Web Asset Server
This is a sample attachment server implementation for Specify. This implementation is targetted at Ubuntu flavors, but will work with minor modifications on other Linux systems. It is not expected to work without extensive adaptation on Windows systems.
The Specify Collections Consortium is funded by its member institutions. The Consortium web site is: http://www.specifysoftware.org
Web Asset Server Copyright © 2021 Specify Collections Consortium. Specify comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY. This is free software licensed under GNU General Public License 2 (GPL2).
Specify Collections Consortium Biodiversity Institute University of Kansas 1345 Jayhawk Blvd. Lawrence, KS 66045 USA
Table of Contents
- Web Asset Server
- Specify Settings
- Compatibility with older versions of Python
Installing system dependencies
The dependencies are:
- Python 3.6 is known to work. (2.6 and 2.7 is available with modifications).
- ExifRead for EXIF metadata.
- sh the Python shell command utility.
- bottlepy the Python web micro-framework.
- ImageMagick for thumbnailing.
- Ghostscript for PDF thumbnailing.
- Paste Python web server.
To install dependencies the following commands work on Ubuntu:
sudo apt-get -y install --no-install-recommends \ python-pip \ imagemagick \ ghostscript sudo pip install -r requirements.txt
Cloning Web Asset Server source repository
Clone this repository.
git clone git://github.com/specify/web-asset-server.git
Adjust the settings in the
settings.py in your working directory. Then
run the server with the following command:
In my experience, it has been easiest to deploy using the Python Paste server.
settings.py set the value
SERVER = 'paste'.
To run the server on a privileged port, e.g. 80, the utility authbind is recommended.
sudo apt-get install authbind
Assuming you are logged in as the user that will be used to run the server process, the following commands will tell authbind to allow port 80 to be used:
touch 80 chmod u+x 80 sudo mv 80 /etc/authbind/byport
An upstart script or systemd unit file can be created to make sure the web asset server is started automatically.
It is important that the working directory is set to the path containing
so that bottle.py can find the template files. See “TEMPLATE NOT FOUND” IN MOD_WSGI/MOD_PYTHON.
Note: Some users have reported that
authbind must be provided with the
If the asset server is failing to start due to permission problems, this may be a solution.
Create the file
/etc/init/web-asset-server.conf with the following
contents, adjusting the
setuid user and directories as appropriate:
description "Specify Web Asset Server" author "Ben Anhalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>" start on runlevel  stop on runlevel  setuid anhalt chdir /home/anhalt/web-asset-server exec /usr/bin/authbind /usr/bin/python /home/anhalt/web-asset-server/server.py respawn
Then reload the init config files and start the server:
sudo initctl reload-configuration sudo start web-asset-server
By default, the server's logs go to standard output which upstart will redirect
Create the file
/etc/systemd/system/web-asset-server.conf with the following
contents, adjusting the usernames and paths as appropriate:
[Unit] Description=Specify Web Asset Server Wants=network.target [Service] User=specify WorkingDirectory=/home/specify/web-asset-server ExecStart=/usr/bin/authbind /usr/bin/python /home/specify/web-asset-server/server.py
Tell Systemd to reload its config with
sudo systemctl daemon-reload
The easiest way to add HTTPS support, which is necessary to use the asset server with a Specify 7 server that is using HTTPS, is to place the asset server behind a reverse proxy such as Nginx. This also makes it possible to forego authbind and run the asset server on an unprivileged port. The proxy must be configured to rewrite the
web_asset_store.xml resource to adjust the links therein. An example configuration can be found in this gist.
You will generally want to add the asset server settings to the global Specify preferences so that all of the Specify clients obtain the same configuration.
The easiest way to do this is to open the database in Specify and navigate to the About option in the help menu. In the resulting dialog double-click on the division name under System Information on the right hand side. This will open a properties editor for the global preferences. You will need to set four properties to configure access to the asset server:
##with the key from the following location:
- obtain from asset server
settings.pyfile if you have a local installation of 7
- obtain from
docker-compose.ymlfile if you use a Docker deployment
- obtain from asset server
If these properties do not already exist, they can be added using the Add Property button.
Compatibility with older versions of Python