Unpackaged JDBC drivers

Configuring Looker to use Unpackaged JDBC drivers

For some of Looker's supported dialects, the JDBC driver cannot be packaged in the Looker JAR file for licensing-related reasons. In these cases, you must install the JDBC driver on your Looker server, then configure Looker to register the unpackaged driver as described on this page.

The following table shows the dialects which require unpackaged JDBC driver installations:


To connect Looker to a database that requires an unpackaged JDBC driver, you will need:

  • Command line access to your Looker server.
  • The JDBC driver as a JAR file. The dialect's specific documentation may have instructions on where to download this file; otherwise, we assume you have access to the JAR file needed.
  • The driver symbol for your dialect. A driver symbol is a string value that Looker uses internally to match the dialect to the driver. The examples on this page use the generic value driver_symbol. See the list of driver symbols on this page for the symbols Looker uses to register JDBC drivers to dialects.
  • The YAML driver entry for your dialect to be added to the custom_jdbc_config.yml configuration file. See the Driver entries in the YAML configuration file section on this page for more information.

Driver entries in the YAML configuration file

Here is an example driver entry in the custom_jdbc_config.yml file:

  - name: driver_symbol
    dir_name: driver_symbol
    module_path: com.dialect.jdbc.DialectDriver
    override_jdbc_url_subprotocol: driver_subprotocol  # optional

When writing the driver entry for your dialect:

  • The file custom_jdbc_config.yml is YAML-based, which means that indentation and spacing matter.
  • The name and dir_name attributes must be the driver symbol that Looker expects for you dialect when registering JDBC drivers.
  • It is possible to use the attribute file_name instead of dir_name containing the relative path from custom_jdbc_drivers to the JDBC driver JAR file. dir_name is recommended because it promotes keeping multiple drivers isolated to their own directories and reduces the chance of Java classes colliding.
  • The module_path property will depend on the specific JDBC driver. It should be the fully qualified path to the Java driver class. This example uses a generic value, but to find the specific module_path the driver uses consult its documentation on how to register the driver class.
  • The override_jdbc_url_subprotocol is an optional argument used to override the subprotocol used in the JDBC string that Looker sends to the database. A typical JDBC string will look like this:

Where mysql is the JDBC subprotocol being used.

If you specify override_jdbc_url_subprotocol: driver_subprotocol, then this JDBC string will become:


This option is required if you need to use an unpackaged JDBC driver that requires a URL subprotocol other than Looker's default URL subprotocol. For the most part, this is not necessary unless the dialect's documentation explicitly says that is it necessary. MongoBI is an example of a dialect that requires this option.

Installing unpackaged JDBC drivers

  1. Change into the Looker application base directory. For this document we will assume it is looker

    cd looker
  2. Create a directory called custom_jdbc_drivers. This is the top-level directory for all unpackaged JDBC driver installations. The path to this directory should be looker/custom_jdbc_drivers

    mkdir custom_jdbc_drivers
  3. In the custom_jdbc_drivers directory, create a subdirectory named with your dialect's driver symbol. This example uses the generic value driver_symbol. The resulting path to the directory will look like looker/custom_jdbc_drivers/driver_symbol

    cd custom_jdbc_drivers
    mkdir driver_symbol

  4. Place the JDBC driver files for your dialect into this directory. The method for this depends on where your dialect's driver can be found and uploaded onto the server, but be sure that the relevant JAR file(s) are inside the driver_symbol directory: looker/custom_jdbc_drivers/driver_symbol/
    For example: looker/custom_jdbc_drivers/driver_symbol/DialectDriver.jar

    Moving the necessary files onto the Looker server will vary based on where you get the driver files and your preference for file transferring. Examples of commands for transferring files into this directory are wget, scp, curl, etc.

  5. Change back into the Looker application directory and create a configuration file named custom_jdbc_config.yml. The path to this file should be looker/custom_jdbc_config.yml. This file will contain the information Looker needs to locate and register the custom JDBC driver.

    cd looker
    vim custom_jdbc_config.yml
  6. Add a new entry for your dialect into the custom_jdbc_config.yml configuration file. See the Driver entries in the YAML configuration file section on this page for information on driver entries.

    - name: driver_symbol
      dir_name: driver_symbol
      module_path: com.dialect.jdbc.DialectDriver
  7. Create or update the file lookerstart.cfg so that the Looker application starts up with the unpackaged JDBC driver configuration. The path to this file should be looker/lookerstart.cfg. Add the option --use-custom-jdbc-config. If there are other options, append this to the end of the Looker startup options:


    If you have LOOKERARGS set somewhere other than lookerstart.cfg, like in an environment variable, you may add this startup flag there. Alternatively, you can set LOOKERARGS="${LOOKERARGS} --use-custom-jdbc-config" so that the existing values will be expanded into this file.

  8. Restart the Looker application. In this command, use the name of your Looker startup script, such as ./looker or ./looker.sh

    ./looker restart

    or none ./looker stop ./looker start

Multiple unpackaged JDBC drivers

If you need to configure more than one dialect to use unpackaged JDBC drivers, the above process still applies. The custom_jdbc_drivers directory will have multiple dialect subdirectories with their own driver JARs, and the custom_jdbc_config.yml file will have multiple entries:

ls looker/custom_jdbc_drivers

driver_symbol_1 driver_symbol_2
ls looker/custom_jdbc_drivers/driver_symbol_1

- name: driver_symbol_1
  dir_name: driver_symbol_1
  module_path: com.dialect.jdbc.Dialect1Driver

- name: driver_symbol_2
  dir_name: driver_symbol_2
  module_path: com.dialect.jdbc.Dialect2Driver