Installing WeBWorK from Live DVD

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These instructions cover the installation of the Ubuntu Linux 8.04 operating system and WeBWorK 2.4 using the WeBWorK live DVD

Installing WeBWorK from the WeBWorK Live DVD


After installing from the WeBWorK Live DVD which only requires a few steps, you will have a full fledged Ubuntu 8.04 system with WeBWorK, Apache2, lighttpd, MySQL, etc. installed and configured. If your network uses DHCP, networking will be automatically configured for your system. If it uses static IP addresses, you will have to configure networking (see below). Also it is imperative that you CHANGE THE PASSWORDS for the OS users root and ubuntu (which has sudo privileges) and also for the WeBWorK users admin and ubuntu which have professor privileges (see below).

If you try this, I would appreciate any comments, suggestions, bug reports, etc.

There are more detailed instructions for Ubuntu 8.04 and WeBWorK 2.4 at Installation_Manual_for_2.4_on_Ubuntu_8.04

Download the iso image

  1. Go to and download WW2.4_Ubuntu8.04_LiveDVD.iso (it is a 919 MB file).
  2. gives ae7b8e9ccb76322c21b5eea173decbea WW2.4_Ubuntu8.04_LiveDVD.iso
  3. Verify the MD5 checksum of your downloaded file and then burn it to a DVD (the file is too large to be burned to a CD).

Install WeBWorK from the WeBWorK Live DVD

Place the installation DVD in your DVD/CD drive and reboot your computer from the DVD drive. You may have to press <F12> during the boot process to bring up a boot menu which will allow you to select booting from the DVD. Or you many have to edit the BIOS to select the DVD as the first boot device.

First select Install WeBWorK_DVD, the third option, and then hit <Enter>. After the system loads you will be presented with a series of 7 steps. .

  1. On the first install panel hit Forward to proceed with English as the selected language
  2. Select a city in your time zone and hit Forward
  3. Hit Forward to accept the default keyboard layout
  4. Next comes the Partition disks pages. You should be able to accept the defaults unless you want separate partitions for various directories. You might want to look at the Partition disks section in Installation_Manual_for_2.4_on_Ubuntu_8.04 which gives more information on this
  5. The next panel asks "Who are you?". We will fill in this information but actually it will not be used. The real information is contained in the WeBWorK Live DVD. We will just repeat it here so you don't get confused
    • Enter Ubuntu for "What is your name?"
    • Enter ubuntu for "What name do you want to use to log in?"
    • Enter admin twice for the password
    • Enter WeBWorK-DVD for the name of the computer
    • You can change all of these things after the installation takes place. Especially you should change the password
    • Then hit Forward to continue
  6. On the Migrate Documents and Settings page just hit Forward to continue without importing anything
  7. Finally hit Forward on the Ready to install page to begin the installation. The Advanced... button on this page gives you options on installing the boot loader but you almost certainly want to use the defaults

Now sit back and relax while the installation takes place. Some of the steps (especially around 94%) can take a long time. Please be patient. When your finally see "Installation complete" hit Restart now.

Boot your server

  1. Remove the WeBWorK Live DVD and press <Enter> to continue
  2. Hit <Enter> to select the default boot option or just wait for it to boot
  3. Log in as "ubuntu" with the password "admin" (more on accounts and passwords below). "ubuntu" has sudo privileges. The "root" account also has password "admin" but you can not log into as "root" on the log in page (you can su to "root" in a terminal window).
  4. You can open Firefox and access the URL: http://localhost/webwork2 . The admin course has two users "admin" and "fedora" as professors with passwords "admin" and "admin". myTestCourse has the same two users as professors and in addition practice (guest) users and one student user "jsmith" with password "jsmith". With the exception of jsmith, every password on the system is set to "admin"
  5. If your network uses DHCP, networking will be automatically configured for your system and you should be able to access the web with Firefox. If not, see below.
  6. Look through the instructions in Installation_Manual_for_2.4_on_Ubuntu_8.04 for testing WeBWorK. Note that all the installation steps have already been done for you except as noted below.


It is imperative that you CHANGE THE PASSWORDS for the OS users root and ubuntu (which has sudo privileges) and also for the WeBWorK users admin and ubuntu which have professor privileges both in the admin course and in the myTestCourse. Otherwise anyone can connect to your server and pretty easily gain root access.

To change the root password open a terminal window by clicking Applications, Accessories and then Terminal. Enter

$ su
Password: admin
# passwd
Enter new UNIX password: <new root password> 
Retype new UNIX password: <new root password>
passwd: password update successfully
# exit

Do not forget the <new root password> that you just entered. Now change the password for ubuntu.

$ passwd
Changing passwd for ubuntu:
(current) UNIX password: admin
Enter new UNIX password: <new ubuntu password> 
Retype new UNIX password: <new ubuntu password>
passwd: password update successfully

And as we said above Do not forget the <new ubuntu password> that you just entered.

To change the passwords for the WeBWorK users admin and ubuntu, log into the WeBWorK courses admin (http://localhost/webwork2/admin) and myTestCourse (http://localhost/webwork2/myTestCourse) and change the passwords from admin to something more secure.

Setting up networking using a static IP address

The server is set to accept only www (http) and secure telnet and file transfer (ssh) connections. Here we give directions for setting up an ethernet connection if you are using a static IP address. If your network is set up using DHCP you can skip this section.

  1. Select System, Administration, Network
  2. Click on Unlock
  3. Enter <ubuntu password> and click Authenticate
  4. Select Wired connection and click Properties. Uncheck Enable roaming mode and then for Configuration select Static IP address . Then fill in the required information and click OK
  5. Select General and enter your_server_name and your_domain_name, something like
  6. Next select DNS and add the IP address(es) of your DNS server(s)
  7. Finally select Hosts
  8. Click Add and enter your server's IP address if it's not there already
  9. Under Aliases enter your server's fully qualified domain name, something like Then click OK
  10. Select the entry and click Properties
  11. Under Aliases make sure you have the following entries in order
    1. first your server's fully qualified domain name, something like
    2. second your server's name, something like your_server_name
    3. third localhost
  12. Select the entry and click Properties. Under Aliases replace WeBWorK-DVD by your server's fully qualified domain name, something like
  13. Then click OK
  14. And click Close to close Network settings

You can check these settings by running the commands

$ hostname --fqdn


$ hostname

The first should respond with the fully qualified domain name and the second with just your_server_name.

Note that if your server can not find its fully qualified domain name, certain tools (such as the Synaptic Package Manager) will not start.

Now restart Apache

<root password>
# apache2ctl graceful
# exit

and test your server by connecting to "http://localhost/" and/or connecting to your server from a browser on a remote machine. You should see the page It works! indicating that Apache is running.

You can check Apache's status by connecting to "http://localhost/server-status" using a browser on your machine.

Further test Apache by connecting to "http://localhost/server-info" using a browser on your machine and you will see a page listing various information about Apache. In particular under Server Settings you should see

Server Version: Apache/2.2.8 (Ubuntu) mod_apreq2-20051231/2.6.0 mod_perl/2.0.3 Perl/v5.8.8

Global Configuration

Most WeBWorK configuration is done in the file /opt/webwork2/conf/global.conf. This file provides system-wide configuration settings, and defaults for course settings. Any setting in this file can be overridden in the course.conf file for a particular course. To override a setting for a course, just put the new setting (using the same syntax as is in global.conf) in the course.conf file.

There are several options that must be set for WeBWorK to work with your system. The rest of the file consists of customization options. Now edit global.conf

<root password>
# cd /opt/webwork/webwork2/conf
# gedit global.conf

WeBWorK uses the DateTime module. DateTime is supposed to be able to determine the local timezone itself without you having to enter it but this often fails so it is best to just set it here. For is a list of timezones recognized by DateTime go to . These timezones are more refined than standard timezone usage in that they include switches to daylight savings time (e.g. some parts of a time zone may make the switch and others may not). For example if your server is in the eastern US, on the list you will see DateTime::TimeZone::America::New_York and you should replace $siteDefaults{timezone} = ""; by $siteDefaults{timezone} = "America/New_York";

  1. Search for $siteDefaults{timezone} = "America/New_York"; and enter your local timezone if it's different.

WeBWorK sends mail in three instances. The PG system sends mail to report answers to questionnaires and free-response problems. The mail merge module is used to send mail to course participants, i.e. to report scores. The feedback module allows participants to send mail to course instructors.

To send mail, WeBWorK needs the address of an SMTP server. Normally you will use the address of your school's SMTP server. If the local machine is running an SMTP server, use localhost. IMPORTANT: Our instructions above did not install an SMTP server so you will have to install and configue one if you do not use your school's SMTP server. When connecting to the SMTP server, WeBWorK must also send an email address representing the sender of the email (this has nothing to do with the From address on the mail message). Edit the lines

$mail{smtpServer}            = ''; 
$mail{smtpSender}            = '';

entering the appropriate information.

If you want WeBWorK questionnaires or similar things from different courses to be mailed to a central person or persons (e.g. the WeBWorK administrator), edit the lines

$mail{allowedRecipients}     = [

appropriately removing the # and using the professor(s) actual email address(es). In order to have professors from individual courses receive such email, this should be set in course.conf to the addresses of professors of each course.

Finally we have to replace localhost in two places by your server's fully qualified domain name, something like Search for

$webworkURLs{htdocs_temp}   = 'http://localhost:81/wwtmp';

and replace this by

$webworkURLs{htdocs_temp}   = '';

Then search for

$courseURLs{html_temp}   = "http://localhost:81/wwtmp/$courseName";

and replace this by

$courseURLs{html_temp}   = "$courseName";

Now save the file and Quit.

File and Directory Locations

This installation of WeBWorK and Ubuntu follows the instructions given in Installation_Manual_for_2.4_on_Ubuntu_8.04 implementing Optional A and B but not C. You can look there to find the locations of the WeBWorK files. All system files are in their standard Ubuntu locations.

Connect to WeBWorK through an encrypted Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) with an https: URL

If you want student and professors to connect to WeBWorK through an encrypted Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) with an https: URL follow the instructions in Installation_Manual_for_2.4_on_Ubuntu_8.04#Implement_Optional_C_.28SSL.29. The main thing one has to do is to generate a self-signed certificate which is something you have to "sign" yourself with you server's fully qualified domain name.