Install latest BSDDB

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Some people have encountered bugs in GRAMPS which are due to the database not working well.

Installing the latest version of the BSDDB database tends to solve the problem.

This guide is for version 3.3 of Gramps, for earlier versions, you need to manually change python files!

Why install latest version ?

Some errors have happened in the past outside of GRAMPS, with the BSDDB database format GRAMPS uses. See eg: Bug # 110, Bug # 814

It can be expected that recompiling BSDDB could solve the problem. However, if BSDDB needs to be recompiled, one can as well install the latest version.

Furthermore, the people of pybsddb recommend doing a local compile if the use of BSDDB is critical.

For genealogists needing GRAMPS this could be considered true.

Before you begin: BACKUP

Take a backup of your genealogical data before you do this. Remember, you should backup data of GRAMPS in .gramps format, and keep that somewhere save (GRDB format is NOT a good backup format!).

Obtaining latest BSDDB version

BSDDB core from Sleepycat (Oracle)

Go to and download latest libdb code without encryption (eg Berkeley DB 5.1.19.NC.tar.gz ), unpack. You need to create an Oracle ID for this, but it is OSS software. Read in the downloaded code the file docs/index.html on how to configure and make the code. For Linux:

cd build_unix
sudo make install

Python BSDDB interface

Next, go to pybsddb ([1]). Download the version compatible with the downloaded bsddb version, eg bsddb3 5.1.1 is tested with 4.2 and 5.1. Unpack and go in the created directory. Run python, this should find your installed bsddb3 returning something like:

Found Berkeley DB 5.1 installation.
 include files in /usr/local/BerkeleyDB.5.1/include
 library files in /usr/local/BerkeleyDB.5.1/lib
 library name is libdb-5.1

Now run python build to make the package, and lastly install it with

sudo python install

which installs bsddb3.

Note: you need libpython2.x-devel to build this, with x your version of python.

As a test, run

>>> import bsddb3
>>> bsddb3.__version__
>>> bsddb3.db.version()
(5, 1, 19)

Make Gramps use bsddb3

In version 3.3, you can make Gramps use the bsddb3 package by setting a config key. For this, open the ini file:


and look for the line


Change this line into


If you now start Gramps, bsddb3 will be used.

External Link

Information on BSDDB (Python "bindings" for Oracle Berkeley DB)