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SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 Install

Installing LON-CAPA on a minimal SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 11

This document guides you through the process of setting up a new LON-CAPA server running SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 (SLES 11) 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 http://install.lon-capa.org/.

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 SLES 11 installation media
  2. Determine Network Settings
  3. Install SLES 11
  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 SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 11

SuSE ISO files can be obtained from the Novell site: http://www.novell.com/products/server/. Only DVD1 is required for each architecture (DVD2 contains source rpms for the various packages).

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.

  • ip address
  • netmask
  • hostname
  • gateway
  • domain name server(s)

3. Minimal SLES 11 Install

Installing SuSE Linux Enterprise Server is quite easy if you've installed Linux products before. Some documentation is available from http://www.novell.com/documentation/sles11/.

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.
Partitioning your Drive
For a LON-CAPA library server (i.e., the main server used for permanent storage of course and user data), a separate partition is recommended for /home, as this simplifies future upgrades of the operating system. If you are adding an additional access server to an existing LON-CAPA domain, this does not apply as no permanent data are stored on an access server. As LON-CAPA resource files are stored in the /home directory, the majority of the disk space should be allocated here. If you have 20 GB of space for SLES11, /home should receive at least 10 to 12 gigs. Since MySQL uses the /var filesystem to store its databases you should have as 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.
Software Selection
Installation of the minimum set of packages is recommended. This will involve unchecking all checkboxes except for the base SLES installation.

Once you system has rebooted, you will use yast to complete the configuration. Change the following settings:

Network Configuration
LON-CAPA will not work with a machine set up to use a dynamic IP address. When configuring your network card, you should include you static IP address, netmask, host name information (e.g., host name = tmp1, domain = lite.msu.edu), as well as name servers and gateway.
Online update
Indicate "Yes" when prompted to "run online update now?"

Finish installing your server, read the "readme", reboot and log in as root.

4. Change software sources for your system

You will use yast to import packages required for LON-CAPA.


Select "Change Source of Installation". The media you used to install SLES11 will be listed as an installation source. If you do not already have a SLES11 installation source at your location, you may want to consider creating one from the iso files you used to create . Proceed as follows (e.g., for 32 bit):

mkdir -p sles11/DVD1
mount -o ro,loop SLES-11-DVD-i586-GM-DVD1.iso /mnt
cp -rv /mnt/* sles11/DVD1
umount /mnt

Add an additional installation source

Add the LON-CAPA SLES 11 repository as an additional installation source, so software installation in yast will have access to at least two repositories - a SuSE/Novell source (for packages included for the standard distribution) and the LON-CAPA repository (for extra packages needed to run LON-CAPA). For the LON-CAPA source you will use:

Server Name
Directory on server

After saving this configuration information for the LON-CAPA repository, quit yast.

5. Installing LON-CAPA

Install prerequisites


yast -i LONCAPA-prerequisites

This may take some minutes due to LON-CAPA's large number of dependencies.

Configure Firewall Settings

After installing the prerequisites you should start yast, and select Security and Users -> Firewall. At step 2 include the following services: HTTP, HTTP with SSL, and Secure Shell.

Retrieve and execute LON-CAPA setup program

Retrieve the LON-CAPA setup with one of the following commands:

wget http://install.loncapa.org/linux/install.tar

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:

  • Create the www user/group
  • Install the package LON-CAPA uses to authenticate users.
  • Set-up the MySQL database
  • Set-up MySQL permissions
  • Configure Apache web server
  • Configure start-up of services
  • Check firewall settings
  • Stop services not used by LON-CAPA,
    e.g., services for a print server: cups daemon
  • Download LON-CAPA source code in readiness for installation

Determine LON-CAPA Settings

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.

Host Type (library or access)
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.
LON-CAPA domain
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. Restriction: One word, no hyphens, underscores, or special characters.
LON-CAPA host id
Each LON-CAPA server requires a unique internal name. We use names such as "msul1" for the first library server. Restriction: One word, no hyphens, underscores, or special characters.
Host administrator email
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 root@localhost.

Configuring LON-CAPA

To configure and install LON-CAPA, 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.

6. Creating a Domain Coordinator

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. Feel free to use the "passwd username" command to change it later. Replace USERNAME and DOMAIN with an appropriate user name and your domain.

cd /root/loncapa-X.Y.Z/loncom/build
perl make_domain_coordinator.pl USERNAME DOMAIN

7. Start/Restart Services

The LON-CAPA network services take a moment to start. Most misconfigurations will be apparent at this step.

/etc/init.d/loncontrol start
/etc/init.d/apache2 start

If you receive warnings when starting the httpd about missing perl modules, please make sure you followed the instructions in Installing LON-CAPA Dependencies. If you still have errors, please contact the LON-CAPA group.

8. Log in to your LON-CAPA Machine

Point a web browser at your new machine and log in as the domain coordinator. Congratulations!

If things aren't working right

If you've followed the steps above and the server doesn't start or you think there's something wrong, please get in touch with the LON-CAPA group. You can submit a help request using our web form:
If there were errors in installation of the dependency RPMs or during the automatic setup, please send us as much information as possible. If some part of this document is unclear please let us know.

Contact Us: lon-capa@lon-capa.org

Supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF-ITR 0085921, NSF-CCLI-ASA 0243126, and NSF-CCLI 0717790. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Initial funding for CAPA has been provided by the Alfred. P. Sloan Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


©2013 Michigan State University Board of Trustees.