Debian server installation

These are advanced installation notes for a Debian server to deploy OpenAtlas.
We use this instruction for our workflow, it is very specific and detailed (e.g. changing the prompt to color and show git information) so feel free to use/adapt as needed.

Additional packages

apt install aptitude ntpsec vim


OpenAtlas user interfaces are currently supported for English and German, you might want to install needed languages with this command:

dpkg-reconfigure locales


  • Implement ssh-key user access
  • Disallow password authentication and root login
    • vim /etc/ssh/sshd-config
      PermitRootLogin no
      PasswordAuthentication no
    • To test, open second shell, restart ssh server (systemctl restart ssh), try to log in again. Leave first shell open, in case you have to fix things.
  • Install and activate Unattended upgrades
    # apt-get install unattended-upgrades apt-listchanges

    Uncomment and edit following line in /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades:
    Unattended-Upgrade::Mail "root";


rkunter is a Unix-based tool that scans for rootkits, backdoors and possible local exploits. To install rkhunter and prevent false positives when deploying OpenAtlas follow the instructions below.


apt install rkhunter

vim /etc/rkhunter.conf
  • WEB_CMD=""
  • ALLOWDEVFILE=/dev/shm/PostgreSQL.*
  • ALLOWDEVFILE=/dev/shm/ShM.*
  • ALLOWIPCPROC=/usr/sbin/apache2
vim /etc/rkhunter.conf.local
rkhunter -c --sk
rkhunter --propupd
vim /etc/default/rkhunter
  • CRON_DAILY_RUN="true"
  • CRON_DB_UPDATE="true"
  • APT_AUTOGEN="true"

File structure

apt install apache2 (needed for permissions and file structure)

  • /var/www
    • /openatlas (OpenAtlas instances)
    • /frontend (presentation sites)
  • Setup access on /var/www: owner=root, group=web-admin (can write), world can read e.g. www-data.
  • Directories which needs to be writable by Apache e.g. uploads should be owned by www-data, see stackoverflow discussion e.g.
groupadd web-admin
usermod -a -G web-admin alex
chgrp -R web-admin /var/www
chmod -R 775 /var/www
chmod g+s /var/www

Every user should change umask on user level to 002 in the home directory
vim ~/.profile

Add line
umask 002

Don't forget to log in again so the changes are applied.
mkdir /var/www/openatlas
mkdir /var/www/frontend


Colored prompt with git information about branch and changes

vim ~/.bashrc

function parse_git_dirty {
    [[ $(git status 2> /dev/null | tail -n1) != "nothing to commit, working tree clean" ]] && echo "*" 
function parse_git_branch {
    git branch --no-color 2> /dev/null | sed -e '/^[^*]/d' -e "s/* \(.*\)/[\1$(parse_git_dirty)]/" 
PS1='\[\e[1;34m\]\u@\h:\w\[\e[0;32m\]$(parse_git_branch)\[\e[1;34m\]\$ \[\e[m\]'

General adaption

Change default editor to vim:

update-alternatives --config editor

Install OpenAtlas instance

Next follow the instructions how to install OpenAtlas:

In case proxy is needed

For git e.g. ACDH-CH:

$ git config --global http.proxy

For pip3 e.g. ACDH-CH:
$ pip3 install --proxy= calmjs
$ npm config set proxy


  • Disable directory listening for Apache
# a2dismod autoindex
# service apache2 restart
  • Activate brotly (compression for traffic)
    1. Install and activatebrotly
      sudo apt install brotli
      sudo a2enmod brotli
    2. Add outside of virtual host (so that it is for all sites) configuration
      <IfModule mod_brotli.c>
              AddOutputFilterByType BROTLI_COMPRESS text/html text/plain text/xml text/css text/javascript application/javascript application/json application/xml
              BrotliCompressionQuality 4
    3. Restart Apache
      sudo service apache2 restart

      You can than check the headers or test it at brotly.

Certbot for HTTPS

(For sites on ACDH-CH servers ignore this, the certificate has to be managed by the proxy server.)

# apt install certbot python3-certbot-apache
# certbot --apache
# certbot

After configuration of certbot, uncomment the line with WSGIDaemonProcess in /etc/apache2/sites-available/XXX.conf before creating certificates for OpenAtlas instances.

System mails

System mails (e.g. from cron jobs) are implemented with msmtp

# apt install msmtp msmtp-mta ca-certificates
# vim /etc/msmtprc
# vim /etc/aliases

# msmtp root (to test, write some lines to not get flagged as spam and than CTRL + D)

Updated by Alexander Watzinger about 2 months ago · 52 revisions

Also available in: PDF HTML TXT