(Last Updated On: July 1, 2018)

In this guide, we’re going to look at How to Setup Askbot Questions and Answers Framework on Ubuntu 18.04. Askbot is an open source question and answers web forum with a look similar to StackOverflow. Askbot is based on Django framework and most parts are written in Python programming language with some good features like a karma-based system, voting, and content moderation.

Askbot is used by Ask-FedoraProject and Ask-OpenStack projects to enable its users to ask questions and let other members of the community contribute.

In our installation of Askbot on Ubuntu 18.04, we will setup below prerequisites:

  • Database server – MySQL/MariaDB/PostgreSQL
  • uWSGI
  • Web Server – Nginx

Step 1: Install Askbot Dependencies

Start by installing all required dependencies, this will be python packages and pip package manager.

Update and upgrade system packages:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Install python dependencies:

sudo apt-get install -y python-dev python-setuptools python-pip libmysqlclient-dev

Step 2: Install and Configure Database

For a database server, we’ll use MariaDB database server. Refer to our guide below for how to install and configure MariaDB database server on Ubuntu 18.04: Install MariaDB 10.3 on Ubuntu 18.04 and CentOS 7

If you’re interested in using MySQL Server, check Installing MySQL Server on CentOS 7 / CentOS 6

Once the database server has been installed, Create a database and associated user for Askbot:

[email protected]:~# mysql -u root -p
Enter password: 
Welcome to the MariaDB monitor. Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MariaDB connection id is 21
Server version: 10.3.7-MariaDB-1:10.3.7+maria~bionic mariadb.org binary distribution

Copyright (c) 2000, 2018, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

MariaDB [(none)]> CREATE DATABASE askbot_db;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.000 sec)
MariaDB [(none)]> create user [email protected] identified by 'Password';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.000 sec)
MariaDB [(none)]> grant all privileges on askbot_db.* to [email protected];
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)
MariaDB [(none)]> flush privileges;
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.000 sec)
MariaDB [(none)]> exit
Bye

Step 3: Install and Configure Askbot

Now that we have installed the packages we need to install Askbot, and we have a database ready, let us install Askbot application. We will use Python Virtualenv for this.

Start by creating askbot user:

[email protected]:~# adduser askbot
Adding user `askbot' ...
Adding new group `askbot' (1000) ...
Adding new user `askbot' (1000) with group `askbot' ...
Creating home directory `/home/askbot' ...
Copying files from `/etc/skel' ...
New password: 
Retype new password: 
passwd: password updated successfully
Changing the user information for askbot
Enter the new value, or press ENTER for the default
Full Name []: 
Room Number []: 
Work Phone []: 
Home Phone []: 
Other []: 
Is the information correct? [Y/n] y
[email protected]:~# id askbot
uid=1000(askbot) gid=1000(askbot) groups=1000(askbot)

Add askbot user to sudo group:

$ sudo usermod -aG sudo askbot

Install virtualenv:

$ sudo pip install virtualenv
Collecting virtualenv
Downloading https://files.pythonhosted.org/packages/b6/30/96a02b2287098b23b875bc8c2f58071c35d2efe84f747b64d523721dc2b5/virtualenv-16.0.0-py2.py3-none-any.whl (1.9MB)
100% |████████████████████████████████| 1.9MB 526kB/s 
Installing collected packages: virtualenv
Successfully installed virtualenv-16.0.0

Create a directory for Askbot content:

# mkdir /srv/askbot
# chown askbot:askbot /srv/askbot/
# su - askbot
$ cd /srv/askbot/

After installing virtualenv package, create a Virtual environment for askbot:

$ virtualenv venv
New python executable in /srv/askbot/venv/bin/python
Installing setuptools, pip, wheel...done.

Source the env to start using it:

$ cd venv/
$ [email protected]:/srv/askbot/venv$ source bin/activate
(venv) [email protected]:/srv/askbot/venv$

Then install askbot and mysql python module:

$ pip install askbot gunicorn mysqlclient mysql-python

Setup Askbot:

(venv) [email protected]:/srv/askbot/venv$ mkdir askbot-app
(venv) [email protected]:/srv/askbot/venv$ cd askbot-app

Run the command askbot-setup to install askbot.

(venv) [email protected]:/srv/askbot/venv/askbot-app$ askbot-setup

Deploying Askbot - Django Q&A forum application
Problems installing? -> please email [email protected]

To CANCEL - hit Ctr-C at any time

Enter directory path (absolute or relative) to deploy
askbot. To choose current directory - enter "."
> .

Please select database engine:
1 - for postgresql, 2 - for sqlite, 3 - for mysql, 4 - oracle
type 1/2/3/4: 3

Please enter database name (required)
> askbot_db

Please enter database user (required)
> askbot

Please enter database password (required)
> Password
Copying files: 
* __init__.py 
* manage.py 
* urls.py 
* django.wsgi 
Creating settings file
settings file created

copying directories: * doc
* cron
* upfiles

Done. Please find further instructions at http://askbot.org/doc/

Generate static files to AskBot installation directory:

$ python manage.py collectstatic

If you get an error like “TypeError: Error when calling the metaclass bases“, there is a fix for it. You need to install six version 1.10.0. Uninstall the latest version and install v1.10.0

(venv) [email protected]:/srv/askbot/askbot-app$ pip uninstall six 
(venv) [email protected]:/srv/askbot/askbot-app$ pip install six==1.10.0

When done, generate static files to AskBot installation directory:

$ python manage.py collectstatic

Type ‘yes‘ and press Enter to continue to finish generation of files.

Then run makemigrations and migrate commands

(venv) [email protected]:/srv/askbot/askbot-app$ python manage.py makemigrations
WARNING!!! You are using a 'locmem' (local memory) caching backend,
which is OK for a low volume site running on a single-process server.
For a multi-process configuration it is neccessary to have a production
cache system, such as redis or memcached.

With local memory caching and multi-process setup you might intermittently
see outdated content on your site.

System check identified some issues:

WARNINGS:
django_authopenid.UserPasswordQueue.user: (fields.W342) Setting unique=True on a ForeignKey has the same effect as using a OneToOneField.
HINT: ForeignKey(unique=True) is usually better served by a OneToOneField.
group_messaging.SenderList.recipient: (fields.W342) Setting unique=True on a ForeignKey has the same effect as using a OneToOneField.
HINT: ForeignKey(unique=True) is usually better served by a OneToOneField.
Migrations for 'askbot':
0013_auto_20180630_1518.py:
- Change Meta options on activity
- Change Meta options on award
- Change Meta options on badgedata
- Change Meta options on favoritequestion
- Change Meta options on postflagreason
- Change Meta options on postrevision
- Change Meta options on replyaddress
- Change Meta options on repute
- Change Meta options on threadtogroup
- Change Meta options on vote
- Alter field frequency on emailfeedsetting
- Alter field primary_language on userprofile

Generate the MySQL database with the optionmigrate.

(venv) [email protected]:/srv/askbot/askbot-app$ python manage.py migrate

You can also use:

$ python manage.py syncdb
...
Synchronizing apps without migrations:
Creating tables...
Running deferred SQL...
Installing custom SQL...
Running migrations:
No migrations to apply.
You have installed Django's auth system, and don't have any superusers defined.
Would you like to create one now? (yes/no): yes
Username (leave blank to use 'askbot'): askbot
Email address: [email protected]
Password: 
Password (again): 
Superuser created successfully.

When the script asks you if you want to create a superuser, answer yes if you want to create one. By default Askbot sets admin status(superuser) for the first user created automatically but also supports this form.

Test Askbot installation using:

(venv):/srv/askbot/askbot-app$ python manage.py runserver 0.0.0.0:8080

Access your server IP and port 8080. If everything is okay, you should get to its dashboard below:

Step 5: Install and Configure uWSGI & Nginx

Install uWSGI from apt:

$ sudo apt-get install uwsgi

Create uwsgi configuration file for Askbot:

$ sudo vim /etc/uwsgi/apps-enabled/askbot.ini

Add content:

[uwsgi]

# uwsgi configurations
master = true
processes = 5
uid = www-data
gid=www-data
listen.owner = www-data
listen.group = www-data

# App configurations
chdir=/srv/askbot/askbot-app
wsgi-file=/srv/askbot/askbot-app/django.wsgi
virtualenv=/srv/askbot/venv
socket = /srv/askbot/askbot.sock
chown-socket = www-data:www-data
chmod-socket = 664
vacuum = true
die-on-term = true
logto = /var/log/uwsgi.log
log-master-stream = true

Modify the file accordingly then save it.

Install nginx:
$ sudo apt-get install nginx

Restart uwsgi service with www-data  as socket file owner:

$ sudo systemctl restart uwsgi

Install certbot for generating Letsencrypt SSL Certificate:

# wget https://dl.eff.org/certbot-auto -P /usr/local/bin
# chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/certbot-auto

Generate Letsencrypt SSL certificate:

# systemctl stop nginx
# export DOMAIN='ask.computingforgeeks.com'
# export EMAIL="[email protected]"
# certbot-auto certonly --standalone -d $DOMAIN \
--preferred-challenges http --agree-tos -n -m $EMAIL \
--keep-until-expiring

If successful, certbot will give you a successful message:

Cleaning up challenges

IMPORTANT NOTES:
 - Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at:
   /etc/letsencrypt/live/ask.computingforgeeks.com/fullchain.pem
   Your key file has been saved at:
   /etc/letsencrypt/live/ask.computingforgeeks.com/privkey.pem
   Your cert will expire on 2018-09-28. To obtain a new or tweaked
   version of this certificate in the future, simply run certbot-auto
   again. To non-interactively renew *all* of your certificates, run
   "certbot-auto renew"
 - Your account credentials have been saved in your Certbot
   configuration directory at /etc/letsencrypt. You should make a
   secure backup of this folder now. This configuration directory will
   also contain certificates and private keys obtained by Certbot so
   making regular backups of this folder is ideal.
 - If you like Certbot, please consider supporting our work by:

   Donating to ISRG / Let's Encrypt:   https://letsencrypt.org/donate
   Donating to EFF:                    https://eff.org/donate-le

Create Nginx configuration file:

$ sudo vim /etc/nginx/conf.d/askbot.conf

Ensure you replace variables with your valid values then save the file.

# Askbot Nginx cofiguration

# cofiguration for https
server {
        listen 443 ssl http2;
        server_name ask.computingforgeeks.com www.ask.computingforgeeks.com;

        ssl on;
        ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/ask.computingforgeeks.com/fullchain.pem;
        ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/ask.computingforgeeks.com/privkey.pem;
        ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;

        location /static {
          alias /srv/askbot/askbot-app/static;
        }


        location / {
          include uwsgi_params;
          uwsgi_pass unix:/srv/askbot/askbot.sock;
        }
}

# http to https redirect
server {
        listen 80;
        server_name ask.computingforgeeks.com www.ask.computingforgeeks.com;
        return    301 https://$server_name$request_uri;
}

Confirm that the syntax is okay:

$ sudo nginx -t
nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

Restart that both uwsgi and nginx services after making the change.

$ sudo systemctl restart uwsgi nginx