(use hotel instead)





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6yrs ago








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Note except if you need a particular feature in katon, please use hotel. Hotel is cross-platform and doesn't require admin privileges to be installed.

A huge thank you to all the people who contributed to katon!

Access your dev servers by their names

katon is a development tool that makes dev servers accessible on beautiful local .ka domains. It also autostarts/stops them for you.

katon supports any server: Node, Ruby, Python, Go, Java, PHP, ... that can be started with a command-line and runs on OS X.

Linux, Windows

Please use hotel.


Make sure Node is installed first, then:

$ npm install -g katon

To manually install katon, you can run sudo katon install && katon start.

Known issue: if Apache is running, it needs to be stopped to avoid conflict with katon.

Add servers

$ katon add 'nodemon'
$ katon add 'npm start'
$ katon add 'grunt server'
$ katon add 'rails server --port $PORT'
$ katon add 'python -m SimpleHTTPServer $PORT'
$ katon add 'php -S$PORT'

To add a server with a different name than its directory.

$ katon add 'grunt server' my-custom-name
Application is now available at http://my-custom-name.ka

Note: it's important to use ' and not " to avoid $PORT to be evaluated.

Port is dynamically set by katon using PORT environment variable but can be passed as a parameter using $PORT.

In case your server doesn't accept a port parameter, you can retrieve the PORT environment variable in your code. For example, for a Node server you would write something like:

var port = process.env.PORT || 3000;

The same technique can be applied with other languages too.

How it works

  • When you add a server using the katon add command, its configuration is saved locally to ~/.katon/hosts/<app> and an equivalent ~/.katon/logs/<app> directory is also created.
  • The server is not started until you make your first request to your <app>.ka domain.
  • If no request is made to your <app>.ka server within an hour, then katon automatically stops it. Therefore, Katon automatically manages resources by starting only needed servers and stopping them when they're not used.


When adding a server, you can access it by its URL http://app.ka. But you can also use subdomains (e.g. http://foo.app.ka, http://bar.app.ka, ...).

If you want to map a server to a subdomain, let's say api.app.ka, simply use katon add <cmd> api.app.

Access from other devices

Using xip.io you can access your servers from other devices (iPad, iPhone, ...) on your LAN.

# Let's say your local address is

You can find your local address using ifconfig or going to index.ka

Remote access behind NAT/firewall

Using ngrok.com you can share access to your servers with others, when running behind a firewall or NAT.

First, follow the instructions to install ngrok, then register on the site to enable custom subdomains.

Then run ngrok with your application name as the subdomain:

ngrok http -subdomain app_name 80

This exposes port 80 to the internet on app_name.ngrok.io. Use at your own risk: all of your web hosts are accessible on this port while ngrok is running.

Access using HTTPS

You can also use HTTPS to access your servers https://<app_name>.ka.


Server logs are stored in ~/.katon/logs/<app_name>.log, to view them you can use:

$ katon tail [app_name]
$ katon tail all # View all logs

Version managers

katon works with any version manager, simply set the desired version before adding your server and katon will remember it.

$ nvm use 0.11 && katon add 'npm start'
$ rbenv local 2.0.0-p481 && katon add 'rails server --port $PORT'

Depending on your version manager, you may need to add environment variables.

$ rvm use ruby-2.0.0-p576 && katon add 'bundle exec unicorn' --env GEM_PATH
# Will use GEM_PATH previously set by rvm

For Node users, to keep access to katon CLI accross Node versions, add an alias to your .profile and reopen the Terminal.

echo "alias katon=`which katon`" >> ~/.profile


Run katon status or check ~/.katon/daemon.log.

If you're stuck, feel free to create an issue.


$ npm rm -g katon

This will run the uninstall script wich does basically katon stop && sudo katon uninstall. To remove katon completely, run also rm -rf ~/.katon.


  • Pow for daemon inspiration.
  • Powder for CLI inspiration.


katon is released under the MIT License.

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