System configuration for the OpenDev Collaboratory
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Askbot is a publicly available Q&A support site for OpenStack.

At a Glance



The site based on the officially released askbot pip distribution. The stable deployment is extended with a custom OpenStack theme available at

System Architecture

+--------+      +----------+
| apache | ---- | mod_wsgi |
+--------+      +----------+
             +-------------+    +---------------+
             | askbot site |--- | celery daemon |
             +-------------+    +---------------+
            /      |        \
           /       |         \
  +-------+  +------------+  +-------------+
  | redis |  | postgresql |  | apache solr |
  +-------+  +------------+  +-------------+

Apache / mod_wsgi

Serve the incoming http request using the mod_wsgi Python WSGI adapter, through an SSL virtual host. The site vhost also contains url aliases to serve static content of the theme and all uploaded image files, including the site logo.

Askbot site

The Askbot django application, the custom site specific assets live under /srv/askbot-sites/slot0 directory, including the configuration, application level log files, static content, custom OpenStack theme and uploaded files.

The authentication based on Google, Yahoo and Launchpad OpenID providers. Local login and all other providers except Google, Yahoo and Launchpad are disabled in site configuration.

The askbot-theme repository contains just the pure Sass source of the theme, so this must be precompiled by compass Sass tool.

Application management tool can be found under /srv/askbot-sites/slot0/config: python <command>

Configuration files:

  • :git_file:`modules/askbot/templates/askbot.vhost.erb`
  • :git_file:`modules/askbot/templates/`

In addition to the file-based configuration, Askbot provides a web interface to tweak its own settings. Toggles and fields for reputation thresholds, user communications rules, data entry and formatting rules, keys for external services and static content can be found at $URL/en/settings/.

As per Django standard, $URL/admin provides access to the Django administration interface. Effectively a limited web portal to the data in the database - but sometimes useful for debugging login problems using the Django_authopenid plugin.

Celery daemon

This upstart based daemon is responsible for async tasks of the Askbot site, and can be managed by standard service management tools: server askbot-celeryd <start|stop|status>


Askbot is using redis for handling local caching of configuration and page data. It is useful to clear the redis cache with the FLUSHALL command after a service restart.


A postgresql database hosts the content and dynamic site configuration.

Apache Solr

Apache Solr handling the full-text indexes of the site, based on a multi-core setup, and assigning cores for specific languages. Currently the English (en) and Chinese (zh) languages are supported.

Solr schema templates can be found at:

  • :git_file:`modules/askbot/templates/solr/schema.en.xml.erb`
  • :git_file:`modules/askbot/templates/solr/`

Operational notes

The askbot website contains a surprisingly askbot based support forum, and a lot of operational related information is available there. Additional maintenance commands:

  • activate virtualenv: source /usr/askbot-env/bin/activate
  • synchronize db schema: python syncdb
  • migrate database between upgrades: python migrate
  • rebuild solr index: python askbot_rebuild_index -l <language-code>
  • assign administrator right to a user: python add_admin <user-id>
  • update site url setting in askbot database: update livesettings_setting set value = '<site-url>' where "group" = 'QA_SITE_SETTINGS' and key = 'APP_URL';