Podman Install
August 18, 2023

Podman Install

If you don't like docker compose, don't want a bare-metal installation, but still want to leverage the benefits from the isolation and modularity of containers...

Podman Install

Podman Installation Guide

If you don’t like docker compose, don’t want a bare-metal installation, but still want to leverage the benefits from the isolation and modularity of containers - this is the guide you should use.

Likewise, If you are actively developing LibreChat, aren’t using the service productively (i.e production environments), you should avoid this guide and look to something easier to work with such as docker compose.

Important: docker and podman commands are for the most part, interoperable and interchangeable. The code instructions below will use (and heavily favor) podman.

Creating the base image

Since LibreChat is very active in development, it’s recommended for now to build the image locally for the container you plan on using. Thankfully this is easy enough to do.

In your target directory, run the following:

Clone the LibreChat repository
git clone https://github.com/danny-avila/LibreChat

This will add a directory, LibreChat into your local environment.

Without entering the LibreChat directory, add a script ./image.sh with the following:

If you don’t want to run this as a script, you can run the container command rather images

Build the base container image for LibreChat
podman build --tag "librechat:local" --file ./LibreChat/Dockerfile

Note: the downside of running a base container that has a live root is that image revisions need to be done manually. The easiest way is to remove and recreate the image when the container is no longer. If that’s not possible for you, manually updating the image to increment versions can be done manually. Simply amend $image with the version you’re building.

We’ll document how to go about the update process more effectively further on. You wont need to remove your existing containers, or lose any data when updating.

Setting up the env file

Execute the following command to create a env file solely for LibreChat containers:

Copy env.example file to .env
cp ./LibreChat/.env.example .env

This will add the env file to the top level directory that we will create the containers, allowing us to pass it easily as via the --env-file command argument.

Follow this guide to populate the containers with the correct env values for various apis. There are other env values of interest that might be worth changing, documented within the env itself. Afterwords, edit the following lines in the .env file.


These values will be uses by some of our containers to correctly use container DNS, using the LibreChat network.

Creating a network for LibreChat

If you’re going about this the manual way, it’s likely safe to assume you’re running more than a few different containers and services on your machine. One of the nice features offered by most container engines is that you don’t need to have every single container exposed on the host network. This has the added benefit of not exposing your data and dependant services to other containers on your host.

Create a network named librechat using podman
podman network create librechat

We will be using this network when creating our containers.

Creating dependant containers

LibreChat currently uses mongoDB and meilisearch, so we’ll also be creating those containers.


Install and boot the mongodb container with the following command:

Start mongodb container with network and volume settings
podman run \
  --name="librechat-mongodb" \
  --network=librechat \
  -v "librechat-mongodb-data:/data/db" \
  --detach \
  docker.io/mongo \
  mongod --noauth


Install and boot the melisearch container with the following command:

Install and boot the melisearch container
podman run \
  --name="librechat-meilisearch" \
  --network=librechat \
  --env-file="./.env" \
  -v "librechat-meilisearch-data:/meili_data" \
  --detach \

Starting LibreChat

Start LibreChat
podman run \
  --name="librechat" \
  --network=librechat \
  --env-file="./.env" \
  -p 3080:3080 \
  --detach \

If you’re using LibreChat behind another load balancer, you can omit the -p declaration, you can also attach the container to the same network by adding an additional network argument:

Attach LibreChat to specific network
--network=librechat \
Attach to load balancer network
--network=mybalancernetwork \

As described by the original -p command argument, it would be possible to access librechat as librechat:3080, mybalancernetwork would be replaced with whatever network your balancer exists.

Auto-starting containers on boot (podman + Linux only)

Podman has a declarative way to ensure that pod starts up automatically on system boot using systemd.

To use this method you need to run the following commands:

First, let’s stop any running containers related to LibreChat:

Stop LibreChat container
podman stop librechat
Stop LibreChat MongoDB container
podman stop librechat-mongodb
Stop LibreChat MeiliSearch container
podman stop librechat-meilisearch

Next, we’ll update our user’s systemd configuration to enable lingering. In systemd-based systems, when a user logs in and out, user-based services typically terminate themselves to save CPU, but since we’re using rootless containers (which is podman’s preferred way of running), we need to indicate that our user has permission to have user-locked services running after their session ends.

Enable linger for the current user using loginctl
loginctl enable-linger $(whoami)

Next, we’ll create a script somewhere in our home directory using a text editor. Let’s call the script ./install.sh

# Install podman container as systemd container
set -e
podman generate systemd --name "$name" > ~/.config/systemd/user/container-$name.service
systemctl --user enable --now container-$name;

After saving, we’ll update the script to be executable:

Make installation script executable
chmod +x ./install.sh

Assuming we aren’t running those LibreChat containers from before, we can enable on-boot services for each of them using the following:

Install Librechat MongoDB
./install.sh librechat-mongodb 
Install Librechat Meilisearch
./install.sh librechat-meilisearch 
Install Librechat Application
./install.sh librechat 

The containers (assuming everything was done to par), will be now running using the systemd layer instead of the podman layer. This means services will load on boot, but also means managing these containers is a little more manual and requires interacting with systemd instead of podman directly.

For instance, instead of podman stop {name}, you would instead do systemctl --user stop container-{name} to perform maintenance (such as updates or backups). Likewise, if you need to start the service again you simply can run systemctl --user start container-{name}. If wanting to use auto-boot functionality, interacting with managed containers using podman can cause issues with systemd’s fault tolerance as it can’t correctly indicate the state of a container when interfered with.

Backing up volume containers (podman only)

The podman containers above are using named volumes for persistent data, which means we can’t simply copy files from one place to another. This has benefits though. In podman, we can simply backup the volume into a tape archive format (tarball). To do this, run the following commands:

It’s recommended you stop the containers before running these commands.

Backup Librechat Meilisearch Data
podman volume export librechat-meilisearch-data --output "librechat-meilisearch-backup-$(date +"%d-%m-%Y").tar"
Backup Librechat MongoDB Data
podman volume export librechat-mongodb-data --output "librechat-mongodb-backup-$(date +"%d-%m-%Y").tar"

These will leave archive files that you can do what you wish with, including reverting volumes to a previous state if needed. Refer to the official podman documentation for how to do this.

Updating LibreChat

LibreChat is still under development, so depending on published images isn’t a huge viability at the moment. Instead, it’s easier to update using git. Data persistence in librechat is managed outside of the main container, so it’s rather simple to do an in-place update.

In the parent directory containing the LibreChat repo:

Update Git Repo
(cd LibreChat && git pull)
Stop Systemd Service
systemctl --user stop container-librechat
Remove Librechat Container
podman rm -f librechat
Destroy Local Image
podman rmi -f librechat:local
Rebuild Librechat Image
podman build --tag "librechat:local" --file ./LibreChat/Dockerfile
Recreate Liberchat Container
podman run --name="librechat" --network=librechat --env-file="./.env" -p 3080:3080 --detach librechat:local
Restart Systemd Service After Stopping Container
podman stop librechat && systemctl --user start container-librechat

Integrating the Configuration File in Podman Setup

When using Podman for setting up LibreChat, you can also integrate the librechat.yaml configuration file.

This file allows you to define specific settings and AI endpoints, such as Mistral AI, tailoring the application to your needs.

After creating your .env file as detailed in the previous steps, follow these instructions to integrate the librechat.yaml configuration:

  1. Place your librechat.yaml file in your project’s root directory.
  2. Modify the Podman run command for the LibreChat container to include a volume argument that maps the librechat.yaml file inside the container. This can be done by adding the following line to your Podman run command:
Specify Docker Volume Mapping
-v "./librechat.yaml:/app/librechat.yaml"

For example, the modified Podman run command for starting LibreChat will look like this:

It seems like there was a misunderstanding regarding your request as I provided the split commands earlier. To make it into one command, I would combine all the elements into a single command block:

Run Docker Container with Specific Configuration
docker run --name="librechat" --network=librechat --env-file="./.env" -p 3080:3080 --detach librechat:local

By mapping the librechat.yaml file into the container, Podman ensures that your custom configurations are applied to LibreChat, enabling a tailored AI experience.

Ensure that the librechat.yaml file is correctly formatted and contains valid settings.

Any errors in this file might affect the functionality of LibreChat. For more information on configuring librechat.yaml, refer to the Custom Endpoints & Configuration.