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NewsBlur is a personal news reader that brings people together to talk about the world. A new sound of an old instrument.

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Merge pull request #520 from manderson23/master

Android: Add save/unsave to story context menu
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Octocat-spinner-32 api fixing merge conflict
Octocat-spinner-32 apps Fixing two bugs: dont clear mapping/index when re-indexing at offset.…
Octocat-spinner-32 clients Merge pull request #520 from manderson23/master
Octocat-spinner-32 config Adding six requirement.
Octocat-spinner-32 documents Initial stab at spec for Android app. Feel free to comment on expecte…
Octocat-spinner-32 logs Geometrically decaying feed fetches on known good feeds that have gon…
Octocat-spinner-32 media Fixing sideoptions container's height and width.
Octocat-spinner-32 node Fixing broken mark unread after marking feed read.
Octocat-spinner-32 r Adding experimental recommendations in R.
Octocat-spinner-32 templates Delaying loading of heavy custom fonts.
Octocat-spinner-32 utils Allowing feeds to fail fetch.
Octocat-spinner-32 vendor Swapping out haystack for pyes.
Octocat-spinner-32 .gitignore Styling Android story detail.
Octocat-spinner-32 LICENSE.md fixing merge conflict
Octocat-spinner-32 README.md Adding downtime handling to readme.
Octocat-spinner-32 __init__.py Initial
Octocat-spinner-32 assets.yml Forcing yui as the css compressor (in the case of jammit 0.6.6).
Octocat-spinner-32 fabfile.py Fixing two bugs: dont clear mapping/index when re-indexing at offset.…
Octocat-spinner-32 local_settings.py.template Moving from specific db hosts to db roles, editable through /etc/hosts.
Octocat-spinner-32 manage.py Upgrading django 1.5 manage.py.
Octocat-spinner-32 requirements.txt Cleanup in root dir.
Octocat-spinner-32 settings.py Swapping out haystack for pyes.
Octocat-spinner-32 sitecustomize.py Sitecustomize.py turns your local NewsBlur installation into a UTF-8 …
Octocat-spinner-32 urls.py Adding static signup page.
README.md

NewsBlur

Features

  1. Shows the original site (you have to see it to believe it).
  2. Hides stories you don't want to read based on tags, keywords, authors, etc.
  3. Highlights stories you want to read, based on the same criteria.

Technologies

Server-side

  • Django: Web framework written in Python, used to serve all pages.
  • Celery & RabbitMQ: Asynchronous queueing server, used to fetch and parse RSS feeds.
  • MongoDB, Pymongo, & Mongoengine: Non-relational database, used to store stories, read stories, feed/page fetch histories, and proxied sites.
  • PostgreSQL: Relational database, used to store feeds, subscriptions, and user accounts.

Client-side and design

  • jQuery: Cross-browser compliant JavaScript code. IE works without effort.
  • Underscore.js: Functional programming for JavaScript. Indispensible.
  • Miscellaneous jQuery Plugins: Everything from resizable layouts, to progress bars, sortables, date handling, colors, corners, JSON, animations. See the complete list.

Installation Instructions

Prerequisites

Relational Database (MySQL, PostgreSQL)

You will want to have your database set up before you begin installation. Fabric can install both PostgreSQL and MongoDB for you, but only on Ubuntu. Mac OS X users will want to have MySQL or PostgreSQL already installed. You can download MySQL or download PostgreSQL. Additionally, if running as a development machine on Mac OS X, I would recommend using MySQL with Sequel Pro as a GUI.

If you are installing MySQL, you will also need the MySQLDB python library:

sudo easy_install mysql-python

Fabric

Both Mac OS X and Linux require Fabric to be installed. Many common tasks, such as installing dependencies, deploying servers, migrations, and configurations are in fabfile.py.

sudo easy_install fabric

On recent installations of Mac OS X using XCode 4, you may run into issues around the ppc architecture. To fix this, simply run:

sudo ln -s /Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Developer/usr/libexec/gcc/darwin/ppc \
/Developer/usr/libexec/gcc/darwin
sudo ln -s /Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Developer/usr/libexec/gcc/darwin/ppc \
/usr/libexec/gcc/darwin

Sym-linking the ppc architecture comes from this StackOverflow answer on "assembler for architecture ppc not installed on Mac OS".

MongoDB

On top of MySQL/PostgreSQL, NewsBlur uses MongoDB to store non-relational data. You will want to download MongoDB. If you are on Ubuntu, the setup_mongo Fabric command will automatically do this for you, but Mac OS X needs to have it installed manually.

Numpy and Scipy

Not the easiest to get installed. If you are running Mac OS X, you have a few options:

Other assorted packages

From inside the repository, run:

pip install -r requirements.txt

Configure paths

In fabfile.py there are two paths that need to be configured.

  • env.paths.NEWSBLUR is the relative path to the NewsBlur repository.
  • env.paths.VENDOR is the relative path to where all downloaded code should go.

In local_settings.py there are a few paths that need to be configured. Configure these after the installation below.

Installing on Mac OS X

  1. Using Mac OS X as a development environment, you can run all three servers (app, db, task) on the same system. You should have Fabric installed to run the fabfile.py. You should also have MySQL/PostgreSQL and MongoDB already installed.

    fab -R local setup_python
    fab -R local setup_imaging
    fab -R local setup_mongoengine
    fab -R local setup_forked_mongoengine
    fab -R local setup_repo_local_settings
    fab -R local compress_assets
    

    If any of the packages fail to install (lxml, for instance), look through fabfile.py and check if there is a function that can be used to circumvent broken easy_install processes. For example, lxml may need libxslt and libxml2 to be installed. This is automated with the following Fabric command:

    fab -R local setup_libxml_code
    
  2. Configure MySQL/PostgreSQL by adding in a newsblur user and a newsblur database. Here's an example for MySQL:

    mysql_install_db --verbose --user=`whoami` --basedir="$(brew --prefix mysql)" --datadir=/path/to/var/mysql --tmpdir=/tmp
    mysql.server start
    mysql -u root
    > CREATE USER 'newsblur'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY '';
    > GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO 'newsblur'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;
    > CREATE DATABASE newsblur;
    > exit
    

    Then load up the database with empty NewsBlur tables and bootstrap the database:

    ./manage.py syncdb --all
    ./manage.py migrate --fake
    ./manage.py migrate
    ./manage.py loaddata config/fixtures/bootstrap.json
    

    If you don't create a user during syncdb, the bootstrap.json file will create a newsblur user with no password.

  3. Start mongodb (if not already running):

    mongod run
    
  4. Run the development server. At this point, all dependencies should be installed and no additional configuration is needed. If you find that something is not working at this point, please email the resulting output to Samuel Clay at samuel@newsblur.com.

    ./manage.py runserver
    
  5. Navigate to:

     http://localhost:8000/ 
    

    Create an account. At the end of the account creation process, you will be redirected to https://localhost/profile/stripe_form. Hit the back button a few times, and you will be inside the app.

Installing on Linux / Ubuntu

If you are on Ubuntu, you can simply use Fabric to install NewsBlur and its many components. NewsBlur is designed to run on three separate servers: an app server, a db server, and assorted task servers. To install everything on a single machine, read through fabfile.py and setup all three servers without repeating the setup_common steps.

Finishing Installation

You must perform a few tasks to tie all of the various systems together.

  1. First, copy local_settings.py and fill in your OAuth keys, S3 keys, database names (if not newsblur), task server/broker address (RabbitMQ), and paths:

    cp local_settings.py.template local_settings.py
    

    Edit local_settings.py to change any keys that you have.

  2. Create the newsblur database in MySQL/PostgreSQL

    MySQL/PostgreSQL

    ./manage.py syncdb
    

App server

fab -R local setup_app

Database server

fab -R local setup_db

Task server

fab -R local setup_task

Keeping NewsBlur Running

These commands keep NewsBlur fresh and updated. While on a development server, these commands do not need to be run more than once. However, you will probably want to run the refresh_feeds command regularly so you have new stories to test with and read.

Fetching feeds

If you just want to fetch feeds once, you can use the refresh_feeds management command:

./manage.py refresh_feeds --force

You can also fetch the feeds for a specific user:

./manage.py refresh_feeds --user=newsblur --force

Feedback

To populate the feedback table on the homepage, use the collect_feedback management command every few minutes:

./manage.py collect_feedback

Statistics

To populate the statistics graphs on the homepage, use the collect_stats management command every few minutes:

./manage.py collect_stats

Running unit and integration tests

NewsBlur comes complete with a test suite that tests the functionality of the rss_feeds, reader, and feed importer. To run the test suite:

./manage.py test --settings=utils.test-settings

In Case of Downtime

You got the downtime message either through email or SMS. This is the order of operations for determining what's wrong.

  1. Ensure you have secrets-newsblur/configs/hosts installed in your /etc/hosts so server hostnames work.

  2. Check www.newsblur.com to confirm it's down.

    If you don't get a 502 page, then NewsBlur isn't even reachable and you just need to contact the hosting provider and yell at them.

  3. Check Sentry and see if the answer is at the top of the list.

    This will show if a database (redis, mongo, postgres) can't be found.

  4. Check the various databases:

    a. If Redis server (db_redis, db_redis_story, db_redis_pubsub) can't connect, redis is probably down.

    SSH into the offending server (or just check both the `db_redis` and `db_redis_story` servers) and
    check if `redis` is running. You can often `tail -f -n 100 /var/log/redis.log` to find out if
    background saving was being SIG(TERM|INT)'ed. When redis goes down, it's always because it's
    consuming too much memory. That shouldn't happen, so check the [munin
    graphs](http://db_redis/munin/).
    
    Boot it with `sudo /etc/init.d/redis start`.
    

    b. If mongo (db_mongo) can't connect, mongo is probably down.

    This is rare and usually signifies hardware failure. SSH into `db_mongo` and check logs with `tail
    -f -n 100 /var/log/mongodb/mongodb.log`. Start mongo with `sudo /etc/init.d/mongodb start` then
    promote the next largest mongodb server. You want to then promote one of the secondaries to
    primary, kill the offending primary machine, and rebuild it (preferably at a higher size). I
    recommend waiting a day to rebuild it so that you get a different machine. Don't forget to lodge a
    support ticket with the hosting provider so they know to check the machine.
    
    If it's the db_mongo_analytics machine, there is no backup nor secondaries of the data (because
    it's ephemeral and used for, you guessed it, analytics). You can easily provision a new mongodb
    server and point to that machine.
    

    c. If postgresql (db_pgsql) can't connect, postgres is probably down.

    This is the rarest of the rare and has in fact never happened. Machine failure. If you can salvage
    the db data, move it to another machine. Worst case you have nightly backups in S3. The fabfile.py
    has commands to assist in restoring from backup (the backup file just needs to be local).
    
  5. Point to a new/different machine

    a. Confirm the IP address of the new machine with fab list_do.

    b. Change secrets-newsbur/config/hosts to reflect the new machine.

    c. Copy the new hosts file to all machines with:

       fab all setup_hosts
       fab ec2task setup_hosts
    

    d. Changes should be instant, but you can also bounce every machine with:

       fab web deploy:fast=True # fast=True just kill -9's processes.
       fab task celery
       fab ec2task celery
    

    e. Monitor tlnb.py and tlnbt.py for lots of reading and feed fetching.

Author

License

NewsBlur is licensed under the MIT License. (See LICENSE)

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