kaashif's blog

Programming, with some mathematics on the side

ShareLaTeX on OpenBSD


The other day, I was trying to access http://sharelatex.com at school, and it didn't really work, probably due to a combination of Internet Explorer and possibly an overzealous filter that could have been blocking something. That's what I thought, anyway, until I tried it on Chrome and it still didn't work. Odd. The best solution was obviously to set up my own ShareLaTeX instance on my server.


On the ShareLaTeX wiki page about dependencies, I saw that I needed Node.js, Grunt, Redis, MongoDB, Aspell, and TeXLive. All of these are packaged in OpenBSD and they can all be easily installed:

$ sudo pkg_add node redis mongodb texlive_texmf-full aspell latexmk

After that, I installed Grunt using npm:

$ sudo  npm install -g grunt-cli

That's that. I read through the instructions and they said I needed to configure MongoDB, but that's not actually necessary.

The hard part

I chose to install into /var/www, as per the recommendations on the wiki, so I cloned the repo into /var/www/sharelatex and ran the commands. It's important to note that Grunt expects the make binary in the PATH to be GNU make, and I couldn't be bothered to find some way to change this expectation, so I moved BSD make and symlinked GNU make in its place:

$ mv /usr/bin/make /usr/bin/bmake
$ ln -s /usr/local/bin/gmake /usr/bin/make

Now I was ready to install billions of npm packages and let Grunt set up trillions of config files:

$ git clone -b release \
https://github.com/sharelatex/sharelatex.git \
$ cd /var/www/sharelatex
$ npm install
$ grunt install

That shouldn't show too many errors. Now, I followed the rest of the instructions on the wiki page I linked earlier. In case you're too lazy to go there, they're reproduced below (and edited for BSD):

Make a sharelatex user, and chown all files to it:

$ useradd -b /var/www/sharelatex -G sharelatex sharelatex
$ chown -R sharelatex:sharelatex /var/www/sharelatex

Move the config files to a better place:

$ mkdir /etc/sharelatex
$ mv /var/www/sharelatex/config/settings.development.coffee \

Edit that config file and make sure the dir variables read as follows:

DATA_DIR = '/var/lib/sharelatex/data'
TMP_DIR  = '/var/lib/sharelatex/tmp'

Make all of the directories:

$ mkdir -p /var/lib/sharelatex/data/{user_files,compiles,cache}
$ mkdir -p /var/lib/sharelatex/tmp/{uploads,dumpFolder}
$ chown -R sharelatex:sharelatex /var/lib/sharelatex

That's it, there are only a few things left to do.

A problem and a fix

I tried to run ShareLaTeX, and it wouldn't work. It seems like there's a well-known bug in Node.js (or something like that) that causes it to fail unless you do the following:

$ cd /var/www/sharelatex
$ rm -rf web/node_modules/bcrypt
$ npm install

Apparently, it's something to do with dependencies, but it doesn't matter, I just ran the above command and everything ended up working.

Init script

Obviously, the Upstart script supplied is impossible to use on OpenBSD, but it's not too hard to whip up an rc.d script. Here's the one I use:

# /etc/rc.d/sharelatex
daemon_flags="new-session -s sharelatex -d 'grunt run'"

. /etc/rc.d/rc.subr

    ${rcexec} "sudo -u sharelatex ${daemon} kill-server"

rc_cmd $1

Obviously, it's a bit primitive, since it just runs in tmux with no logging and is killed by killing tmux, but it does work, and you can start and stop it.

The last thing I needed to do is to add everything to /etc/rc.conf.local:

pkg_scripts=redis mongod sharelatex

And start it up with:

$ /etc/rc.d/sharelatex startbash

Now, it should work. If you've been following along, browse to port 3000 on your server to check it out. I advise setting up Apache or Nginx (or some other web server) as a reverse proxy and using TLS to access it. Configuring web servers isn't within the scope of this post, though.

Check out http://sharelatex.com, though, it's really cool. Maybe you'll want to set it up yourself, too (if you haven't already)!