<h1>Installing LON-CAPA on a basic Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Server</h1>
This document guides you through the process of setting up a new LON-CAPA
server running Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Server with only the base set 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
<h2>Before you begin</h2>
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.
The installation process takes the following steps:
<li><a href="#obt">Obtain Ubuntu 8.04 LTS .iso</a></li>
<li><a href="#net">Determine Network Settings</a></li>
<li><a href="#lin">Install Ubuntu 8.04 LTS</a></li>
<li><a href="#upd">Update your system</a></li>
<li><a href="#ilc">Install LON-CAPA</a></li>
<li><a href="#cdc">Create a Domain Coordinator</a></li>
<li><a href="#sts">Start/Restart services</a></li>
<li><a href="#log">Log in to LON-CAPA</a></li>
<h2>1. <a name="obt">Obtain Ubuntu 8.04 LTS .iso file</a></h2>
Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (server install) isos can be obtained from links on the <a href="http://mirrors.kernel.org/ubuntu-releases/hardy/HEADER.html">Ubuntu Releases</a> page at mirrors.kernel.org.<br />
An .iso file (either 32 bit or 64 bit) can be burned to a CD.
<h2>2. <a name="net">Determine Network Settings</a></h2>
You will need to know the following network settings for your installation.
<b>Note:</b>You must have a static IP address to use LON-CAPA.
DHCP is <em>not</em> supported.
<li>ip address </li>
<li>domain name server(s) </li>
<h2>3. <a name="lin">Ubuntu 8.04 LTS installation</a></h2>
Installing Ubuntu Linux is easy.
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.
<dl style="list-style:square outside none">
<dd>Use English as your installation language.</dd>
<dd>If this is a fresh install choose "Install Ubuntu Server".</dd>
<dt>Partitioning your Drive</dt>
<dd>For a fresh install you may want to use the automatic partitioning feature of the installer.
If you decide to customize partitioning, the following may be useful to know.
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 Ubuntu, /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.</dd>
<dd>LON-CAPA will <b>not</b> 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.</dd>
<dd>The base system will be installed. Once that is complete you will have the option to select additional software collections. Leave all unselected.</dd>
Finish installing your server, reboot it, and log in with the username you created during installation.
<dd>Use ufw to allow incoming traffic for the following services:
ssh, www, https
sudo ufw default deny
sudo ufw enable
sudo allow ssh
sudo allow www
sudo allow https
<dd>By default Ubuntu disallows mailing to remote domains. Change using<dd>
sudo dpkg-reconfigure exim4-config
<h2>4. <a name="upd">Update your system</a></h2>
Update your system to the latest versions of the system software using apt-get
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
If kernel packages were updated, reboot your system before continuing with the installation.
Retrieve the ubuntu8_LTS_sources.list file from the LON-CAPA install site:
mv /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.backup
cp ubuntu8_LTS_sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list
<h2>5. <a name="ilc">Installing LON-CAPA</a></h2>
<h3>Import the LON-CAPA encryption key</h3>
sudo apt-key add APT-GPG-KEY-loncapa.asc
sudo apt-get update
<p> Execute: </p>
sudo apt-get install loncapa-prerequisites
This may take a moment due to LON-CAPA's large number of dependencies.
<h3>Retrieve and execute LON-CAPA setup program</h3>
Retrieve the LON-CAPA setup script and dependencies with the following command:
Extract the archive with the following command:
tar xf install.tar
This creates a directory named <tt>installation</tt>. Change to it and
execute the setup script with the following commands:
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.
<p>The possible actions are:
<li>Create the www user/group</li>
<li>Install the package LON-CAPA uses to authenticate users.</li>
<li>Set-up the MySQL database</li>
<li>Set-up MySQL permissions</li>
<li>Configure Apache web server</li>
<li>Configure start-up of services</li>
<li>Check firewall settings</li>
<li>Stop services not used by LON-CAPA,<br />
e.g., services for a print server: cups daemon</li>
<li>Download LON-CAPA source code in readiness for installation</li>
<h3>Determine LON-CAPA Settings</h3>
LON-CAPA requires a number of identifying parameters to be set in order
for it to function at all. Below is a list with descriptions.
<dt>Host Type (library or access)</dt>
<dd>The server must be designated a 'library' or an 'access' server. In
general you should have a library server for your instructors to create
their course content on and run their courses. Students should connect
to access servers. If you are doing the first install of LON-CAPA at
your site, or if you are playing with it for your own edification you
should make your machine a 'library' server.</dd>
<dd>Each site or school which installs LON-CAPA needs its own domain.
Here at MSU we use 'msu'. You should choose something short but
meaningful. <i>Restriction: One word, no hyphens, underscores, or
special characters.</i><br />Domain names which include a departmental
abbreviation are not recommended as although LON-CAPA may start in
a single department, other departments frequently join subsequently.
For a domain name: 'msu' is a superior choice to 'msuphys' for example.
<dt>LON-CAPA host id</dt>
<dd>Each LON-CAPA server requires a unique internal name. We use names
such as "msul1" for the first library server. <i>Restriction: One word,
no hyphens, underscores, or special characters.</i>
<dt>Domain's Primary Library Server ID</dt>
<dd>If you are setting up a domain with a single library server, then the domain's primary library server ID will be the LON-CAPA host id of that server (e.g., msul1). Once your domain grows and you need to add more servers, one of the library servers in the domain should be assigned as the domain's primary library server. This will be where domain-wide settings will be stored.<dd>
<dt>Host administrator email</dt>
<dd>The amount of email sent to this address is relatively minimal. Messages
are sent every time the system starts up, or if the system is in
serious trouble. On a laptop, make this <tt>root@localhost</tt>.
<dt>Support email address</dt>
<dd>If you enter an e-mail address here, then users of the system
will be able to click an "Ask Helpdesk" link in the system to
display a web form which they will complete to request support from
your institution's helpdesk. On form submission the contents
will be sent to the e-mail address you specify.
To configure and install LON-CAPA, become root and execute the following commands:
cd /root/loncapa-X.Y.Z (X.Y.Z should correspond to a version number like '2.10.0')
You will need to enter the LON-CAPA configuration information you determined
in the previous section.
<h2>6. <a name="cdc">Creating a Domain Coordinator</a></h2>
You will need at least one user at your site who has the role of
'domain coordinator'. This user creates accounts for other users and
grants them additional privileges. The make_domain_coordinator.pl script
invoked below requires that you enter the user's password.
Replace USERNAME and DOMAIN with an appropriate username and your domain.
perl make_domain_coordinator.pl USERNAME DOMAIN
<h2>7. <a name="sts">Start/Restart Services</a></h2>
The LON-CAPA network services take a moment to start. Most misconfigurations
will be apparent at this step. Lastly, exit from root status to resume use of your regular account.
If you receive warnings when starting Apache about missing perl modules,
please make sure you followed the instructions in
<b>Installing prerequisites</b>. If you still have errors, please
contact the MSU LON-CAPA group.
<h2>8. <a name="log">Log in to your LON-CAPA Machine</a></h2>
Point a web browser at your new machine and log in as the domain
<h2>If things aren't working right</h2>
If you've followed the steps above and the server doesn't start or you think
there's something wrong, please send a <a href="http://help.loncapa.org/help">help request</a> to the MSU LON-CAPA group. If there were errors in installation of the dependency .deb packages or errors during the
automatic setup, please send us as much information as possible.
If some part of this document is unclear please let us know.