In many cases, Girder will work with default configuration whether installed via pip or from a source checkout or tarball. That said, the Girder config file can be set at the following locations (ordered by precedent):

  1. The path specified by the environment variable GIRDER_CONFIG.

  2. ~/.girder/girder.cfg

  3. /etc/girder.cfg


Girder settings are specific key-value pairs that control system behavior. There are two ways to change Girder settings.

Via the Web API / front-end web site

System settings can be set and retrieved using the web API endpoint at /api/v1/system/setting. Most of them are exposed via the web UI under Admin console -> System configuration. When setting the values through the web API endpoint, they will be interpreted as JSON.

Via the environment

Any system setting can be controlled via environment variables as well. To do so, find the key of the setting and apply the following transformation:

  • transform all . characters in the key to _

  • convert it to uppercase

  • prefix it with GIRDER_SETTING_

Whatever value you set for that environment variable will be parsed as JSON and used at runtime. If the value cannot be parsed as JSON, its raw string value will be used instead. For example, to set the setting named "core.brand_name", you’d use GIRDER_SETTING_CORE_BRAND_NAME='My brand name'

Settings set through environment variables will override any setting value that is set in the database via the web API.

The full list of system settings available in Girder core can be seen in the file girder/girder/, under the SettingKey class. Plugins may add additional settings within their own packages.


Much of Girder’s output is placed into the error or info log file. By default, these logs are stored in ~/.girder/logs. To set the Girder log root or error and info logs specifically, set the log_root, error_log_file, and/or info_log_file variables in the logging config group. If log_root is set, error and info will be set to error.log and info.log within log_root respectively. The _log_file variables will override that setting and are absolute paths.

Log files are written to until they reach a specified size. They are then rotated, keeping a number of files before the oldest file is deleted. The size of the files can be set via the log_max_size setting. This is either an integer value in bytes or a string with a integer value followed by a ‘kb’, ‘Mb’, or ‘Gb’ suffix. The number of files can be adjusted using the log_backup_count setting.

By default, http accesses are logged just to stdout The log_access setting is a list of where http accesses are logged that can include ‘screen’ and ‘info’. An empty list will stop logging http accesses.

Girder logs various errors and information a different log levels. The default log level is ‘INFO’, and can be adjusted by the log_level setting. Valid choices in increasing order of verbosity include ‘CRITICAL’, ‘ERROR’, ‘WARNING’, ‘INFO’, and ‘DEBUG’. By default, when logs that are WARNING, ERROR, or CRITICAL are sent to the error log file, and logs that are INFO or DEBUG are sent to the info log file. The log_max_info_level setting can be adjusted to send more log messages to the info log (in addition to the error log). For instance, if log_max_info_level is set to ‘CRITICAL’, all messages are sent to the info log, while the error log will just contain warnings and errors.

Setting log_quiet to True will suppress all output to stdout (even http access logs if specified in log_access). Information will still be sent to the log files.

Server thread pool

Girder can handle multiple requests at one time. The maximum number of simultaneous requests is set with the server.thread_pool value in the global config group. Once this many connections have been made to Girder, additional connections will block until existing connections finish.

Most operations on Girder are quick, and therefore do not use up a connection for a long duration. Some connections, notably calls to the notification/stream endpoint, can block for long periods. If you expect to have many clients, either increase the size of the thread pool or switch to using intermittent polling rather than long-duration connections.

Each available thread uses up some additional memory and requires internal socket or handle resources. The exact amount of memory and resources is dependent on the host operating system and the types of queries made to Girder. As one benchmark from an Ubuntu server, each additional available but unused connection requires roughly 25 kb of memory. If all connections are serving notification streams, each uses around 50 kb of memory.

Changing file limits

If all server threads are in use, additional attempts to connect will use a file handle while waiting to be processed. The number of open files is limited by the operating system, and may need to be increased. This limit affects actual connections, pending connections, and file use.

The method of changing file limits varies depending on your operating system. If your operating system is not listed here, try a web search for “Open Files Limit” along with your OS’s name.


You can query the current maximum number of files with the command:

ulimit -Sn

To increase this number for all users, as root or with sudo privileges, edit /etc/security/limits.conf and append the following lines to the end of the file:

*    soft    nofile    32768
*    hard    nofile    32768

Save and close the file. The user running the Girder server will need to logout and log back in and restart the Girder server for the new limits to take effect.

This raises the limits for all users on the system. You can limit this change to just the user that runs the Girder server. See the documentation for /etc/security/limits.conf for details.

Managing Routes

When plugins which have their own custom webroot are enabled, they are mounted at /pluginName. In certain cases it may be desirable for the site administrator to mount such plugins at their own specified paths.

These paths can be modified by navigating to Admin Console -> Server Configuration and visiting the Routing section.