Installation Guide

Joseph Huckaby edited this page May 4, 2015 · 6 revisions

Installation Guide

Effect Server is designed to run on any UNIX variant, utilizing common open source software such as Apache, mod_perl and ImageMagick. It has been fully tested on 32-bit Fedora version 8.

Hardware Requirements

The application server should have at least 2 GB of RAM (4 GB recommended), and 100 GB of HD space. For live data storage, a RAID disk array is recommended, or equivalent (example: Amazon Elastic Block Store on an EC2 instance).

Prerequisite Packages

Please install the following prerequisite packages, which should be available in your standard OS distribution or package manager:

  • zlib-devel
  • libxml2-devel
  • libgpg-error-devel
  • libgcrypt-devel
  • libxslt-devel
  • expat-devel
  • db4-devel
  • e2fsprogs-devel
  • krb5-devel
  • openssl-devel
  • aspell-devel
  • rpm-build
  • gcc
  • screen
  • sendmail
  • gcc-c++
  • bzip2-devel
  • freetype-devel
  • libpng-devel
  • libtiff-devel
  • libjpeg
  • libjpeg-devel
  • libstdc++-devel
  • curl
  • curl-devel
  • libidn-devel
  • krb5-devel
  • e2fsprogs-devel
  • libgcrypt-devel
  • libgpg-error-devel

Example installation commands using Fedora's "yum" package installer:

	yum install zlib-devel
	yum install libxml2-devel
	yum install libgpg-error-devel
	yum install libgcrypt-devel
	yum install libxslt-devel
	yum install expat-devel
	yum install db4-devel
	yum install e2fsprogs-devel
	yum install krb5-devel
	yum install openssl-devel
	yum install aspell-devel
	yum install rpm-build
	yum install gcc
	yum install screen
	yum install sendmail
	yum install "gcc-c++"
	yum install bzip2-devel
	yum install freetype-devel
	yum install libpng-devel
	yum install libtiff-devel
	yum install libjpeg
	yum install libjpeg-devel
	yum install libstdc++-devel
	yum install curl
	yum install curl-devel
	yum install libidn-devel
	yum install krb5-devel
	yum install e2fsprogs-devel
	yum install libgcrypt-devel
	yum install libgpg-error-devel

Mount Setup

You can setup your drive mounts however you like, but Effect Games Server is designed to run with all the code, configuration and web files, in a root directory named /effect. While this can be changed, it would take a lot of manual code editing. This directory requires about 300 MB, so make sure you partition your drive accordingly, or allocate enough space on the root mount. A symbolic link should also work fine.

Data and logs can live anywhere you like, and are easily configurable (see Configuration below).

Software Installation


While you can use the built-in OS Perl, I prefer to compile my own, so I have complete control over the compile options. Effect Server has been tested with Perl 5.8.9, but any recent version should work fine. Here are my installation commands:

	wget ""
	tar zxf perl-5.8.9.tar.gz
	cd perl-5.8.9
	rm -f
	sh Configure
	make test
	make install

During the configuration, Perl asks you where it should be installed. I have all my 3rd party software installed under an /effect root mount. So the final path to the Perl binary would be /effect/perl/bin/perl.

Perl asks a lot of questions during the installation, and I did not write down all my answers (sorry). However, the main things to remember are:

  • Use POSIX
  • Use Perl's malloc wrapper
  • Use fast stdio
  • Use PerlIO
  • Include LARGEFILE support
  • No threading
  • No 64-bit math
  • No multiplicity
  • Build a shared (for dynamic linking to mod_perl)

All the other "recommended" answers should be correct. However, if you want to use my and files, here they are:

After compilation and installation completes, I like to "replace" the built-in OS Perl with my version, using these commands:

	mv /usr/bin/perl /usr/bin/perl.old
	ln -s /effect/perl/bin/perl /usr/bin/perl

A "safer" way to do this would be to manipulate your PATH environment variable, so /effect/perl/bin is included, but listed before /usr/bin/.

Perl Modules

Using CPAN, please install the following 3rd party Perl modules:

  • LWP::UserAgent
  • Archive::Zip
  • Archive::Tar
  • Class::Loader
  • Digest::SHA
  • Digest::SHA1
  • Math::Pari
  • Devel::Symdump
  • Module::Build
  • MIME::Lite
  • Test::Simple
  • Text::Wrap
  • CGI
  • Devel::CoreStack
  • Cwd
  • IO::Socket::INET
  • Test::Harness
  • Time::HiRes
  • Unicode::String
  • Date::Parse
  • MIME::Parser
  • Crypt::SSLeay
  • ExtUtils::XSBuilder
  • IO::Socket::SSL
  • File::lockf
  • IPC::ShareLite
  • Syntax::Highlight::Engine::Kate
  • Text::Aspell
  • Net::Twitter::Lite
  • HTTP::Daemon
  • File::Flock

You can install these using the CPAN command-line installer like this:

	/effect/perl/bin/cpan LWP::UserAgent
	/effect/perl/bin/cpan Archive::Zip
	/effect/perl/bin/cpan Archive::Tar
	# ... and so on

The first time you use CPAN it will ask you which mirrors to use. It is HIGHLY recommended you select only http:// based mirrors (listed towards the end), as the FTP based ones are notoriously unreliable. The "gossamer-threads" mirror is a favorite of mine, and always seems to work.

You might have some trouble with the Math::Pari module (I always do). If so, here are manual compilation steps (not using CPAN) which always seem to work for me:

	wget ""
	wget ""
	tar zxf pari.tgz
	tar zxf Math-Pari-2.*.tar.gz
	cd Math-Pari-2.*
	MATH_PARI_DIR=`ls -1d ../pari-*`
	perl Makefile.PL paridir=../$MATH_PARI_DIR
	make install


ImageMagick is an excellent image manipulation library, but sometimes can be very difficult to install and get working, and the precompiled package install never seems to work correctly for me. These instructions are for ImageMagick 6.5.6-8, but you are welcome to try a newer version if you have issues getting this one to work (for example, with a newer Fedora than v8). Anyway, here are my compilation steps:

	wget ""
	tar zxf ImageMagick-6.5.6-8.tar.gz 
	cd ImageMagick-6.5.6-8
	ln -s /usr/include/freetype2/freetype /usr/include/freetype
	export CPPFLAGS="-I/usr/include/freetype2 -I/usr/local/include"
	export LDFLAGS="-L/usr/local/lib"
	mkdir -p /effect/fonts
	./configure --prefix=/effect/magick --enable-lzw --without-threads --without-magick-plus-plus --with-perl=/effect/perl/bin/perl --with-fontpath=/effect/fonts --without-x --with-quantum-depth=8 --enable-shared=yes --enable-static=no
	make install

Please take a close look at the output of the ./configure command, and make sure ImageMagick detects support for JPEGs and PNGs.

Finally, you have to add the ImageMagick shared library directory into your (for dynamic linking at runtime):

	echo "/effect/magick/lib" > /etc/

And reload the configuration so we can use it immediately without rebooting the server:

	/sbin/ldconfig -v

Here is a test to see if the PerlMagick module compiled and is working:

	/effect/perl/bin/perl -MImage::Magick -e ';'

Finally, please create this symlink. There is some old legacy code in Effect Server that expects ImageMagick's "convert" binary to live here (specifically, the code that handles uploading user avatars):

	mkdir -p /opt/local/bin
	ln -s /effect/magick/bin/convert /opt/local/bin/convert


Here are the instructions for installing Apache 2, which includes OpenSSL and mod_perl. Effect has only ever been used on the Apache prefork model (not the threaded model).

These instructions are specifically for Apache 2.2.14, mod_perl 2.0.4 and OpenSSL 0.9.8g. However, you should be able to swap out the archives with newer versions without issue.

	wget ""
	tar zxf openssl-0.9.8g.tar.gz
	cd openssl-0.9.8g
	./config --openssldir=/effect/openssl
	make test
	make install
	cd ..
	wget ""
	tar jxf httpd-2.2.14.tar.bz2
	cd httpd-2.2.14
	./configure --prefix=/effect/apache --with-mpm=prefork --with-ssl=/effect/openssl --with-perl=/effect/perl/bin/perl --enable-so --enable-expires --enable-headers --enable-mime-magic --enable-rewrite --enable-ssl --enable-mods-shared="all authn_file authn_default authz_host authz_groupfile authz_user authz_default auth_basic include filter log_config env setenvif mime status autoindex asis cgi negotiation dir actions userdir alias expires headers ssl rewrite"
	make install
	cd ..
	wget ""
	tar zxf mod_perl-2.0.4.tar.gz
	cd mod_perl-2.0.4
	perl Makefile.PL MP_AP_PREFIX=/effect/apache
	make install
	cd ..

Should you opt to install your own Apache, make sure it is compiled with shared library support, and the following modules are included:

  • mod_rewrite
  • mod_expires
  • mod_headers
  • mod_include
  • mod_env
  • mod_cgi
  • mod_perl

Apache's main configuration file is called "httpd.conf" and lives here: /effect/apache/conf/httpd.conf. The default file that ships with Apache is not what you want. Instead, consider starting from my version:

Then, you probably only have to reconfigure a few key directives, such as:

	<IfModule mpm_prefork_module>
	    StartServers          16
	    MinSpareServers       16
	    MaxSpareServers       16
	    MaxClients            16
	    MaxRequestsPerChild   500

The StartServers, MinSpareServers, MaxSpareServers and MaxClients should be configured based on the total available RAM in your machine. Apache child processes may take up to 50 MB each, depending on the modules you install. So choose carefully, and remember that you'll also have to run an Image Service Daemon (see below). You do not want any of the Apache processes to get swapped out to disk, believe me -- this invariably kills the server. So leave plenty of breathing room.

Unfortunately mod_perl always leaks memory, so please leave MaxRequestsPerChild somewhat low, around 500.

Also, the Effect Server software is setup to use user "www" for its Apache configuration. Let's create that user, and an associated group, now:

	/usr/sbin/groupadd www
	/usr/sbin/useradd -m -g www www

If you choose to use your own httpd.conf file, make sure you activate the mod_perl module:

LoadModule perl_module modules/

And also, make sure you include the /effect/conf/apache.conf file, which activates the engine at Apache startup:

Include /effect/conf/apache.conf

To start and stop Apache use these commands:

	/effect/apache/bin/apachectl start
	/effect/apache/bin/apachectl stop

Note that you will not actually be able to start Apache yet, as the Effect Server software is not installed (my httpd.conf file tries to include the Effect config file at the bottom).

MPG123 and OGG Encoder

Effect Server transcodes MP3s to OGG Vorbis format for compatibility with HTML5 Audio in Firefox 3.6. We use MPG123 to convert the MP3s to WAV files first, then "oggenc" to perform the OGG Vorbis encoding.

Here are the MPG123 installation instructions:

	wget ""
	tar jxf mpg123-1.10.0.tar.bz2
	cd mpg123-1.10.0
	make install
	cd ..

The OGG tools are even easier (if you have yum):

	yum install libvorbis libvorbis-devel vorbis-tools

This should provide the following binary executables at these specific locations on your server:

  • /usr/local/bin/mpg123
  • /usr/bin/oggenc

If not, please locate the binaries, and symlink them to these locations.

Effect Server

You should now be ready to install the main Effect Server package, which contains all the code, configuration files and web content. Here are the instructions:

	wget ""
	tar zxf jhuckaby-Effect-Games-*.tar.gz
	rm jhuckaby-Effect-Games-*.tar.gz
	mv jhuckaby-Effect-Games-* /effect
	ln -s /effect/htdocs /effect/apache/htdocs/effect

This should install all the files into the /effect root directory, and symlink the htdocs directory into the web server document root, so the proper files are accessible over HTTP.


The main Effect configuration file is in XML format, and is located here: /effect/conf/Effect.xml

Here are some key elements and their meanings. Please note this is not a complete list.


The level of debug logging in the /logs/effect/debug.log file. Higher numbers are more verbose, 5 being the highest.


The base directory for the Effect Server installation. Please note that changing this would require lots of other changes in various scripts and config files.


The base URI for Effect URLs. Please note that changing this would require lots of other changes in various scripts and config files.


This localhost URL is used for communicating with the Image Service Daemon, and should not be changed.


This e-mail address is used to send monitoring alerts and reports.


If you want to use Google Analytics on your site, paste your unique ID here. It will automatically be included on all Effect Games pages.


Various filesystem paths. Ideally these should not be changed.


These match incoming URLs and invoke special handlers in the Effect codebase. These should not be changed.


This element contains various settings for the data storage system.


This is the primary data directory. This should exist, and be writable by the web user "www".


This is the data cleanup directory, which is essentially a schedule for future deletes of expired data.


This element contains various settings for the client-side web application and JavaScript dependencies.


This element contains a simple list of menu items for the game project states (New, Alpha, etc.)


This element contains a list of menu items for the contact form.


This element contains a list of supported operating systems and browsers, for the help desk system.


This contains e-mail templates for the various e-mails that are sent out by the server (new accout, forgot password, etc.).


This contains a set of default privileges for new users.


This contains a set of XML element names that should never be sent to the client when requesting a user record.


This contains a list of preferences for users to select in the UI.


This contains the detault user XML template for creating new accounts.


This contains various settings for the RSS feed system.


This contains a list of all the stock avatar images.


This contains various regular expressions for identifying file types based on their content.


This contains nearly all the text strings used in the client-side web application.


This is the Effect Engine version that should be used by the Level Editor.


This contains a list of shortcuts for environment transforms, used to shorten URLs.


This contains all the environment transforms and their UI settings.

Data Storage Setup

For the data storage system (i.e. built-in XML-based database), please create the following directories, and set their owner and group accordingly:

	mkdir -p /data/effect/storage
	chown www:www /data/effect/storage
	mkdir -p /data/effect/cleanup
	chown www:www /data/effect/cleanup

Note that the /data directory will store all user accounts, game data, assets, blog articles, help desk tickets, and more. This needs lots of available space, and should be hosted on a fast RAID disk array or other redundant storage system. If you have this mounted at another location, feel free to use symlinks to point /data to the correct spot.


Effect Server logs to /logs/effect, and Apache logs to /logs/apache, so these directories should be created and be writable by anyone. Some files may be written by root, so I just chmod this directory to 777. As with the data instructions above, if you do not have a /logs filesystem mount and would prefer them to go elsewhere, please use a symlink.

	mkdir -p /logs/effect
	chmod 777 /logs/effect
	mkdir -p /logs/apache
	chmod 777 /logs/apache

All Effect logs (anything in /logs/effect/) are automatically rotated and archived hourly (see Log Archival below). Apache logs are not, but the default setup only includes Apache error logging at the "debug" level, and no access logging. This doesn't produce a very large log -- I clean it every few months or so on my servers. Feel free to further tune this in the httpd.conf file (LogLevel directive).

Initial Data Setup

Effect Server ships with a script that performs some initial data setup, generates all the documentation, and creates a default "admin" account (password: "admin"). Before running the script, take a look at its configuration file, which contains the setup for the Help Desk and Bug Tracker systems, including a primary administrator e-mail address to receive new help desk tickets and bug reports.

Initial Data Setup configuration file (XML format): /effect/conf/initial_data_setup.xml

When you are ready, here is the command to run (as root):


Image Service Daemon

The Effect Games Server software not only runs under Apache, but also has an Image Service Daemon which runs as a separate process (and child processes). This not only serves real-time requests for image transformations, but also executes an asynchronous job queue for tasks such as converting MP3s to OGG Vorbis (for HTML5 Audio in Firefox 3.6), and generating level preview images.

Before starting the daemon, take a quick look at its configuration file: /effect/conf/image_service.xml

The only element you should need to look at is MaxChildren. This is the number of child processes that will be forked to serve requests (similar to how Apache does it). The default is "4". Each child takes about 20 MB of RAM, but these can spike to a huge amount (100+ MB) temporarily for certain types of requests (like generating level map thumbnails). So please take into consideration the total RAM you have in your server, and the Apache children, before tuning this value. Always leave plenty of breathing room.

Note: The Image Service Daemon opens a TCP socket listener on port 6201, but this does not need public access. It is only for Apache children to make localhost connections. So for security, you can block incoming requests for port 6201 in your firewall, if desired.

Next, let's create the queue directory used by the daemon:

	mkdir -p /data/effect/queue
	chmod 777 /data/effect/queue

Finally, use these commands to start and stop the Image Service daemon:

	/effect/bin/ start
	/effect/bin/ stop

Feel free to add this to an init.d script for auto-starting on server reboots.


Effect Server performs hourly and daily maintenance on its log files and data storage system. These tasks are activated by the Unix cron system. Please place these two entries into root's crontab (you can just type "crontab -e" as root).

00 * * * * /effect/bin/ hourly

30 00 * * * /effect/bin/ daily

The maintenance script logs to /logs/effect/maint.log.

Log Archival

All Effect logs are archived hourly, and stored using this layout: /backup/effect/logs/CATEGORY/YYYY/MM/DD/HH.gz

The base directory can be customized in the /effect/conf/Effect.xml file, if desired. The CATEGORY is the log filename sans extension (i.e. "debug", "imageservice"), and the YYYY, MM, DD and HH are the year, month, day and hour of the log. The logs are all compressed using gzip.

Make sure you create the base directory, and make it writable by everyone:

	mkdir -p /backup/effect
	chmod 777 /backup/effect

Email Alerts

Effect Server scans its logs every hour for "catastrophic" errors (serious crashes that need attention), and those will be e-mailed to the ContactEmail address in the /effect/conf/Effect.xml file. This includes Apache child crashes, and Image Service daemon crashes. Both are extremely rare.


At this point you should be able to start all services (Apache and the Image Service Daemon):

	/effect/bin/ start
	/effect/apache/bin/apachectl start

Then, direct your browser to your server hostname, with a "/effect/" URI. Example:

If you want the webserver's root directory to activate Effect, use a RedirectMatch directive in your Apache httpd.conf file, like this:

	RedirectMatch ^/$

Remember, a default administrator user was created with username "admin", password "admin".

Have fun!

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