5.4 KiB

libravatarserv is a simple libravatar server. It is intended to be used as a CGI program.

Libravatar is a free service and an open specification for hosting profile images tied to email or OpenID addresses.

The default branch changed from master to main on 2022-06-11.


  • Avatar delivery based on email addresses
  • Default avatar for unknown addresses
  • MD5 hashes
  • SHA256 hashes
  • Variable image size (s or size)
  • Default fallbacks (d or default): 404, mp/mm, identicon (=retro), retro
  • Requesting file type by appending .jpg, .png, .gif or .webp to the hash

The API is explained in greater detail at the Libravar wiki.

Not supported

  • OpenID
    • Because it isn't possible to store filenames with '/' in it on most filesystems.
  • The default fallbacks monsterid, wavatar, robohash and pagan
    • Patches welcome
  • forcedefault
  • Fallback URLs for to external sites (due to CWE-601)
    • We have a server setting (LIBRAVATARSERV_REDIRECT) to redirect to


Install nginx and fcgiwrap, copy the example config to the nginx configuration directory and edit it according to your needs. Other webservers and cgi spawners will also work, of course.

Add the following DNS records to your nameserver:     IN SRV 0 0 80 IN SRV 0 0 443 is for HTTP, is for HTTPS.

libravatarserv looks in the current working directory for images. You can force a different directory by setting the environment variable LIBRAVATARSERV_DIR. Any file format supported by ImageMagick is supported, but it should be PNG, JPEG or GIF for compatibility.

The image files are named like your email address, no file extension. The default behaviour for unknown users is to return a 404 error. You can change that by setting the environment variable LIBRAVATARSERV_DEFAULT_FALLBACK to any value accepted by d or default. If you want to force a default image for unknown email addresses, name it default. The default image overrides the specified fallback in the URL and in the environment variable.

If you want to support "Mystery persons" (mp/mm) as default avatars, place a file named mp in the avatar dir. You can use the default libravatar mystery person (SVG), for example.

Test your setup on


The avatar directory could look like this:

├── [ 32K]  default
├── [ 759]
└── [  16] ->


Configuration is done through environment variables.


The directory containing the avatars.

Default: current directory


Controls what happens if no fallback was requested. Possible values: Anything that can be supplied with the d or default parameter.

Default: 404


Set to 1 to redirect to if the user is not found.

Default: 1

Things to keep in mind

libravatarserv resizes images on the fly and potentially calculates hashes for every user on every request. This could seriously strain the ressources of your computer if many users use the service. Make sure to set up caching if you expect more than occasional traffic.



Gentoo ebuilds are available via my repository.

From source


On a Debian system, install the packages: build-essential pkg-config cmake libcrypto++-dev libmagick++-dev and identiconpp (or use the bundled).


cmake -S . -B build
cmake --build build
cmake options
  • -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug for a debug build
  • -DLIBRAVATAR_BUNDLED_IDENTICONPP=YES to use the bundled identiconpp

To install, run sudo cmake --install build. To create a linux distribution package, run cpack -G DEB or cpack -G RPM.


Contributions are always welcome. You can submit them as pull requests or via email to


Tests on a laptop with an x86_64 2GHz CPU with 2 cores showed that the average response time is 140ms with 3 avatars in the "database", 180ms with 1003 avatars. The tests were done with a 27KiB image, scaled down from 569px to 512px. It took 3,8s / 5-7s to transfer 50 unique avatars (about 3 KiB each) on one page.

This test was done on an older version and may not be accurate any more.