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SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 Install

Installing LON-CAPA on a minimal SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 15

This document guides you through the process of setting up a new LON-CAPA server running SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 (SLES 15) 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 straightforward. 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 15 installation media
  2. Determine Network Settings
  3. Install SLES 15
  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 15

SLES15 ISO files can be obtained from the SuSE site: https://www.suse.com/download/sles/. Download either the SLE-15-SP2-Full-x86_64-GM-Media1.iso or the SLE-15-SP2-Online-x86_64-GM-Media1.iso.

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 15 Install

Installing SuSE Linux Enterprise Server is straightforward. Some documentation is available from https://documentation.suse.com/sles/15-SP2/pdf/art-sle-installquick_color_en.pdf.

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 SLES15, /home should receive at least 10 to 12 GB. 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 MB, 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, 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.
Available Extensions and Modules
Check the boxes for the following:
  • SUSE Package Hub
  • Basesystem Module
  • Desktop Applications
  • Development Tools
  • Server Applications
System Role
Select: Minimal
Software Selection
Check the boxes for the following:
  • Help and Support Documentation
  • Minimal Base System
  • YaST System Administration
If you will need command line access other than via the console, click the link to toggle the setting for the SSH port so it will be open

Finish installing your server, reboot and log in as root.

Firewall Configuration


Use "Security and Users" -> Firewall -> Zones -> public to enable access to standard web server ports for http and https.

4. Add software sources

Use zypper to add package repositories for LON-CAPA and the statistics package: R.

zypper addrepo http://install.loncapa.org/suse/sles15/ 'LON-CAPA'
zypper addrepo 'https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/devel:/languages:/R:/released/SLE_15/' 'R-released SLE_15'
zypper addrepo 'https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/devel:/languages:/R:/released/SLE_15_SP1/' 'R-released SLE_15_SP1'
zypper refresh 

Verify the required repositories are enabled:

zypper lr -E

The list of enabled repos should be as follows:

R-released SLE_15R-released SLE_15
R-released SLE_15_SP1R-released SLE_15_SP1
devel_languages_R_releasedR core components, supplements (like rkward), and CRAN packages (SLE_15_SP1)

5. Installing LON-CAPA

Install prerequisites


zypper in LONCAPA-prerequisites

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

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. Permitted characters (lower case preferred) are letters and numbers and . and -
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. Permitted characters (lower case preferred) are letters and numbers and . and -
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 '2.11.3')

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.

/home/httpd/perl/loncontrol start
systemctl start apache2

If you receive warnings when starting apache2 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.