dump file, which will improve the quality of the Nomiatim search results.

cd /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/data

wget https://www.nominatim.org/data/wikimedia-importance.sql.gz

Download US and UK postcodes data.

wget https://www.nominatim.org/data/us_postcode_data.sql.gz

wget https://www.nominatim.org/data/gb_postcode_data.sql.gz

Then you need to download an OSM file and import it to PostgreSQL. You can go to http://download.geofabrik.de to download the extract you need. You can also use the PBF file during the tile server setup process.

Create the www-data user in PostgreSQL, so the web server will have read-only access to the database.

sudo -u postgres createuser www-data

Grant permission to the postgres user.

sudo setfacl -R -m u:postgres:rwx /srv/nominatim/

Switch to the postgres user.

sudo -u postgres -i

And run the following command to import OSM extracts to PostgreSQL.

cd /srv/nominatim/build/

/srv/nominatim/build/utils/setup.php --osm-file /home/osm/great-britain-latest.osm.pbf --all 2>&1 | tee setup.log

After importing the database, the indexing process will begin.

nominatim-indexing-process-20.04

Once it’s finished, run the following command to verify.

/srv/nominatim/build/utils/check_import_finished.php

nominatim import osm database

Exit out of the postgres user.

exit

Step 4: Set Up Apache

Edit the tile server configuration file.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/tileserver_site-le-ssl.conf

Add the following lines between the VirtualHost tags.

<Directory "/srv/nominatim/build/website">
  Options FollowSymLinks MultiViews
  AddType application/json   .php
  DirectoryIndex search.php
  Require all granted
</Directory>

alias /nominatim /srv/nominatim/build/website

Save and close the file. Then reload Apache.

sudo systemctl reload apache2

Now visit https://tile.yourdomain.com/nominatim. You will see your Nomiatim instance.

nominatim setup with own tile server

The CSS file is located at /srv/nominatim/build/website/css/search.css, if you want to customize the looking.

Update Nominatim Database

To keep the Nominatim database up to date, we need to install Pyosmium. It’s available from the default software repository, but it’s recommended to install the latest version using pip3.

sudo pip3 install osmium

This will install a binary /usr/local/bin/pyosmium-get-changes. Edit Nominatim configuration file.

sudo nano /srv/nominatim/build/settings/local.php

Add the following line to specify the location of pyosmium-get-changes.

@define('CONST_Pyosmium_Binary', '/usr/local/bin/pyosmium-get-changes');

Next, we need to tell Nominatim where to download updates. By default, it’s configured to download updates from https://planet.openstreetmap.org/replication/minute. If you downloaded the OSM PBF file from geofabrik.de, then it’s better to also download updates from there.

To find the update URL for your own map, go to https://download.geofabrik.de/ and locate your region. Then find the URL for the .osc.gz file.

nominatim update database

This URL is the update URL.

Nominatim Replication URL

Add the following line in /srv/nominatim/build/settings/local.php file. You need to use your own update URL.

// base URL of the replication service
@define('CONST_Replication_Url', 'http://download.geofabrik.de/europe/great-britain-updates');
// How often upstream publishes diffs
@define('CONST_Replication_Update_Interval', '86400');
// How long to sleep if no update found yet
@define('CONST_Replication_Recheck_Interval', '900');

Save and close the file. Grant permissions to the postgres user.

sudo setfacl -R -m "u:postgres:rwx" /srv/nominatim/build/

Then swith to the postgres user.

sudo -u postgres -i

Initialize the update process.

/srv/nominatim/build/utils/update.php --init-updates

Update Nominatim database.

/srv/nominatim/build/utils/update.php --import-osmosis-all

Set Up Cron Job For Automatic Update

Edit root user’s Crontab file.

sudo crontab -e

Add the following line in this file.

@daily sudo -u postgres /srv/nominatim/build/utils/update.php --import-osmosis-all

Save and close the file.

How to Add Search Functionality to a Slippy Map

I assume your slippy map is displayed using the Leaflet JavaScript library. To add search functionality to your map, you need to use a Leaflet geocoding plugin. I will show you how to use Leaflet Control Geocoder. It’s actually very simple.

Suppose you used the following HTML code to display your slippy map.

<html>
    <head>
        <meta charset="UTF-8">
        <title>My first osm</title>
        <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="leaflet.css"/>
        <script type="text/javascript" src="leaflet.js"></script>
        <style>
           #map{width:100%;height:100%}
        </style>
    </head>

    <body>
        <div id="map"></div>
        <script>
           var map = L.map('map').setView([54,1],6);
           L.tileLayer('https://tile.yourdomain.com/osm/{z}/{x}/{y}.png',{maxZoom:19}).addTo(map);  
         </script>
   </body>
</html>

Now you need to add the following two lines in the HTML header to use the Leaflet Control Geocoder plugin.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://unpkg.com/leaflet-control-geocoder/dist/Control.Geocoder.css" />
<script src="https://unpkg.com/leaflet-control-geocoder/dist/Control.Geocoder.js"></script>

Then add the following function to the <script>...</script> code so the search functionality will be added to your map.

L.Control.geocoder().addTo(map);

The final HTML code looks like this:

<html>
    <head>
        <meta charset="UTF-8">
        <title>My first osm</title>
        <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="leaflet.css"/>     
        <link rel="stylesheet" href="https://unpkg.com/leaflet-control-geocoder/dist/Control.Geocoder.css" />
        <script type="text/javascript" src="leaflet.js"></script>
        <script src="https://unpkg.com/leaflet-control-geocoder/dist/Control.Geocoder.js"></script>
        <style>
           #map{width:100%;height:100%}
        </style>
    </head>

    <body>
        <div id="map"></div>
        <script>
           var map = L.map('map').setView([54,1],6);
           L.tileLayer('https://tile.yourdomain.com/osm/{z}/{x}/{y}.png',{maxZoom:19}).addTo(map); 
           L.Control.geocoder().addTo(map);
         </script>
   </body>
</html>

Save and close the file. Then reload the map in your web browser, you should see a search button on the upper-right corner.

By default, Leaflet Control Geocoder uses the public https://nominatim.openstreetmap.org geocoding service. To make it use your own Nominatim geocoding service, delete the following line.

L.Control.geocoder().addTo(map);

Add the following lines instead. Replace the URL with the URL of your Nominatim geocoding service. Note that you should not leave out the trailing slash.

      var geocoder = L.Control.Geocoder.nominatim({serviceUrl:'https://tile.yourdomain.com/nominatim/'});
      if (URLSearchParams && location.search) {
        // parse /?geocoder=nominatim from URL
        var params = new URLSearchParams(location.search);
        var geocoderString = params.get('geocoder');
        if (geocoderString && L.Control.Geocoder[geocoderString]) {
          console.log('Using geocoder', geocoderString);
          geocoder = L.Control.Geocoder[geocoderString]();
        } else if (geocoderString) {
          console.warn('Unsupported geocoder', geocoderString);
        }
      }

      var control = L.Control.geocoder({
        query: 'Type Address here',
        placeholder: 'Search here...',
        geocoder: geocoder,
        position: 'topright'
      }).addTo(map);
      var marker;

      setTimeout(function() {
        control.setQuery('Type Address here');
      }, 12000);

The default position is topright. You can change it to topleft if you like to.

You can also add the following code for reverse geocoding. When a visitor clicks on a point on the map, the name of that address will appear.

      map.on('click', function(e) {
        geocoder.reverse(e.latlng, map.options.crs.scale(map.getZoom()), function(results) {
          var r = results[0];
          if (r) {
            if (marker) {
              marker
                .setLatLng(r.center)
                .setPopupContent(r.html || r.name)
                .openPopup();
            } else {
              marker = L.marker(r.center)
                .bindPopup(r.name)
                .addTo(map)
                .openPopup();
            }
          }
        });
      });

Save and close the file. Then reload the map in your web browser.

Troubleshooting

If the search functionality on your map doesn’t work, you can check the console of your web browser to find out what went wrong. Some folks may see the 406 not acceptable or a CORS not allowed error. Make sure you have set the correct MIME type for .php in the Apache configuration file. Some folks may have the following line, which can cause the above errors.

AddType text/html .php

It should be

AddType application/json .php

After changing the MIME type. Reload Apache for the changes to take effect.

sudo systemctl reload apache2

Wrapping Up

I hope this tutorial helped you set up Nominatim geocoding server on Ubuntu 20.04. As always, if you found this post useful, then subscribe to our free newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Take care 🙂

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One Response to “Set Up OSM Nominatim Geocoding Server on Ubuntu 20.04

  • At this part of Step 1 :
    cmake /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1

    I get the following result:
    — The C compiler identification is GNU 9.3.0
    — The CXX compiler identification is GNU 9.3.0
    — Check for working C compiler: /bin/cc
    — Check for working C compiler: /bin/cc — works
    — Detecting C compiler ABI info
    — Detecting C compiler ABI info – done
    — Detecting C compile features
    — Detecting C compile features – done
    — Check for working CXX compiler: /bin/c++
    — Check for working CXX compiler: /bin/c++ — works
    — Detecting CXX compiler ABI info
    — Detecting CXX compiler ABI info – done
    — Detecting CXX compile features
    — Detecting CXX compile features – done
    — Building osm2pgsql 1.2.0
    — Building in C++11 mode
    — Looking for include file termios.h
    — Looking for include file termios.h – found
    — Looking for include file unistd.h
    — Looking for include file unistd.h – found
    — Found ZLIB: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libz.so (found version “1.2.11”)
    — Looking for pthread.h
    — Looking for pthread.h – found
    — Performing Test CMAKE_HAVE_LIBC_PTHREAD
    — Performing Test CMAKE_HAVE_LIBC_PTHREAD – Failed
    — Looking for pthread_create in pthreads
    — Looking for pthread_create in pthreads – not found
    — Looking for pthread_create in pthread
    — Looking for pthread_create in pthread – found
    — Found Threads: TRUE
    — Found Protozero: /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql/contrib/protozero/include (found suitable version “1.6.8”, minimum required is “1.6.3”)
    — Found EXPAT: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libexpat.so (found version “2.2.9”)
    — Found BZip2: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libbz2.so (found version “1.0.8”)
    — Looking for BZ2_bzCompressInit
    — Looking for BZ2_bzCompressInit – found
    — Found Osmium: /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql/contrib/libosmium (found suitable version “2.15.6”, minimum required is “2.14”)
    — Found Boost: /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/cmake/Boost-1.71.0/BoostConfig.cmake (found suitable version “1.71.0”, minimum required is “1.50”) found components: system filesystem
    — Found PostgreSQL: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libpq.so (found version “13.0”)
    — Libraries used to build: Boost::system;Boost::filesystem;/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libpq.so;/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libz.so;-lpthread;/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libexpat.so;/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libbz2.so;/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libproj.so
    — Looking for clang-tidy
    — Looking for clang-tidy – found /bin/clang-tidy
    — Tests disabled. Set BUILD_TESTS=ON to enable tests.
    — Found PythonInterp: /bin/python3 (found suitable version “3.8.5”, minimum required is “3”)
    CMake Warning at CMakeLists.txt:69 (message):
    pyosmium-get-changes not found (required for updates)

    — Using PHP binary /bin/php
    CMake Error: The following variables are used in this project, but they are set to NOTFOUND.
    Please set them or make sure they are set and tested correctly in the CMake files:
    Boost_INCLUDE_DIR
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql/src
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql/src
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql/src
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql/src
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql/src
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql/src
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql/src
    used as include directory in directory /srv/nominatim/Nominatim-3.5.1/osm2pgsql/src

    — Configuring incomplete, errors occurred!
    See also “/srv/nominatim/build/CMakeFiles/CMakeOutput.log”.
    See also “/srv/nominatim/build/CMakeFiles/CMakeError.log”.

    Researching this leads me down several different paths, so far none have panned out. Have you encountered this, or do you know how I might work through it?

    Links to the output file and the error log are here:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yFXmBtahhq5PpggtXFSa4-PvwBgZZB8F/view?usp=sharing

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-5jYstq9_XmhUGXDRqS4hWcZyHTZpHSH/view?usp=sharing

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