Install AOLserver 3.3+ad13

Download the Distribution

Mat Kovach is graciously maintaining an AOLServer distribution that includes all the patches and modules needed to run OpenACS 4.5. These instructions will describe how to install using his source distribution. He also has binaries for SuSE 7.3 and OpenBSD 2.8 (and perhaps more to come), currently located at

It's also possible to download all the pieces and patches yourself:

  • AOLServer is available at

  • ArsDigita's AOLServer distribution (including internationalization patches, nscache, nsrewrite, nssha1 and the oracle driver) is available at

  • The OpenACS PostgreSQL driver is available from OpenACS

  • nsxml is available at

  • The patch that makes exec work on BSD is available at

  • The patch that makes ns_uuencode work for binary files is available at

  • The patch that makes AOLServer respect the -g flag is available at

.... or just Download Mat's AOLServer distribution to /tmp

joeuser:~$ cd /tmp
joeuser:/tmp$ wget -c
joeuser:/tmp$ cd

As root, untar aolserver3.3ad13-oacs1-beta-src.tar.gz into /usr/local/src

joeuser:~$ su -
Password: **********
root:~$ cd /usr/local/src
root:/usr/local/src# tar xzf /tmp/aolserver3.3ad13-oacs1-beta-src.tar.gz

Create the nsadmin user

You will need a special user account for running AOLServer. This user will be called nsadmin and belong top the special group web. nsadmin's home directory will be /usr/local/aolserver.You must execute these steps as root.

  • Run these commands:

    root:/usr/local/src# cd
    root:~# groupadd nsadmin
    root:~# groupadd web
    root:~# useradd -g nsadmin -G web -d /usr/local/aolserver nsadmin
    root:~# passwd nsadmin
    ; Set password for nsadmin
    root:~# mkdir -p /web /usr/local/aolserver
    root:~# chown -R nsadmin.web /usr/local/aolserver /web /usr/local/src/aolserver
    root:~# chmod 775 /usr/local/aolserver /web
    root:~# exit

Set up nsadmin's environment variables

  • At this point, you should customize the nsadmin login scripts. Login as nsadmin and add the following lines to your /usr/local/aolserver/.bash_profile:

    joeuser:~$ su - nsadmin
    Password: ***********
    nsadmin:~$ emacs .bash_profile

    Add the first set of lines, if you're using Oracle. The 2nd set of lines, if you're using PostgreSQL. Oracle Note: These environment variables are specific for a local Oracle installation communicating via IPC. If you are connecting to a remote Oracle installation, you'll need to adjust these appropriately. Also, make sure that the '8.1.7' matches your Oracle version.

    # For Oracle
    export ORACLE_BASE=/ora8/m01/app/oracle
    export ORACLE_HOME=$ORACLE_BASE/product/8.1.7
    export PATH=$PATH:$ORACLE_HOME/bin
    export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$ORACLE_HOME/lib:/lib:/usr/lib
    export ORACLE_SID=ora8
    export ORACLE_TERM=vt100
    export ORA_NLS33=$ORACLE_HOME/ocommon/nls/admin/data
    # For PostgreSQL
    export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/pgsql/bin
    export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=$LD_LIBRARY_PATH:/usr/local/pgsql/lib

    Be absolutely certain that you have entered these lines correctly and that you have saved the file - a slight error in these lines can lead to many inscrutable error messages. Logout and log back in so these settings will take effect. Use the echo command to be sure that the environment variables have been properly assigned.

    nsadmin:~$ exit
    joeuser:~$ su - nsadmin
    Password: *********
    nsadmin:~$ echo $PATH
    ...some other directory paths...:/usr/local/pgsql/bin
    nsadmin:~$ echo $LD_LIBRARY_PATH

    Note: The result should be different if you're using Oracle. /ora8/m01/app/oracle/product/8.1.7 should have been in $PATH.

Install libxml2 & headers

In order for nsxml to compile, you need libxml2 (available from On Debian, this can be installed by doing apt-get install libxml2-dev. Users of other distributions can download rpms from You'll need the libxml2 and libxml2-devel packages.

Compile and install AOLserver

  • Prepare the distribution

    nsadmin:~$ cd /usr/local/src/aolserver
    nsadmin:/usr/local/src/aolserver$ ./conf-clean
    cat: BUILD-MODULES: No such file or directory
  • Put the name of the driver(s) that you want into conf-db. This can be "postgresql", "oracle", or the word "both" if you want both drivers installed.

    nsadmin:/usr/local/src/aolserver$ echo "postgresql" > conf-db
  • conf-inst should contain the location where AOLserver is to be installed. This defaults to /usr/local/aolserver, so we don't need to change it.

  • conf-make should contain the name of the GNU Make command on your system. It defaults to gmake. You may need to change this to make.

    nsadmin:/usr/local/src/aolserver$ echo "make" > conf-make
  • If you're going to be installing the Postgresql driver, you'll have to adjust the makefile first. This will hopefully be cleaned up in future versions of this distribution.

    nsadmin:/usr/local/src/aolserver$ emacs pgdriver/makefile

    Edit the lines containing PGLIB and PGINC so they look like this:

  • Compile and install AOLserver and modules

    nsadmin:/usr/local/src/aolserver$ ./conf

    This takes about 5 minutes. All of the results are logged to files in /usr/local/src/aolserver/log. Make sure to check these files to see if any errors occurred.

Test AOLserver

  • You will now test to ensure AOLserver is running correctly. We'll use the sample config file provided with AOLserver. This file will attempt to guess your IP address and hostname. It will then set up the server at port 8000 of that IP address.

    nsadmin:/usr/local/src/aolserver$ cd
    nsadmin:~$ ./bin/nsd -t sample-config.tcl

    As the AOLserver daemon starts up, you should see a few normal warnings (listed below), which are safe to ignore.

    Warning: nsd.tcl: nsssl not loaded -- key/cert files do not exist.
    Warning: nsd.tcl: nscp not loaded -- user/password is not set.

    The first warning means that the server is missing files for running ssl, a necessary module for encrypted HTTPS. See Scott Goodwin's excellent documentation if you want to set up SSL. The second warning means that the AOLserver control panel, a special module for administering AOLserver, could not be loaded. If you're interested in configuring nscp, please see the AOLserver documentation.

  • Test to see if AOLserver is working by starting Mozilla or Lynx, and surfing over to your web page:

    nsadmin:~$ lynx localhost:8000

    You should see a "Welcome to AOLserver" page. If this doesn't work, try going to If this still doesn't work, check out the Troubleshooting AOLServer section below.

  • Shutdown the test server:

    nsadmin:~$ killall nsd

    The killall command will kill all processes with the name nsd, but clearly this is not a good tool to use for managing your services in general. We cover this topic in the Keep AOLServer alive section.

Troubleshooting the AOLserver Install

If you can't view the welcome page, it's likely there's a problem with your server configuration. Start by viewing your AOLserver log, which is in /usr/local/aolserver/log/server.log. You should also try to find lines of the form:

[01/Jun/2000:12:11:20][5914.2051][-nssock-] Notice: nssock: listening on http://localhost.localdomain:8000 (
[01/Jun/2000:12:11:20][5914.2051][-nssock-] Notice: accepting connections

If you can find these lines, try entering the URL the server is listening on. If you cannot find these lines, there must be an error somewhere in the file. Search for lines beginning with the word Error instead of Notice.

The sample-config.tcl file grabs your address and hostname from your OS settings.

set hostname        [ns_info hostname]
set address         [ns_info address]

If you get an error that nssock can't get the requested address, you can set these manually:

#set hostname        [ns_info hostname]
set hostname
#set address         [ns_info address]
set address

If you get an error that nssock can't assign the requested port, then that port may already be taken by another service. Try specifying a different port in the config file.

($Id: aolserver.html,v 2002/07/09 17:34:57 rmello Exp $)