Forum OpenACS Q&A: Re: Unable to install openacs-5.9.0b2

Posted by Sophia Orthoi on
Well, with the ASCII encoding I have something, that may be an installation of openacs. I dont know. With utf-8 I was unable to install.

Before I continue experimenting with installation, I have a question: what does mean to install openacs?

First an experiment with words: what happens if I move from the postgresql data directory data to data.backup, make a new data directory with initdb, install or try to install openacs again, play a little with this installation, delete again data and move the old data.backup to data. Doing this, am I at the end in the same state as at the beginning?

Again, what does mean to install OpenACS? Where are only the database and the logfile changed or created, or happens more than that?

You know, I installed OpenACS to see what OpenACS is. I really dont know exactly what OpenACS is. But perhaps I will become an expert installing OpenACS. A concise and clear documentation about OpenACS and its installation would be a good thing, at best traditional man pages.

Have a nice sunday!

Posted by Gustaf Neumann on

The reason, why i am coming back to the encoding issue is that i have seen many OpenACS installations (100+) on different operating systems, but i have not seen these errors. i am just trying to help you, since when you work on with wrong encodings, you will run sooner or later into troubles. Most of the Web sites are today in UTF-8, Tcl supports UTF-8 natively, etc. In general, it should be possible to change the encoding at some later time [1], but i have not tried this.

installing OpenACS means: perform all necessary steps to run an OpenACS based web site. OpenACS consists of the so-called core-packages [1] and the application packages. about 90 of the packages are maintained.

In order to run OpenACS, one needs the following software components:

  • a web server (NaviServer, AOLserver)
  • a database (PostgreSQL, Oracle)
  • a few extra components (TDom, tcllib, XOTcl)
In order to Install OpenACS, one might have to install and configure the needed software components.
Then, one should get OpenACS either via tar or via source code repository. The recent tar files
contain just the oacs-core packages. Once, acs-core is installed (the step, where you saw in your
first attempt the error), one can install other OpenACS packages, either directly from the OpenACS repository,
of from the local file system (checkout from a source code repository). The latter is typical for developer,
developing their own packages, tailoring the system, etc.

The documentation of OpenACS needs much work, esp. for beginners. Once you have installed OpenACS,
you should also install the developer support, which provides the API browser. The developer support
is quite convenient to learn about the system, to see what templates are used in what situation, or
what SQL queries are executed for some URLs.

Does this help?


Posted by Sophia Orthoi on
First of all I want to thank Benjamin and specially Gustaf for his pacience and tolerance to my critics. I want to answer the last question of Gustaf: yes, your answer helped, I installed the developer support, and I will try to read the developers guides, perhaps this helps, but it is not the way of beginners that not even know what the software is. My question about the meaning of installing is not answered, perhaps because it was not understood. To Benjamin: I dont think it is a permission issue, because the installation with ascii encoding worked, and also not issue with LD_LIBRARY_PATH for the same reason and because I know and recognize these problems. But before I continue trying, I need an answer to my question about the meaning of installing. I will restate it later, after I read more, not today. Thank you very much.


Posted by Sophia Orthoi on
Now I read a lot and got an idea of what openacs is. After reading a lot, I came to the conclusion that one must begin reading the documentation from chapter 15. When I "install openacs", I put in the file system a directory that I download and point the parameter "serverroot" in the configuration file of the server to it, then I start the server, start the browser, fill data in a form in the browser, and then it happens something. My question was: what is exactly this something? Only filling the database with tables and functions? Is the directory (serverroot) touched when this happens? For beginning again, is it enough to delete the directory created by initdb or must I reset something more than that?


Posted by Gustaf Neumann on

The question is, at which level of detail you want to know, what the installer does. To make this answer short: In order to start over, there is no need to touch anything in the file system (under "serverroot").

From the point of view of OpenACS, it is sufficient to drop and recreate the database (commands "dropdb" and "createdb"), you are using.

if you want to setup the full postgres installation new (which i would recommend to get the usual template0 blueprint), you can use "initdb".

Posted by Antonio Pisano on
Hello Sophia,

I will try to answer to your question about what OpenACS is: it is a framework for building web applications, that is, a collection of software tools that make "easy" (to a programmer skilled in web technologies) the construction of community based websites. Its runs on a webserver called Aolserver or Naviserver (different branches of what used to be the same software) and uses PostgreSQL as DBMS.

Other examples of frameworks similar to OpenACS that come to my mind are Plone and DJango, both for the Python language, or Meteor for Javascript. OpenACS uses the Tcl language instead (and one of its object oriented extensions, XoTcl).

OpenACS has a long tradition, dating back to 1995 when it was born as a company driven project in the United States. Its market share changed during the years and currently it is quite of a niche platform, but with solid poles of activity. To my knowledge, the most active ones are in Austria, South America and Italy. Its most common fields of applications are e-learning and ERP systems, but some (including myself) also develop some personal websites.

The reason why you found a bit difficult to start using OpenACS is that it doesn't show very much "out of the box". One should start developing something using the many commodities it offers, or install a package. Unfortunately, not many wizards exist to help you do so. Also, documentation intended for beginners, the one that usually "takes you by the hand" in your first steps in other projects, sometimes is lacking or outdated. OpenACS has a very clever built-in documentation system, but it supposes at least basic familiarity with the platform.

The best place to look for support is this forum, where response is usually very solicit. If you were looking for a software like this for a specific need, you could share it with us and people could give you more targeted advices.

I hope to have answered to your question

All the best