Running MongoDB from Guix

I have been watching a tutorial on GraphQL recently (YouTube link) where the lecturer uses MongoDB for persistent storage. He instructs viewers to sign up for a service that hosts a database, but I wanted to run a local instance on my machine instead. MongoDB is not available in the Void repos, but fortunately it is available in the Guix repos. However, running the Mongo deamon requires a little tweak first.

First we install MongoDB the usual way: guix install mongodb, then can try starting the daemon:

$ guix install mongodb
$ mongod
2021-02-28T18:12:26.460+0100 I STORAGE  [initandlisten] exception in initAndListen: 29 Data directory /data/db not f
ound., terminating

I have omitted all but the relevant message from the output. The issue is that MongoDB wants to store its data in the /data/db directory, but due to the fact that Guix does not mutate the operating system this directory will not be created (Guix takes a functional programming approach to package management). Even if it was, we would not have permission to write to it anyway. MongoDB is not meant to be run like a regular program, it is meant to be started as a service, usually on a server we can connect to.

We can tell the daemon which directory to use instead by passing a command-line option:

# You can use whatever directory you prefer instead
mongod --dbpath ~/.local/share/mongodb/data/db

# Even better: use a configuration file
echo "storage:
  dbPath: $HOME/.local/share/mongodb/data/db" > ~/.config/mongodb/config.yaml

mongod --config ~/.config/mongodb/config.yaml

Using a configuration file has the advantage that we can store many other options in the same file as well as needed. Please consult the MongoDB documentation for the exact for the format of the configuration file.

This is good enough to get a local MongoDB instance running for the current user. Leave the shell with the daemon running and open a new shell, then try to connect with the official client.

$ mongo
MongoDB shell version v3.4.10
connecting to: mongodb://
MongoDB server version: 3.4.10

Note the URL printed: mongodb:// This is the URL you have to use when you want to connect to the database using another client.