Installing OAIS Software: RODA

On January 5, 2010, in Best Practices, Research, by Chris Prom

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been testing the installation and configuration routines for software projects that seek to integrate a number of open source tools into a cohesive tool set that could be used as the basis for a local electronic records program; these tools generally include some software conversion tools as well as a storage repository or a method to store objects in some kind of external repository.

Since I’m most interested in finding out which ones are useful for smaller archives, my software evaluation criteria are fairly straightforward. For each of software packages I reviewed, I provided a 1-4 ‘score’ for five evaluation criteria, with a possible maximum of 20 points possible.  I’ll assign up to five points for each of six evaluation criteria.

In doing this I’m hoping to come to some preliminary conclusions about which of these pieces of software would be most suitable for particular types of archives, in particular ‘smaller’ archives, which may lack the technical support to pursue complex software installation and support.  The projects that I’ll review include RODA, D-Space, DAITSS, and Archivematica.  I will probably also try to do a basic Fedora installation.  Since I have not been involved with, or used any of this software in the past, and have a fairly low level of knowledge of system administration and software installation, my experiences may not be typical of those with more tech experience.

For that reason, I want to be very clear in noting that the overall scores I assign for each project are not intended to assess the overall quality of the project, only the applicability of the software for archives that function with limited tech support.  For that reason, any archives that is thinking about using one of these should assess these projects and their software carefully in light of local circumstances, in particular the level of tech support that you have available.

Today we’ll look at RODA:

RODA

The installation routine for RODA is very well documented, but complex.  After several hours of effort to get the software dependencies installed, I gave up. I may go back again and try later.   It appears that at least some of the problems I had were due to the fact that I was using Ubuntu 9.10, not 8.04 or 8.10, as recommended (my bad).

In general, my conclusion is that while RODA is very useful software and that the project is an extremely valuable contribution to the community–I will evaluate its actual functionality later using their demo version–it would be very difficult for even the most tech-savvy archivist to install, configure, and use it on his/her own. Most archivists will not have direct access to the server technologies that it would require, and some IT departments will be reluctant to support the required software (In particular those that have settled on IIS).  Even if the required server platform is available, RODA would require tech support, and the fact that it has many software dependencies and server dependencies may make upgrades difficult.  Here are my scores and notes for my six evaluation criteria:

  • Cohesion and completeness of documentation: 3. The installation manual is very complete and easy to use, nice manual, and much appreciated that it was translated from Portuguese to English!
  • Required software dependencies: 2–it has very long list of complex dependencies required; but most of them are pretty standard Linux server applications.  Currently, the developers state that they can guarantee that it runs only under certain versions of Ubuntu .  Experienced server admins would be comfortable with them, or possibly be able to get it to run under a different enviroments.  In any case, an archivist may need to explain clearly what is needed and why.
  • Level of  technical knowledge and system admin authority required: 1.  It looks like you would need to be a skilled Linux server admin to complete the install, particularly if you need to fix anything that goes wrong during the installation
  • Time required to install: 1.  Spent about 10 hours getting various components, dependencies installed, which may be a reflection of my own low level of knowledge.  I may revise this score later, once I try the right verison of Ubuntu.
  • Flexibility of installation options: 3.  I’m a bit of two minds here.  On the one hand, it may not work under anything under than certain versions of Ubuntu.  On the other hand, it has a service oriented architecture, so you can spread the various components among many machines for large scale implementations.  As the developers continue to work on it.

Bottom line installation and configuration score: 10/20

The main problem I had was installing and configuring OpenLDAP, which the system requires.  Here are my detailed notes:

  • OpenLDAP/slapd: Culd not configure as instructed since administrator password not requested as shown in install screens. It looks like I would need to go through an extensive installation/configuration process using this documentation: http://www.openldap.org/doc/admin24/ I contacted the developer, Luis Faria about it, and he provided a helpful response, saying that I should try the old verison of slapd.  However, I was not able to get this version installed for my version of Ubuntu
  • VsFTPD, but did not know what ldap configuration to provide and  could not provide it since slapd configuration not working.
  • Mediabunt: Had to enable Mediabuntu via terminal; was able to install the migration software only after I discovered that I needed to remove slashes from the command provided in the install docs.
  • Apache Tomcat.  Tomcat site provide no real instructions are provided for configuring tomcat.  I downloaded and installed it, but then noticed that I needed the JDK (Java Development Kit), not just the virtual machine, for it to work.  I downloaded that and installed it, but then needed to change the JAVA_HOME environment variable.  After a few hours of work, I had tomcat installed and operating, learning much about Linux permissions in the event, since it took me a while to realize that startup.sh was not shipped with execute permission.  The installation/configuration documentation for tomcat is poor at best, from a newbie’s point of view.
  • Postfix was already installed on my system, but RODA seems to require libltdl3, which was not found when I tried to install it via apt-get.  However, libtdl7 was already installed on my system.

* Please note, I updated the scores on Feb 1, 2010 in order to reflect the fact that only 20 points of the final score apply toward the final evaluation, given my revised evaluation criteria.