It is highly recommended to use shadowdctl to install Shadow Daemon. If this is not an option you can also compile shadowd yourself. Be aware though that it is much more work to install shadowd from source.


The server is written in C++. To compile it on a Unix-like system you need the following tools.

  • g++
  • make
  • cmake

Several libraries are also required.

  • libssl
  • libboost
  • asio
  • thread
  • regex
  • program options
  • libjsoncpp
  • libcrypto++
  • libdbi
  • libdbd-mysql / libdbd-pgsql


Stable releases of the source code can be found on the download page or on Github.

git clone


Use cmake to configure and prepare the project. It is a good idea to create a separate directory for this. A typical installation might look like this.

mkdir build
cd build


If cmake is successful it creates a makefile. Use it to compile and install the project.

make shadowd
make install


If you compile shadowd from source it will not start automatically on boot, so you will have to set up the autostart manually as well. How exactly this is done depends on your operating system. You can find init scripts for the most common Linux distributions in the packaging repository.

It is recommended to not run shadowd with root privileges, so you should add a new user and group.

sudo useradd shadowd

This user needs access to the configuration file.

sudo chown root:shadowd /etc/shadowd/shadowd.ini
sudo chmod 640 /etc/shadowd/shadowd.ini


Install and configure a database server. At the moment shadowd officially supports PostgreSQL and MySQL. Afterwards create a new user and database for shadowd and import the correct layout.

If you are using PostgreSQL you can use psql to import the layout.

psql -Ushadowd shadowd < /usr/share/shadowd/pgsql_layout.sql

If you are using MySQL you can use mysql to import the layout. The user requires the CREATE ROUTINE privilege.

mysql -ushadowd -p shadowd < /usr/share/shadowd/mysql_layout.sql


The installer creates a configuration file at /etc/shadowd/shadowd.ini that has to be edited. The file is annotated and should be self-explanatory.

Verify the file permissions!

The configuration file contains your database password, so make sure that it is only readable by the shadowd user.

What’s next?

You have to install the user interface to add profiles and rules for web applications.