The JLeRN Experiment

JISC's Learning Registry Node Experiment at Mimas

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What next…?

We have been looking at options to further work related to the JLeRN node and paradata, basically to create a sample interface. Javascript will be used mainly for the front-end, though it is all in primary stages. With all the data we have currently in our JLeRN node, it would be good to have a way to explore it and use it through a web client. Currently it is not fully clear what we might end up with, but some basic wireframes for the web pages are considered. Next we will look at the sharing and synchronising of learning resources across the Alpha node on Ubuntu OS and the Beta node on Windows 2008 OS.

Keep watching this space on more progress.

Nginx server is famous

Last week there was the Dev8D developer conference 2012 in London, and JLeRN proudly threw an exciting challenge to the community to work with the innovative JLeRN project. I was managing and promoting the challege, and participated in JISC Observatory challenge which was focused on presenting views on emerging technologies which can call attention to innovations that can provide important benefits over the next 3 to 5 years.

I presented the most important features for the Nginx server which runs in background for the learning registry node and explained during a recording time of about 5 minutes and was awarded second prize!

Dev8D Award to Bharti Gupta

Dev8D Award to Bharti Gupta

The points addressed were:

  • What about this recent change (innovation) in technology do you consider important?
  • Have you been involved with or seen promising development projects related to this innovation?
  • What is your vision of how this should develop in 3 to 5 years, and what do you see as ultimate challenges and benefits?
  • If you could wave a magic wand, which obstacles to maximising positive outcome would you remove and why?

Here’s a brief overview of Nginx server:

For the better part of the last decade, the choice for Web server software has been pretty stable. Apache has been used on the majority of Web servers while Microsoft’s IIS (Internet Information Services) is used across many of the rest. Over the past few years, however, use of a third entrant, Nginx (pronounced “engine-x”), has been on the rise, thanks to the software’s ability to easily handle high-volume traffic.

Nginx is already run on 50 million different Internet domains, or about 10 percent of the entire Internet, the developers of the software estimate. It is particularly widely used on highly trafficked Web sites, such as Facebook, Zappos, Groupon, Hulu, Dropbox, and WordPress. Not surprisingly, the software’s creator, Igor Sysoev, designed Nginx in 2004 specifically to handle a large numbers of concurrent users — up to 10,000 connections per server. A white paper on this can be found here

The Windows Node at Mimas

Worked to establish a node on the Windows Server 2008 machine and after some tweaking and self learning got through quite far installing the node.There were some issues on getting Nginx setup right though.

Then after some tweaking, Nginx goes smoothly on the Windows 2008 server after restarting the machine, but wasn’t sure why the step to push the couchapps not working. I was trying to navigate to the config folder of the LR repository
cd C:\Python27\LearningRegRepository\config
and ran the command

python setup_node.py

and was getting the following error:

Traceback (most recent call last):
File “setup_node.py”, line 12, in
import couchdb
ImportError: No module named couchdb

Checked the python code, and couchdb folder is very much existing.. well I knew now is the time to “DEBUG” which I guess I love the most. Lou on the US Learning Registry team suggested to download version 1.1.1 from https://github.com/dch/couchdb/downloads

Damon Regan from the US Learning Registry team noticed the blog post and was happy about the work on Windows machine. He mentioned that Lou Wolford on the LR team has worked with getting the LR running on Windows. There is an active pickling error that they’re working to resolve. He shared the discussion thread on that: https://github.com/LearningRegistry/LearningRegistry/pull/167 and discussions were happening on the Windows mods during the dev calls. He hoped that all issues get resolved and I can get it up and running soon.

Later on I managed to resolve as per Jim’s suggestion for Ubuntu on https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/learningreg-dev/0sKsLb15fi8/hFFhObPk69IJ


cd ~/gitrepos/LearningRegistry/LR
pip install -e ./

That should install ALL LR dependencies outside of wsgi, then:

cd ~/gitrepos/config
python setup_node.py -d

I used the same version of couchDB as Lou suggested. The pickling error was still persisting and I was going through the discussion thread Damon mentioned in his comment.

Lou commented that they are looking into a solution that looks for what OS is running and switches between threads/processes to keep everything stable no matter what OS is being used. He promised to keep me updated and let me know ASAP when it is released.  Damon mentioned that John Poyau from the LR team is working on a new factory model to allow windows platforms to use threads and linux and mac platforms to use process. Then in few days, John was able to fix the issue by switching to use Thread instead of Process in change_monitor to fix the pickling_error in Windows. Also he tweaked the way test files are declared to be Windows-friendly.

Damon mentioned that the fix is tested on Windows, Mac and linux. He also mentioned that the fix is not formally released yet. but is in their stable master. He recommended to update our experimental windows node at Mimas from the stable master to obtain the fix. He suggested following steps as well to upgrade the node to master


1. Pull the most recent tag from git

cd /LearningRegistry
git checkout master
git pull

2. Run the setup node python script

python setup_node.py -d

Then he mentioned that it is important to re-run the setup node python script as configuration changes take place during updates. The LR team hopes to have an update script soon that will preserve our node settings on update.

Now I have followed Damon’s steps and do not see the pickling error anymore, and able to start the server on localhost. Watch this space for further development on the Windows environment.

Pre-Dev8D JLeRN Developers’ Challenge Surgery

So the JLeRN Developers Challenge at Dev8D  is up and posted on the Challenges page on Dev8D, and invite your brilliant ideas and entries.

There shall be a dedicated one hour pre-Dev8D surgery on 6th February, 2011 from 10:30-11:30 am and is open for any queries or assistance. You are more than welcome to find more about the challenge or the JLeRN project itself during the surgery.

To participate in the challenge, please drop in a quick email on Bharti [dot] Gupta [at] manchester [dot] ac [dot] uk. You should receive an immediate response acknowledging your interest in the challenge along with the details of how to proceed and connect to the development environment. Please feel free to go through our blog posts which points to most of the work we have been involved in.

Java on Learning Registry…

The JLeRN Hackday was such an involving and learning event. Got few more doubts clear with Nick and got a chance to speak with Scott regarding his work on LRJavaLib – the Java library for the Learning Registry services. I downloaded bencode from http://bit.ly/AecnXF, untar it, and installed the jar file using Maven.

Now am trying to develop some Java code to automate all the services using JAX-RS using Eclipse IDE.

Also need to look at the Data Services proposal, which seems quite promising from the Developer’s list on http://bit.ly/wScfDk

Some more exploring…

Hi this is Bharti and am one of the developers here at Mimas and working with Sarah and Nick on the JLeRN project. I got lucky enough to get chance to work on this exciting experimental work on establishing a UK node. and I had a good one day of self learning about the Learning Registry (LR) and then got chance to speak with Dan Rahek from the LR team. Quite a reminder of what he presented on LR project in the Repository Fringe event last year in Edinburgh.

Well, there are definitely many challenges to face, but am sure we can crack the puzzle. Worked to establish a node on the Windows Server 2008 machine and after some tweaking and self learning got through quite far installing the node.There are some issues on getting Nginx setup right though.

We have the hackday coming up on 23rd January and hope to get some nice JORUM data to play with. There are different mechanisms to let the data talk to the node, and I am keen to explore the Java library that may be used to publish data to, and harvest from a LR node..

Keep watching this space for more developments in this R&D project!

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