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README.md

JOBE

Version: 1.6.0, 28 January 2019

Author: Richard Lobb, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Contributors: Tim Hunt, Fedor Lyanguzov, Kai-Cheung Leung

Introduction

Jobe (short for Job Engine) is a server that supports running of small compile-and-run jobs in a variety of programming languages. It was developed as a remote sandbox for use by CodeRunner, a Moodle question-type plugin that asks students to write code to some relatively simple specification. However, Jobe servers could be useful in a variety of other contexts, particularly in education.

A job specifies a programming language, the source code, the standard input to the run and an optional list of additional files. Jobe compiles the source code (if compilation is appropriate in the specified language) and runs it with the given input data. It returns a run_result object containing various status information plus the output and error output from the run.

The interface is via a RESTful API, that is documented here.

The languages C, C++, Python3, Python2, Octave, Java, Pascal and PHP are all built-in. Other languages can be added fairly easily although if using Jobe from CodeRunner it is usually even easier to write a Python-based question type that scripts the execution of the required language. See the CodeRunner documentation for an example.

The Computer Science quiz server at the University of Canterbury switched to exclusive use of the Jobe sandbox in early July 2014. Since then it has run many hundreds of thousands of Python3, C, Java and Octave jobs unattended with only a few minor bug fixes and security refinements.

Implementation status

The current version of Jobe (Version 1.6, January 2019) implements a subset of the originally documented API, sufficient for use by CodeRunner. It has been used for many years at the University of Canterbury for several years, running many millions of submissions. Jobe is also used by over 600 other CodeRunner sites around the world. It can be considered stable and secure, though it should be run only on a separate appropriately-firewalled server.

With reference to the original API spec, onnly immediate-mode runs are supported, with run results being returned with the response to the POST of the run requests. Run results are not retained by the server (unless run_spec.debug is true; see the API), so get_run_status always returns 404 not found.

File PUTs are supported but not POSTs. When used by CodeRunner, file IDs are MD5 checksums of the file contents.

Since version 1.6, the Jobe server cleans the file cache whenever available disk space drops below 5% of the disk size. It simply deletes all files that haven't been used for 2 days or more, so the server must have enough free disk space to stay below 95% full for at least two whole days of running. For CodeRunner clients this should not be a problem unless question authors enable large classes of students to attach large files to their submissions. Support files attached by question authors are unlikely to be a problem; a Jobe server at the University of Canterbury serving a large Moodle client with many thousands of questions accumulated only 200 MB of support files over several years.

For sandboxing, Jobe uses the domjudge runguard program to run student jobs with restrictions on resource allocation (memory, processes, cpu time) as a low-privileged user. However it does not restrict any system calls.

Programs may write binary output but the results are returned to the caller JSON-encoded, which requires UTF-8 strings. To avoid crashing the json-encoder, the standard output and standard error output from the program are checked to see if they're valid utf-8. If so, they're returned unchanged. Otherwise, they're taken as 8-bit character streams; characters below '\x20' (the space character) and above '\x7E' are replaced by C-style hexadecimal encodings (e.g. '\x8E') except for newlines which are passed through directly, and tabls and returns which are replaced with '\t' and '\r' respectively.

If Jobe is to correctly handle utf-8 output from programs, the Apache LANG environment variable must be set to a UTF-8 compatible value. See the section Setting the locale below.

Jobe is implemented using Ellis Lab's codeigniter plus the RESTserver plugin originally written by Phil Sturgeon and now maintained by Chris Kacerguis.

Installation

WARNING Jobe is primarily intended for use on a server that is firewalled to allow connections from authorised client machines only. If you install it on a machine without such firewalling, and do not control access with API keys (see later), anyone will be able to connect to your machine and run their own code on it! CAVEAT EMPTOR!

NOTE: a video walkthrough of the process of setting up a Jobe server on a DigitalOcean droplet is here.

Installation on Ubuntu 18.04 systems should be straightforward but installation on other flavours of Linux or on systems with non-standard configurations may require Linux administrator skills.

An alternative approach, and probably the simplest way to get up and running, is to use the JobeInABox Docker image, which should be runnable with a single terminal command on any Linux system that has docker installed. Thanks to David Bowes for the initial work on this. Please be aware that while this Docker image has been around for a couple of years and no significant issues have been reported the developer has not himself used it in a production environment. Feedback is welcomed.

Jobe runs only on Linux, which must have the Apache web server installed and running. PHP must have been compiled with the System V Semaphone and shared-memory functions enabled (see here)[http://www.php.net/manual/en/sem.setup.php], but that's the norm. Access Control Lists (ACLs) must be enabled; they normally are but if the /home/jobe directory lands up on a mounted volume, you may need to explicitly enable ACLs in the mount command or in /etc/fstab. The Python3 and the C development system must also be installed.

Installing the necessary dependencies

On Ubuntu-16.04 or 18.04, a command to set up all the necessary web tools plus all currently-supported languages is the following:

sudo apt install apache2 php libapache2-mod-php php-cli\
    php-mbstring octave nodejs git python3 build-essential openjdk-8-jre\
    openjdk-8-jdk python3-pip fp-compiler pylint3 acl sudo sqlite3

Octave, fp and pylint are required only if you need to run Octave or Pascal programs or test Python programs with pylint, respectively. Newer versions of openjdk are available on Ubuntu 18.04, so you may wish to replace the two openjdk-8 packages with their openjdk-11 equivalents.

If you wish to use API-authentication, which is generally pointless when setting up a private Jobe server, you also need the following:

sudo apt install mysql-server php-mysql

Similar commands should work on other Debian-based Linux distributions, although some differences are inevitable (e.g.: acl is preinstalled in Ubuntu, whereas in debian it must be installed).

Setting pylint3 options (if you want pylint)

If you're going to use pylint, you also need to build the /etc/pylintrc file to set the default options with one of the following commands, which must be run as root (don't just try prefixing the command with sudo, as the output redirection will fail).

Firstly try the command:

pylint3 --reports=no --score=n --generate-rcfile > /etc/pylintrc

If that gives you an error "no such option: --score" (which happens with older versions of pylint3), try instead

pylint3 --reports=no --generate-rcfile > /etc/pylintrc

Installing Jobe

Clone the Jobe project in the web root directory WEBROOT (usually /var/www/html). Do not clone it elsewhere and attempt to add it to web root with symbolic links. That breaks this installer. In what follows, replace WEBROOT with either /var/www or /var/www/html as appropriate.

To clone Jobe:

cd WEBROOT
sudo git clone https://github.com/trampgeek/jobe.git

Installation is performed by the install script, which must be run as root so that it can add the required jobe run users (jobe00, jobe01, etc) and set-up a jobe-sudoers file in /etc/sudoers.d that allows the web server to execute the runguard program as root and to kill any residual jobe processes from the run.

cd WEBROOT/jobe
sudo ./install

On Centos6 systems (and possibly early Centos7 releases) you should also comment out the line

Defaults requiretty

in /etc/sudoers. This was (reported as a bug)[https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1196451] and was fixed in later RHEL releases.

Setting the locale

By default, Apache is configured to use the C locale. This means that programs generating, say, UTF-8 output will fail with an error

UnicodeEncodeError: 'ascii' codec can't encode character ...

If you wish to run UTF-8 code (recommended) you should find the line in the Apache envvars file (on Ubuntu systems this is to be found at /etc/apache2/envvars)

export LANG=C

and change it to either C.UTF-8 (which changes the charset to UTF-8 but leaves other locale settings unchanged) or to the required standard locale value, e.g.

export LANG=en_NZ.UTF-8

Make sure that whatever locale you use is installed on the Jobe server.

Then restart apache with the command

sudo service apache2 restart

Note:

  1. The comment in the Apache envvars file suggesting the use of the default locale probably won't work, as this will also just give you ASCII text.

  2. To take advantage of the UTF-8 capabilities in CodeRunner you will need to use Version 3.3 or later.

Testing the install

To test the installation, first try running the tester with the command

python3 testsubmit.py

The first time you run this command, the initial step of obtaining all the different versions of all language is slow, as it has to test-drive all compilers and interpreters. Be patient. Results are cached in a file in /tmp so subsequent runs will be much faster, at least until the next reboot, when the list is rebuilt.

All going well, you should then be able to copy the testsubmit.py file to any client machine that is allowed to access the jobe server, edit the line

JOBE_SERVER = 'localhost'

to reference the JOBE_SERVER, e.g. by replacing localhost with its IP number, and re-run the tester with the same command from the client machine.

Updating Jobe

If you wish to update an existing version of Jobe to a new one, first put the the client Moodle server into maintenance mode. Reboot the Jobe server. Then cd into the Jobe directory, do a git pull to update the code, then run the installer with the --purge option, i.e.

sudo ./install --purge

Check that all is well by testing as in the section "Testing the install" above. Lastly take the Moodle server out of maintenance mode again.

Debugging

If you have problems installing Jobe, here are some things to check.

If the install script fails, check the error message. You should be able to read through the script and figure out what went wrong. Otherwise ...

  1. Check the install went OK:

  2. Make sure your webserver has read access to the entire jobe subtree.

  3. Make sure your webserver has write access to jobe/files

  4. Make sure there exist users jobe and jobe00 through jobe09.

  5. Make sure there is a directory /home/jobe/runs owned by jobe and writeable by the webserver. It should not be readable or writeable by all.

  6. Make sure there is a directory /var/log/jobe.

If the install appears OK but testsubmit.py fails:

  1. If you get messages "Bad result object", something is fundamentally broken. Start by rebooting your server, and make sure Apache is running, e.g. by browsing to http://<jobehost>.
  2. Try pointing your browser at http://<jobehost>/jobe/index.php/restapi/languages This should return a JSON list of languages. If not, you may at least get a readable error message.
  3. You are running testsubmit.py with Python3, right?
  4. Check the apache error log.
  5. Set DEBUGGING = True in testsubmit.py (around line 19). This will result in all jobe runs being saved in /home/jobe/runs. [Normally a run directory is removed after each run completes.]
  6. If something unexpected happened with the actual run of a program, find the run in /home/jobe/runs and try executing the program manually. [The run directory contains the source file, the bash command used to run it, plus the compile output and (if it ran) the stderr and stdout outputs.
  7. Check for any error messages in /var/log/jobe/*.
  8. Turn on debug level of logging in jobe/application/config/config.php by setting the log_threshold to 2 (around line 183). You should now get screeds of log info in the directory /var/log/jobe. Most of this comes from the framework; look for lines beginning jobe. These are all issued by restapi.php in application/controllers, which is the top level handler for all http requests.
  9. If you are getting Overloaded errors, then you can display the in-memory locks on the Jobe users with this PHP one-liner:
      ("/var/www/html/jobe/application/libraries/LanguageTask.php", "j")), 1));'
    

If you still can't figure it out, email me (Richard Lobb; my gmail name is trampgeek).

An optional extra installation step

[For paranoid sysadmins only].

Submitted jobs can generally write files only into the temporary directory created for their run within the '/home/jobe/runs' directory. Exceptions to this rule are the /tmp, /var/tmp, /var/crash and /run/lock directories all of which conventionally can be written into by any Linux process.

The temporary working directory and any files in the writable directories mentioned above are deleted on the termination of the run. However, depending on the size of the various partitions and the allowed maximum run time, it might in principle be possible for a rogue process, or a deliberate attacker, to run the system out of disk space in a particular partition (probably /tmp, which is usually relatively small), before the job terminates. That could in turn impact upon other jobs in progress.

This possibility is considered very remote under normal circumstances. With typical run times of a few seconds, jobs time out long before they can fill up a main partition such as that housing /home/jobe. Filling up /tmp is easier but jobs shouldn't generally be using that directory, so a rogue process that fills it up shouldn't affect other users. In either case, the space is freed as soon as the job terminates. Certainly this is not a problem we have ever observed in practice. However, it should be possible to protect against such an outcome by setting disk quotas for the users jobe00, jobe01, ... jobe09 [The number of such user accounts is defined by the parameter jobe_max_users in application/config/config.php. The default value is 10.] Instructions for installing the quota management system and setting quotas are given in various places on the web, e.g. here. The precise details will vary from system to system according to how the disk partitions are set up; quotas should be set for all jobe users on whatever partitions contain /home/jobe, /tmp, /var/tmp, /var/crash and /run/lock.

Securing the site

Securing by means of a firewall

By default, Jobe is expected to run on an Intranet server that is firewalled to permit access only from specific authorised hosts. In this mode, the client is assumed to be trusted and does not need to provide any form of authorisation or authentication. It is also important to prevent the jobe server from opening connections to other machines, so that a student program cannot do nasty things like port-scanning within your Intranet.

Using ufw (Uncomplicated Firewall) a possible command sequence that will restrict outgoing traffic to just a single nominated host ("some useful ip") on ports 80 and 443, allow ssh access (port 22) from anywhere and web access to jobe (assumed to be on port 80) from just one specified client is the following:

ufw default reject outgoing
ufw allow out proto tcp to <some_useful_ip> port 80,443
ufw allow in 22/tcp
ufw allow in proto tcp to any port 80 from <your_client_ip>
ufw enable

In the above, <your_client_ip> is the host that is permitted to send jobs to Jobe (e.g. a Moodle server with CodeRunner). <some_useful_ip> is any server to which Jobe might need to connect in order to run/grade student code. In the absence of such a server, that line should be omitted.

Securing with API keys (rarely useful)

If you wish Jobe to serve multiple clients and do not wish to open a specific port for each one you will need to configure the firewall to allow incoming connections from anywhere but you should then also configure the rest-server to require some form of authentication and authorisation. The various ways of achieving this are discussed in the documentation of the rest-server plugin.

The simplest authorisation approach is to provide an API key on each request. The client must then provide the key with each request in an X-API-Key header of the form

X-API-KEY: <key>

To set up Jobe to run in this way, proceed as follows:

  1. Make sure you installed the additional dependencies for API-key authentication given in the section "Installing the necessary dependencies". You need to be running a PHP version prior to PHP 7.2 (like that on Ubuntu 16.04 for example).

  2. Create a database called jobe and define a user with full access to it.

  3. Edit application/config/database.php to access your mysql server and the jobe database with the user credentials you defined in the previous step.

  4. Edit the file application/config/rest.php and set the configuration parameter rest_enable_keys to 1.

  5. Set up tables keys and limits as explained in rest.php. Populate the keys table with one or more API keys, which must then be used by any requests to the Jobe server.

If running in API-Key mode, you should still firewall the Jobe server to prevent it opening any sockets to other machines.

Other security mechanisms

If serving multiple clients, you may wish to restrict the use made of the server by one or more clients. This can be done by setting the rest_enable_limits parameter in application/config/rest.php to non-zero. Jobe will then limit the number of requests made with any given key to the values set in application/config/per_method_limits.php.

For this to work, the jobe database must contain an additional table limits, defined with an SQL command like

CREATE TABLE `limits` (
  `id` int(11) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `uri` varchar(255) NOT NULL,
  `count` int(10) NOT NULL,
  `hour_started` int(11) NOT NULL,
  `api_key` varchar(40) NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8;

You can turn off limit checking on a key-by-key basis by setting the ignore_limits to FALSE in the keys table.

You should read the REST-server plugin documentation and the file application/config/rest.php for other features available.

Run_spec parameters

The Jobe REST API specification document defines the format of a so-called run_spec, which is the record/object that is encoded within a POST request or a run request to specify the job details. It includes the language_id, the source code, the source file name, any standard input data, a list of required files and a set of job parameters. The job parameters are not defined by the REST API as they are implementation dependent. This section defines the format of the parameters field of a run_spec in this implementation.

The allowable attributes of the parameters field, plus their global default values in parentheses, are:

  1. disklimit (20): the maximum number of megabytes that can be written to disk file(s) before the job is aborted
  2. streamsize (2): the maximum number of megabytes of standard output before the job is aborted.
  3. cputime (5): the maximum number of seconds of CPU time before the job is aborted
  4. memorylimit (200): the maximum number of megabytes of memory the task can consume. This value is used to set the Linux RLIMIT_STACK, RLIMIT_DATA and RLIMIT_AS via the setrlimit system call. If the value is exceeded the job is not aborted but malloc and/or mmap calls will fail to allocate more memory with somewhat unpredictable results, although a segmentation fault is the most likely outcome.
  5. numprocs (20): the maximum number of processes the task is allowed. If this is exceeded the fork system call will fail with, again, somewhat unpredictable outcomes.
  6. compileargs ([]): a list of string option values to pass to the compiler, such as ["-Wall", "-std=c99"] for the C compiler. Meaningful only for compiled languages. These arguments precede the name of the file to be compiled.
  7. linkargs ([]): a list of string option values to pass to the compiler, such as ["-lm"] for the C compiler. These arguments follow the name of the file to be compiled. Meaningful only for some compiled languages, notably C and C++.
  8. interpreterargs ([]): a list of string option values to pass to the language interpreter or Java VM etc when the program is executed. Meaningful only for languages like Python, PHP and Java where the output from the compiler is not pure executable machine code.
  9. runargs ([]): a list of string option values to pass to the executed program, e.g. to set argc and argv for a C program. Not generally useful from CodeRunner as there is no way to set parameters on a per-test-case basis.

Individual languages will usually set their own default values for compileargs and interpreterargs.

If any of the above attributes are defined within the run_spec parameters field, the latter is used and the defaults are ignored.

The default values of compileargs and interpreterargs for the currently-implemented languages are as follows. An empty default means the global default is used.

language_idlanguagecompileargsinterpreterargs
cC['-Wall', -Werror', '-std=c99', '-x c']
cppC++['-Wall', '-Werror']
python2Python2['-BESs']
python3Python3['-BE']
javaJava['-Xrs', '-Xss8m', '-Xmx200m']
nodejsJavaScript (nodejs)['--use_strict']
octaveOctave (matlab variant)['--norc', '--no-window-system', '--silent', '-H']
phpPHP['--no-php-ini']
pascalFree Pascal['-vew', '-Se']
## Configuration

This version of jobe is configured for use by Moodle Coderunner. When using Jobe from CodeRunner the various language compile and run options can be changed via the sandbox Parameters field in the question authoring form (using the advanced customisation capabilities) of either the question prototype or within a particular question as suggested by the previous section. For example, if the sandbox Parameters field is set to

    { 'compileargs': ['-Wall', '-Werror', 'std=c89'] }

for a C question, the code will be compiled with all warnings enabled, aborting if any warnings are issued and will need to be C89 compliant.

If you wish to change the existing default options within Jobe, or you wish to add new languages, you must edit the source code as follows.

The folder application/libraries contains all the code that executes submitted jobs. The file LanguageTask.php defines an abstract class Task that contains default configuration parameters for things like memory limit, maximum cpu run time, maximum disk output, etc. For each supported language, a subclass with a name of the form <Language>_Task resides in a file named <language>_task.php. For example, c_task.php contains all the parameters specific to running C tasks, octave_task.php contains parameters for running Octave tasks, etc. To add a new language to Jobe you just drop in a new <language>_task.php file; its presence is autodetected by the Restapi constructor and the language will be available immediately.

Each subclass of LanguageTask typically defines at least the following three methods:

  1. __construct(). This is the constructor. It should generally call the parent constructor then set any language-specific default compile and/or interpret and/or run options.

  2. getVersion(). This returns a string defining what version of the language, compiler etc is supported. It's not actually used by CodeRunner but is available via the rest API.

  3. compile(). Calling this method must result in the file named $this->sourceFileName being compiled, with an executable output file being placed in the current working directory. If compilation succeeds the name of the executable must be returned in $this->executableFileName; alternatively $this->cmpinfo should be set to an appropriate error message; any non-empty string is taken as a compile error. Interpreted languages might do nothing or might copy the program.

  4. getRunCommand(). This method must return an array of strings that, when joined with a space separator, make a bash command to execute the program resulting from the compile(). Execution parameters like the Java heap size are set in this function. The output from this function is passed to the RunguardSandbox, after addition of standard I/O redirection plus other sandbox parameters (see getParam below).

Additionally the subclass may define:

  1. filteredStderr(). This takes $this->stderr and returns a filtered version, which might be necessary in some languages to remove extraneous text or remove special characters like form-feed or tab in order to make the result more appropriate for subsequent use, e.g. for display to students in a CodeRunner result table.

  2. filteredStdout(). This performs the same task as filteredStderr() except it filters stdout, available to the function as $this->stdout.

Change Log

Version 1.2

Fixed bug with Java when correct source file name supplied in the request (rename of file to itself was failing). Thanks Paul Denny. Replaced uses of Moodle coding_exception with generic exception. Again thanks Paul Denny.

Fixed bug in C++ task - invalid language type being passed to compiler.

Updated CodeIgniter Rest Server to latest version.

Added code to load limit data from a config file "per_method_limits.php" to support per-API-key limits on the number of calls that can be made to the restapi's POST and PUT entry points per hour. Updated the documentation to explain how to turn on API-key authorisation and per-method limits.

Version 1.2.2

Added code to support CORS (Cross Origin Resource Sharing), i.e., in-browser JavaScript requests from arbitrary domains.

Version 1.2.3

Fixed bug in how Java class names (and hence source file names) were inferred from the source code (main classes that implemented an interface or extended a subclass were not handled correctly). Also the filename field in the REST API runspec is now optional; if provided, it is trusted and used as-is, but if not supplied or if an empty string is supplied, Jobe now calls a language-specific function to provide a filename from the sourcecode. [Usually this is just something generic like prog.cpp, prog.py etc]

Version 1.2.4

Fixed issue with runguard that prevented use of pthreads library in C programs.,

Version 1.3

Pascal support added by Fedor Lyanguzov (thanks Fedor)

Good luck!

Version 1.3.1

Minor patches to ensure PHP7 compability. Install instruction in readme.md still relate to PHP5, however.

Version 1.3.2

Change Java config parameters to allow Java 8 to run (more memory and more processes).

Version 1.3.3

Remove inline declaration of readoptarg in runguard.c (causing compile errors with most recent gcc versions). Documentation tweaks.

Version 1.3.4

Fix serious security flaw in runguard + my use of it.

Version 1.3.5

  1. Fix broken caching of language versions (wasting time on each submission).
  2. Improve identification of language versions; 'Unknown' is now given as the language version if a language get-version command runs but produces output in an unexpected format. Formerly such languages were deemed invalid.
  3. Change Java task so supplied memlimit is ignored, leaving JVM to manage its own memory.
  4. Add 'getLanguages' to simpletest.py and testsubmit.py.

Version 1.3.5+ 16 June 2017

  1. Improve installer to handle installation on servers with less permissive access rights than Ubuntu 16.04.
  2. Delete any files created in /tmp, /var/tmp, /run/lock and /var/crash on completion of a run.
  3. Limit maximum CPU time for any one Jobe to 30 secs (config constant).

Thanks Kai-Cheung Leung for the first two of those additions.

Version 1.3.6 21 June 2017

  1. Minimum PHP version is now required to be 5.5. (This is now checked in the installer.)
  2. Compilation of the Student's code is now also done in the runguard sandbox. This provides an additional layer of security.

Thanks Tim Hunt for most of the work in this addition.

1.3.6+

  1. Tune retry count for better performance under overload.
  2. Documentation updates
  3. Tweak installer for Centos detection of web server

1.4.0

  1. Tweaks to allow full utf-8 output to be returned, provided Apache's LANG variable is set to a UTF-8 compatible value.

1.4.1

  1. Merged in switch to pylint3/python3 completely (thanks Garth Williamson)

1.4.2

  1. Bug fix: Jobe server overload was being incorrectly reported as a Runguard error ("No user jobe-1").

1.4.3

  1. Fix bug in testsubmit.php when used with latest pylint3.
  2. Document dependency script for Ubuntu 18.04 plus limitations due to missing mcrypt.

1.5.0

  1. Move to latest versions of CodeIgniter and RestServer frameworks, primarily to fix bug with PHP versions > 7.1 no longer supporting mcrypt library, but also for improved security and error handling.

1.6.0

  1. Change file cache directory from /var/www/html/jobe/files to /home/jobe/files
  2. Change file cache to use a 3 level hierarchy, using the first 4 chars of the MD5 file-id (2 pairs of 2) for the directory names to improve lookup performance when there are many files.
  3. Implement a simple cache clean mechanism that deletes all files that haven't been used for 2 or more days whenever less than 5% of the disk space is free.
  4. Document in restapi that use of check_file to confirm existence of a required file before a run is unsafe, as the file might be removed by the cache cleaner between the two runs.

Richard

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