Installing LON-CAPA on a minimal Scientific Linux 6 System

This document guides you through the process of setting up a new LON-CAPA server running Scientific Linux 6 with a minimum of packages installed. The computer will be configured solely as a LON-CAPA server and will be expected to have no other services running. Your server is expected to have a reasonably fast connection to the internet.

More information is available at

Before you begin

Installing Linux is getting easier and easier. You will be required to log in to the machine and execute some routine Unix commands. Familiarity with the Apache web server, mod_perl, perl, and MySQL are not required to install and run LON-CAPA.

Installation Overview

The installation process takes the following steps:

  1. Obtain Scientific Linux 6 installation CD
  2. Determine Network Settings
  3. Install Scientific Linux 5
  4. Update your system
  5. Install LON-CAPA
  6. Create a Domain Coordinator
  7. Start/Restart services
  8. Log in to LON-CAPA

1. Obtain Scientific Linux 6 CDs

Scientific Linux isos can be obtained from links included on the Scientific Linux download page
For the minimal install on both 32-bit and 64 bit architecture you will need only the first CD.

2. Determine Network Settings

You will need to know the following network settings for your installation. Note:You must have a static IP address to use LON-CAPA. DHCP is not supported.

3. Minimal Scientific Linux 6 Install

Installing Scientific Linux is quite easy, particularly if you've installed any of the Red Hat, Fedora or CentOS Linux distributions before. Documentation is available from Most of the installation screens are self explanatory. There are a few steps that require comment and are dealt with below.

Installation Language
Use English as your installation language.
Installation Type
If this is a fresh install choose "Install Scientific Linux Server". If updating from a previous LON-CAPA installation on an earlier Redhat or Fedora version you may prefer to choose the upgrade option, although if you established a separate partition for /home it will be faster to perform an install instead of an upgrade, and use "Create Custom Layout" to set up partitions - making sure to select the "unchanged data" option for the /home partition, in order to preserve your existing LON-CAPA data. A full back-up to tape or some external system is also strongly advised when updating the operating system in use on an existing LON-CAPA server.
Partitioning your Drive
For a fresh install may want to use the automatic partitioning feature of the installer, however you should review the results and be prepared to modify them. If you want to customize partitioning use "Create Custom Layout". LON-CAPA resource files are stored in the /home directory, so the majority of the disk space should be allocated here. If you have 20 GB of space for Scientific Linux, /home should receive at least 10 to 12 gigs. Since MySQL uses the /var filesystem to store its databases you should have at least 4 gigs of space available on /var. Be sure to include adequate swap space. A minimum is 512 Megs, but you should typically have 1 or 2x as much swap space as you do physical RAM.
Network Configuration
LON-CAPA will not work with a machine set up to use a dynamic IP address. When configuring your network card, be sure to unselect the DHCP option and enter in your network information.
Click the "Customize Now" radio button and for a minimal install uncheck all packages except "Base" in the Base System category. If you leave other packages checked in any of the other categories, you'll need additional ISO CDs.

Finish installing your server, reboot it, and log in as root. The first time you log-in, the Setup Agent will be displayed. (If you exit it early you can enter it again by running the command

This tool should be used to configure the Firewall and SELinux.
Firewall Configuration
Select Security Level: Enabled, and Customize, to allow incoming: SSH (remote login), WWW (HTTP) and secure WWW (HTTPS).
Set SELinux to Disabled.
Select OK, and then Quit

4. Update your system

Update your system to the latest versions of the system software using yum.

yum update

Reboot your system before continuing with the installation.

Retrieve the scientific_loncapa_yum.conf file from the LON-CAPA install site:


Install the scientific_loncapa_yum.conf

mv /etc/yum.conf /etc/yum.conf.backup
cp scientific6_loncapa_yum.conf /etc/yum.conf
yum update

5. Installing LON-CAPA

Import the LON-CAPA encryption key

rpm --import

Install prerequisites


yum install LONCAPA-prerequisites

This may take a moment due to LON-CAPA's large number of dependencies.

Retrieve and execute LON-CAPA setup program

Retrieve the LON-CAPA setup with the following command:


Extract the archive with the following command:

tar xf install.tar

This creates a directory named installation. Change to it and execute the setup script with the following commands:

cd installation

The script is used to prepare a Linux system to run LON-CAPA, and can also be used to check the configuration of a system on which LON-CAPA has already been installed. Typically, though, you will run this script only once, when you first install LON-CAPA.

The script will analyze your system to determine which actions are recommended. The script will then prompt you to choose the actions you would like taken. Once a choice has been entered for all nine possible actions, required changes will be made.

The possible actions are: