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Setting Up a Docker Development Environment for OpenDSA


Docker is designed to run on multiple platforms, including Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, RedHat and Fedora. In this document we describe how to configure and run an OpenDSA project virtual development environment through Docker.

Installation Steps:

  1. Install Docker
  2. Install Make (Make can be found in the default package manager on Linux, in Brew on Mac, and here for Windows. For a Windows installation, you should put make in Program Files, NOT Program Files (x86). Then, edit your environment variable PATH to add: C:/Program Files/GnuWin32/bin. If you don’t know how to edit an environment variable on Windows, google for “windows set environment variable”.)
  3. Clone this repository
  4. $ cd OpenDSA-DevStack
  5. $ make setup or $ ./ (first time only)
  • If you are Windows User: Windows paths are case insensitive, make sure you have both repository cloned and named exactly opendsa-lti and opendsa (remove any spaces or return character).
  1. $ make up or $ docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml up

  2. Once you see RAILS_ENV=development bundle exec thin start --ssl --ssl-key-file server.key --ssl-cert-file server.crt -p 80 in the terminal (this may take a few minutes)

  3. $ make database or $ ./ (first time only and in another terminal) then, the app will be available at:

Stop the Containers:

After you finish your work, you need to bring down the Docker containers.

  1. If you entered the container, exit the terminal by typing exit
  2. Change directory to OpenDSA-DevStack
  3. $ make down or $ docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml down

Re-run Development Servers:

If you have taken down the containers using $ make down you can restart them by running $ make up again or $ make restart.

Reprovision The Containers:

If anything went wrong, you want to reset your database, or just want to reset the app for any reason, follow these steps.

  1. Change directory to OpenDSA-DevStack
  2. $ git pull
  3. $ make nuke or $ docker-compose down -v
  4. $ make up

Container sudo password:

When running commands in the container, there is not sudo password, (in case you need to execute any commands that require sudo).

Development Workflow:

The provisioning script will clone the OpenDSA and OpenDSA-LTI repositories inside the OpenDSA-DevStack directory. The OpenDSA-DevStack directory is shared between your host machine and the Docker containers, so you can do your development to any of these repositories on your host machine using your preferred tools or IDEs (from "outside" the container environment). All changes that you make will take effect immediately, and you can test them through the virtual machine server URLs provided earlier. You can commit and push your changes from your host machine. However, if you want to compile books in OpenDSA, you have to do that from within the container. Do so as follows:

  1. Open a new terminal on your host machine
  2. $ cd OpenDSA-DevStack
  3. $ make ssh or $ docker-compose exec opendsa-lti bash (you don't need to do make up if the container is already up and running)
  4. $ cd /opendsa
  5. make <<CONFIG_FILE_NAME>>

Keep OpenDSA-DevStack up to date:

Other developers might make changes to any of the repositories cloned by the OpenDSA-DevStack. To keep your local version up to date with the latest version do the following:

  1. Open a new terminal
  2. Change directory to OpenDSA-DevStack
  3. $ make update or $ ./

Common Errors

Make sure that you have started Docker before running of the Makefile commands.

If you are on Windows, you may run into issues with line endings. If you do, simply open Git Bash and run $ dos2unix filename to fix them. This will most likely happen on a script file.

If you are on Windows, you may run into issues with any docker exec commands (such as make ssh). To solve them, you may have to start any such command with winpty.

opendsa Database Test Data

The initial database population is defined by lib/tasks/sample_data.rake. It uses the factories defined in spec/factories/* to generate entities. If you add new model classes and want to generate test data in the database, please add to the sample_data.rake file so that this population will happen automatically for everyone. The sample_data.rake contains only "sample/try out" data for use during development, and it won't appear on the production server. Initial database contents provided for all new installs, including the production server, is described in db/seeds.rb instead.

  • opendsa database includes the following admin account:

  • opendsa database also includes the following accounts:

    It also includes the following other objects:

    • Five terms (Spring, Summer I, Summer II, Fall, and Winter 2016),
    • one organization (VT)
    • one course (CS 1114)
    • two offerings of 1114 (one each term)
      • one course offering is set up with the admin and instructor as instructors, and all other sample accounts as students

Generate Canvas course using OpenDSA web interface.

  1. Make sure OpenDSA-DevStack is up to date by following the instructions here.
  2. After you are done you should have OpenDSA-LTI server running. Go to https://localhost:8443 to make sure your application is up and running.
  3. Follow the instructions on the instructor's guide page to set up your Canvas course. Note: skip the first step in this guide since you can use the admin account (, pass: adminadmin) to cerate the course.

OLD Production deployment workflow

If you are responsible for maintaining an OpenDSA-LTI production server, follow the instructions in this section to perform deployment to the production server.

Deployment to the production server is initiated from the development environment. It starts with changes you make to OpenDSA-LTI or OpenDSA repositories in OpenDSA-DevStack. First, test these changes locally using OpenDSA-DevStack development servers. Second, commit and push any OpenDSA-LTI and OpenDSA changes. Finally, initiate the production deployment command from within OpenDSA-DevStack. It is important to push your changes before the deployment. Every time you deploy your code, Capistrano will clone the latest version of OpenDSA-LTI, then perform the deployment tasks. One of the tasks gets the latest version of OpenDSA from GitHub as well.

The following steps need to be done only once to generate a pair of authentication keys. Note: Do not enter a passphrase, and replace prod_server with your domain name. Some installations use both a staging and a production server. If yours has both, then you will need to do the cat line for each one.

      Change directory to OpenDSA-DevStack
      $ vagrant up
      $ vagrant ssh
      $ ssh-keygen -t rsa
      $ cat .ssh/ | ssh deploy@prod_server 'cat >> .ssh/authorized_keys'

      Enter deploy user password for the last time

Here are the steps that you need to follow every time you want to perform a production deployment:

      Change directory to OpenDSA-DevStack
      $ vagrant up
      $ vagrant ssh
      $ cd /vagrant/OpenDSA-LTI
      $ git pull any new code
      $ commit and push any changes
      Execute the following command to deploy to the staging server:
      $ bundle exec cap staging deploy
      Execute the following command to deploy to the production server:
      $ bundle exec cap production deploy
      $ Please enter a branch (<current_branch>): <Branch to deploy. Leave blank to deploy current_branch>

Connect to Docker Container Database:

During development, it is convenient to connect to the opendsa database from your host machine using MySQL Workbench. Once you installed MySQL Workbench create a new connection to Vagrant VM Database using the following setup:

  • Connection Name: OpenDSA-Devstack
  • Connection Method: Standard TCP/IP
  • MySQL Hostname:
  • MySQL Server Port: 3307
  • Username: root
  • Password: opendsa

Getting Chrome to accept Self Signed SSL for Local Development with Docker

  • On the page with the untrusted certificate (https:// is crossed out in red), click the lock > Certificate Information.
  • Click the Details tab > Export. Choose PKCS #7, single certificate as the file format.
  • Then follow my original instructions to get to the Manage Certificates page. Click the `Authorities tab > Import and choose the file to which you exported the certificate.
  • If prompted certification store, choose Trusted Root Certificate Authorities
  • Check all boxes and click OK. Restart Chrome.


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