Vidjil – Server Manual – Installation and Maintenance

Table of Contents

This is the preliminary help of the Vidjil server. This help is intended for server administrators. Users should consult the web application manual.

1 Roadmap: plain installation / Docker containers

There are two ways to install and run a Vidjil server:

  • The plain installation of the server should run on any Linux/Unix server with Nginx (recommanded) or Apache. We provide below detailed instructions for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. This is now the recommended installation. We use this installation on the public server ( since October 2014.
  • We are developping Debian packages as well as Docker containers to ease the installation and the maintenance. The Docker containers are currently tested in some partner hospitals, and we intend to release ready-to-use Docker containers in Q3 2017. This will then be the recommanded way to install and use Vidjil.

We recommand to people interested in installing a Vidjil server to wait until Q3 2017 and to use meanwhile the public test server.

2 Requirements

2.1 CPU, RAM

2.1.1 Minimal

vidjil-algo typically uses approx. 1.2GB of RAM to run on a 1GB .fastq and will take approx. 5+ minutes. Therefore in order to process requests from a single user with a few samples, any standard multi-core processor with 2GB RAM will be enough.

2.1.2 Recommended

When choosing hardware for your server it is important to know the scale of usage you require. If you have many users that use the app on a daily basis, you will need to have multiple cores to ensure the worker queues don't build up. One worker will occupy one core completely when running vidjil-algo (which is currently single-threaded).

For reference, here is the current Vidjil setup we used on our public testing server during two years (40+ users, including 15 regular users):

  • Processor: Quad core Intel 2.4MHz
  • RAM: 16GB

Given that the CPU is quad-core, we have 3 workers for executing Vidjil, keeping always one CPU core dedicated to the web server, even when the workers run at full capacity.

As of the end of 2016, we use for the public server a virtual machine with similar capabilities.

Running other RepSeq programs through the Vidjil server may require additional CPU and RAM.

2.2 Storage

As for many high-throughput sequencing pipeline, disk storage to store input data (.fastq, .fasta, .fastq.gz or .fasta.gz) is now the main constraint in our environment.

Depending on the sequencer, files can weigh several GB. Depending of the number of users, a full installation's total storage should thus be serveral hundred GB, or even several TB. We recommend a RAID setup of at least 2x2TB to allow for user files and at least one backup.

User files (results, annotations) as well as the metadata database are quite smaller (as of the end of 2016, on the public server, 3 GB for all user files of 40+ users). Note that even when the input sequences are deleted, the server is still able to display the results of previous analyses. Moreover, a future release at some point of 2017 will allow to access .fastq files on a mounted filesystem.

2.3 Authentication

The accounts are now local to the Vidjil server. We intend to implement some LDAP access at some point of 2017.

2.4 Network

Once installed, the server can run on a private network. However, the following network access are recommended:

  • outbound access
    • for users: several features using external platforms (IgBlast, IMGT/V-QUEST…)
    • for server mainteners: upgrades and reports to a monitor server
  • inbound access
    • The team in Lille may help local server mainteners in some monitoring, maintenance and upgrade tasks, provided a SSH access can be arranged, possibly over VPN.

3 Installing and running the Vidjil server

These installation instruction are for Ubuntu server 14.04 These instructions are preliminary, other documentation can also be found in

3.1 With Docker

All our images are hosted on DockerHub and can be retrieved from the repository vidjil/vidjil. Our docker environment makes use of docker-compose. All Vidjil components are currently packaged into a single docker image. Individual services are started by docker compose, such as in this example.

3.1.1 Versions

  • 1.1
  • 1.2
  • 1.3
  • 1.3.1
  • 1.3.2
  • tmpfix This image is identical to 1.3.2 except it has a manual bugfix on pyDAL version 17.11 that was affecting the schedulerworkers.

3.1.2 Configuring the Vidjil container

If you are using this environment for use on localhost, everything should work out of the box.

However you may need to further configure the setup in order to make it available to a whole network. Here is a list of the configuration files found in the vidjil directory: conf/conf.js contains various variables for the vidjil browser conf/ contains various variables for the vidjil server conf/gzip.conf configuration for gzip in nginx conf/gzipstatic.conf same as the previous but for static resources conf/uwsgi.ini configuration required to run vidjil with uwsgi sites/nginx configuration required when running vidjil with nginx scripts/ entrypoint for the nginx service (not currently in use) scripts/ entrypoint for the uwsgi service. Ensures the owner of some relevant volumes are correct within the container and starts uwsgi

Here are some notable configuration changes you should consider:

  • Change the mysql user/password in docker-compose.yml. You will also need to change the DBADDRESS in conf/ to match it.
  • Change the hostname in the nginx configuration vidjil/sites/nginxconf. If you are using vidjil on a network, then this might be required.
  • Change the default admin password. Login as password 1234 and go to the following URL: https://<your hostname>/vidjil/default/user/changepassword
  • Change the ssl certificates. When building the image vidjil-server which creates a self-signed certificate for the sake of convenience to ensure the HTTPS queries work from the start, but this may not be acceptable for a production environment. In order to replace certificates the current method is to mount the certificates to /etc/nginx/ssl with docker volumes in docker-compose.yml.
  • Change the FROMEMAIL and ADMINEMAILS variables in conf/ These represent the sender email address and the destination email addresses, used in reporting patient milestones and server errors.
  • Change the database password. In the mysql directory you will find an entrypoint script which creates the database, the user and set that user's password. This is the password you need to match in the file in the vidjil configuration.
  • Change the volumes in docker-compose.yml. By default all files that require saving outside of the containers (the database, uploads, vidjil results and log files) are stored in /opt/vidjil , but you can change this by editing the paths in the volumes.
  • Configure the reporter. Ideally this container should be positioned on a remote server in order to be able to report on a down server, but we have packed it here for convenience.

3.1.3 Updating a Docker installation

Usually our docker installation will only require the following:

docker pull vidjil/vidjil:latest

In some cases you may need to update your docker-compose.yml file or some of the configuration files. The latest versions are available on our GitHub.

3.2 Requirements

apt-get install git
apt-get install g++
apt-get install make
apt-get install unzip
apt-get install python-pip
pip install unittest2
pip install unittest-xml-reporting
pip install enum34

3.3 Vidjil server installation and initialization

Enter in the server/ directory.

If you just want to do some tests without installing a real web server, then launch make install_web2py_standalone. In the other case, launch make install_web2py.

The process for installing Vidjil server together with a real web server will be detailed in the future.

3.4 Detailed manual server installation and browser linking

Requirements: ssh, zip unzip, tar, openssh-server, build-essential, python, python-dev, mysql, python2.5-psycopg2, postfix, wget, python-matplotlib, python-reportlab, python-enum34, mercurial, git

If you want to run Vidjil with an Apache webserver you will also need: apache2, libapache2-mod-wsgi

Or if you want to use Nginx: nginx-full, fcgiwrap

For simplicity this guide will assume you are installing to /home/www-data


Download and unzip web2py. Copy the contents of web2py to the server/web2py folder of you Vidjil installation (in this case /home/www-data/vidjil/server/web2py) and give ownership to www-data:

chown -R www-data:www-data /home/www-data/vidjil

If you are using apache, you can run the following commands to make sure all the apache modules you need are activated:

a2enmod ssl
a2enmod proxy
a2enmod proxy_http
a2enmod headers
a2enmod expires
a2enmod wsgi
a2enmod rewrite  # for 14.04

In order to setup the SSL encryption a key to give to apache. The safest option is to get a certicate from a trusted Certificate Authority, but for testing purposes you can generate your own:

    mkdir /etc/<webserver>/ssl
    openssl genrsa 1024 > /etc/<webserver>/ssl/self_signed.key
    chmod 400 /etc/<webserver>/ssl/self_signed.key
    openssl req -new -x509 -nodes -sha1 -days 365 -key
/etc/<webserver>/ssl/self_signed.key > /etc/apache2/ssl/self_signed.cert
    openssl x509 -noout -fingerprint -text <
/etc/<webserver>/ssl/self_signed.cert > /etc/<webserver>/ssl/

<webserver> should be replaced with the appropriate webserver name (ie. apache2 or nginx)

Given that Vidjil is a two-part application, one that serves routes from a server and one that is served statically, we need to configure the apache to do so. Therefore we tell the apache to:

  • Start web2py as a wsgi daemon (allows apache to serve the application).
  • Reserve two virtual hosts (one to be served with ssl encryption, and one not).
  • We configure the first host to serve static content and prevent overriding by the sever (otherwise all routes are redirected through web2py) and to follow symlinks this allows us to symlink to our browser app in the /var/www directory and keep both parts of Vidjil together.
  • The second is set to use SSL encryption, and only serve very specific folders statically (such as javascript files and images because we don't want to create a controller to serve that kind of data)

you can replace your apache default config with the following (/etc/apache2/sites-available/default.conf - remember to make a backup just in case):

WSGIDaemonProcess web2py user=www-data group=www-data processes=1 threads=1

<VirtualHost *:80>

  DocumentRoot /var/www
  <Directory />
    Options FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride None

  <Directory /var/www/>
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
    AllowOverride all
    Order allow,deny
    allow from all

  ScriptAlias /cgi/ /usr/lib/cgi-bin/

  <Directory /usr/lib/cgi-bin/>
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
    Options +ExecCGI
    #AllowOverride None
    Require all granted
    AddHandler cgi-script cgi pl

  <Directory /home/www-data/vidjil/browser>
    AllowOverride None

  CustomLog /var/log/apache2/access.log common
  ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/error.log

<VirtualHost *:443>
  SSLEngine on
  SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl/self_signed.cert
  SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/ssl/self_signed.key

  WSGIProcessGroup web2py
  WSGIScriptAlias / /home/www-data/vidjil/server/web2py/
  WSGIPassAuthorization On

  <Directory /home/www-data/vidjil/server/web2py>
    AllowOverride None
    Require all denied
      Require all granted

  AliasMatch ^/([^/]+)/static/(?:_[\d]+.[\d]+.[\d]+/)?(.*) \

  <Directory /home/www-data/vidjil/server/web2py/applications/*/static/>
    Options -Indexes
    ExpiresActive On
    ExpiresDefault "access plus 1 hour"
    Require all granted

  CustomLog /var/log/apache2/ssl-access.log common
  ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/error.log

Now we want to activate some more apache mods:

a2ensite default                   # FOR 14.04
a2enmod cgi

Restart the server in order to make sure the config is taken into account.

And create some symlinks to avoid splitting our app:

ln -s /home/www-data/vidjil/browser /var/www/browser
ln -s /home/www-data/vidjil/browser/cgi/align.cgi /usr/lib/cgi-bin
ln -s /home/www-data/vidjil/germline /var/www/germline
ln -s /home/www-data/vidjil/data /var/www/data

If you are using Nginx, the configuration is the following:

server {
    listen 80;
    server_name \$hostname;
    return 301 https://\$hostname$request_uri;

server {
        listen 443 default_server ssl;
        server_name     \$hostname;
        ssl_certificate         /etc/nginx/ssl/web2py.crt;
        ssl_certificate_key     /etc/nginx/ssl/web2py.key;
        ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;
        ssl_session_cache shared:SSL:10m;
        ssl_session_timeout 10m;
        ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;
        keepalive_timeout    70;
        location / {
            uwsgi_pass      unix:///tmp/web2py.socket;
            include         uwsgi_params;
            uwsgi_param     UWSGI_SCHEME \$scheme;
            uwsgi_param     SERVER_SOFTWARE    nginx/\$nginx_version;
            ###remove the comments to turn on if you want gzip compression of your pages
            # include /etc/nginx/conf.d/web2py/gzip.conf;
            ### end gzip section

            proxy_read_timeout 600;
            client_max_body_size 20G;
        ## if you serve static files through https, copy here the section
        ## from the previous server instance to manage static files

        location /browser {
            root /home/www-data/vidjil/;
            expires 1h;

            error_page 405 = $uri;

        location /germline {
            root $CWD/../;
            expires 1h;

            error_page 405 = $uri;

        ###to enable correct use of response.static_version
        #location ~* ^/(\w+)/static(?:/_[\d]+\.[\d]+\.[\d]+)?/(.*)$ {
        #    alias /home/www-data/vidjil/server/web2py/applications/\$1/static/\$2;
        #    expires max;

        location ~* ^/(\w+)/static/ {
            root /home/www-data/vidjil/server/web2py/applications/;
            expires max;
            ### if you want to use pre-gzipped static files (recommended)
            ### check scripts/ and remove the comments
            # include /etc/nginx/conf.d/web2py/gzip_static.conf;

        client_max_body_size 20G;

        location /cgi/ {
            gzip off;
            root  /home/www-data/vidjil/browser/;
            # Fastcgi socket
            fastcgi_pass  unix:/var/run/fcgiwrap.socket;
            # Fastcgi parameters, include the standard ones
            include /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;
            # Adjust non standard parameters (SCRIPT_FILENAME)
            fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME  \$document_root\$fastcgi_script_name;


We also do not create symlinks since all references are managed correctly.

Now we need to configure the database connection parameters:

  • create a file called conf.js in /home/www-data/vidjil/browser/js containing:
    var config = {
        "cgi_address" : "default",
        /*database */
        "use_database" : true,
        "db_address" : "default",
        "debug_mode" : false

This tells the browser to access the server on the current domain.

  • copy vidjil/server/web2py/applications/vidjil/modules/ to vidjil/server/web2py/applications/vidjil/modules/ and change the value of DBADDRESS to reference your database.

You can now access your app. All that is left to do is click on the init database link above the login page. This creates a default admin user: and password: 1234 (make sure to remove this user in your production environment) and creates the configurations you can have for files and results.

4 Testing the server

If you develop on the server, or just want to check if everything is ok, you should launch the server tests.

First, you should have a working fuse server by launching make launch_fuse_server (just launch it once, then it is running in the background and can be killed with make kill_fuse_server).

Then you can launch the tests with make unit.

5 Troubleshootings

5.1 Workers seem to be stuck

For some reasons, that are not clear yet, it may happen that workers are not assigned any additional jobs even if they don't have any ongoin jobs.

In such a (rare) case, it may be useful to restart web2py schedulers

initctl restart web2py-scheduler

5.2 Restarting web2py

Just touch the file /etc/uwsgi/web2py.ini.

Another of restarting it is by touching the file server/web2py/applications/vidjil/modules/ This will tell uwsgi to restart web2py (including the workers).

5.3 Restarting uwsgi

When one modifies an uwsgi config file (usually in /etc/uwsgi directory, it may be necessary to restart uwsgi so that the modifications are taken into account. This can be done using

initctl restart uwsgi-emperor

5.4 Logging database queries

5.4.1 MySQL

One can see some insightful SO post. To summarize, this can either be done at runtime:

SET GLOBAL log_output = "FILE";
SET GLOBAL general_log_file = "/path/to/your/logfile.log";
SET GLOBAL general_log = 'ON';

Or directly in the configuration file (less recommended):

general_log_file        = /var/log/mysql/mysql.log
general_log             = 1

In that case the server must be restarted afterwards.

6 Running the server in a production environment

6.1 Introduction

When manipulating a production environment it is important to take certain precautionnary mesures, in order to ensure production can either be rolled back to a previous version or simply that any encurred loss of data can be retrieved.

Web2py and Vidjil are no exception to this rule.

6.2 Making backups

Performing an Analysis in Vidjil is time-consuming, therefore should the data be lost, valuable man-hours are also lost. In order to prevent this we make regular incremental (?) backups of the data stored on the vidjil servers. This not only applies to the fiels uploaded and created by vidjil, but also to the database.

6.3 Autodelete and Permissions

Web2py has a handy feature called AutoDelete which allows the administrator to state that file reference deletions should be cascaded if no other references to the file exist. When deploying to production one needs to make sure AutoDelete is deactivated. As a second precaution it is also wise to temporarily restrict web2py's access to referenced files.

Taking two mesures to prevent file loss might seem like overkill, but securing data is more important than the small amount of extra time spent putting these mesures into place.

6.4 Deploying the server

Currently deploying changes to production is analogous to merging into the rbx branch and pulling from the server.

Once this has been done, it is important that any database migrations have been applied. This can be verified by refreshing the server (calling a controller) and then looking at the database.

6.5 Step by Step

  • Set AutoDelete to False
  • Check permissions on the uploads folder (set to 100)
    • you can also check the amount of files present at this point for future reference
  • Backup database: Archive old backup.csv and then from admin page: backup db
  • pull rbx (if already merged dev)
  • Check the database (for missing data or to ensure mmigrations have been applied)
  • Check files to ensure no files are missing
  • Reset the folder permissions on uploads (755 seems to be the minimum requirement for web2py)
  • Run unit tests (Simply a precaution: Continuous Integration renders this step redundant but it's better to be sure)
  • Check site functionnality

7 Resetting user passwords

Currently there is not easy way of resetting a user's password. The current method is the following: `cd server/web2py` `python web2py -S vidjil -M` `db.authuser[<user-id].updaterecord(password=CRYPT(key=auth.settings.hmackey)('<password>')1,resetpasswordkey='')`

8 Migrating Data

8.1 Database

The easiest way to perform a database migration is to first extract the data with the following command:

mysqldump -u <user> -p <db> -c --no-create-info > <file>

An important element to note here is the –no-create-info we add this parameter because web2py needs to be allowed to create tables itself because it keeps track of database migrations and errors will occur if tables exist which it considers it needs to create.

In order to import the data into an installation you first need to ensure the tables have been created by Web2py this can be achieved by simply accessing a non-static page.

/!\ If the database has been initialised from the interface you will likely encounter primary key collisions or duplicated data, so it is best to skip the initialisation altogether.

Once the tables have been created, the data can be imported as follows:

mysql -u <user> -p <db> < <file>

Please note that with this method you should have at least one admin user that is accessible in the imported data. Since the initialisation is being skipped, you will not have the usual admin account present. It is also possible to create a user directly from the database although this is not the recommended course of action.

8.2 Files

Files can simply be copied over to the new installation, their filenames are stored in the database and should therefore be accessible as long as they are in the correct directories.

8.3 Filtering data (soon deprecated)

When extracting data for a given user, the whole database should not be copied over. There are two courses of action:

  • create a copy of the existing database and remove the users that are irrelevant. The cascading delete should remove any unwanted data barring a few exceptions (notably fusedfile, groups and samplesetmembership)
  • export the relevant data directly from the database. This method requires multiple queries which will not be detailed here.

Once the database has been correctly extracted, a list of files can be obtained from sequencefile, fusedfile, resultsfile and analysisfile with the following query:

SELECT <filename field>
FROM <table name>
INTO OUTFILE 'filepath'

Note: We are managing filenames here which should not contain any character such as quotes or commas so we can afford to refrain from enclosing the data with quotes.

This query will output a csv file containing a filename on each line. Copying the files is now just a matter of running the following script:

sh copy_files <file source> <file destination> <input file>

8.4 Exporting sample sets

The migrator script allows the export and import of data, whether it be a single patient/run/set or a list of them, or even all the sample sets associated to a group.

usage: [-h] [-f FILENAME] [--debug] {export,import} ...

Export and import data

positional arguments:
{export,import}  Select operation mode
  export         Export data from the DB into a JSON file
  import         Import data from JSON into the DB

optional arguments:
  -h, --help       show this help message and exit
  -f FILENAME      Select the file to be read or written to
  --debug          Output debug information


usage: export [-h] {sample_set,group} ...

positional arguments:
  {sample_set,group}  Select data selection method
    sample_set        Export data by sample-set ids
    group             Extract data by groupid

optional arguments:
  -h, --help          show this help message and exit
usage: export sample_set [-h] {patient,run,generic} ID [ID

positional arguments:
                          Type of sample
    ID                    Ids of sample sets to be extracted

  optional arguments:
    -h, --help            show this help message and exit
usage: export group [-h] groupid

positional arguments:
  groupid     The long ID of the group

optional arguments:
  -h, --help  show this help message and exit


usage: import [-h] [--dry-run] [--config CONFIG] groupid

positional arguments:
  groupid     The long ID of the group

optional arguments:
  -h, --help  show this help message and exit
  --dry-run   With a dry run, the data will not be saved to the database
  --config CONFIG  Select the config mapping file




Created: 2018-02-01 Thu 12:27

Emacs 24.3.1 (Org mode 8.2.4)