Like most people with computer-related jobs, I work on numerous machines. At work, there’s the all-purpose server, the personal desktop machine, a second server for testing/backup and should I need it, a Linux cluster. At home there’s the desktop/server and laptop. In general, I use the work server as the “working machine”, with an NFS mount to the desktop and backups using rsync to the second work server and the home server. The laptop is, as much as possible, a dumb terminal for SSH to other places.
I imagine that I’m not alone in having a directory under my home directory named “projects/”, with a hierarchy of project directories below that and directories below them named “perl”, “fasta”, “gnuplot” and so on. This is all very well, until I’m sat at one or the other of the machines and decide to do some work. Pretty soon, confusion reigns as I try to recall in which direction I should rsync the altered files. What I really need is a master repository from which I make working copies that I can synchronise with the master from any location. In other words – revision control.
I’ve been using CVS for a few years just for code and found it to be very beneficial and quite easy to use, especially from within emacs. However, people kept telling me that Subversion (SVN), the CVS alternative, was far superior. Then I came across a project management system called Trac, which is used by the bioinformatics guys at the IMB on our campus and interfaces with SVN. So I thought – how about using SVN + Trac to handle all of my bioinformatics project files – not just the code?
It turns out that this is a great way to organise and maintain files and share them with other people. This post explains how I set up SVN + Trac; the next post looks at some ways to use them for bioinformatics projects.
I use Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty), which currently ships with SVN 1.4.3 and Trac 0.10.3. These notes are specific to that setup, but you may be able to adapt them. There are numerous, high-quality guides on the Web that I’ve cannibalised and glued together. See my del.icio.us svn tags. In particular, I’d like to acknowledge Ariejan de Vroom’s website, which has excellent notes on SVN and Trac and these notes by Volodymyr Orlenko.
I’ll assume that your server is set up with Apache 2 (as easy as “sudo apt-get install apache2” on Ubuntu).
2. Install required packages
Just “sudo apt-get install ” the following if you don’t have them already: ssl-cert, subversion, subversion-tools, trac, buildbot, libapache2-svn, libapache2-mod-python, libapache2-mod-python-doc, python-setuptools.
3. Configure Apache
I decided to use SSL (which means basically that passwords are transmitted encrypted, not as plain text and URLs begin with “https://”). Enable the apache ssl module and open up port 443 like so:
sudo a2enmod ssl sudo sh -c "echo 'Listen 443' >> /etc/apache2/ports.conf"
Next, generate a SSL certificate. Some documentation mentions an Ubuntu script named “apache2-ssl-certificate”, but it seems to be absent in Feisty so do this instead:
sudo mkdir /etc/apache2/ssl sudo make-ssl-cert /usr/share/ssl-cert/ssleay.cnf /etc/apache2/ssl/apache.pem
When creating the certificate, you’ll be asked for details about your location and organisation.
Now, create a Virtual Host from the default Apache configuration:
sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/default /etc/apache2/sites-available/001-ssl sudo nano -w /etc/apache2/sites-available/001-ssl (or your favourite editor instead of nano)
I called my file 001-ssl; call yours whatever you like. It should be pretty minimal – mine looks like this:
NameVirtualHost *:443 <VirtualHost *:443> ServerAdmin email@example.com ServerName your.server.com ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/error.log LogLevel warn CustomLog /var/log/apache2/access.log combined ServerSignature On ## ssl stuff SSLEngine on SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl/apache.pem SSLProtocol all SSLCipherSuite HIGH:MEDIUM </VirtualHost>
We’ll be adding more to that file later on when we install Trac. Enable your new virtual host:
sudo a2ensite 001-ssl sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
Now you need to enable basic authentication for the web server. Create a password for yourself:
sudo htpasswd -c -m /etc/apache2/dav_svn.passwd yourname
Some documentation refers to “htpasswd2” – if you don’t have it, just use htpasswd. Subsequent users can be added by omitting the -c switch.
Finally, we enable WebDAV and SVN in Apache. Edit /etc/apache2/mods-available/dav_svn.conf – it’s well annotated so just follow the notes in the file. Mine looks like this:
<Location /svn> DAV svn SVNParentPath /home/svn AuthType Basic AuthName "Subversion Repository" AuthUserFile /etc/apache2/dav_svn.passwd Require valid-user SSLRequireSSL </Location>
A couple of notes. Use SVNParentPath if you want multiple repositories under your SVN root. Common locations for SVN repositories are /srv/svn, /var/lib/svn or /home/svn. I went with the last one, put yours where you like.
So much for Apache. Let’s get on with SVN.
4. Configure SVN
Setting up Subversion is easy. Create a directory for your repositories, make a repository and give it access permissions for the Apache user (www-data on Ubuntu):
sudo mkdir /home/svn sudo svnadmin create /home/svn/projects sudo chown -R www-data.www-data /home/svn/projects sudo chmod -R g+ws /home/svn/projects
Here, I’ve called the repository “projects”. You may prefer a separate repository for each of your projects, or one repository with a hierarchy for each project. The former situation is more administration, the latter has the disadvantage that revision numbers will apply across files from different projects. We’ll look at that more closely in part 2.
At this point, you should be able to fire up a web browser on your server and navigate to “https://localhost/svn/projects”. It won’t look too exciting though; you should see a largely blank page with “Revision 0: /” at the top.
5. Configure Trac
Under Ubuntu, Trac installs itself in /var/lib/trac. The first step is to give it the appropriate permissions:
sudo chown -R www-data.www-data /var/lib/trac
Next, ensure that Apache mod_python is enabled:
sudo a2enmod mod_python
Trac comes with a command-line administration tool named trac-admin. Use it now to set up your Trac project directory and create an administrator user. Note that the name of the project directory is the same as the corresponding SVN repository (projects in my case):
cd /var/lib/trac sudo trac-admin projects initenv sudo trac-admin projects permission add yourname TRAC_ADMIN
We’re almost finished. The penultimate step is to go back to the Apache virtual host configuration file and tell Apache how to access Trac. Put the following somewhere between the <VirtualHost></VirtualHost> tags:
<location /trac> SetHandler mod_python PythonHandler trac.web.modpython_frontend PythonOption TracEnvParentDir /var/lib/trac PythonOption TracUriRoot /trac </location> <locationmatch "/trac/[^/]+/login"> AuthType Basic AuthName "Trac Authentication" AuthUserFile /etc/apache2/dav_svn.passwd Require valid-user SSLRequireSSL </locationmatch>
A few notes about all of that. TracEnvParentDir indicates that we want multiple projects in our Trac environment. TracUriRoot can be named whatever you like, so long as it matches the name in <location >. In the above configuration, anyone can view the Trac website but login requires the same user/password that you set up in step 3. You could make access more restrictive by removing the <locationmatch> tags, so as login is required to see any Trac page. However, you can also set permissions for Trac later on, using either trac-admin or the webadmin tool.
Ah yes, the webadmin tool. Newer versions of Trac allow for adminstration through the web interface, but you need to install the module separately in Trac 0.10.3, the current Ubuntu Feisty version. You also require the correct version for your Trac. Ubuntu makes this easy: the python-setuptools package includes a tool called easy_install which will grab the webadmin plugin from the appropriate URL and install it:
sudo easy_install http://svn.edgewall.com/repos/trac/sandbox/webadmin
All that’s left is to enable webadmin. Trac configuration uses a file named trac.ini, which you’ll find in /usr/share/trac/conf. Unfortunately, it only affects configuration system-wide if it lives in /etc/trac. So you have a few options: (1) copy trac.ini to /etc/trac, (2) symlink the file in /usr/share/trac/conf to /etc/trac or (3) edit the local trac.ini file for each Trac project (e.g. /var/lib/trac/projects/conf/trac.ini). Whatever you do, add these lines to trac.ini:
[components] webadmin.* = enabled
One last “sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart” for good luck and you’re there! You should now be able to navigate to “https://localhost/trac/projects”, login, see the Admin tab and view your (currently empty) SVN repository from the Browse Source tab.
Now you’re ready to start loading files into SVN and setting up your Trac website. That’s the subject of the next post.