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Install OpenACS with NaviServer from Scratch

Created by Gustaf Neumann, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 3 hours 41 minutes ago

This page describes how to install OpenACS with NaviServer on Unix-like systems (e.g. Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, OmniOS) by compiling all but PostgreSQL from scratch, guided by script that collects the components from various sources, compiles it, etc.

The installation is done in two steps:

  • : Install NaviServer and its components for a PostgreSQL installation from scratch by obtaining the relevant sources and compiling it. The script assumes PostgreSQL to be installed (or obtainable via package managers), but installs all other components by obtaining it from the source repositories and compiling it from scratch (e.g. Tcl, tcllib, tDOM, libthread, nsf/XOTcl 2).
  • : Install OpenACS from CVS/git. This script configures a (pre-installed) PostgreSQL installation for
    OpenACS, adds hstore, installs OpenACS core, basic OpenACS packages, xowiki, xowf and optionally dotlrn from CVS/git and generates a config file and startup files (for Ubuntu and Fedora Core). The script assumes a pre-existing NaviServer installation, installed e.g. via

 These install scripts are frequently updated when now components are released or problems are detected (commit log ).

If you open the links above, use save-as in the browser to save the files. Alternatively, download the files as .zip file or clone the repository via GitHub .

   cd /usr/local/src
   git clone
   cd install-ns

The scripts work under a typical Linux installation (e.g. Ubuntu, Fedora Core) as well as on Mac OS X or on OmniOS. The scripts are tested with PostgreSQL 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.4 and 9.5 on Ubuntu 12.04, 13.04, 14.04, Fedora Core 18 and CentOS 7.

On a a fresh Ubuntu installation, you should be able to download the two scripts from this page and install OpenACS with NaviServer in the following steps:

   sudo bash

   bash build

   bash build

After running both scripts in the default configuration you will see e.g. on Ubuntu 14.04

   Congratulations, you have installed OpenACS with NaviServer on your machine.
   You might start the server manually with
       sudo /usr/local/ns/bin/nsd -t /usr/local/ns/config-oacs-5-9.tcl -u nsadmin -g nsadmin

One can start the server manually with the mentioned command.

Using upstart

Alternatively, one can manage the service with upstart (Ubuntu/Debian). For upstart, the the generated startup file is in /etc/init/oacs-5-9.conf. The service can be started/managed with the following commands

    sudo initctl status oacs-5-9
    sudo initctl start oacs-5-9
    sudo initctl stop oacs-5-9

Using systemd

On Fedora/CentOS or on Ubuntu installations starting with 15.04, systemd is used. The generated startup file for RedHat/Fedora is in /lib/systemd/system/oacs-5-9.service. The startup commands for systemd are

    sudo systemctl status oacs-5-9
    sudo systemctl start oacs-5-9
    sudo systemctl stop oacs-5-9

Remember, when a new systemd service is installed, systemd requires the following command to re-scan its service files:

    sudo systemctl daemon-reload

To start OpenACS automatically on every new start of the machine, issue the following command:

    sudo systemctl enable oacs-5-9


When the service is running, one can use use OpenACS by browsing to http://localhost:8000/ (when the browser and server is running on the same host). The configuration file is /usr/local/ns/config-oacs-5-9.tcl and might be tailored to your needs. The access.log and error.log of this instance are in /var/www/oacs-5-9/log/


Installing OpenACS on debian

Created by OpenACS community, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 21 Oct 2016, at 08:53 AM

This information is deprecated. Please refer to Installing OpenACS on debian.

The quicksheet versions:

You should know what you're doing when you use them.


Tcl development headers are required for compiling Tcl packages yourself.

apt-get install tcl8.4-dev

Should you decide to Install OpenACS from source using general en:openacs-system-install instructions, refer to these notes for changes:

Installing Postgresql

Debian stable user should install PostGreSQL from source as detailed below, or they should use the backport for Postgres to get a more current version. Debian unstable users: the following process has been known to work (but you should double-check that the version of PostGreSQL is 7.3 or above):

For Debian stable users, you can use backports, by adding this line to the /etc/apt/sources.list


deb stable bison postgresql openssl openssh tcl8.4 courier debconf spamassassin tla diff patch neon chkrootki

and perform this actions:

apt-get update
apt-get install postgresql postgresql-dev postgresql-doc
ln -s /usr/include/postgresql/ /usr/include/pgsql
ln -s /var/lib/postgres /usr/local/pgsql
ln -s /usr/include/pgsql /usr/local/pgsql/include
su postgres -c "/usr/lib/postgresql/bin/createlang plpgsql template1"

..and proceed to the next section.

Installing PostgreSQL's Tsearch2


apt-get install postgresql-contrib

Creating the Postgres user.

Use adduser instead of useradd. Type man adduser for more info.

Compiling PostgreSQL

On debian woody (stable, 3.0), do:

./configure --without-readline --without-zlib 

Set PostgreSQL to start on boot

[root ~]# cp /var/tmp/packages/acs-core-docs/www/files/postgresql.txt /etc/init.d/postgresql
[root ~]# chown root.root /etc/init.d/postgresql
[root ~]# chmod 755 /etc/init.d/postgresql
[root ~]# 
cp /var/tmp/openacs-5.2.0d1/packages/acs-core-docs/www/files/postgresql.txt /etc/init.d/postgresql
chown root.root /etc/init.d/postgresql
chmod 755 /etc/init.d/postgresql

Test the script

[root ~]# /etc/init.d/postgresql stop
Stopping PostgreSQL: ok
[root ~]# 

If PostgreSQL successfully stopped, then use the following command to make sure that the script is run appropriately at boot and shutdown.

[root ~]# update-rc.d postgresql defaults
 Adding system startup for /etc/init.d/postgresql ...
   /etc/rc0.d/K20postgresql -> ../init.d/postgresql
   /etc/rc1.d/K20postgresql -> ../init.d/postgresql
   /etc/rc6.d/K20postgresql -> ../init.d/postgresql
   /etc/rc2.d/S20postgresql -> ../init.d/postgresql
   /etc/rc3.d/S20postgresql -> ../init.d/postgresql
   /etc/rc4.d/S20postgresql -> ../init.d/postgresql
   /etc/rc5.d/S20postgresql -> ../init.d/postgresql
[root ~]# /etc/init.d/postgresql start
Starting PostgreSQL: ok
[root ~]#

Debian defaults to starting all services on runlevels 2-5.

Installing Tcl

You can apt-get install tcl8.4-dev if you have the right version (stable users will need to add tcl8.4 to their sources.list file as described in the "Install Postgresql" section above. You will have to use /usr/lib/tcl8.4/ instead of /usr/local/lib when you try to find the tcl libraries, however.

apt-get install tcl8.4 tcl8.4-dev


and proceed to installing aolserver.

When installing aolserver, replace --with-tcl=/usr/local/lib/ with --with-tcl=/usr/lib/tcl8.4.

Installing AOLserver

To install AOLserver you can use apt command:

apt-get install aolserver4 aolserver4-nscache aolserver4-nspostgres aolserver4-nssha1 tdom

After installing AOLserver, You need to make the following symbolic link:

ln -s /usr/lib/aolserver4 /usr/local/aolserver



Try Openacs

Created by OpenACS community, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 01 May 2015, at 09:43 AM

To try OpenACS, you might lease a hosted system with OpenACS installed on it:

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