This documentation is for Release 6.3. For documentation on previous releases, please select from the options below.

  • Release 1.x version of this page: v.81
  • Release 2.x version of this page: v.87.
  • Release 3.0-3.1 version of this page: v.111.
  • Release 3.2 version of this page: v.116.
  • Release 4.0 version of this page: v.143.
  • Release 5.x version of this page: v.163.
  • Release 6.0 version of this page: v.177

These instructions provide a recipe for building your own all-in-one Avalon system from scratch on CentOS or Red Hat Enterprise Linux, version 6.x is supported, 7.x will be supported soon.  Please note that while an all-in-one installation as outlined here is certainly suitable for testing and demos,  a single, all-in-one, server may not be suitable for production environments.

Ready the Installation Environment

Make sure a valid hostname is resolvable

The default hostname is “”, so name the machine this and enter it into /etc/hosts

# hostname
# cat /etc/hosts   localhost localhost.localdomain localhost4 localhost4.localdomain4

Configure iptables 

The Avalon Media System requires several ports to be open to client browsers.

Here are the port settings that will need to be configured:

80HTTP (Avalon)Yes
8983HTTP (Solr)No
8984HTTP (Fedora)No
8080HTTP (Matterhorn)Yes

The preferred method is to create a shell script that will do the work for you. Here is an example script that you should look through and customize as needed:

If you're connected over ssh, it might kick you off.

Save your script to /etc/sysconfig/, make it executable and run it.

chmod +x /etc/sysconfig/

If you run into connection issues you can disable the iptables, by running "service iptables stop". This will completely drop your firewall. When finished troubleshooting run "service iptables start".

Disable SELinux

echo 0 > /selinux/enforce 
vim /etc/selinux/config #change the value of `SELINUX` from `enforcing` to `permissive`
vim /etc/selinux/config #change the value of `SELINUX` to `disabled`

Install EPEL

This package has libyaml-devel which is required by ruby and not provided by Redhat.

rpm -ivh

Add the Avalon repository 

Create the Avalon repository config file:

vim /etc/yum.repos.d/avalon-public.repo

Append the following code:

name=Avalon Public RHEL repository

Install and place the Avalon GPG key in the proper location:

curl -o /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-avalon

Install development libraries and packages for building Ruby

yum groupinstall "Development Tools"
yum install readline-devel zlib-devel libyaml-devel libffi-devel openssl-devel libxml2-devel libxslt-devel cmake

Install Java 8

yum install java-1.8.0-openjdk

Main Components

Fedora Commons Repository


Fedora runs as a webapp in Tomcat

Install Apache Tomcat 

yum install tomcat
vim /etc/tomcat/server.xml #line 71, change the Tomcat connector port from 8080 to 8984

Add Tomcat manager user

By default, no user has access to the Tomcat Manager App. Define a user in /etc/tomcat/tomcat-users.xml with access to the manager-gui role. Below is a very basic example.

  <role rolename="manager-gui"/>
  <user username="admin" password="<insert strong password here>" roles="manager-gui"/>

Configure Tomcat for Fedora

Append the following to /etc/sysconfig/tomcat

JAVA_OPTS="${JAVA_OPTS} -Dfcrepo.modeshape.configuration=classpath:/config/file-simple/repository.json -Dfcrepo.home=/var/avalon/fedora/"

Restart Tomcat

service tomcat restart

Download and run the fcrepo installer

mkdir -p /var/avalon/fedora
chown tomcat:tomcat /var/avalon/fedora
wget -O /usr/share/tomcat/webapps/fedora4.war

See if you can access Fedora's REST interface at http://<server host name>:8984/fedora4/rest

Try it out on your local machine and on another machine. If you can't reach the app from another machine, your iptables might need to be changed to allow access. If Fedora is not up, check the tomcat logs in /var/log/tomcat/. Catalina.out and localhost.<date>.log usually provide the best information.


Avalon makes use of Solr through the Blacklight gem for faceting and relevance-based searching.

Install prerequisites

yum install lsof

Download the solr tarball and run the installation script

Download Solr from

tar xzf solr-6.4.2.tgz solr-6.4.2/bin/ --strip-components=2
bash ./ solr-6.4.2.tgz

By default, the script extracts the distribution archive into /opt, configures Solr to write files into /var/solr, and runs Solr as the solr user. Follow the linked guide if you wish to change these defaults.

Create Avalon core for Solr

mkdir -p /tmp/avalon_solr/
wget -O /tmp/avalon_solr/solrconfig.xml
wget -O /tmp/avalon_solr/schema.xml
su solr # Needs to run as solr user
/opt/solr/bin/solr create_core -c avalon -d /tmp/avalon_solr

If you have successfully installed Solr you should be able to access the dashboard page at http://<server host name>:8983/solr

Instructions on how to manually start/stop Solr:


MariaDB is now the default database system for CentOS/RHEL7. Feel free to change Mysql below to MariaDB

Avalon uses MySQL for storing search queries, user data and roles, and as a back end for asynchronously sending requests to Matterhorn. 

Install MySQL server 

yum install mysql-server
service mysqld start

Create databases and users

Enter the mysql monitor

Welcome to the MySQL monitor. Commands end with ; or \g.

Create a database for the Avalon web application and add a user to it

create database rails;
create user 'rails'@'localhost' identified by 'rails';
grant all privileges on rails.* to 'rails'@'localhost';
flush privileges;

Check your work and exit

mysql> show databases;
| Database           |
| information_schema |
| mysql              |
| rails              |
| test               |
5 rows in set (0.00 sec)
mysql> select user, host from mysql.user;
| user   | host         |
| root   |    |
|        | |
| root   | |
|        | localhost    |
| rails  | localhost    |
| root   | localhost    |
7 rows in set (0.00 sec)
mysql> exit;

See documentation for your version of MySQL Server for detailed syntax ( )

Media Streaming Server

Red5 is no longer the default streaming server for Avalon 6.3. With the upgrade to MediaElementjs 4, we now rely completely on HLS.

By default, Avalon prechunks HLS artifacts that can be served by any webserver, see: Matterhorn's distribute-hls workflow. For development, this may suffice because a dedicated streaming server isn't necessary, however many consider prechunking inflexible and inconvenient.

For production environments, an HLS-enabled server like Wowza, Adobe Media System (commercial) or Nginx + the HLS module (open-source) can take an mp4 created from distribute-streaming and stream it on the fly. Then prechunking can be disabled by commenting out the distribute-hls operation. Instructions for setting up Nginx will follow soon.


Installation prerequisites

Install prerequisite packages using yum and the Avalon repository (note: mediainfo is pinned to 0.7.61-1 because of a bug with time fragment formatting in most recent version 0.7.87-1 in epel):

yum install SDL-devel a52dec-devel bzip2-devel faad2-devel freetype-devel frei0r-plugins-devel \
	gsm-devel imlib2-devel lame-devel libdc1394-devel libraw1394-devel librtmp-devel libtheora-devel \
	libva-devel libfaac-devel libvdpau-devel libstdc++-devel libvorbis-devel libvpx-devel \
	mediainfo-0.7.61-1 opencore-amr-devel opencv-devel openjpeg-devel openssl-devel schroedinger-devel \
	speex-devel texi2html vo-aacenc-devel x264-devel xvidcore-devel yasm zlib-devel

Install rpmdev-setuptree

yum install rpmdevtools

Install ffmpeg srpm

The following commands need to run under a user other than root. Change to another user to continue.

su - someuser

Run the ffmpeg installer

rpm -ivh

# Retrieving
#   1:ffmpeg                 warning: user makerpm does not exist - using root
# warning: group makerpm does not exist - using root
########################################### [100%]
# warning: user makerpm does not exist - using root
# warning: group makerpm does not exist - using root
# Build ffmpeg binary as non-root and install as root

rpmbuild -bb rpmbuild/SPECS/ffmpeg24.spec

Log back in as root and finish the install.

su - root
rpm -ivh /home/someuser/rpmbuild/RPMS/x86_64/ffmpeg-*.rpm

You can also build a more modern ffmpeg from source, but not all versions work. Version 3.1 is known to work - check out the release/3.1 branch and build from there. If your modern ffmpeg uses fdk_aac instead of libfaac, adjust the Matterhorn etc/encoding/ accordingly.


Install and start the httpd service.

yum install httpd
service httpd start

With newer httpd you may need to in /etc/httpd/conf.d/10-mod_rewrite.conf, replace RewriteLock line with Mutex sem


Install Matterhorn

Create a user for Matterhorn and then install Matterhorn

useradd matterhorn
tar xvf 1.4.x.tar.gz
mv avalon-felix-1.4.x /usr/local/matterhorn

wget --no-check-certificate
mv /etc/init.d/matterhorn

chmod +x /etc/init.d/matterhorn
chown -R matterhorn:matterhorn /usr/local/matterhorn

Add avalon user and create avalon directory.

useradd avalon
mkdir /var/www/avalon
chown -R avalon:avalon /var/www/avalon

Create and configure the media_path (upload) and streaming directories.

mkdir -p /usr/local/masterfiles 
chown avalon:avalon /usr/local/masterfiles

mkdir -p /usr/local/red5/webapps/avalon/streams
mkdir /var/avalon
mkdir -p /var/www/avalon/public/streams

chown red5:avalon /usr/local/red5/webapps/avalon/streams
chmod 0775 /usr/local/red5/webapps/avalon/streams
ln -s /usr/local/red5/webapps/avalon/streams /var/avalon/rtmp_streams
mkdir /var/avalon/hls_streams
chown matterhorn:matterhorn /var/avalon/hls_streams/
ln -s /var/avalon/hls_streams/ /var/www/avalon/public/streams

chmod 0775 /var/avalon/hls_streams/

Configure Matterhorn

Download Matterhorn config and verify property values.

wget --no-check-certificate
And verify the configuration of the streaming directories

Also check in /usr/local/matterhorn/etc/load/org.opencastproject.organization-mh_default_org.cfg


Move the config to the appropriate spot

mv /usr/local/matterhorn/etc/

Add matterhorn user to the avalon group.

usermod -G avalon matterhorn

Optional, but recommended to avoid problems with batch ingest: Change number of processes available to matterhorn user, cleaning up work dir and using external DB.

Apache Passenger and Ruby

Change current user to avalon then install RVM and ruby 2.4.1

su - root
yum install sqlite-devel
su - avalon
curl -L | bash -s stable --ruby=2.4.1

Source the RVM shell (as avalon user) or close the terminal and open it back up.

source /home/avalon/.rvm/scripts/rvm
rvm use 2.4.1

Install Passenger via Gem (as avalon user)

gem install passenger

Check to make sure passenger installed in the expected location (as avalon user)

$ passenger-config --root

Install Passenger apache module requirements (as root)

su - root
yum install curl-devel httpd httpd-devel apr-devel apr-util-devel

Build passenger for your version of Apache and Ruby (as avalon user)

su - avalon
passenger-install-apache2-module #copy the suggested Apache configuration file settings for later

Create an apache configuration file (as root)

su - root
vim /etc/httpd/conf.d/passenger.conf

Example contents of /etc/httpd/conf.d/passenger.conf, which may need to be changed based off of the current version of ruby and passenger:

LoadModule passenger_module /home/avalon/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.4.1/gems/passenger-5.0.17/buildout/apache2/
<IfModule passenger_module>
  PassengerRoot /home/avalon/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.4.1/gems/passenger-5.0.17
  PassengerDefaultRuby /home/avalon/.rvm/wrappers/ruby-2.4.1/ruby
  PassengerMaxPoolSize 30
  PassengerPoolIdleTime 300
  PassengerMaxInstancesPerApp 0
  PassengerMinInstances 3
  PassengerSpawnMethod smart-lv2

Apache security configuration

wget --no-check-certificate -O /usr/local/sbin/avalon_auth
chmod +x /usr/local/sbin/avalon_auth
wget --no-check-certificate -P /etc/httpd/conf.d/

Create a virtual host for avalon in /etc/httpd/conf.d/avalon.conf

wget --no-check-certificate -P /etc/httpd/conf.d/
vim /etc/httpd/conf.d/20-avalon.conf

In 20-avalon.conf add this line inside the VirtualHost tag:

RailsEnv development

If using SSL, the following fix should be added to address BEAST, POODLE, RC4 issues (after the SSLEngine on)

SSLProtocol all -SSLv2 -SSLv3

Restart apache.  With apache running, check passenger-status

service httpd restart
su - avalon
which passenger-status
#> ~/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.4.1/bin/passenger-status


Grab Avalon code from github

cd ~
git clone git://
cd avalon
git checkout master #make sure you are in the master branch (should be by default)
su - root
chown avalon:avalon /var/www/avalon/public/
su - avalon
mv public/* /var/www/avalon/public/
rmdir public
mv  * /var/www/avalon/

Configure Avalon 

As of 6.3, Avalon is using the flexible and increasingly popular Config gem. Default settings for Avalon can be selectively overwritten by putting custom ones in config/settings/<environment>.local.yml

If using vim with default settings and pasting the the code below, it will automatically comment out the last line. To prevent that, enable paste using the command :set paste and then use just ctrl+shift+v instead of going into insert mode.

Create /var/www/avalon/config/setup_load_paths.rb and add:

if ENV['MY_RUBY_HOME'] && ENV['MY_RUBY_HOME'].include?('rvm')
     gems_path = ENV['MY_RUBY_HOME'].split(/@/)[0].sub(/rubies/,'gems')
     ENV['GEM_PATH'] = "#{gems_path}:#{gems_path}@global"
     require 'rvm'
     RVM.use_from_path! File.dirname(File.dirname(__FILE__))
   rescue LoadError
     raise "RVM gem is currently unavailable."
 # If you're not using Bundler at all, remove lines bellow
 ENV['BUNDLE_GEMFILE'] = File.expand_path('../Gemfile', File.dirname(__FILE__))
 require 'bundler/setup'

Configure database settings

cd /var/www/avalon/config
vim database.yml

Replace database.yml with the correct values for your production environment

  adapter: mysql2
  host: localhost
  database: rails
  username: rails
  password: rails
  pool: 5
  timeout: 5000

Install the mysql2 adapter 

yum install cmake #<--will be required for rugged gem
yum install mariadb-devel
su - avalon
gem install activerecord-mysql2-adapter
gem install mysql2
vim /var/www/avalon/Gemfile

Run the bundle install

# as root
yum install nodejs # Javascript runtime 

# as avalon
cd /var/www/avalon
gem update debugger-ruby_core_source
gem install bundler
bundle install --with mysql

Finish configuring Avalon

Edit /var/www/avalon/config/solr.yml and /var/www/avalon/config/blacklight.yml

    url: http://localhost:8983/solr/avalon

Edit /var/www/avalon/config/fedora.yml

    user: fedoraAdmin
    password: fedoraPassword
    base_path: ""

Create  /var/www/avalon/config/matterhorn.yml

  url: http://matterhorn_system_account:CHANGE_ME@localhost:8080/

Avalon settings now live in /var/www/avalon/config/settings.yml. The default values should be sufficient to start with.

They can be selectively overwritten by creating a settings/<environment>.yml, or by using environment variables. Consult the config gem doc to understand how it works, or Avalon's documentation to customize this file for your installation.

Change the secrets.yml file:

cd /var/www/avalon
rake secret

 grab the output of rake secret and add it to secrets.yml where instructed.

More information: Configuration Files#config/secrets.yml

Create controlled_vocabulary.yml

cp controlled_vocabulary.yml.example controlled_vocabulary.yml

Create the database using rake

# as avalon user
cd /var/www/avalon
rake db:create

If you get an error message saying that you can't connect to the database, take a look at this post and follow some of the troubleshooting steps.

Run the database migrations

rake db:migrate

Set rails environment to development, if it has not defaulted to this. On the first line of /var/www/avalon/config/environment.rb make sure it says 'development'

ENV['RAILS_ENV'] ||= 'development'

Visit your new Avalon site!

You should be able to visit the webpage with just the hostname (ie http://localhost)

Click on "Sign in" in the upper right corner of the website main page. Set up a default identity with the following properties.
<some password>

This is a known identity with administrative privileges.

Redis & Resque

Avalon uses Resque for background processing, which relies Redis as its key-value store.

Install Redis

yum install redis

Start Resque

# as avalon (replace production with development if necessary)
cd /var/www/avalon/
RAILS_ENV=production BACKGROUND=yes bundle exec rake resque:scheduler
RAILS_ENV=production BACKGROUND=yes QUEUE=* bundle exec rake resque:work

Resque logs to log/resque.log in the avalon directory. 

To restart rescue, simple kill its two processes (`ps aux | grep resque`) and run the above commands again.

Additional Configurations


groupadd -r dropbox
useradd -r avalondrop
usermod -G dropbox avalon
mkdir -p /srv/avalon/dropbox
chown avalondrop:dropbox /srv/avalon/dropbox
chmod 2775 /srv/avalon/dropbox

Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config

# override default of no subsystems
Subsystem sftp internal-sftp
# Example of overriding settings on a per-user basis
#Match User anoncvs
# X11Forwarding no
# AllowTcpForwarding no
# ForceCommand cvs server
Match Group dropbox
ChrootDirectory /srv/avalon
X11Forwarding no
AllowTcpForwarding no
ForceCommand internal-sftp

Restart SSH

service sshd restart

Batch ingest

To manually start a batch ingest job, run as avalon user

rake avalon:batch:ingest

To make batch ingest run automatically whenever a manifest is present, you need to add a cron job. This cron job can be created by the whenever gem from reading config/schedule.rb. To preview, run


this will translate content in schedule.rb to cron job syntax. Once verified, run the following to write job to crontab

whenever --update-crontab

You should get the cron job automatically if you were deploying from Capistrano.

Using the System

You can find specific information about using the system in the Collection Manager's Guide.  Sample content is available for your convenience.  Upload new items individually or by batch directly via SFTP using the avalondrop account you created above.

Configure additional feataures

Known Issues - a list of bugs, workarounds, and cautions.

Restarting the Server

Before you restart your Avalon server, you'll want to make sure all of the services necessary to run Avalon will start automatically after the restart. Run these commands once and you should be set:

chkconfig --level 345 tomcat on
chkconfig --level 345 mysqld on
chkconfig --level 345 sshd on
chkconfig --level 345 red5 on
chkconfig --level 345 httpd on
chkconfig --level 345 matterhorn on