Running Turtl

Turtl’s server is written in Common Lisp. It can take a few minutes to set up, so be sure to read this guide carefully.


Let’s go over the software you need to get started.

Common lisp

Common Lisp is a language, and has many different implementations. Turtl is known to run well on CCL (SBCL has problems currently) for all/most platforms.


Turtl loads all of its dependencies through the Quicklisp system. So install Quicklisp using your lisp of choice from above.


Turtl’s data store is RethinkDB, so you’ll need to install that on your server.

Turtl fully manages its own schema and doesn’t require any setup beyond getting RethinkDB created.


The server is evented, and requires that you have libuv installed on the machine you with to run Turtl.


Now that you have all the software you need ready to go, download the Turtl API via git:

git clone


Go into the api/ folder, and copy config/config.default.lisp to config/config.lisp. Edit config/config.lisp using your favorite editor and update the settings to suit your needs. All the options are fairly well documented.

Run it

While still in the api/ folder, open your chosen lisp and run:

(load "start")

If all goes well, Turtl will create the schema it needs and open on port 8181! You can now point your clients at this port on your server, although it’s recommended to run it behind a proxy like Apache or Nginx.

Docker containers

Here are a set of community-built docker containers available for running the Turtl API (no official containers yet):