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Sentinel has ceased to exist. We no longer use it. However, we are grateful for the good work it once did!

The sentinel is a server on which some tests are run every night. It is the machine where we have regression tests.

The source code of sentinel is on github too, in the repo called Sentinel

Access to the sentinel server

The procedure below describes how to create and install an ssl certificate on the Sentinel web server.

First create certificate:

cd /home/sentinel/authentication
openssl req -new -x509 -days 999 -keyout -out -nodes -subj  '/C=NL/O=Tarski Systems/'

This creates the files ~/authentication/ and ~/authentication/ Now add the SSL module to the apache configuration:

sudo a2enmod ssl

Edit the apache configuration to allow .htaccess files and use the created SSL certificates:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl
  • In section <Directory /var/www/> change AllowOverride None to AllowOverride All
  • Comment out old SSLCertificateFile and SSLCertificateKeyFile entries (using #)
  • Add SSLCertificateFile /home/sentinel/authentication/
  • Add SSLCertificateKeyFile /home/sentinel/authentication/

Finally, restart apache:

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Old ubuntu install log. This was constructed over a period of 4 years, so there might be some small inconsistencies, but it will be a good guide if we need to reinstall

Add sentinel user

Open Terminal add new user and (in second step) give that user admin rights

sudo adduser sentinel
sudo adduser sentinel admin

sudo apt-get update

(gets stuck on 0%, and suddenly finishes after a couple of minutes)


sudo apt-get install openssh-server
ssh-keygen -t rsa

(3x enter: default location, empty passphrase, empty passphrase)
(Only necessary to create .ssh directory with correct permissions)

Add public key (~/.ssh/ to sentinel repository on GitHub.

Apache, PHP, and MySQL


sudo apt-get install apache2
sudo apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart
sudo apt-get install mysql-server

(password empty, couple of times)

sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin

(choose apache2, no)

sudo cp /etc/phpmyadmin/apache.conf /etc/apache2/conf.d

Allow empty password for mysql: (probably no longer necessary now we have passwords on all databases)

sudo nano /etc/phpmyadmin/ add this line

$cfg['Servers'][$i]['AllowNoPassword'] = TRUE;

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart



git config --global "Ampersand Sentinel"
git config --global

mkdir ~/git
cd ~/git
git clone
git clone
git clone
git clone

Create symbolic link to use .profile from sentinel repo:

ln -fs git/sentinel/scripts/.profile .profile


Ghc from apt-get haskell is not recent enough, so instead, follow
(Don't like unpacking at root, so we do it in a separate directory and move the haskell directories after that)

sudo tar xvf haskell-platform-2014.2.0.0-unknown-linux-x86_64.tar.gz
sudo mv usr/local/haskell/ghc-7.8.3-x86_64 /usr/local/haskell
sudo /usr/local/haskell/ghc-7.8.3-x86_64/bin/activate-hs
sudo rm -rf /home/sentinel/usr
rm haskell-platform-2014.2.0.0-unknown-linux-x86_64.tar.gz


Prototype depends on HDBC-odbc package, which needs an odbc c library

sudo apt-get install unixodbc-dev
sudo apt-get install graphviz
sudo apt-get install texlive-full

SSH access

Add public keys (~/.ssh/ from computers that need access to sentinel to /home/sentinel/.ssh/authorized_keys, and disable password access:

sudo nano /etc/sshd_config add these three lines to disable logging in with username & password (which is too unsafe)

ChallengeResponseAuthentication no
PasswordAuthentication no
UsePAM no


Calling and compiling the sentinel through apache requires php to first execute a script as root, which the executes a script as sentinel. This is rather awkward and not very secure. A better way most likely exists but has not been found in the available time.

Make a symbolic link for the Sentinel www directory in /var/www on the test server

sudo ln -s /home/sentinel/git/sentinel/www /var/www/sentinel

and also for the output directory for generated prototypes

sudo ln -s /home/sentinel/git/sentinel/www/ampersand/ /var/www/ampersand

Make sure that the generated runSentinel.log.txt can be written by both crontab-spawned runSentinel and php-spawned runSentinel (run as different users)

sudo touch /home/sentinel/git/sentinel/www/logs/runSentinel.log.txt
sudo chmod ugo+rwx /home/sentinel/git/sentinel/www/logs/runSentinel.log.txt

Add crontab entries for runSentinel with crontab -e:

# for real, every night at 5 (once a week, delete the sandbox)
0 5 * * sun $HOME/git/sentinel/scripts/crontabRunSentinel --deleteSandbox
0 5 * * mon-sat $HOME/git/sentinel/scripts/crontabRunSentinel

# for testing, every two minutes
#*/2 * * * * $HOME/git/sentinel/scripts/crontabRunSentinel

Allow apache to run sentinel scripts as user sentinel: execute sudo visudo and add these lines:

# allow apache to execute the following scripts as user sentinel
www-data ALL=(sentinel) NOPASSWD: /home/sentinel/git/sentinel/scripts/phpKillAndRunSentinel
www-data ALL=(sentinel) NOPASSWD: /home/sentinel/git/sentinel/scripts/phpFetchAllRepos
www-data ALL=(sentinel) NOPASSWD: /home/sentinel/git/sentinel/scripts/phpCompileSentinel

sudo nano /var/www/.htaccess and enter:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteRule ^()$ /www/sentinel.php [R=300,L]

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/default
and change AllowOverride None to AllowOverride All in <Directory /var/www/>.

Not entirely sure if this one is necessary:

sudo a2enmod rewrite

Restart apache:

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart


The sentinel can now be compiled and run through the web interface

We don't use index.html, so allows us to see the directory in the web browser.

Password protect Sentinel WWW directory

The following should be done from the sentinel account on We assume the passwords are kept in /home/sentinel/authentication/nvwa.htpasswords, but this can be any file, as long as it's not reachable by the www server.

First, create a .htaccess file in the directory that needs protection (e.g. git/sentinel/www/ampersand/NVWA/):

nano git/sentinel/www/ampersand/NVWA/.htaccess

Paste the contents below (after changing AuthName to an appropriate description.)

# Redirect http request to https
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
RewriteRule ^ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

# Require password
AuthName "Beveiligd NVWA prototype"
AuthType Basic
AuthUserFile /home/sentinel/authentication/nvwa.htpasswords
require valid-user

If not present yet, create an empty password file:

touch /home/sentinel/authentication/nvwa.htpasswords

And add each user with:

htpasswd /home/sentinel/authentication/nvwa.htpasswords USERNAME

(Instead of using touch, it is also possible to add -c to the first call of htpasswd

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