Thursday, 13 September 2012

Installing archivematica ...and running out of memory

For a couple of months now I have been intending to install archivematica and test it out. Described as a "free and open-source digital preservation system that is designed to maintain standards-based, long-term access to collections of digital objects", this sounds like it could be a great starting point for establishing a digital archive here at the Borthwick Institute. Also strongly in its favour from my perspective is the fact that it is compatible with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model and supports metadata standards such as PREMIS and Dublin Core.

Though I have had a passing interest in this software for some time, in my previous job at the Archaeology Data Service we had a long established digital archive with preservation systems and migration pathways already in place. Setting up archivematica in such a way to interface with our existing processes and procedures there may not have been an easy. Here in the Borthwick Institute we are starting from scratch with digital preservation which in some ways gives us more freedom to make use of some of the new and exciting tools that are being developed in this area. What we need to be able to interface with here are existing systems for cataloguing and providing access to traditional analogue archives. One thing that attracted me to archivematica was the way in which it can work alongside ICA's AtoM. This is a system that supports archival description and can be used by traditional archives to catalogue their holdings and make their catalogues searchable on-line. This is another tool we will be investigating in the not too distant future.

So, to cut a long story short, this morning I set about downloading and installing Oracle VirtualBox and setting up archivematica as a virtual appliance. This all seemed to go quite smoothly despite all the warning messages about non-verified software (all above board according to the installation guide). The only problem was, when I tried to run archivematica and test it out I was disappointed to find I couldn't get past the login screen as there was not enough available memory to continue.

I will try again once my PC has been upgraded so watch this space.

In the meantime I would be really interested to hear from anyone else in the UK who is using both archivematica and ICA AtoM. It would be great to be able to see a real life example of how they work together.


  1. Sounds cool! If you need a mini linux box, you could try one of these ... we had a bit of our live system running off one of these for a while!

  2. Thanks for the tip Jal! Never tried Linux so a bit of a beginner in that respect. I'm intending to test out a few tools so not sure yet what platform will be best ultimately.

  3. Hi Jenny, I'm Courtney from the Archivematica project team in Vancouver, BC. Once you're all installed with proper memory allocation, please do share your experiences with us. Questions/concerns are all welcome at our public forum:!forum/archivematica

    Thanks for giving us a try!
    Courtney C. Mumma, MAS/MLIS
    Archivematica Product Manager/Systems Analyst
    Artefactual Systems, Inc.

  4. Thanks Courtney - will do! I'll keep an eye on the forum.

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  6. Just a quick suggestion; depending on the spec of the machine you're running VirtualBox on, it may not be the physical memory of the PC that needs upgrading, just the amount of memory allocated to the Archivmatica virtual machine e.g. on the setup screen for your new virtual machine in VirtualBox, set the RAM to 1-2GB (assuming you have 4ish GB in your physical machine) rather than the default (512mb?). That should give you enough memory for it to run without problems.

    I've put together a walkthrough video of installing ICA Atom ( and have been meaning to do something similar for Archivematica for a while!

    Fingers crossed you get it working soon.

  7. Thanks Louise - I am afraid my PC is just not high enough spec for it. Just under 2GB of RAM. Would be very interested in your installation video for ICA Atom ....will look at that later. Good stuff!