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PAPERLESS(7) FreeBSD Miscellaneous Information Manual PAPERLESS(7)

Index and archive scanned paper documents - installation

pkg install py38-paperless

Paperless is a simple Django application running in two parts: The consumer, which does the indexing and a web interface, which allows searching and downloading already-indexed documents.

This man page documents how the FreeBSD FreeBSD port is installed and configured. It assumes that the paperless package was already installed, e.g., from the FreeBSD FreeBSD package repo as described in SYNOPSIS.

For more information about using paperless, see “the official paperless documentation” (file://usr/local/share/doc/paperless/index.html or

The package creates a symlink from /usr/local/lib/python3.8/site-packages/paperless/ to /usr/local/bin/paperless for convenience reasons, so whenever the official documentation mentions it can be substituted with /usr/local/bin/paperless or simply paperless.

Paperless always needs to be run using the correct system user and an UTF-8 codepage.

The package py38-paperless created a user paperless with the following home directory layout, setting appropriate restrictive access permissions:

home directory (only writeable by root)
Consume directory writable by root, used as chroot directory for sftp access (see below).
Input files are dropped in there to be processed by the paperless document consumer - either directly or via a mechanism like sftp.
Directory used by paperless to store original files and thumbnails.
Contains paperless' SQLite database.

In case documents should be PGP encrypted, PAPERLESS_PASSPHRASE needs to be configured in /usr/local/etc/paperless.conf first.

Also, PAPERLESS_OCR_THREADS can be tuned in the same configuration file to limit the impact on system performance.

To use paperless, the consumer is enabled

sysrc paperless_consumer_enable=YES

and subsequently started

service paperless-consumer start

(which also creates/updates the paperless SQLite database).

Therefore, restarting the consumer after updates

service paperless-consumer restart

updates the database before starting the new program version.

Before using the web ui, make sure to create a super user and assign a password
su -l paperless -c '/usr/local/bin/paperless createsuperuser'

It is recommended to host the web component using a real web server, e.g., nginx + uwsgi.

Install and configure uwsgi:

pkg install uwsgi
mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/uwsgi
cp /usr/local/share/examples/paperless/uwsgi.ini \
sysrc uwsgi_enable=YES
sysrc uwsgi_profiles+=paperless
sysrc uwsgi_paperless_socket_owner=paperless:www
sysrc uwsgi_paperless_uid=paperless
sysrc uwsgi_paperless_gid=paperless
sysrc uwsgi_paperless_configfile=/usr/local/etc/uwsgi/paperless.ini

Start the uwsgi process:

service uwsgi start paperless

Install nginx:

pkg install nginx

Create a basic server configuration ( /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf ), example snippet:

server {
    listen 80;
    server_name localhost;

    location /static/ {
        alias /usr/local/www/paperless/static/;

    location / {
        uwsgi_pass unix:/tmp/uwsgi-paperless.sock;
        include uwsgi_params;

    error_page   500 502 503 504  /50x.html;
    location = /50x.html {
        root   /usr/local/www/nginx-dist;

Enable and start nginx:

sysrc nginx_enable=YES
service nginx start

In a real world setup, nginx should be configured to use TLS and (potentially) client certificates.

Setting up sftp enabled direct upload of files to be processed by the paperless consumer. Some scanners allow configuring sftp with key based authentication, which is convenient as it scans directly to the paperless processing pipeline.

In case paperless is using a dedicated instance of sshd(8), access can be limited to the paperless user by adding these lines to /etc/ssh/sshd_config:

# Only include if sshd is dedicated to paperless
# otherwise you'll lock yourself out
AllowUsers paperless

The following block limits the paperless user to using the sftp(1) protocol and locks it into the consume directory:

# paperless can only do sftp and is dropped into correct directory
Match User paperless
	ChrootDirectory %h/consume
	ForceCommand internal-sftp -u 0077 -d /input
	AllowTcpForwarding no
	X11Forwarding no
	PasswordAuthentication no

The public keys of authorized users/devices need to be added to /var/db/paperless/.ssh/authorized_keys:

mkdir -p /var/db/paperless/.ssh
cat path/to/pubkey >>/var/db/paperless/.ssh/authorized_keys

Make sure sshd(8) is enabled and restart (or reload) it:

sysrc sshd_enable=YES
service sshd restart

The user will be dropped into the correct directory, so uploading a file is as simple as:

echo put file.pdf | sftp -b - paperless@host

See self-documented /usr/local/etc/paperless.conf.sample for example.
Official documentation for the version installed.
Presentation of the motivation for and technology behind paperless.
Configuration examples, complementary to this man page.

sftp(1), sshd_config(5), ports(7), daemon(8), service(8), sysrc(8)

Official paperless documentation.

This manual page was written by Michael Gmelin <>.
September 17, 2020 FreeBSD 13.1-RELEASE

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