Canvas LMS/Installation

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Installation Ubuntu 12.04 | Installation Ubuntu 14.04
Canvas - Learning Management Solution. Used by universities and schools.


Ubuntu 12.04


In the simplest configuration, everything will be running off a single server.

Recommended Hardware specifications
Dual Core+ 3.0ghz+ or Dual processors
64-bit capable system

Software Requirements

Minimum, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS+ server edition. Desktop will require more hardware than listed above.
Preferably Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
If you are having trouble loading 12.04 LTS, try upgrading from 10.04. Instructions here

Download Database software

Postgres (Database)

~$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y upgrade && sudo apt-get -y autoremove
~$ sudo apt-get -y install postgresql-9.1

Configure Database

~$ sudo -u postgres createuser canvas -D -S -R -P
~$ sudo -u postgres createdb canvas_production --owner=canvas
~$ sudo -u postgres createdb canvas_queue_production --owner=canvas

Download Git & Canvas

~$ sudo apt-get -y install git-core
~$ cd /var
~$ sudo git clone canvas
~$ cd canvas
~/var/canvas$ sudo git branch --set-upstream stable origin/stable
~/var/canvas$ sudo chown -R helpdesk /var/canvas   --- helpdesk just happens to be the name of this user.  use your own

Download Ruby 1.9.3

You're going to have to add a repository because the version available through Ubuntu's US or Main repos is not up to date (at the time of this writing.

~/var/canvas$ sudo apt-get -y install python-software-properties
~/var/canvas$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:brightbox/ruby-ng
~/var/canvas$ sudo apt-get update
~/var/canvas$ sudo apt-get -y install ruby1.9.3 zlib1g-dev libxml2-dev libmysqlclient-dev libxslt1-dev imagemagick libpq-dev nodejs libxmlsec1-dev libcurl4-gnutls-dev libxmlsec1 build-essential openjdk-7-jre unzip

Download Ruby Gems

If you are behind a firewall, you're going to need to open up the following routes to complete this sections' installation instructions:
~/var/canvas$ sudo gem install bundler --version 1.3.5
~/var/canvas$ bundle install --path vendor/bundle --without=sqlite

Download default config files from Amazon instance

~/var/canvas$ for config in amazon_s3 database \
  delayed_jobs domain file_store outgoing_mail security external_migration
do cp config/$config.yml.example config/$config.yml; done



~/var/canvas$ cp ./config/database.yml.example ./config/database.yml
~/var/canvas$ vi config/database.yml

Under Production

  • edit the database name (if different from default)default=canvas_production & canvas_queue_production
  • host (if different from default) default=localhost
  • username for database user (if different from default) default=canvas
  • password for database user
In my instance, nothing was changed except the password.
 adapter: postgresql
 encoding: utf8
 database: canvas_production
 host: localhost
 username: canvas
 password: password
 timeout: 5000
   adapter: postgresql
   encoding: utf8
   database: canvas_queue_production
   host: localhost
   username: canvas
   password: password
   timeout: 5000


~/var/canvas$ cp ./config/outgoing_mail.yml.example ./config/outgoing_mail.yml
~/var/canvas$ vi config/outgoing_mail.yml

Under Production

  • Edit the address, this should be your email relay or SMTP server
  • Edit the port (if different from default) default=25
  • Edit the username for your relay/smtp
  • Edit the password for your relay/smtp
  • Edit the domain (if different from default)
  • Edit the outgoing address (if different from default) [email protected]
In my instance, I only changed the address, username, password, domain, and outgoing_address
 address: ""
 port: "25"
 user_name: "user"
 password: "password"
 authentication: "plain" # plain, login, or cram_md5
 domain: ""
 outgoing_address: "[email protected]"
 default_name: "Instructure Canvas"


~/var/canvas$ cp ./config/domain.yml.example ./config/domain.yml
~/var/canvas$ vi config/domain.yml

Under Production

  • Edit the domain
  • Uncomment the files domain and add your domain
In my instance, I only changed the domain and uncommented the files domain
 domain: ""
 # whether this instance of canvas is served over ssl (https) or not
 # defaults to true for production, false for test/development
 ssl: true
 files_domain: ""


~/var/canvas$ cp ./config/security.yml.example ./config/security.yml
~/var/cavnas$ vi config/security.yml

Under Production

  • Edit the encryption Key to a minimum of 20 characters. This can be random.
In my instance, I only changed the encryption key by pressing alot of buttons
 # replace this with a random string of at least 20 characters
 encryption_key: hu9ehd92hdh2798ehdrd2hd37824   ---(no this is not really my encryption key)

Database Population

~/var/canvas$ RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rake db:initial_setup

You will be asked the following questions:

What email address will the site administrator account use? > 
Please confirm > 
What password will the site administrator use? >
Please confirm >
What do you want users to see as the account name? This should probably be the name of your organization. >
To help our developers better serve you, Instructure would like to collect some usage data about your Canvas installation. You can  
change this setting at any time.:
1. Opt in
2. Only send anonymized data
3. Opt out completely

File Generation

~/var/canvas$ bundle exec rake canvas:compile_assets

Ownership limitations

I did this with www-data as this user exists by default with Apache installtions on Ubuntu.
Verify www-data exists:

~/var/canvas$ awk -F':' '{ print$1}' /etc/passwd

Create directories and set permissions.

~/var/canvas$ sudo mkdir -p log tmp/pids public/assets public/stylesheets/compiled
~/var/canvas$ sudo touch Gemfile.lock
~/var/canvas$ sudo chown -R www-data config/environment.rb log tmp public/assets public/stylesheets/compiled Gemfile.lock

Limit read access

~/var/canvas$ sudo chown www-data config/*.yml
~/var/canvas$ sudo chmod 400 config/*.yml

Apache2 install/config

~/var/canvas$ sudo apt-get -y install passenger-common1.9.1 libapache2-mod-passenger apache2
~/var/canvas$ sudo a2enmod rewrite
~/var/canvas$ sudo service apache2 restart

Verify that symlinks exist for the passenger mods:

~/var/canvas$ cd /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/
~/etc/apache2/mods-enabled$ ls

In my installation, I did not do the following:
Permission issues, see Configure Passenger with Apache on the Production start guide for Canvas

Apache 2 SSL config

~/var/canvas$ sudo a2enmod ssl
~/var/canvas$ sudo service apache2 restart
Generate a CSR for SSL provider

The following will generate a SSL Key w/o a passphrase. Keep in mind that if the key is compromised the SSL traffic is compromised.

openssl genrsa -out server.key 2048

If you've already generated a key with a passphrase and want to remove it, run the following

openssl rsa -in server.key -out server.key.insecure

Now that you have the key you can generate the CSR.

openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr

Submit the CSR to your SSL provider and specify what type of system the website is hosted on (ie. apache2 on Linux). They will generally then provide you with the following:

  • Root Certificate
  • Chain Certificate
  • SSL Certificate

I personally check my existing certificates located under /etc/ssl/certs to make sure that neither the Root Certificate or Chain Certificate is already there. If not, then create a new file for each and paste the Root and Chain into each, respectively.
For the SSL certificate, I recommend that you create a sub folder either under /etc/ssl/certs/ or /etc/ssl/private/ and organize the cert, csr, and key under such. Make sure your permissions are set correctly, you do not want just anyone being able to view these files.

Canvas Apache2 config

Disable the default site

~/var/canvas$ sudo a2dissite 000-default
~/var/canvas$ sudo service apache2 restart

Create the canvas apache config file

~/var/canvas$ sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/canvas

Paste the following into the new file:

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerAdmin [email protected]
  DocumentRoot /var/canvas/public
  RewriteEngine On
  RewriteCond %{HTTP:X-Forwarded-Proto} !=https
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/health_check
  RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L]  
  ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/canvas_errors.log
  LogLevel warn
  CustomLog /var/log/apache2/canvas_access.log combined
  SetEnv RAILS_ENV production
  <Directory /var/canvas/public>
    Allow from all
    Options -MultiViews
<VirtualHost *:443>
  ServerAdmin [email protected]
  DocumentRoot /var/canvas/public
  ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/canvas_errors.log
  LogLevel warn
  CustomLog /var/log/apache2/canvas_ssl_access.log combined
  SSLEngine on
  BrowserMatch "MSIE [2-6]" nokeepalive ssl-unclean-shutdown downgrade-1.0 force-response-1.0
  BrowserMatch "MSIE [17-9]" ssl-unclean-shutdown
  # the following ssl certificate files are generated for you from the ssl-cert package.
  SSLCertificateFile /etc/ssl/certs/ssl-cert-snakeoil.pem
  SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/ssl/private/ssl-cert-snakeoil.key
  SetEnv RAILS_ENV production
  <Directory /var/canvas/public>
    Allow from all
    Options -MultiViews

Modify the following values in the new canvas config file:

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerName [value]   -- changed from default
  ServerAlias [value]  -- changed from default
  ServerAdmin [value]  -- changed from default
  DocumentRoot [value] -- default
  SetEnv [value]       -- default
  <Directory [value]>  -- default
<VirtualHost *:443>
  ServerName [value]   -- changed from default
  ServerAlias [value]  -- changed from default
  ServerAdmon [value]  -- changed from default
  DocumentRoot [value] -- default
  SSLCertificateFile [value]    -- changed from default
  SSLCertificateKeyFile [value] -- changed from default
  SetEnv [value]       -- default
  <Directory [value]>  -- default

Enable the new site

~/var/canvas$ sudo a2ensite canvas

Redis Server install

~/var/canvas$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:chris-lea/redis-server
~/var/canvas$ sudo apt-get update
~/var/canvas$ sudo apt-get -y install redis-server

verify that the redis version installed is 2.6x or above

~/var/canvas$ redis-cli info | grep redis_version

The above should return a response like such: redis_version: 2.8.4

Redis Server config

~/var/canvas$ sudo cp config/cache_store.yml.example config/cache_store.yml
~/var/canvas$ sudo vi config/cache_store.yml

Uncomment the cache_store: redis_store or add the following if there is no production section:

  cache_store: redis_store
~/var/canvas$ sudo cp config/redis.yml.example config/redis.yml
~/var/canvas$ vi config/redis.yml

Uncomment the section below and add localhost

   # list of redis servers to use in the ring
  - localhost
#  - redis://redis01

Restart services

~/var/canvas$ sudo service postgresql restart
~/var/canvas$ sudo service apache2 restart
~/var/canvas$ sudo service redis-server restart

Automated jobs installation

~/var/canvas$ sudo ln -s /var/canvas/script/canvas_init /etc/init.d/canvas_init
~/var/canvas$ sudo update-rc.d canvas_init defaults
~/var/canvas$ sudo /etc/init.d/canvas_init start

Final step: Restart Apache2

~/var/canvas$ sudo service apache2 restart
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