Bitnami Mahara Virtual Machine

Description

Mahara is an open source e-portfolio system with a flexible display framework. Its blog, resume builder, and social networking features are great for connecting users in e-learning communities.

First steps with the Bitnami Mahara Stack

Welcome to your new Bitnami application! This guide includes some basic information you will need to get started with your application.

How to import a Bitnami Virtual Machine?

Check the following instructions to import a Bitnami Virtual Machine:

Importing a Bitnami Virtual Machine in VirtualBox
  • Select the "File -> Import Appliance" menu option and select the .ova file downloaded from the Bitnami website. Then click "Continue".
  • Once it is imported, click the "Start" button in the VirtualBox toolbar.

For a detailed walkthrough, check our Virtualbox tutorial.

Importing a Bitnami Virtual Machine in a VMware product
  • Select the "File -> Import" menu option and select the .ova file downloaded from the Bitnami website. Then click "Continue".
  • Once the import is complete, click "Finish" to start the virtual machine.

For a detailed walkthrough, check our VMware tutorial, which uses VMware Fusion as an example. To learn how to use our virtual machines with other VMware products, refer to the VMware Workstation documentation or the VMware vSphere documentation.

What credentials do I need?

You need two sets of credentials:

  • The application credentials, consisting of a username and password. These credentials allow you to log in to your new Bitnami application.

  • The server credentials, consisting of an SSH username and password. These credentials allow you to log in to your Virtual Machines server using an SSH client and execute commands on the server using the command line.

What is the administrator username set for me to log in to the application for the first time?

Username: user

What is the administrator password?

Password: The administrator password to log in to your application is randomly generated during the first boot. Check the FAQ to learn how to retrieve it.

What SSH username should I use for secure shell access to my application?

SSH username: bitnami

What is my server IP address?

The IP address is displayed on screen at the end of the boot process, but you can check it at any time by running the following command:

  $ sudo ifconfig

Check server IP address

How do I get my SSH key or password?

You can obtain the SSH password from the virtual machine console when it starts up. Click here for more information.

How to access your application?

Once you have imported your Bitnami Virtual Machine, the IP address for your application is displayed on the virtual machine's login screen. Access the application via your browser by entering this IP address.

Check these instructions about how to remotely access the Bitnami application.

What are the default ports?

A port is an endpoint of communication in an operating system that identifies a specific process or a type of service. Bitnami stacks include several services or servers that require a port.

Remember that if you need to open some ports you can follow the instructions given in the FAQ to learn how to open the server ports for remote access.

Port 22 is the default port for SSH connections.

Bitnami opens some ports for the main servers. These are the ports opened by default: 80, 443.

How to start or stop the services?

Each Bitnami stack includes a control script that lets you easily stop, start and restart services. The script is located at /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh. Call it without any service name arguments to start all services:

$ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh start

Or use it to restart a single service, such as Apache only, by passing the service name as argument:

$ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart apache

Use this script to stop all services:

$ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh stop

Restart the services by running the script without any arguments:

$ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart

Obtain a list of available services and operations by running the script without any arguments:

$ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh

How to access the administration panel?

Access the administration panel by browsing to http://SERVER-IP/admin.

How to configure outbound email settings?

  • First, configure the email settings using SMTP. In your Mahara site, navigate to "Administration -> Configure Site -> Site options -> Email Settings". There, set the parameters of your account to use SMTP and send emails.

  • Verify that you can send emails from that SMTP server BEFORE you even bother trying to test any emails from your Mahara site. When you create a mailbox on your hosting service's email server, you specified a user name and a password. Using your service's Webmail or other similar service, log into your SMTP mailbox and send a test email to anther email account. Once you are able to do that successfully, only then proceed with the following.

  • Your emails are not sent automatically from your Mahara site. Instead, they are queued and sent at various times by a built-in cron system. The instructions have already covered how to set up the cron on your server to hit your Mahara site's cron system every minute, which in turn triggers its own built-in cron program. Since this is a new install, you may not be sure if cron is working correctly. If you have email problems, it can be confusing to determine which is at fault (the SMTP, the cron or both). You can first try manually hitting your Mahara's cron system by typing the following:

/usr/bin/curl -s http://YOUR-DOMAIN.COM/lib/cron.php

A typical cron system on a hosting service can be edited with a command such as:

EDITOR=nano crontab -e

That will bring up your cron file in the easy-to-use nano editor, which may start out empty. If that does not work, check with your hosting service to find out their specific procedure. If that or similar command gets you into an editor, type the following line:

* * * * * /usr/bin/curl -s http://YOUR-DOMAIN.COM/lib/cron.php
  • Save the file.

  • Now that it appears that a working cron is configured, the best way to test the Mahara email is by sending yourself a message through the "Contact us" form. The reason is that it is triggered very quickly by Mahara's cron system, and should therefore be sent to your admin user's email address within a minute or so. Note that other emails from the system, like notifications on new forum posts, can take much longer to be triggered by Mahara's cron.

Troubleshooting

If this does not work even after a reasonable time, check these items:

  • Make sure your admin email account is working. Send it a test message from a Gmail account or some other account.
  • If it is working, check the junk or spam folders for your "Contact us" messages, as they may have been flagged before they got to your inbox.
  • While logged in as an admin user, click the "Profile -> Settings -> Notifications" menu. This should have a copy of all incoming messages of all types for the admin user. See if your messages appear correctly.
  • Begin checking and changing the settings for the SMTP and the cron. Manually trigger the cron after each setting change, then retest the "Contact us" form. Eecheck your email inbox, spam, and also the "Notifications" log. Repeat until your figure out the problem.
  • If you work systematically, making notes as you go through each combination you have tried, it will be easier to debug the problem and/or ask for help in the forums. In the forums, give enough detail of your settings and tests, but do not compromise your passwords.

To configure the application to use other third-party SMTP services for outgoing email, such as SendGrid or Mandrill, refer to the FAQ.

How to install a plugin on Mahara?

Unless the plugin has an installation manual, to install the plugin, download it first, then decompress it in the appropriate plugin type directory. For example, if you download an artefact plugin, decompress it in the artefact/ subdirectory. Or, if you download a blocktype plugin, decompress it in the blocktype/ subdirectory.

How to create a full backup of Mahara?

Backup

The Bitnami Mahara Stack is self-contained and the simplest option for performing a backup is to copy or compress the Bitnami stack installation directory. To do so in a safe manner, you will need to stop all servers, so this method may not be appropriate if you have people accessing the application continuously.

Follow these steps:

  • Change to the directory in which you wish to save your backup:

      $ cd /your/directory
    
  • Stop all servers:

      $ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh stop
    
  • Create a compressed file with the stack contents:

      $ sudo tar -pczvf application-backup.tar.gz /opt/bitnami
    
  • Restart all servers:

      $ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh start
    

You should now download or transfer the application-backup.tar.gz file to a safe location.

Restore

Follow these steps:

  • Change to the directory containing your backup:

      $ cd /your/directory
    
  • Stop all servers:

      $ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh stop
    
  • Move the current stack to a different location:

      $ sudo mv /opt/bitnami /tmp/bitnami-backup
    
  • Uncompress the backup file to the original directoryv

      $ sudo tar -pxzvf application-backup.tar.gz -C /
    
  • Start all servers:

      $ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh start
    

If you want to create only a database backup, refer to these instructions for MySQL and PostgreSQL.

How to upgrade Mahara?

It is strongly recommended that you create a backup before starting the update process. If you have important data, it is advisable that you create and try to restore a backup to ensure that everything works properly.

  • Log in to the server console.
  • Create a directory to save all the data you need to backup.

    $ mkdir ~/mahara-backup
    
  • Back up the bitnami_mahara database as described on the MySQL page.
  • Copy the data and maharadata directories and the config.php configuration file to your backup directory:

    $ sudo cp -rf /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/maharadata ~/mahara-backup
    $ sudo cp -rf /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/conf ~/mahara-backup
    $ sudo cp /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs//config.php ~/mahara-backup
    
  • If you use non-core plugins or themes in your site, make sure to copy them to the backup directory.
  • Compress the backup directory.

    $ tar cfz mahara-backup.tar.gz ~/mahara-backup
    
  • Download the backup files mahara-backup.tar.gz and backup.sql using SFTP. Refer to the FAQ for more information on this.
  • Launch a new Mahara server.
  • Upload via SFTP the backups files mahara-backup.tar.gz and backup.sql to the new server. Refer to the FAQ for more information on this.
  • Log in to the server console.
  • Browse to http://SERVER-IP/admin/ (SERVER-IP is a placeholder, please, replace it with the actual domain of your Mahara server). In the section "Close site", click the "Close" button in order to set the "Maintenance mode".
  • Restore the database backup as described on the MySQL page.
  • Uncompress and restore the backup files in the new Mahara stack.

    $ tar xfz mahara-backup.tar.gz
    $ sudo cp -rf ~/mahara-backup/maharadata /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/maharadata
    $ sudo cp -rf ~/mahara-backup/conf /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/conf
    $ sudo cp ~/mahara-backup/config.php /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs/
    
  • Restore the permissions.

    $ sudo chown -R bitnami:daemon /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs/
    $ sudo chown -R daemon:daemon /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/maharadata
    
  • Open the file /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs-backup/config.php and obtain the value of the property $cfg->urlsecret.
NOTE: In the example below, replace the URLSECRET placeholder with the value you obtained in the previous step.
  • Browse to http://SERVER-IP/admin/upgrade.php?urlsecret=URLSECRET. (SERVER-IP is a placeholder, please, replace it with the actual domain of your Mahara server).
  • Click the "Upgrade" button.
  • Browse to http://SERVER-IP/admin/. (SERVER-IP is a placeholder, please, replace it with the actual domain of your Mahara server).
  • In the section "Close site", click the "Open" button in order to unset the "Maintenance mode".
  • That's all! You updated your whole server!

Upgrade only Mahara in the Bitnami Mahara Stack

  • Browse to http://SERVER-IP/admin/. (SERVER-IP is a placeholder, please, replace it with the actual domain of your Mahara server).
  • In the section "Close site", click the "Close" button in order to set the "Maintenance mode".
  • Browse to https://launchpad.net/mahara/+download and find the link for the latest version of Mahara.
  • Log in your server console and download the latest version using the link you obtained in the previous step. For example (for version 17.04.0), run the commands below:

     $ wget https://launchpad.net/mahara/17.04/17.04.0/+download/mahara-17.04.0.tar.gz
     $ tar xfz mahara-17.04.0.tar.gz
    
  • Backup your current Mahara Installation.

     $ sudo mv /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs/ /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs-backup/
    
  • Substitute your old installation with the new version and recover the configuration file.

     $ sudo mv ~/mahara-17.04.0/htdocs/ /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs/
     $ sudo cp /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs-backup/config.php /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs/
    
  • Restore the permissions.

     $ sudo chown -R bitnami:daemon /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs/
    
  • Open the file /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/htdocs-backup/config.php and note down the value of the property $cfg->urlsecret.
NOTE: In the example below, replace the URLSECRET placeholder with the value you obtained in the previous step.
  • Browse to http://SERVER-IP/admin/upgrade.php?urlsecret=URLSECRET. (SERVER-IP is a placeholder, please, replace it with the actual domain of your Mahara server).
  • Click the "Upgrade" button.
  • Browse to http://SERVER-IP/admin/. (SERVER-IP is a placeholder, please, replace it with the actual domain of your Mahara server).
  • In the section "Close site", click the "Open" button in order to unset the "Maintenance mode".
  • That's all! You updated your application!

How to create an SSL certificate?

OpenSSL is required to create an SSL certificate. A certificate request can then be sent to a certificate authority (CA) to get it signed into a certificate, or if you have your own certificate authority, you may sign it yourself, or you can use a self-signed certificate (because you just want a test certificate or because you are setting up your own CA).

Follow the steps below:

  • Generate a new private key:

     $ sudo openssl genrsa -out /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server.key 2048
    
  • Create a certificate:

     $ sudo openssl req -new -key /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server.key -out /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/cert.csr
    
    IMPORTANT: Enter the server domain name when the above command asks for the "Common Name".
  • Send cert.csr to the certificate authority. When the certificate authority completes their checks (and probably received payment from you), they will hand over your new certificate to you.

  • Until the certificate is received, create a temporary self-signed certificate:

     $ sudo openssl x509 -in /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/cert.csr -out /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server.crt -req -signkey /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server.key -days 365
    
  • Back up your private key in a safe location after generating a password-protected version as follows:

     $ sudo openssl rsa -des3 -in /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server.key -out privkey.pem
    

    Note that if you use this encrypted key in the Apache configuration file, it will be necessary to enter the password manually every time Apache starts. Regenerate the key without password protection from this file as follows:

     $ sudo openssl rsa -in privkey.pem -out /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server.key
    

Find more information about certificates at http://www.openssl.org.

How to enable HTTPS support with SSL certificates?

NOTE: The steps below assume that you are using a custom domain name and that you have already configured the custom domain name to point to your cloud server.

Bitnami images come with SSL support already pre-configured and with a dummy certificate in place. Although this dummy certificate is fine for testing and development purposes, you will usually want to use a valid SSL certificate for production use. You can either generate this on your own (explained here) or you can purchase one from a commercial certificate authority.

Once you obtain the certificate and certificate key files, you will need to update your server to use them. Follow these steps to activate SSL support:

  • Use the table below to identify the correct locations for your certificate and configuration files.

    Variable Value
    Current application URL https://[custom-domain]/
      Example: https://my-domain.com/ or https://my-domain.com/appname
    Apache configuration file /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/bitnami/bitnami.conf
    Certificate file /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server.crt
    Certificate key file /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server.key
    CA certificate bundle file (if present) /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server-ca.crt
  • Copy your SSL certificate and certificate key file to the specified locations.

    NOTE: If you use different names for your certificate and key files, you should reconfigure the SSLCertificateFile and SSLCertificateKeyFile directives in the corresponding Apache configuration file to reflect the correct file names.
  • If your certificate authority has also provided you with a PEM-encoded Certificate Authority (CA) bundle, you must copy it to the correct location in the previous table. Then, modify the Apache configuration file to include the following line below the SSLCertificateKeyFile directive. Choose the correct directive based on your scenario and Apache version:

    Variable Value
    Apache configuration file /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/bitnami/bitnami.conf
    Directive to include (Apache v2.4.8+) SSLCACertificateFile "/opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server-ca.crt"
    Directive to include (Apache < v2.4.8) SSLCertificateChainFile "/opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server-ca.crt"
    NOTE: If you use a different name for your CA certificate bundle, you should reconfigure the SSLCertificateChainFile or SSLCACertificateFile directives in the corresponding Apache configuration file to reflect the correct file name.
  • Once you have copied all the server certificate files, you may make them readable by the root user only with the following commands:

     $ sudo chown root:root /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server*
    
     $ sudo chmod 600 /opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/server*
    
  • Open port 443 in the server firewall. Refer to the FAQ for more information.

  • Restart the Apache server.

You should now be able to access your application using an HTTPS URL.

How to force HTTPS redirection with Apache?

Add the following to the top of the /opt/bitnami/apps/mahara/conf/httpd-prefix.conf file:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
RewriteRule ^/(.*) https://%{SERVER_NAME}/$1 [R,L]

After modifying the Apache configuration files:

  • Open port 443 in the server firewall. Refer to the FAQ for more information.

  • Restart Apache to apply the changes.

How to debug Apache errors?

Once Apache starts, it will create two log files at /opt/bitnami/apache2/logs/access_log and /opt/bitnami/apache2/logs/error_log respectively.

  • The access_log file is used to track client requests. When a client requests a document from the server, Apache records several parameters associated with the request in this file, such as: the IP address of the client, the document requested, the HTTP status code, and the current time.

  • The error_log file is used to record important events. This file includes error messages, startup messages, and any other significant events in the life cycle of the server. This is the first place to look when you run into a problem when using Apache.

If no error is found, you will see a message similar to:

Syntax OK

How to find the MySQL database credentials?

How to connect to the MySQL database?

You can connect to the MySQL database from the same computer where it is installed with the mysql client tool.

$ mysql -u root -p

You will be prompted to enter the root user password. This is the same as the application password.

How to debug errors in your database?

The main log file is created at /opt/bitnami/mysql/data/mysqld.log on the MySQL database server host.

How to change the MySQL root password?

You can modify the MySQL password using the following command at the shell prompt. Replace the NEW_PASSWORD placeholder with the actual password you wish to set.

$ /opt/bitnami/mysql/bin/mysqladmin -p -u root password NEW_PASSWORD

How to reset the MySQL root password?

If you don't remember your MySQL root password, you can follow the steps below to reset it to a new value:

  • Create a file in /home/bitnami/mysql-init with the content shown below (replace NEW_PASSWORD with the password you wish to use):

     UPDATE mysql.user SET Password=PASSWORD('NEW_PASSWORD') WHERE User='root';
     FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
    

    If your stack ships MySQL v5.7.x, use the following content instead of that shown above:

     UPDATE mysql.user SET authentication_string=PASSWORD('NEW_PASSWORD') WHERE User='root';
     FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
    
    TIP: Check the MySQL version with the command /opt/bitnami/mysql/bin/mysqladmin --version or /opt/bitnami/mysql/bin/mysqld --version.
  • Stop the MySQL server:

     $ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh stop mysql
    
  • Start MySQL with the following command:

     $ sudo /opt/bitnami/mysql/bin/mysqld_safe --pid-file=/opt/bitnami/mysql/data/mysqld.pid --datadir=/opt/bitnami/mysql/data --init-file=/home/bitnami/mysql-init 2> /dev/null &
    
  • Restart the MySQL server:

     $ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart mysql
    
  • Remove the script:

     $ rm /home/bitnami/mysql-init
    

How to access phpMyAdmin?

For security reasons, phpMyAdmin is accessible only when using 127.0.0.1 as the hostname. To access it from a remote system, you must create an SSH tunnel that routes requests to the Web server from 127.0.0.1. This implies that you must be able to connect to your server over SSH in order to access these applications remotely.

IMPORTANT: Before following the steps below, ensure that your Web and database servers are running.
NOTE: The steps below suggest using port 8888 for the SSH tunnel. If this port is already in use by another application on your local machine, replace it with any other port number greater than 1024 and modify the steps below accordingly. Similarly, if you have enabled Varnish, your stack's Web server might be running on port 81. In this case, modify the steps below to use port 81 instead of port 80 for the tunnel endpoint.

Accessing phpMyAdmin on Windows

Watch the following video to learn how to easily access phpMyAdmin on Windows through an SSH tunnel:

In order to access phpMyAdmin via SSH tunnel you need an SSH client. In the instructions below we have selected PuTTY, a free SSH client for Windows and UNIX platforms. The first step is having PuTTY configured. Please, check how to configure it in the section how to connect to the server through SSH using an SSH client on Windows.

Once you have your SSH client correctly configured and you tested that you can successfully access to your instance via SSH, you need to create an SSH tunnel in order to access phpMyAdmin. For doing so, follow these steps:

  • In the "Connection -> SSH -> Tunnels" section, add a new forwarded port by introducing the following values:

    • Source port: 8888
    • Destination: localhost:80

    This will create a secure tunnel by forwarding a port (the "destination port") on the remote server to a port (the "source port") on the local host (127.0.0.1 or localhost).

  • Click the "Add" button to add the secure tunnel configuration to the session. (You'll see the added port in the list of "Forwarded ports").

    PuTTY configuration

  • In the "Session" section, save your changes by clicking the "Save" button.
  • Click the "Open" button to open an SSH session to the server. The SSH session will now include a secure SSH tunnel between the two specified ports.
  • Access the phpMyAdmin console through the secure SSH tunnel you created, by browsing to http://127.0.0.1:8888/phpmyadmin.
  • Log in to phpMyAdmin by using the following credentials:

    • Username: root
    • Password: application password. (Refer to our FAQ to learn how to find your application credentials).

Here is an example of what you should see:

Access phpMyAdmin

If you are unable to access phpMyAdmin, verify that the SSH tunnel was created by checking the PuTTY event log (accessible via the "Event Log" menu):

PuTTY configuration

Accessing phpMyAdmin on Linux and Mac OS X

To access the application using your Web browser, create an SSH tunnel, as described below.

  • Open a new terminal window on your local system (for example, using "Finder -> Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal" in Mac OS X or the Dash in Ubuntu).
  • Run the following command, remembering to replace SERVER-IP with the public IP address or hostname of your server. Enter your SSH password when prompted.

       $ ssh -N -L 8888:127.0.0.1:80 bitnami@SERVER-IP
    
NOTE: If successful, the above command will create an SSH tunnel but will not display any output on the server console.
  • Access the phpMyAdmin console through the secure SSH tunnel you created, by browsing to http://127.0.0.1:8888/phpmyadmin.
  • Log in to phpMyAdmin by using the following credentials:

    • Username: root
    • Password: application password. (Refer to our FAQ to learn how to find your application credentials).

Here is an example of what you should see:

Access phpMyAdmin

How to modify PHP settings?

The PHP configuration file allows you to configure the modules enabled, the email settings or the size of the upload files. It is located at /opt/bitnami/php/etc/php.ini.

For example, to modify the default upload limit for PHP, update the PHP configuration file following these instructions.

After modifying the PHP configuration file, restart both Apache and PHP-FPM for the changes to take effect:

$ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart apache
$ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart php-fpm

How to modify the allowed limit for uploaded files?

Modify the following options in the /opt/bitnami/php/etc/php.ini file to increase the allowed size for uploads:

; Maximum size of POST data that PHP will accept.
post_max_size = 16M

; Maximum allowed size for uploaded files.
upload_max_filesize = 16M

Restart PHP-FPM and Apache for the changes to take effect.

$ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart apache
$ sudo /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh restart php-fpm    
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