Project: Automated Configuration of Packaged Web Applications

Project Details

Presently, more applications are being moved to non self-hosted environments where control over a user's data may occur. Free software web applications have been created to allow users to self-host their web applications and give them more control over their data.

Unfortunately, although these services are available, non-technical users usually cannot have a good experience in getting these web services set up on their own systems in comparison to desktop applications. Many roadblocks exist for them, such as the information programmers and system administrators easily understand. This would include setting up the applications (installation, configuration, and/or databases), backups, and upgrading. This project aims to help fix this.

The goal of this project is to create a tool that will run a layer above apt which will install and configure packaged web applications. This tool will be controlled by the end user through a web user interface to allow for easy installation and configuration of web applications on Debian systems. To accomplish this, the tool will need an easily understandable web UI and not require the end user to use a terminal.

The following will be accomplished with this project:

  1. A tool that will allow 'userops' on a Debian system:

    • The tool will be controlled through a web UI presented to the end user
    • The web interface for the tool will allow for the installation of web applications by users less able to get it set up by themselves and manage upgrades and security.
      • The front-end of the tool will use Plinth for the UI
      • To install applications from this interface, the end user will simply select 'install' for the application they have selected
  2. Recipes for configuration:

    • Initially, the tool will support 3 popular web applications. Support will be included for ?OwnCloud or Wordpress (PHP), ?MediaGoblin (Python), and Redmine (Ruby, Rails)

      • These will serve as examples for future support of other web applications
    • The tool will run Chef to configure and install the packages with these recipes
  3. Patching of Debian packages

    • Some packages may need their config files externalized to /etc/<appname>/conf.d to prevent upgrades from breaking the configuration

      • This will be accomplished with patches to the Debian packages or the upstream project
  4. Documentation:

    • Documentation will be provided to allow others to test and use the tool
    • Documentation for non-technical users so that they can also understand the tool and how to use it
    • Show how to setup an instance of the tool for development purposes and usage
    • Detailed documentation on how the tool functions through the use of code comments and written documentation.
  5. Communicate with the UserOps initiative announced by ?MediaGoblin

  6. Communicate with the maintainers of the packages that will be initially supported by the tool

Project Schedule

[Note:] Code documentation will be done throughout the coding period.