As we migrate to gettext for Chamilo LMS v10, we are also looking for a platform to host our translation system (considering our current translation system does not support gettext).
We will migrate most existing translations, but we were looking for the right platform to manage the translations as a community. One tool that attracted our attention was Pootle, a Python-based open source translation system that seems to be lead by the right, passionate people.
In this first phase though, we really need to avoid being distracted by other things than the development of the core code of Chamilo LMS v10. This is why we looked for a hosted solution, with an existing community, preferrably with special plans for open source projects (like Github has).
So we found Crowdin.net, with apparently all the features we will need at first. We also looked at terms and conditions and privacy terms. Terms and conditions indicate that all content translated remain the property of the user, which is good, but we will have to manage some kind of agreement with all translators that their translation work will be considered Creative Commons BY-SA. Finally, privacy terms are pretty reasonnable and respectful of our privacy, but they *do* indicate that Crowdin.net can send promotional e-mails about its services to all members, which means that translators will get a (hopefully reasonnable) amount of spam (I call it spam anyway), but that’s limited to Crowdin.net services only. This being said, we will try it as a reduced core of developers for a while and see if the mails flow is reasonnable before we generalize its use.
So if you want to try it, you should be able to take a look within a few days from now on https://crowdin.com/project/chamilo-lms
Chamilo LMS 1.9.8 comes with an OpenMeetings plugin. This means that you can organize OpenMeetings videoconference rooms directly from your Chamilo courses.
Now this setup requires a few essential things. The 2 most important are: a working installation of Chamilo (referenced as [C] below) and a working installation of OpenMeetings (referenced as [OM] below), then you need to have:
- [CH] php5-curl extension installed and running
- [OM] a user with web services privileges
- [CH] to configure host, user and password (or salt) inside the “plugins” section, button “Configure” of the OpenMeetings plugin
This is pretty much it, but if you are missing one of these, that won’t work!
If you’re in a hurry/on speed, know this:
- this procedure is slightly more difficult (so longer) than installing the charm on Amazon
- you can skip directly to “Installing Juju”
- if you already have juju installed, you can skip to the last 2 lines of the “Installing juju” section
- if you already have juju-docean installed and configured, you can skip directly to “Provisioning VMs”
- otherwise, just continue reading, it’s worth a few minutes…
This tutorial regroups a lot of advanced notions, so if you want to know more about one of the following elements, please follow these links:
Before anything else, please note that the following is highly experimental. There are still a series of issues that should be worked out in order to make this process failproof.
Before we start using commands and stuff, you’ll have to note the following:
- We are using a Chamilo Charm developed by José Antonio Rey (kudos to him) as a voluntary contribution to the project
- Charms are configurations to install applications (and stuff) inside the Juju framework
- The Juju framework is developed by the Ubuntu team, so we’re using an Ubuntu (14.04) desktop (or in this case laptop) to launch all the following
- Digital Ocean is one cloud hosting provider, which is particularly cheap and good for development purposes. The “default” environment for Juju is Amazon, so we’ll have a few additional steps because of this choice. The Digital Ocean plugin to Juju is developed by geekmush on Github, and as far as I know he is not related to either Ubuntu nor Digital Ocean, so he is also worth praising for his contribution
- Chamilo requires a web server and a database server. In this Charm, it is assumed that we want both of these on separate virtual machines, so you will need two of them (unless you change the parameters a little)
- Juju is written in Go but relies on several Python libraries. As such, you’ll have to have python installed on your system and maybe Juju will shout because it is missing a few dependencies. Notably, I installed python3-yaml to avoid a few warnings (it is required for the following, although the installer for Juju says it’s optional)
On a default Ubuntu desktop installation, you’ll have to install Juju first. Because we are going to use Juju connected to Digital Ocean, we need a recent version of Juju, so let’s add it the unconventional way (with the ppa), launching the following on the command line:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:juju/devel sudo apt-get update && apt-get install juju juju version
For some reason, in my case, this created my home directory’s .juju/ folder with root permissions, which then prevented me to reconfigure my environment (requirement for the Digital Ocean Juju plugin), so I changed permissions (my user is “ywarnier”, so change that to your user):
sudo chown -R ywarnier:ywarnier .juju
Then we need to install the juju-docean plugin:
sudo apt-get install python3-yaml sudo pip install -U juju-docean
Setting up Digital Ocean access
Now we need to configure our Digital Ocean (D.O.) API so the system will be able to call D.O. in our place and create instances (and stuff).
You first need to grab your API key, client ID and SSH key ID from the Digital Ocean interface. You can do that from the Digital Ocean API page. Obviously, you need a Digital Ocean account to do this and a few bucks of credit (although you can get $10 free credit from several places). If your API key says “Hidden”, that’s because you must have it stored somewhere already (for other services?). If you don’t, you’ll have to re-generate one. Your SSH key ID is the name you gave to the SSH key you use from your computer to connect to your new instances. If you don’t have it, that’s probably because you haven’t configured any. Please do in the “SSH Keys” menu item on the left side of your D.O. panel.
export DO_CLIENT_ID=aseriesof21alphanumericalcharacters export DO_SSH_KEY="user@computer" export DO_API_KEY=aseriesof32characters
Setting up the Digital Ocean Juju environment
Now we need a bit of manual config to be able to use Digital Ocean (last bit, promised). Edit the ~/.juju/environments.yaml file and paste the following:
environments: digitalocean: type: manual bootstrap-host: null bootstrap-user: root
Just a note: the “type: manual” line implies it is a bit more complicated than on amazon later on, and we will have to launch a few more commands to provision new machines *before* we deploy Chamilo.
Generating the Juju environment
Now we’re going to create our Juju controller. The Juju controller can be an independent Virtual Machine (VM), or it can be the same as the one on which you will deploy Chamilo. It all depends on your budget and your requirements.
juju docean bootstrap --constraints="mem=1g, region=nyc1" 2014/06/22 11:50.24:INFO Launching bootstrap host 2014/06/22 11:51.29:INFO Bootstrapping environmen
Note that we took a decision to use a 1GB (RAM) VM here (mem=1g), in a datacenter in New York (region=nyc1). For the record, I tried creating them in nyc2, which is also a valid D.O. datacenter, but it failed miserably (sometimes not creating the VM, sometimes creating it without IP, sometimes creating it fully, but in the end never returning with a proper success response for my environment to be created), so sticking to nyc1 is probably a reasonable time-saver.
To be able to deploy Chamilo, we’ll use two VMs: one for the web server and one for the database
juju docean add-machine -n 2 --constraints="mem=1g, region=nyc1" 2014/06/22 12:44.59:INFO Launching 2 instances 2014/06/22 12:46.42:INFO Registered id:1908893 name:digitalocean-8d14c9bc671555ff872d8d6731f84d68 ip:18.104.22.168 as juju machine 2014/06/22 12:49.08:INFO Registered id:1908894 name:digitalocean-a9ba29cfe55549f58e5f7e365199c5ed ip:22.214.171.124 as juju machine
Now, the “-n 2″ above allows you to create these 2 instances, but you could also launch 2 different instances of different properties, doing it one by one. In our case, I suggest you use version Trusty of Ubuntu for the MySQL machine, to avoid a little bug in the Precise version of the charm:
juju docean add-machine --constraints="mem=2g, region=nyc1" juju docean add-machine --series=trusty --constraints="mem=1g, region=nyc1"
The important thing here being that you can later identify the machine itself by a simple ID, using juju status:
juju status environment: digitalocean machines: "0": agent-state: started agent-version: 1.19.3 dns-name: 126.96.36.199 instance-id: 'manual:' series: precise hardware: arch=amd64 cpu-cores=1 mem=994M state-server-member-status: has-vote "1": agent-state: started agent-version: 1.19.3 dns-name: 188.8.131.52 instance-id: manual:184.108.40.206 series: precise hardware: arch=amd64 cpu-cores=1 mem=994M "2": agent-state: started agent-version: 1.19.3 dns-name: 220.127.116.11 instance-id: manual:18.104.22.168 series: trusty hardware: arch=amd64 cpu-cores=1 mem=994M
If you made a mistake at some point or just wanna try things out, you can destroy these instances with
juju docean terminate-machine 1
where “1” is the ID of the machine, as shown above before each of them.
Now we’ve got our machines, we just need to deploy the Chamilo Charm and the MySQL Charm (you need MySQL to run Chamilo):
juju deploy cs:~jose/chamilo --to 1 juju deploy mysql --to 2
Please note that the “–to n” option is to specify on which machine you want to deploy the selected service.
Now, we need to configure Chamilo a little. We’re going to give it a domain name (you’ll have to redirect this domain name to the IP of the first machine – the one with the Chamilo service – in order to use it when ready) and a password for the “admin” user (the user created by default):
juju set chamilo domain=test.chamilo.net pass=blabla
Now we still need to tell Juju to link the Chamilo service with the MySQL service:
juju add-relation chamilo mysql
And finally, apply all the above and expose the chamilo service to the public:
juju expose chamilo
If something goes wrong with a service, you can always remove it with:
juju destroy-service chamilo
You can replace “chamilo” by the service with which you are having the issue, of course. If that doesn’t work out, you can always remove (terminate) the machine itself (see above).
You can connect at any time to any of your virtual machines through the command
juju ssh chamilo/0
where “chamilo/0″ is the name appearing below “units” in your services.
You can check the status of all your instances with
Note that, sometimes, you might end up with dozens or hundreds of instances. In this case, it won’t be as practical to show the status of all instances (I have no solution for that now, but I’m sure there is a way to filter the results of a juju status).
You can launch a command on the virtual machines’ command line like this:
juju run --service chamilo "tail /var/log/juju/unit-chamilo-0.log"
This way, you are actually executing the command remotely and getting the results locally.
You can also see the error log locally, connecting in SSH (first) and then launching:
Obviously, that gives you a little more flexibility.
Notes about unexpected errors
One of the “silent” things is that Juju considers the default machine to be Ubuntu Precise. In the case of MySQL, the default Charm is configured for Trusty. This means that if you want to install this package, you need to install a virtual machine in Trusty. Otherwise, you might get some other issues. In my case, the Precise Charm didn’t really work (missing yaml), so I decided to go for Trusty.
You can choose the distribution of your machine with –series=trusty, for example:
juju docean add-machine --series=trusty --constraints="mem=2g, region=nyc1"
We tested the chamilo charm relatively extensively.
Unmounting the whole thing
If this was just a test, and you’re happy, maybe you want to remove everything. If so, the quickest way to do that is to launch a destroy-environment command, but you will first need to destroy each machine and, before that, each services that :
juju destroy service chamilo mysql juju destroy machine 1 2 juju destroy-environment digitalocean
This should reasonnably quickly remove the whole setup.
You should still check your Digital Ocean’s dashboard, though, as apparently it doesn’t always delete the nodes you created with Juju…
Quick commands list for the impatient
Assuming you’re running Ubuntu 14.04 and that you know which values to change in the commands below:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:juju/devel sudo apt-get update && apt-get install juju sudo chmod -R 0700 .juju sudo apt-get install python3-yaml sudo pip install -U juju-docean export DO_CLIENT_ID=aseriesof21alphanumericalcharacters export DO_SSH_KEY="user@computer" export DO_API_KEY=aseriesof32characters juju docean bootstrap --constraints="mem=1g, region=nyc1" juju docean add-machine --constraints="mem=2g, region=nyc1" juju docean add-machine --series=trusty --constraints="mem=1g, region=nyc1" juju deploy cs:~jose/chamilo --to 1 juju deploy mysql --to 2 juju set chamilo domain=test.chamilo.net pass=blabla juju add-relation chamilo mysql juju expose chamilo
And connect your browser to test.chamilo.net (that you must have redirected to the corresponding IP first) and login with admin/blabla.
In a growing world with growing education needs, one would think that systems like Chamilo or Moodle would have a continuous growth ensured, year after year.
Well, this is certainly true for Chamilo LMS (for now), as it is apparently gaining about 100,000 new users per month (average over the last 12 months), but I am a little in shock at how Moodle is (since a year or so) loosing a considerable amount of sites and users over the last 12 months. It’s a bit difficult to track, because Moodle stats site doesn’t show any evolution of amounts over time (anymore), but thanks to our beautiful internet, you can use the Wayback Machine to get the data as it was years ago.
A warning to the reader: I am an active Chamilo evangelist and this is in no way an objective, scientific analysis of the situation. This isn’t to say that I am inventing the existing data. It comes from reliable sources and should be consider as such for all intended purposes.
So, just for the sake of the data, here is how both projects are evolving in number of sites and users over the last 4 years (almost the full life of the Chamilo LMS project). This article is written in June 2014, so the last two lines are pure speculation. The rest, however, comes from real data from Moodle’s site (and the Wayback Machine) and Chamilo’s database.
|Year||Moodle sites||Chamilo sites||Moodle users||Chamilo users|
|mid 2015? (linear projection based on last 12m)||44K||22K||70M||9M|
|mid 2016? (projection based on last 12m)||24K||30K||69M||10.4M|
The last two lines are an obvious flame. There is no way this could be like this, but if it were (and it’s a linear projection based on the last 12 months from now June 2014, it could be curved projection), then these would converge in number of sites by June 2016 :-)
As always with statistics, there are important things to know about both projects, and while Moodle is a great tool, it is still somehow a friendly rival to Chamilo, but in an ever-growing world with easier installers and cloud computing, I would expect Moodle to continue to grow… pretty much endlessly. Not sot.
A few years back (in June 2012), the Moodle stats page still offered a graphical representation of the number of Moodle installations around the world, over time. You could (at that point) clearly see a Gauss curve reaching the top and starting to go down. However, the numbers here show that even then it managed to grow an additional 13M users (and 18K sites), but then between June 2013 and June 2014, it just stalled in number of users, and literally dropped 22K sites, to lower-than 2012 level in terms of sites. A little bit later than June 2012, the chart was removed (I guess they didn’t like showing the dropping Gauss curve, huh?)
Sure, that also means that most of these sites had a very low number of users (or something like that), as this only went with a loss of 600K users overall (so 30 users per site, on average).
Or maybe Moodle stats just changed their algorithm at some point, dropping thousands of sites that were not really active?
Chamilo and Moodle statistics are bound to be somewhat imprecise, anyway, as they rely on a series of relatively subjective parameters that are interpreted to try to guess if the sites are still active or not.
Plus Chamilo is still clearly not getting to the number of users Moodle has (we’re only at 10%), but the tendency is that we are growing fast enough and that, if it continues as in the last 12 months, we should be crossing
Still, this leaves you thinking… Free software (no barrier to adoption), free or very cheap hardware, growing world population… why did it drop? Will it continue to do so?
Well, that just leaves me with an excellent marketing opportunity, to tell you that, if you want to try Chamilo out, you can test our recently released version 1.9.8 on https://campus.chamilo.org. Now.
This Sunday 15th of June 2014, we will be releasing version 1.9.8 of Chamilo LMS.
This will be the last big version of the 1.9 branch (version 1.9.0 was released in August of 2012, about 2 years ago). Version 1.9 has served the Chamilo community well, and BeezNest will continue providing support on 1.9.* until 2016 at least.
In the same time (from 1.9.0 to 1.9.8), the Chamilo community has grown 400% times, from less than 1 million users to more than 5 million users today, only in 1.9.* users, which we assume is a sign of appreciation from our community.
But as our community grew, so have most of the installations that use Chamilo, now reaching, for one specific case, the hundreds of thousand users.
All this growth in numbers have required many customizations and optimizations in Chamilo LMS, up to a level where it has been very difficult to integrate them in Chamilo at all, because of its database and files structure hierarchy.
As a reminder, and before we go deeper into versions, remember that Chamilo LMS (versions 1.8, 1.9, etc) and Chamilo LCMS (v2, v3, v4) are completely different software systems, and that they are developed by different teams, under different leadership, but within the context of the Chamilo association (as long as they develop under a certain set of rules protecting the open nature of the software).
So many people ask me what is so special about v10 that will really make Chamilo a better tool? It’s hard to answer that at this point (because not everything is completely certain yet), but this is a shortlist of the most important changes you will see in Chamilo LMS v10 in comparison to v1.9.
First and foremost: the interface will not change in any major way for the final user. Of course, we will have some refreshing that makes it more appealing to the users, but no major change in how elements are presented. This is the top quality of Chamilo LMS in comparison with other systems, and we don’t want to loose that. So for all of you managing a support team on Chamilo: don’t worry, no major change in the way users can use the current tools.
No major tool will be removed, either, to the specific exception of the reservations tool, which has been there for years and that apparently nobody used.
In terms of new tools or major changes to existing tools, this is what v10 will most certainly come with:
- Super-categorized-random questions selection for exercises
- Possibility to define new roles (this will be in beta version in v10.0 and improved based on user feedback) and permissions
- e-mails templating
- Multi-users, HTML5, mindmapping tool
- Optional central repository of documents, allowing for many new learning objects view modes and sharing options
- Integration with common web 2.0 platforms (Google Drive, Dropbox, Youtube, etc)
- Full HTML5 online editor (moving to CKEditor 4 or superior)
- New social network “wall” feature, to inform others about the interesting stuff you are learning
- ODF documents reader
- OpenBadges support
- Open Plagiarism detector
- Video chat (HTML5, not for IE)
- Audio frequency analysis tool for exercises
- and some 100 other less important improvements not listed here
And now the category for geeks:
We believe the major change you need to be aware of is that we decided to rely on a series of Symfony 2 (framework) components to manage the core of our application. This involves a series of structural changes (which will be easy to manage with our migration script) but will critically improve the extensibility of Chamilo LMS
- Use of Doctrine as a database layer manager
- Unique (single column) row ids in all tables (in 1.9.x, the c_* tables had a combination of course ID and id to form the unique key)
- Integer course ID (deprecating as much as possible the use of the literal “course code”, making tables faster to search)
- Use of a central controller, which will allow you to redefine the route to specific scripts, and use friendly URLs (partial implementation in v10)
- Installation profiles (install with configuration presets)
- Debian packaging (and new files structure)
- New centralized authentication mechanism (including OAuth)
- New web services for listing objects (enabling easier application of mobile apps)
- Translations managed in Gettext format (and a new translation platform)
- Full integration of the templating system (Twig), with one JQuery-mobile-enabled template
- Dropping support for IE8 (most probably) so we can move to SVG icons everywhere
- Support for IMS/LTI, enabling easier integration of external applications into Chamilo
- Improvements to enable auto-scaling of Chamilo in the cloud
- Juju Charm to auto-install Chamilo in your infrastructure
- Extra fields for all major items (quizzes, questions, learning paths, users, courses, sessions, etc) enabling for easier plugins integration
- Better plugins framework overall, enabling some functions “hooking” or “redefinition” in specific contexts
This list might change over time. This version is from the 12th of June 2014.
It is important to understand that the structure changes have been kept back for years (literally) to avoid changing Chamilo 1.9 in any major way, and we have now acquired a great experience into large-scale implementations, so the structure changes we are implementing now are good both for the present but also for the foreseeable future (up to 5 years from now), so we should not require any major infrastructure change anytime soon.
We are making big changes now, for what looks like a very big future for Chamilo LMS!
You can find more about our dynamic roadmap here: https://support.chamilo.org/projects/chamilo-18/roadmap