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Installing OpenACS on FreeBSD with ports

Created by Gustaf Neumann, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 04 Sep 2014, at 07:47 PM

NEW:  For the impatient users there is a quick-and-dirty install guide for FreeBSD

OpenACS and .LRN are included in the current FreeBSD ports tree.
The ports are tested with FreeBSD production version 6.2-RELEASE, old stable 5.5-RELEASE and the development branch 7-CURRENT.

Installation requirements:

  1. FreeBSD operating system with root access rights.
  2. Installed and updated FreeBSD Ports Collection (for updating see Appendix A below)
    (alternative: installing from packages, see Appendix B)

To install OpenACS or .LRN from the FreeBSD ports tree, follow the instructions below.

1. Installing and configuring PostgreSQL

NOTICE: If you have a PostgreSQL server installed and running, skip to Section 2.

If you desire to use a local PostgreSQL server (most users do), install the server first.
We recommend using PostgreSQL version 8.2 from the databases/postgresql82-server port

# cd /usr/ports/databases/postgresql82-server # make install clean

NOTICE: As an alternative, you may install PostgreSQL server from a binary package. See Appendix B below

The plperl language is required for OpenACS/.LRN. This can be installed from the ports with the following commands:

# cd /usr/ports/databases/p5-postgresql-plperl # make install clean

To install the OpenACS/.LRN database, your PostgreSQL server must be running.
You need to enable it in your /etc/rc.conf (or /etc/rc.conf.local) by adding the following line:


After installing the PostgreSQL server, you have to initialize your data store:

# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql initdb

To start the PostgreSQL server, issue the following command:

# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql start

You can check if the server is up and running with:

# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql status

2. Installing OpenACS / .LRN

2.1 Installing the OpenACS or .LRN port 

OpenACS can be installed directly from the FreeBSD ports tree, www/openacs:

# cd /usr/ports/www/openacs
# make install clean

.LRN installation, www/openacs-dotlrn:

# cd /usr/ports/www/openacs-dotlrn
# make install clean

NOTICE: If you want to make changes to the default configuration, the AOLserver configuration files for OpenACS/.LRN files are located at:

NOTICE: If you installed both OpenACS and .LRN ports, you have to change the default port of one of the installations. See the configuration files in the previous notice.

2.2 Creating the OpenACS/.LRN database 

For this step, you require an installed and running PostgreSQL server (see Section 1) and installed OpenACS/.LRN (see Section 2.1)

First we need to adjust the PostgreSQL configuration (this applies for server versions 8.1.x and higher):

# /usr/local/share/doc/openacs/adjust_pgsql_conf.sh

or if .LRN was installed: 

# /usr/local/share/doc/dotlrn/adjust_pgsql_conf.sh

NOTICE: You can adjust the configuration manually (standard location: /usr/local/pgsql/data/postgresql.conf)
Please see en:How_to_install_in_Postgres_8.x.

The PostgreSQL server needs to be restarted after changing the configuration:

# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql restart

Next, we can create a default OpenACS database by running the following script:

# /usr/local/share/doc/openacs/create_sampledb.sh

To create a default .LRN database, run the following script:

# /usr/local/share/doc/dotlrn/create_sampledb.sh

2.3 Starting OpenACS/.LRN and finalizing installation 

To make use of the automatic startup script OpenACS/.LRN has to be enabled in /etc/rc.conf (or /etc/rc.conf.local):


or for .LRN:


To start OpenACS, use the following command:

# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/openacs start

To start .LRN, use the following command:

# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/dotlrn start

Now you can login to your OpenACS/.LRN system and finalize the installation.
The default port is 8000. URL:


After filling your e-mail address, password and other important information OpenACS/.LRN gets installed, but the server stops.
You have to start it again (see above).

 A. Updating the FreeBSD ports tree

To get the latest versions of the OpenACS, .LRN and other FreeBSD ports, it is recommended to update the FreeBSD ports tree on a regular basis. The easiest way to to perform this task is using the portsnap(8) command.

For documentation, refer to the following FreeBSD Handbook chapters:
Using the Ports Collection
Using Portsnap

B. Installing from binary packages

PostgreSQL, OpenACS, .LRN and all dependent ports may be installed from binary packages, too.
This installation can be performed from a submenu of FreeBSD's sysinstall(8) command: Configure/Packages

OpenACS and .LRN are located in subcategory www, PostgreSQL is in subcategory databases.

C. Contact information and bug reporting

Please send bug reports and feature suggestions to the port maintainer of OpenACS/.LRN FreeBSD ports:
Martin Matuska

Installing OpenACS on FreeBSD

Created by OpenACS community, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 04 Sep 2014, at 07:33 PM

OpenACS and .LRN are available via FreeBSD ports. See en:openacs-system-install-freebsd-ports.

The following notes are useful if you decide to follow the OpenACS manual installation process using FreeBSD. These notes include points where a manual FreeBSD install differes from the slow, manual en:openacs-system-install.

The following information is pulled from: http://openacs.org/forums/message-view?message_id=312823 and http://openacs.org/forums/message-view?message_id=136910 and http://openacs.org/forums/message-view?message_id=312823

The OpenACS Reference Platform uses shell scripts written for bash, which is the standard Linux shell. If you are using a different shell, you will need to substitute your shell's conventions for setting environment variables when appropriate, and install bash to work with the scripts. Substitute fetch when the instructions suggest you use wget to download software.

Note that on most linux distributions, GNU Make is simply named make and there is no gmake, whereas on BSD distributions, make and gmake are different --use gmake.

Change the period separating user.group in chown commands to use a colon ":" instead. For example,




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

Installing tdom

FreeBSD can use the standard tdom from ports when installing manually, without going the extra step of installing tdom within the aolserver src tree.

Installing en:postgresql

Creating postgres user

To set defaults for new users or special service users you may create, edit the file /etc/share/skel/dot.profile instead of /etc/profile

To create the user, we need to add more parameters to match what is expected from creating a user in linux.

[root src]# mkdir -p /usr/local/pgsql
[root src]# pw groupadd -n web
[root src]# pw useradd -n postgres -g web -d /usr/local/pgsql -s /bin/bash
[root src]# chown -R postgres:web /usr/local/pgsql /usr/local/src/postgresql-7.4.7
[root src]# chmod -R 750 /usr/local/pgsql
[root src]#
mkdir -p /usr/local/pgsql
pw groupadd -n web
pw useradd -n postgres -g web -d /usr/local/pgsql -s /bin/bash
chown -R postgres:web /usr/local/pgsql /usr/local/src/postgresql-7.4.7
chmod -R 750 /usr/local/pgsql

Set PostgreSQL to start on boot

[root ~]# cp /tmp/openacs-5.2.0d1/packages/acs-core-docs/www/files/postgresql.txt /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql.sh
[root ~]# chown root:wheel /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql.sh
[root ~]# chmod 755 /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql.sh
[root ~]# 
cp /tmp/openacs-5.2.0d1/packages/acs-core-docs/www/files/postgresql.txt /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql.sh
chown root:wheel /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql.sh
chmod 755 /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql.sh

Test the script

[root ~]# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql.sh stop
Stopping PostgreSQL: ok
[root ~]# 

If PostgreSQL successfully stopped, then turn it back on because we'll use it later.

[root root]# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql.sh start
Starting PostgreSQL: ok
[root root]#
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/postgresql.sh start

PostgreSQL performance tuning

See man syctl, man 5 sysctl and man 5 loader.conf.

Installing Libthreads 2.6.5

cd /usr/local/src/aolserver/
fetch http://mesh.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/tcl/thread2.6.5.tar.gz
tar xzpf thread2.6.5.tar.gz
cd thread2.6.5/unix
less ../README
../configure --help
../configure --enable-threads --prefix=/usr/local/aolserver --exec-prefix=/usr/local/aolserver --with-aolserver=/usr/local/aolserver --with-tcl=/usr/local/lib/tcl8.4-threads
gmake install

Creating users

We need to add more parameters to have user environments match the linux ones expected by the en:openacs-reference-platform.

Create users this way:

[root root]# mkdir -p /home/$OPENACS_SERVICE_NAME
[root root]# pw useradd -n $OPENACS_SERVICE_NAME -g web -d /home/$OPENACS_SERVICE_NAME -s /bin/bash
[root root]#
mkdir -p /home/$OPENACS_SERVICE_NAME
pw useradd -n $OPENACS_SERVICE_NAME -g web -d /home/$OPENACS_SERVICE_NAME -s /bin/bash

OpenACS compatibility matrix

Created by Joel Aufrecht, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 19 Aug 2014, at 08:09 PM

OpenACS requires, at a minimum, an operating system, database, and webserver to work. Many additional programs, such as a build environment, Mail Transport Agent, and source control system, are also needed for a fully effective installation.

Table 2.2. Version Compatibility Matrix

OpenACS Version 3.2.5 4.5 4.6 4.6.1 4.6.2 4.6.3 5.0 5.1 5.2 (core)
5.3 (core)
5.4 (core)
5.5 (core)
5.6 (core)
5.7 (core)
5.8 (core)
AOLserver 3 Yes No
3.3+ad13 Maybe Yes No
3.3oacs1 Maybe Yes No
3.4.4 No
3.4.4oacs1 Maybe Yes No
3.5.5 Maybe Yes No
4.0 Maybe Yes
4.5 No Yes
Naviserver 4.99.4 - No Maybe Yes
Tcl 8.4 Yes No
8.5.4 - Maybe Yes
PostgreSQL 7.0 Yes No
7.2 Maybe Yes No
7.3.2 - 7.3.x No Yes No
7.4 No Yes No
8.0 No Maybe Yes Maybe
8.1 No Yes Maybe
8.2 No tar: no, CVS: Yes Yes Maybe
8.3 No Yes Maybe
8.4 No Yes
9.0 - 9.3 No Yes
Oracle 8.1.6 Maybe Yes Maybe
8.1.7 Maybe Yes Maybe
9i No Yes Maybe
10g No Yes Maybe
11g No Maybe

The value in the cells correspond to the last version of that release, and not necessarily to all minor releases. Empty cells denote an unknown status.


Created by OpenACS community, last modified by Maurizio Martignano 06 Aug 2014, at 07:53 AM

OpenACS and .LRN can be installed as native Win64 applications for Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 using the Windows-OpenACS distribution.

The current release is Windows-OpenACS version 2.3 (released August 2014).

For more details, http://www.spazioit.com/pages_en/sol_inf_en/windows-openacs_en/ .

Install OpenACS with NaviServer from Scratch

Created by Gustaf Neumann, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 28 May 2014, at 08:52 PM

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-ns.sh : 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-oacs.sh : 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 install-ns.sh

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 . 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 and 9.3 on Ubuntu 12.04, 13.04 and Fedora Core 18.

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
   apt-get install postgresql

   bash install-ns.sh
   bash install-ns.sh build

   bash install-oacs.sh
   bash install-oacs.sh build

After running both scripts in the default configuration you will see e.g. on Ubuntu 13.04

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-HEAD.tcl -u nsadmin -g nsadmin

or you can manage your installation with upstart (Ubuntu/Debian). In this case, 
you might use the following commands

    status oacs-HEAD
    start oacs-HEAD
    stop oacs-HEAD

To use OpenACS, point your browser to http://localhost:8000/
The configuration file is /usr/local/ns/config-oacs-HEAD.tcl 
and might be tailored to your needs. The access.log and error.log of 
this instance are in /var/www/oacs-HEAD/log

On Fedora, the startup commands for systemd are

    systemctl status oacs-HEAD
    systemctl start oacs-HEAD
    systemctl stop oacs-HEAD

OpenACS/dotLRN Windows Installer Instructions

Created by Byron Linares, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 12 Nov 2013, at 11:22 AM

NOTE: Currently (05/2009), the best option to get OpenACS 5.5.* running on Windows is to use the native windows installation Win32-OpenACS by Spazio IT (Maurizio Martignano).

This page describes the installation of:

  • OpenACS 5.2.3
  • DotLRN 2.2.0
Included Software
  • AOLServer 4.0.beta10_2003
  • PostgresSQL 7.4.3
  • OpenACS 5.2.3
  • DotLrn 2.2.0
  • Cygwin
Installer Download :

The installer is available in openacs community page.
Available versions:

  • OpenACS/dotLRN installer
  • OpenACS 5.2.0 installer

Installation Instructions:

Run the "OpenACS/DotLRN Installer" called setup.exe, read the license document before continuing, the installer will ask for some information, this will be used to make the automatic installation.

There are to ways to install the components; manually or automatic


  • dotLRN Manual and openACS Manual:
  • In this modality the entered personal data in the installer will be omitted and will be necessary to retake the installation from a browser window and enter the necessary data to continue the creation of the data modeling.
  • dotLRN Automatic and openACS Automatic
  • In this modality the installer its in charge of all the work, when finishing creating the data model the following step would be to reinitiate the service and continue with the use of the platform.
  • Source Code:
  • The installer will put in the installation folder the source code of the same one.

Select what you want to install and click next. After the installer places all the files, a browser window will be opened and the installation have to be continued from here, if the automatic mode has been selected wait to the installation finishes. When the installation finishes restart the server and type in a web browser "http://localhost"

 Access Icons:

  • OpenACS on the web: access to http://localhost/
  • Start Server: Bach file to initiate the server (aolserver, postgresql, cygwim)
  • Stop Server: Bach file to stop the server (aolserver, postgresql, cygwin)
  • Unistall OpenACS: Uninstall all

  • Check if CygWin: Please execute the file server/cygwin/cygwin.bat.  You should get a black screen with some green text saying: "yourusername@yourcomputer" and the "$".
  • Check PostgreSQL: in the cygwin window typy psql -l , You should get the names of all data base.
  • Check AOLServer: ps -alW | grep nsd , You should get some thing like this
  • 2312 0 0 2312 ? 0 07:52:20 C:\OpenACS\nsd4\bin\nsd.exe

Full guide

developed at the Galileo University (www.galileo.edu) by Byron Haroldo Linares Roman bhlr@galileo.edu as part of the E-LANE project (www.e-lane.org)

related forum threads

OpenACS/dotLRN installer for MSWindows

Installing OpenACS

Created by OpenACS community, last modified by Maurizio Martignano 10 Nov 2013, at 08:53 AM

Installing OpenACS 

There are many ways to get OpenACS working for you quickly and/or easily. See Try OpenACS for demonstrations, automated installations and hosting solutions.

Manually installing OpenACS:

These are the steps involved in setting up OpenACS. Before beginning, read about ways of getting help (en:docs-admin-help) during installation. Also, read the documentation completely before beginning, to minimize the chance of any surprises during installation.

  1. Prerequisites to installing OpenACS
  2. OpenACS reference platform
  3. Install a *nix based operating system
  4. Get the code
  5. Install Oracle
  6. Install PostgreSQL
  7. Install Tcl
  8. Install AOLserver
  9. Install OpenACS distribution

These pages contain notes where installing OpenACS on a specific OS different from the *nix standard installation instructions (above).  These notes also refer to helper scripts and automated installers that can really simplify installation:

Installing *nix

Created by OpenACS community, last modified by Gustaf Neumann 23 Sep 2013, at 08:16 PM

Install a *nix-based operating system (OS)

Follow the installation directions that come with the distribution.

There are generally 2 strategies at this point:

  1. Install an OS with minimum programs, or
  2. Install a suite of programs, for example choose between a developer set or desktop set.

We recommend installing only the OS to minimize the chances of conflicts resulting from installing 2 or more copies of one of the OpenACS system components openacs-system.

The impatient reader might want to check out the two scripts at naviserver-openacs which can be used to install OpenACS from scratch on a variety if systems (including Debian/RHEL Linux or Mac OS X), and which lists the detailed dependencies during the build process. Below, we describe in detail the steps.

Many additional programs, such as a build environment (gcc), Mail Transport Agent (MTA), and source control system, are also needed for a fully operational installation. Most of these are included with a basic OS installation.

Install some helper software

You might want to install some of these after a minimum OS install, since OpenACS administration usually assumes you have these (or alternates) installed:

  • wget
  • emacs or vi/vim
  • bash shell (usually automatically installed with Linux distributions)
  • gcc or equivalent (along with standard distribution source libraries) - if you plan to install software from source.
  • ImageMagick - used by some packages for server side image processing
  • aspell - used to offer spell checking in forms

*nix install guides

some helpful documentation for installing *nix flavors

*nix-based systems without installing *nix

These DEMOs install a temporary *nix OS on your system:

Or, lease a hosted system with a *nix OS and OpenACS installed on it.

See companies that host OpenACS websites.

Securing your system

Once you get your OS installed, it's imperative that you secure your installation. As Jon Griffin repeatedly warns us, "No distribution is secure out of the box." The Reference Platform implements some basic precautions, but security is a process, not a condition. If you are responsible for a computer hooked to the internet, you are responsible for learning some rudiments of security, such as monitoring the state of a computer, maintaining patch levels, and keeping backups. We recommend these resources:

for everyone

Created by OpenACS community, last modified by Benjamin Brink 09 Sep 2013, at 07:44 PM

OpenACS for everyone

OpenACS (Open Architecture Community System) is:

  • an advanced toolkit for building scalable, community-oriented web applications.
  • a robust, scalable framework (see: en:openacs-system) for building dynamic content driven sites and enterprise-level web applications.
  • a collection of pre-built applications and services that you can build on to create a custom web-site or application.
  • derived from the ArsDigita Community System (ACS). ArsDigita (now part of Red Hat, Inc.) kindly made their work available under the GPL, making all of this possible.

Through a modular architecture, OpenACS has packages for user/groups management, content management, e-commerce, news, FAQs, calendar, forums, bug tracking, wiki (XoWiki ), full-text searching etc. See OpenACS repository.


Use the OpenACS fourms to contact the OpenACS community. We welcome your feedback and can help with your OpenACS endeavors. Commercial support is also available.

What others say about OpenACS

Testimonials posted to forums on OpenACS

Try OpenACS

History of OpenACS

See: History of OpenACS en:docs-history

Bibliography and Credits

See: Documentation Credits en:doc-credits

Install Tcl

Created by OpenACS community, last modified by Jim Lynch 06 Sep 2013, at 12:21 AM

Check suitability of a previously installed TCL.

Start tcl (type tclsh or find it using which tclsh).

[root root]% info exists tcl_platform(threaded)
[root root]% info patchlevel
[root root]%

If the first command returns anything other than 1, then tcl is not threaded. If tcl is threaded and the version is 8.5 or higher, then installing tcl from source is optional.

 (jiml) Note that you will also need compiletime stuff so you can build things against that tcl; how to get it varies according to what OS and flavor thereof you run. Personally, I don't like to permit the operating system to dictate any versions of anything or have any influence over installing/removing, so I build the whole stack (these days, not including postgres) myself.

Install Tcl

Get TCL 8.5 (or higher). Download and install TCL 8.5 from source.

If you have not installed TCL already, download the latest TCL version from Sourceforge or http://www.tcl.tk/software/tcltk/downloadnow85.html 

We are installing tcl in context with aolserver to use a consistent set of libraries when more than one version may be present. Use the same directory for aolserver here, that you will be using when installing aolserver from the en:aolserver-install page.

Remember that you have to be logged in as root to issue the following commands.

[root root]# mkdir -p /usr/local/src/aolserver40r10
[root root]# cd /usr/local/src/aolserver40r10
[root src]# wget http://heanet.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/tcl/tcl8.5.14-src.tar.gz
[root src]# tar xfz tcl8.5.14-src.tar.gz
[root src]# cd tcl8.5.14/unix
[root unix]# ./configure --enable-threads --prefix=/usr/local/aolserver40r10
[root unix]# make install
[root root]# 

ref: http://openacs.org/doc/aolserver4.html 

Pull info from: http://www.tcl.tk/software/tcltk/downloadnow85.html 

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