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Lightweight Archivematica

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a3m is a lightweight version of Archivematica focused on AIP creation. It has neither external dependencies, integration with access sytems, search capabilities nor a graphical interface. It is ideal for workloads where you would typically use multiple Archivematica pipelines and implement additional workflows elsewhere.


Experimental, a3m is still being refined. See open and closed issues.


You can install a3m via PyPI:

pip install a3m

However, it is preferably to run a3m via our Docker image because it includes all the dependencies needed (unar, 7z, ffmpeg, clamav, etc...).

gRPC server

The following example shows how to set up a gRPC server and a client sharing the same network using Docker. Alternatively, see our screencast.

Create a virtual network:

docker network create a3m-network

The following command will run the gRPC server in detached mode listening locally on port 7000:

docker run --rm --detach --name a3m --network a3m-network -p 7000:7000

Submit a transfer with the gRPC client, e.g.:

docker run --rm --network a3m-network --entrypoint=python -m a3m.server.rpc.client submit --wait --address=a3m:7000

Using our service definition, it is possible to generate client-side code in multiple programming languages. See gRPC concepts for more.

Don't forget to clean up before leaving!

docker stop a3m
docker network remove a3m-network
Embedded API

Python developers should be able to implement new solutions embedding a3m as a library. See #42 for more.

import a3m

runner = a3m.Runner()
runner.submit_package("https://...", wait=True)


It is possible to do local development work in a3m. But we also provide an environment based on Docker Compose with all the tools and dependencies installed so you don't have to run them locally.

Docker Compose

Try the following if you feel confortable using our Makefile:

make create-volume build bootstrap restart

Otherwise, follow these steps:

# Create the external data volume
mkdir -p hack/compose-volume
docker volume create --opt type=none --opt o=bind --opt device=./hack/compose-volume a3m-pipeline-data

# Build service

# Bring the service up
docker-compose up -d a3m

You're ready to submit a transfer:

# Submit a transfer
docker-compose run --rm --entrypoint sh a3m -c "python -m a3m.server.rpc.client submit --wait --address=a3m:7000"

# Find the AIP generated
find hack/compose-volume -name "*.7z";
Container-free workflow

Be aware that a3m has application dependencies that need to be available in the system path. The Docker image makes them all available while in this workflow you will have to ensure they're available manually.

a3m needs Python 3.8 or newer. So for an Ubuntu/Debian Linux environment:

sudo apt install -y python3.8 python3.8-venv python3.8-dev

The following external tools are used to process files in a3m and must be installed on your system. For an Ubuntu/Debian Linux environment:


wget -qO - | sudo apt-key add - 

echo "deb wheezy main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list 

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install siegfried


sudo apt-get install unar

ffmpeg (ffprobe)

sudo apt-get install ffmpeg


sudo dkpg -i libimage-exiftool-perl_10.10-2~14.04_all.deb


sudo apt-get install mediainfo

Sleuthkit (fiwalk)

sudo apt-get install sleuthkit


DEPENDENCIES: sudo apt-get ca-certificates-java java-common openjdk-8-jre-headless

sudo dpkg -i jhove_1.20.1-6~18.04_all.deb


sudo apt-get install pzip-full


sudo apt-get install atool


sudo apt-get install coreutils

Check that usr/bin is present in your system path (echo $PATH) and that each tool is available from there (which [toolname])

Check out this repository:

git clone --depth 1

Then follow these steps:

# Create virtual environment and activate it
virtualenv --python=python3.8 .venv
source .venv/bin/activate

# Install the dependencies
pip install -r requirements-dev.txt

# Run the tests:

# Run a3m server
python -m a3m

Start a new transfer:

$ python -m a3m.server.rpc.client submit --wait
Transfer created: 0f667867-800a-466f-856f-fea5980f1d97

You can find both the database and the shared directory under ~/.local/share/a3m/.

Other things you can do:

Python debugging with pdb

Stop a3m if it's already running:

docker-compose stop a3m

Introduce a breakpoint in the code. Breakpoints can be used anywhere, including client modules.

breakpoint()  # Add this!

Run a3m as follows:

docker-compose run --rm --publish=52000:7000 a3m

The debugger should activate as your breakpoint is reached. Use commands to control the debugger, e.g. help.

Enable the debug mode

a3m comes with a pre-configured logger that hides events with level INFO or lower. INFO is bloated, so we use WARNING and higher.

Set the A3M_DEBUG environment string to see all events. The string can be injected in several ways, e.g.:

docker-compose run --rm -e A3M_DEBUG=yes --publish=52000:7000 a3m

The logging configuration lives in a3m.settings.common.

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