Security and Permissions

This tutorial will guide you through the steps that can be done in order to restrict the access on your data uploaded to geonode.

First of all it will be shown how a user can be created and what permissions he can have. Secondly we will take a closer look on to layers, maps and documents and the different opportunities you have in order to ban certain users from viewing or editing your data.


Your first step will be to create a user. There are three options to do so, depending on which kind of user you want to create you may choose a different option. We will start with creating a superuser, because this user is the most important. A superuser has all the permissions without explicitly assigning them.

The easiest way to create a superuser (in linux) is to open your terminal and type:

$ geonode createsuperuser

If you installed geonode by source you have to take the following commands:

$ source .venvs/geonode/bin activate
$ createsuperuser --settings=geonode.settings

You will be asked a username (in this tutorial we will call the superuser you now create your_superuser), an email address and a password.

Now you’ve created a superuser you should become familiar with the Django Admin Interface. As a superuser you are having access to this interface, where you can manage users, layers, permission and more. To learn more detailed about this interface check this LINK. For now it will be enough to just follow the steps. To attend the Django Admin Interface, go to your geonode website and sign in with your_superuser. Once you’ve logged in, the name of your user will appear on the top right. Click on it and the following menu will show up:


Clicking on Admin causes the interface to show up.


Go to Auth -> Users and you will see all the users that exist at the moment. In your case it will only be your_superuser. Click on it, and you will see a section on Personal Info, one on Permissions and one on Important dates. For the moment, the section on Permissions is the most important.


As you can see, there are three boxes that can be checked and unchecked. Because you’ve created a superuser, all three boxes are checked as default. If only the box active would have been checked, the user would not be a superuser and would not be able to access the Django Admin Interface (which is only available for users with the staff status). Therefore keep the following two things in mind:

  • a superuser is able to access the Django Admin Interface and he has all permissions on the data uploaded to GeoNode.
  • an ordinary user (created from the GeoNode interface) only has active permissions by default. The user will not have the ability to access the Django Admin Interface and certain permissions have to be added for him.

Until now we’ve only created superusers. So how do you create an ordinary user? You have two options:

  1. Django Admin Interface

    First we will create a user via the Django Admin Interface because we’ve still got it open. Therefore go back to Auth -> Users and you should find a button on the right that says Add user.


    Click on it and a form to fill out will appear. Name the new user test_user, choose a password and click save at the right bottom of the site.


    Now you should be directed to the site where you could change the permissions on the user test_user. As default only active is checked. If you want this user also to be able to attend this admin interface you could also check staff status. But for now we leave the settings as they are!

    To test whether the new user was successfully created, go back to the GeoNode web page and try to sign in.

  2. GeoNode website

    To create an ordinary user you could also just use the GeoNode website. If you installed GeoNode using a release, you should

    see a Register button on the top, beside the Sign in button (you might have to log out before).


    Hit the button and again a form will appear for you to fill out. This user will be named geonode_user


    By hitting Sign up the user will be signed up, as default only with the status active.

As mentioned before, this status can be changed as well. To do so, sign in with your_superuser again and attend the admin interface. Go again to Auth -> Users, where now three users should appear:

We now want to change the permission of the geonode_user so that he will be able to attend the admin interface as well. Click on to geonode_user and you will automatically be moved to the site where you can change the permissions. Check the box staff status and hit save to store the changes.

To sum it up, we have now created three users with different kind of permissions.

  • your_superuser: This user is allowed to attend the admin interface and has all available permissions on layers, maps etc.
  • geonode_user: This user is permitted to attend the admin interface, but permissions on layers, maps etc. have to be assigned.
  • test_user: This user is not able to attend the admin interface, permissions on layers, maps etc. have also to be assigned.

You should know have an overview over the different kinds of users and how to create and edit them. You’ve also learned about the permissions a certain user has and how to change them using the Django Admin Interface.


If you’ve installed GeoNode in developing mode, the Register button won’t be seen from the beginning. To add this button to the website, you have to change the REGISTRATION_OPEN = False in the to REGISTRATION_OPEN = True. Then reload GeoNode and you should also be able to see the Register button.


Now that we’ve already created some users, we will take a closer look on the security of layers, how you can protect your data not to be viewed or edited by unwanted users.


As already mentioned before it is important to know that a superuser does have unrestricted access to all your uploaded data. That means you cannot ban a superuser from viewing, downloading or editing a layer!

The permissions on a certain layer can already be set when uploading your files. When the upload form appears (Layers -> Upload Layer) you will see the permission section on the right side:


As it can be seen here, the access on your layer is split up into three groups:

  • view and download data
  • edit data
  • manage and edit data

The difference between manage and edit layer and edit layer is that a user assigned to edit layer is not able to change the permissions on the layer whereas a user assigned to manage and edit layer can change the permissions. You can now choose whether you want your layer to be viewed and downloaded by

  • anyone
  • any registered user
  • a certain user (or group)

We will now upload our test layer like shown HERE. If you want your layer only be viewed by certain users or a group, you have to choose Only users who can edit in the part Who can view and download this data. In the section Who can edit this data you write down the names of the users you want to have admission on this data. For this first layer we will choose the settings like shown in the following image:

If you now log out, your layer can still be seen, but the unregistered users won’t be able to edit your layer. Now sign in as geonode_user and click on the test layer. Above the layer you can see this:


The geonode_user is able to edit the test_layer. But before going deeper into this, we have to first take a look on another case. As an administrator you might also upload your layers to geoserver and then make them available on GeoNode using updatelayers. Or you even add the layers via the terminal using importlayers (LINK TUTORIAL). To set the permissions on this layer, click on the test layer (you’ve uploaded via updatelayers) and you will see the same menu as shown in the image above. Click Edit layer and the menu will appear.


Choose edit permissions and a window with the permission settings will appear. This window can also be opened by scrolling down the website. On the right-hand side of the page you should be able to see a button like this.

Click on it and you will see the same window as before.

Now set the permissions of this layer using the following settings:

When you assign a user to be able to edit your data, this user is allowed to execute all of the following actions:

  • edit metadata
  • edit styles
  • manage styles
  • replace layer
  • remove layer

So be aware that each user assigned to edit this layer can even remove it! In our case, only the user test_user and your_superuser do have the rights to do so. Geonode_user is neither able to view nor to download or edit this layer.

Now you are logged in as the user test_user. Below the test_layer you can see the following:

By clicking Edit Layer and Edit Metadata on top of the layer, you can change this information. The test_user is able to change all the metadata of this layer. We now want to change to point of contact, therefore scroll down until you see this:


Change the point of contact from _who_ever_created_this to test_user. Save your changes and you will now be able to see the following:


If you allow a user to view and download a layer, this user will also be able to edit the styles, even if he is not assigned to edit the layer! Keep this in mind!

To learn how you can edit metadata or change the styles go to this section LINK.


The permission on maps are basically the same as on layers, just that there are fewer options on how to edit the map. Let’s create a map (or already TUTORIAL?). Click on test_map and scroll down till you see this:


Here you can set the same permissions as known from the layer permissions! Set the permissions of this map as seen here:

Save your changes and then log out and log in as test_user. You should now be able to view the test_map and click on to Edit map.


As you may recognize, this user is not able to change the permissions on this map. If you log in as the user geonode_user you should be able to see the button change map permissions when you scroll down the page.


All the same is also valid for your uploaded documents.