Command Line Interface (CLI)

The command-line command to interact with BigchainDB Server is bigchaindb.

bigchaindb --help

Show help for the bigchaindb command. bigchaindb -h does the same thing.

bigchaindb --version

Show the version number. bigchaindb -v does the same thing.

bigchaindb configure

Generate a local configuration file (which can be used to set some or all BigchainDB node configuration settings). It will ask you for the values of some configuration settings. If you press Enter for a value, it will use the default value.

At this point, only one database backend is supported: localmongodb.

If you use the -c command-line option, it will generate the file at the specified path:

bigchaindb -c path/to/new_config.json configure localmongodb

If you don’t use the -c command-line option, the file will be written to $HOME/.bigchaindb (the default location where BigchainDB looks for a config file, if one isn’t specified).

If you use the -y command-line option, then there won’t be any interactive prompts: it will use the default values for all the configuration settings.

bigchaindb -y configure localmongodb

bigchaindb show-config

Show the values of the BigchainDB node configuration settings.

bigchaindb init

Create a backend database (local MongoDB), all database tables/collections, various backend database indexes, and the genesis block.

bigchaindb drop

Drop (erase) the backend database (the local MongoDB database used by this node). You will be prompted to make sure. If you want to force-drop the database (i.e. skipping the yes/no prompt), then use bigchaindb -y drop

bigchaindb start

Start BigchainDB. It always begins by trying a bigchaindb init first. See the documentation for bigchaindb init. The database initialization step is optional and can be skipped by passing the --no-init flag, i.e. bigchaindb start --no-init.


The log level for the console can be set via the option --log-level or its abbreviation -l. Example:

$ bigchaindb --log-level INFO start

The allowed levels are DEBUG, INFO, WARNING, ERROR, and CRITICAL. For an explanation regarding these levels please consult the Logging Levels section of Python’s documentation.

For a more fine-grained control over the logging configuration you can use the configuration file as documented under Configuration Settings.

bigchaindb election

Manage elections to govern the BigchainDB network. The specifics of the election process are defined in BEP-18.

Election management is broken into several subcommands. Below is the command line syntax for each of them.

election new

Create a new election which proposes a change to the BigchainDB network.

If the command succeeds, it will post an election transaction and output election_id.

The election proposal consists of vote tokens allocated to every current validator proportional to his voting power. Validators spend their votes to approve the election using the election-approve command.

Every election has a type. Currently supported types are upsert-validator and chain-migration. Their transaction operations are VALIDATOR_ELECTION and CHAIN_MIGRATION accordingly. See below for how to create an election of a particular type.

Note that elections can only be proposed and approved by existing validators.

election new upsert-validator

Create an election to add, update, or remove a validator.

$ bigchaindb election new upsert-validator <public-key> <power> <node-id> --private-key <path-to-the-private-key>
  • <public-key> is the public key of the node to be added/updated/removed. The encoding and type of the key have to match those specified in genesis.json in the supported Tendermint version.
  • <power> is the new power for the validator. To remove the validator, set the power to 0.
  • <node-id> is the node identifier from Tendermint. A node operator can learn his node identifier by executing tendermint show_node_id.
  • <path-to-the-private-key> is the path to the private key of the validator who proposes the election. Tendermint places it at .tendermint/config/priv_validator.json.


$ bigchaindb election new upsert-validator HHG0IQRybpT6nJMIWWFWhMczCLHt6xcm7eP52GnGuPY= 1 fb7140f03a4ffad899fabbbf655b97e0321add66 --private-key /home/user/.tendermint/config/priv_validator.json
[SUCCESS] Submitted proposal with id: 04a067582cf03eba2b53b82e4adb5ece424474cbd4f7183780855a93ac5e3caa

A successful execution of the above command does not imply the validator set has been updated but rather the proposal has been accepted by the network. Once election_id has been generated, the proposer should share it with other validators of the network (e.g. via email) and ask them to approve the proposal.

Note that election proposers do not automatically approve elections by proposing them.

For more details about how validator set changes work, refer to BEP-21.

election new chain-migration

Create an election to halt block production, to coordinate on making a Tendermint upgrade with a backwards-incompatible chain.

$ bigchaindb election new chain-migration --private-key <path-to-the-private-key>
  • <path-to-the-private-key> is the path to the private key of the validator who proposes the election. Tendermint places it at .tendermint/config/priv_validator.json.


$ bigchaindb election new migration --private-key /home/user/.tendermint/config/priv_validator.json
[SUCCESS] Submitted proposal with id: 04a067582cf03eba2b53b82e4adb5ece424474cbd4f7183780855a93ac5e3caa

Concluded chain migration elections halt block production at whichever block height they are approved. Afterwards, validators are supposed to upgrade Tendermint, set new chain_id, app_hash, and validators (to learn these values, use the election show command) in genesis.json, make and save a MongoDB dump, and restart the system.

For more details about how chain migrations work, refer to Type 3 scenarios in BEP-42.

election approve

Approve an election by voting for it. The command places a VOTE transaction, spending all of the validator’s vote tokens to the election address.

$ bigchaindb election approve <election-id> --private-key <path-to-the-private-key>
  • election-id is the election identifier the approval is given for.
  • <path-to-the-private-key> is the path to the private key of the validator who votes for the election. Tendermint places it at .tendermint/config/priv_validator.json.


$ bigchaindb election approve 04a067582cf03eba2b53b82e4adb5ece424474cbd4f7183780855a93ac5e3caa --private-key /home/user/.tendermint/config/priv_validator.json
[SUCCESS] Your vote has been submitted

Once a proposal has been approved by the sufficient amount of validators (contributing more than 2/3 of the total voting power), the proposed change is applied to the network.

election show

Retrieves the information about elections.

$ bigchaindb election show <election-id>


status has three possible values:

  • ongoing, if the election can be concluded but has not yet collected enough votes,
  • concluded, if the election has been concluded,
  • inconclusive, if the validator set changed while the election was in process, rendering it undecidable.

After a chain migration is concluded, the show command also outputs chain_id, app_hash, and validators for genesis.json of the new chain.

bigchaindb tendermint-version

Show the Tendermint versions supported by BigchainDB server.

$ bigchaindb tendermint-version
    "description": "BigchainDB supports the following Tendermint version(s)",
    "tendermint": [