Setup Mapnik From Scratch

THIS document is a work in progress.

There are several options but mainly three web map servers (WMS): Mapnik, GeoServer and MapServer. Simple visualization:

 A) browser/client (leaflet, openlayers)
 B) tile server (mod_tile, tile cache, tile stache, mapproxy, geowebcache)
 C) map web service = WMS (MapServer, GeoServer, Mapnik)
 D) Data storage (PostgreSQL, vector tiles)
 E) OSM data (xml, pbf)


  • for C => Mapnik can use TileMill to style to map
  • leaflet can do tile layers (B) but also WMS (C)
  • Nearly always you need PostgreSQL, but in rare cases you can avoid it via vector tiles.
  • A common approach is to use apache2 with mod_tile. Serving the tiles from disc or creating the image via mapnik through renderd. But also nginx gets more popular. Tiledrawer has an old scripts also with mapnik and nginx.
  • You can also use GeoServer with a cache in front. Often it only serves some feature layers.
  • WFS = web feature service
  • MWS = map web service

Installation of PostgreSQL, Mapnik, mod_tile, renderd


First of all you need the OSM data in a PostgreSQL database via osm2psql import – an easy description is here. For a faster import you can try imposm instead of the more common osm2psql.

Install the Rest

Although nginx would be preferred I did not find a out of the box working solution for it. So you need to use apache2 and mod_tile: a simple installation. Also there is an older article which I did not try. There is also a good presentation with some useful information.

 sudo apt-get install python-software-properties
 sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kakrueger/openstreetmap
 sudo apt-get update
 # now install mod_tile and renderd with the default style
 sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-tile
 sudo -u postgres osm2pgsql --slim -C 1500 --number-processes 4 /tmp/europe_germany_berlin.pbf
 sudo touch /var/lib/mod_tile/planet-import-complete
 sudo /etc/init.d/renderd restart
 # optionally pre-generate some tiles for faster rendering - see "How do I pre-render tiles ?"
 # difference to and
 go to http://localhost/osm/slippymap.html
# to install mapnik-config do:
 sudo apt-get install libmapnik2-dev

Custom Styles

Here you can find newer style is constructed via CartoCSS
install carto either via just using TileMill or do

sudo apt-get install npm
sudo npm install -g carto

TODO Get mapbox osm-bright working. This new style requires a specific version XY of mapnik which wasn’t found in my ubuntu version!?

edit config name and path in
# backup /etc/mapnik-osm-data/osm.xml before doing:
carto osm-bright/YourProject/project.mml > /etc/mapnik-osm-data/osm.xml
# the osm.xml is used from mod_tile which uses renderd /etc/renderd.conf
# mod_tile config is at: /etc/apache2/sites-available/tileserver_site
# The tiles are here: /var/lib/mod_tile/default/

TODO To update the style you can try

 sudo -u www-data touch /var/lib/mod_tile/planet-import-complete
 # important: do not delete 'default' itself
 sudo rm -R /var/lib/mod_tile/default/
 # how to restart renderd properly?
 sudo service renderd restart



For mapnik installation you’ll also need a web server like nginx or apache2. For nginx you can have a look into the script available here (clone the git repo):

Additionally you’ll need mod_tile and renderd or TileStache if you use nginx. To style the maps you can use TileMill.


Installation is a lot easier compared to Mapnik or MapServer. Only dependency is Java. Just grab the full zip of geo server and copy the war from web cache into webapps, then run ./bin/

If you need mapbox tilemile styles for geoserver have a look into: