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DuckPAN and DuckDuckGo OpenSource Development Application
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The DuckDuckHack Testing Tool

DuckPAN is an application built to provide developers a testing environment for DuckDuckHack Instant Answers. It allows you to test instant answer triggers and preview their visual design and output.


Currently, DuckPAN has been developed on, and works well with Ubuntu. More specifically, we regularly build, test and run DuckPAN on Ubuntu 12.04. We have also successfully installed and run DuckPAN on older and newer Ubuntu releases, e.g. Ubuntu 10.04, 12.10, and 13.04.

Developers have also been successful running DuckPAN on other Linux distros (e.g. Arch, Debian), but we make no promises that it will work outside of Ubuntu.

As well, there have been reported issues with installing DuckPAN on Mac OSX and Windows, so we don't recommend you go down that path.

That being said, we are more than willing to help you debug any installation problems, so please come to us with your problems and we'll try to get your issues sorted out. If you'd like some help from our community, feel free to engage with them on the DuckDuckGo forum

Getting Started

The easiest way to get started with DuckPAN is to either:

  • Use our DuckDuckHack development virtual machine image (see below); or
  • Use the Vagrant virtual environment to run DuckDuckHack (see below); or
  • Download and install Ubuntu yourself; or
  • Download and install a different Linux distro (but as mentioned above, you may run into issues).

If you're going to use our virtual machine please continue reading. If not, go setup your OS and continue with the DuckPAN installation instructions below.

DuckDuckHack Development Virtual Machine

The purpose of our DuckDuckHack VM is to provide a sandbox for DuckDuckGo Instant Answer development that is quick to set up and start working with.

DDH VM Breakdown

  • Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
  • Perl 5.16.3 (managed by Perlbrew)
  • build-essential (for make, gcc, cc, etc)
  • cpanminus (managed by Perlbrew)
  • App::DuckPAN
  • XFCE Window Manager
  • SublimeText, vim, emacs
  • Firefox (Configured via
  • Platform specific virtualization guest tools (optimizes hardware emulation)

For VirtualBox hosts

MD5: 1734373cbecc5820bb7d18406eb42854

For VMWare hosts

MD5: 95ad9acfacadb4b0cb0cf23ffaa3516e


  • Docker support
  • Public AMI for use on EC2

Using the Virtual Machine

To use the Virtual Machine, you will need to download and install VirtualBox, VMWare Workstation or VMWare Player, depending on your current OS.

VirtualBox (free)

Supports: Windows, OSX, Linux

Setup Instructions
  1. Download the rar and verify the checksum--decompress: This archive contains the VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk) and OVF (Open Virtualization Format) files.

  2. Open VirtualBox, click "File" and then click "Import Appliance"

  3. Click "Open appliance..." and select the DuckDuckHack virtual appliance -- click "Next"

  4. Click "Import"

VMWare Player (free)

Supports: Windows, Linux

Setup Instructions

1.Download the rar and verify the checksum--decompress: This contains the VMDK (Virtual Machine Disk) and OVF (Open Virtualization Format) files.

2.Open VMWare Player, and click "Open a Virtual Machine"

3.Choose a storage path for the Virtual Machine -- click "Import"

Happy Hacking!

Once you have installed the virtual machine you should be able to startup the VM and login with the following credentials:

  • username : dax
  • password : duckduckhack

The DuckPAN client has already been installed for you. You can now clone the instant answer repos and start developing/testing.

Vagrant Virtual Environment

The Vagrant-based DuckDuckHack virtual environment provides a similar sandbox to the DuckDuckHack VM, but rather than downloading a prebuilt VM, Vagrant creates an environment for you based on the defined configuration. Vagrant is an awesome tool for building development environments. One command - vagrant up - gets you a complete working environment in minutes. Something go wrong with the environment? No messing around with snapshots. Tear the VM down and build a fresh environment. The DuckDuckHack Vagrant environment uses Chef cookbooks and the DuckPAN installer script, so configuration is transparent and easily shared.

Through the Vagrant configuration, you can easily switch back and forth between a headless-mode and the traditional VirtualBox interface. The configuration defaults to headless.

Setup Instructions
  1. Install: Vagrant and Bundler

  2. Clone the duckpan-vagrant repo, which contains the Vagrantfile and Chef cookbooks you'll need

  3. Run bundle install to install Berkshelf, a Chef cookbook manager.

  4. Run vagrant plugin install vagrant-berkshelf to hook Berkshelf into Vagrant.

  5. Review the CUSTOM_CONFIG settings at the top of Vagrantfile. You will want to customize the value of the synced directory to point to your local directory containing the DuckDuckGo code you wish to test. By default, Vagrant will load a VirtualBox Precise64 machine image. If you change this, Ubuntu is recommended.

  6. Run vagrant up

The box takes some time to stand up as the duckpan-install script runs. Refer to the duckpan-vagrant readme for more info.

Once the environment has been built, the DuckPAN client is installed and ready to go. You can now clone the instant answer repos and start developing/testing.

If you run into any issues, please file an issue in the duckpan-vagrant issue page.

Quick Overview of key Vagrant CLI commands

There are a couple of key Vagrant commands that you'll use to manage your environment.

$ vagrant

up       - Build environment from Vagrantfile or resume a previously halted environment.
ssh      - Connect to your running VM via SSH.
suspend  - Pause the VM, storing its current state to disk.
resume   - Bring a suspended VM back to life.
reload   - The equivalent of running a halt followed by an up.  Use this when you make changes to Vagrantfile.
halt     - Shut down the VM. Tries to gracefully shutdown first; if that fails, it will forcefully shut the VM down.
destroy  - Stop the currently running VM and blow everything away.

Run these commands from the directory containing your Vagrantfile.

For more information, please see the (excellent) Vagrant docs.

Installing DuckPAN

**Note: You don't need to install DuckPAN if you're using our DuckDuckHack virtual machine or the Vagrant virtual environment. It's already installed for you!

To install DuckPan, open your terminal and run:

curl | perl

This script will setup local::lib, which is a way to install Perl modules without changing your base Perl installation. If you already use local::lib or perlbrew, don't worry, this script will intelligently use what you already have.

If you didn't have a local::lib before running the install script, you will need to run the script twice. It should tell you when like this:

please now re-login to your user account and run it again!

If everything works, you should see this at the end:

EVERYTHING OK! You can now go hacking! :)

Note that with local::lib now installed, you can easily install Perl modules with cpanm.

cpanm App::DuckPAN
App::DuckPAN is up to date.

Dealing With Installation Issues

If during the course of your DuckPAN install you run into errors, don't panic, there are a few things you can try.

First, try running the install command again (curl | perl), this often solves issues related to any dependencies.

If that doesn't work, you should investigate the build.log and see what's wrong. It might be a depencency issue which you can resolve by manually installing whichever dependency is missing via cpanm.

If it still won't install with cpanm try adding --notest to the cpanm command:

cpanm Test::More --notest

If that still doesn't work, you can also try using --force:

cpanm Test::More --force

If this still doesn't work, please create a GitHub Issue in the DuckPAN Repo here. Be sure to paste the contents of your build.log and also let us know the details of your OS ($ uname -a is great). Once you've made the issue, we'll work with you to try and solve any problems you're having.

Using DuckPAN

Install Commands

duckpan installdeps

Install all requirements of the specific DuckDuckHack project (if possible), like zeroclickinfo-spice, zeroclickinfo-goodie, duckduckgo or community-platform

duckpan check

Check if you fulfill all requirements for the development environment (this is run automatically during setup)

Plugin Testing

duckpan query

Test goodies and spice triggers interactively on the command line

duckpan server

Test spice plugins on a local web server (for design/layout purposes)

Advanced Features

duckpan env

View env commands and also shows the env variables currently stored in ~/.duckpan/env.ini

duckpan env <name> <value>

Add an environment variable that duckpan will remember. Useful for spice API keys. Variables are stored in ~/.duckpan/env.ini

duckpan env <name>

Retrieve the matching key for a given env variable.

duckpan env rm <name>

Remove an environment variable from duckpan

duckpan release

Release the project of the current directory to DuckPAN

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