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The main concepts behind the implementation

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Step by step guide to a new VAMDC node

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Software prerequisits and installation

Quick start

If you use a Linux-distribution like Debian (squeeze) or Ubuntu (some not too old version), you can simply run the following command (with root-rights) to install all software that you need:

$ apt-get update && apt-get install python python-pip python-pyparsing python-mysqldb gunicorn nginx git-core ipython
$ pip install django

This will automagically install some more packages that the above ones depend upon. There are most probably similar packages for other linux distributions than Debian. All software should be able to be installed on Windows and OSX as well but it probably involves some more effort and we unfortunately cannot give support for this.

We also provide a virtual machine appliance with Debian/Linux and all required software installed into it. You can then run this virtual machine on a host computer, using VirtualBox which is available for free on most operating systems. See Obtain and use a Virtual Machine with the NodeSoftware for more detail on this.

If the commands above worked or you run the virtual machine, you might want to skip to Test your installation. Otherwise continue reading for a list of the individual software dependencies..

Python plus some modules

Python is a wide-spread, open-source, object-oriented, dynamically-typed, interpreted programming language. You can read all about it at and there exist installation packages for all operating systems and architectures.

We require Python between (and including) versions 2.5 and 2.7.

We recommend to also install IPython (, an improved interactive shell for Python.

Database access library

This depends on your choice of database engine (see below). The two choices we support primarily are SQLite (access library comes with Python itself) and MySQL (access library at but preferrably installed by your OS’s package manager).


This is needed for our SQL-parser and you can read about it at

Again, it is best installed via your distribution’s package manager.


Django is the Python-based web-framework that we use to run the services (see Introduction and We currently use Django 1.3.X (where X is the latest bug-fix version number) but newer versions will be supported as they are released.

The packaged version of your OS is probably outdated. This is why we recommend to install Django using pip (see command above). Alternatively follow the installation instructions on the Django website.

Database engine

If the data that your node should serve reside already in a relational database, there is most probably no need to set up a new one but you instead deploy the node software directly on top of the existing database. The list of databases that Django can handle can be found at

When setting up a new database, we recommend one of the following two

Unless the data set is extremely large and/or complex, the choice between the two is of minor importance. SQLite has the advantage of not relying on a separate server software and is often on par with MySQL in terms of speed. Its limitation in terms of concurrent write access is not relevant in our typical use case where the database is only read, not written to, during standard operation.


The node software needs to run within a webserver. The two setups that we successfully tested are Gunicorn (together with nginx) and the Apache webserver (with its WSGI module).

This is covered in more detail in Deployment of your node.

Git version control

This is not a real requirement since you can download the node software (see The Code) directly. However, using the version control system git (, it becomes easier to update your installation and to re-submit your changes.

The node software itself

See The Code on how to obtain the source code.

Test your installation

None of the following commands should give you an error:

$ python -c "import django"
$ python -c "import pyparsing"

$ cd /path/to/where/you/downloaded/NodeSoftware
$ cd nodes/ExampleNode
$ ./
$ ./ test
$ ./ shell

The last command will open an interactive Python shell for you (IPython, if you have it installed, otherwise standard Python) and in there you should be able to run:

>>> from node.models import *
>>> import vamdctap
>>> exit()

If any of this fails, please make sure you have installed all of the above correctly and ask your system administrator for help. For contacting us, see Bugs and Contact.


The above only tests that you have installed the software correctly, not the setup and configuration of the node in question.



The simplest way is to simply download the latest tar.gz-archive and extract it on top of you previous installation. We however strongly recommend to backup the files in your node-directory before doing this; alternatively moving the old NodeSoftware to a different location and then copy the files you need from there into the new version.

If you instead use our version control system, please see Collaborating with git and GitHub on how to get the latest.


After upgrading the NodeSoftware, you should check that your node is still running properly. We cannot (yet) guarantee that you need not update your node-specific code to fit the latest version. Larger changes will be mentioned in the Changelog.


This depends on how you installed Django. With pip it is enough to run:

$ pip install --upgrade django

Everything else

If you have installed all the prerequisites from Debian or Ubuntu packages as recommended, you can simply run the following regularly to keep your system up to date:

$ apt-get update
$ apt-get upgrade