MO1.2 Install the modular openIMIS without using Docker



General comments about the installation procedure

We have seen in the previous section that Docker packaging is managing all components of the modular openIMIS. If you wish to install the modular openIMIS without Docker, you will have to install separately the backend, the frontend and the gateway (and other optional modules).

Installing openIMIS directly is a tradeoff: it is more complex to get running, has more components to update and monitor but it is also much more flexible for low-bandwidth environments where downloading large docker images is an issue.


This guide is still missing:

  • configuration of the images folder


This guide does not cover the database setup. Both PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Server are supported here, unless the REST API is needed.

1 - Minimal Linux setup

This takes Ubuntu as example but can easily be adapted to most other distributions.

mkdir oi cd oi sudo apt install openssh-server curl sudo apt install git python3-venv python3-wheel libpq-dev python3-dev gcc g++ make


If you are going to use the Microsoft database, install the corresponding driver:

Here is the version for Ubuntu until 2021:

if ! [[ "16.04 18.04 20.04 21.04 21.10" == *"$(lsb_release -rs)"* ]]; then echo "Ubuntu $(lsb_release -rs) is not currently supported."; exit; fi sudo su curl | apt-key add - curl$(lsb_release -rs)/prod.list > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mssql-release.list exit sudo apt-get update sudo ACCEPT_EULA=Y apt-get install -y msodbcsql17 # optional: for bcp and sqlcmd sudo ACCEPT_EULA=Y apt-get install -y mssql-tools echo 'export PATH="$PATH:/opt/mssql-tools/bin"' >> ~/.bashrc source ~/.bashrc # optional: for unixODBC development headers sudo apt-get install -y unixodbc-dev


Now, let’s create a Python virtual environment. This is not mandatory but strongly advised to avoid interactions between Python applications:

cd ~/oi # if you are not in this folder anymore python3 -mvenv venv source venv/bin/activate

2 - Fetching and installing openIMIS apps

We will fetch the main application components, backend and frontend:

git clone git clone

2.1 - Configure the backend

cd openimis-be_py # if you are not going to work from the main branch (latest release): git checkout develop # You might need here to adapt the requirements.txt file. If pandas fails to install below, change to pandas==1.4.2


2.1.1 - Backend requirements installation

Adapt openimis.json to suit your needs of openIMIS modules to deploy.

pip install -r requirements.txt python > modules-requirements.txt pip install -r modules-requirements.txt


Now, you will need to create an .env file with the main parameters of the backend:

DB_HOST=mssql-host-server DB_PORT=1433 DB_NAME=database-name DB_USER=database-user DB_PASSWORD=database-password DB_ENGINE=mssql INSUREE_NUMBER_LENGTH=10 INSUREE_NUMBER_MODULE_ROOT=7 SITE_ROOT=api MASTER_PASS=')(#$1HsD'


Now, we just need to generate the static files:

cd openIMIS ./ collectstatic


Then, try to run the backend server:

cd ~/oi/openimis-be_py/openIMIS # If not already there from last step ./ runserver

If the server takes a really long time to start, the database connection parameters are probably wrong and it is waiting for a database timeout to print an error.


2.1.2 - Configure the automated restart

For systemd, create a file /lib/systemd/system/openimis.service:

[Unit] Description=openIMIS backend [Service] WorkingDirectory=/home/openimis/oi/openimis-be_py/openIMIS/ ExecStart=/home/openimis/oi/venv/bin/python runserver Restart=always RestartSec=15s KillMode=process TimeoutSec=infinity User=openimis Group=openimis [Install]

Be careful to adapt the 4 occurences of the “openimis” if your username is different:

  • two /home/openimis

  • User/Group


Start the server manually:

sudo systemctl start openimis.service

To make it start automatically at boot:

sudo systemctl enable openimis.service

If the service fails to start, check the logs with:

sudo journalctl -u openimis.service


2.2 - Configure the frontend

2.2.1 - node & yarn installation

The first step is to install node.js. openIMIS versions 1.2 to 1.5 are using node 16. The node installation instructions are available here, but a generic solution like nvm is also a good option.

For Ubuntu with stock Node:

curl -fsSL | sudo -E bash - sudo apt-get install -y nodejs

Then, install yarn:

curl -sL | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /usr/share/keyrings/yarnkey.gpg >/dev/null echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/yarnkey.gpg] stable main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/yarn.list sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install yarn


2.2.2 - Frontend requirements installation

Go the frontend folder:

cd ~/oi/openimis-fe_js

You can now edit the openimis.json for the frontend to select the components to install.


When done, load the configuration:

yarn load-config yarn install yarn build yarn global add serve

If building yarn fails with an out of memory error, use export GENERATE_SOURCEMAP=false. You can also add this export to your .bashrc as it is available only for your current session.


At this stage, you should be able to run the app in dev mode with yarn start.

This is not recommended for production !!

So instead, let’s build a static bundle and deploy it in nginx’s path:

yarn build # If not already done above sudo apt install nginx # We'll set it up below, so if you didn't install it already... sudo mkdir /var/www/html/front/ sudo chown $USER /var/www/html/front/ cp -r build/* /var/www/html/front/


2.3 - Configure nginx (gateway/reverse proxy)

The docker-compose version uses an openresty image that only relays, here we will be deploying a regular nginx pointing to the static site.

Nginx will also be handling the TLS (HTTPS) with Letsencrypt.

sudo apt install nginx sudo rm /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default # remove the default site (it’s just a link, don’t worry) sudo vi /etc/nginx/sites-available/openimis.conf sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/openimis.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/openimis.conf

Here is a sample configuration, to be tuned to your setup. The SSL parts are commented out, they will be updated by Letsencrypt’s certbot:

upstream docker-backend { server localhost:8000; } upstream docker-frontend { server localhost:3000; } upstream restapi { server localhost:8080; } server { server_name; # Don't forget to edit the URL # return 301 https://$host$request_uri; #} #server { # # listen 443 ssl; # server_name; # ## ssl_certificate /etc/ssl/certs/; ## ssl_certificate_key /etc/ssl/private/; client_max_body_size 100M; location /.well-known { root /var/www/html; } location /LegacyHome { return 204; } location /keepLegacyAlive { return 204; } location / { return 301 /front/; } location /home { return 301 /front/; } location /Home.aspx { return 301 /front/; } location ~/front/(.*) { root /var/www/html; try_files $uri $uri/ /front/index.html; #error_page 404 $scheme://$host/front/; } location /iapi/ { proxy_pass http://docker-backend/api/; proxy_set_header Host $host; proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr; proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for; proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Host $server_name; } location /api/ { proxy_pass http://docker-backend/api/; proxy_set_header Host $host; proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr; proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for; proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Host $server_name; } location /rest/ { proxy_pass http://restapi/; proxy_set_header Host $host; proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr; proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for; proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto https; proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Host $server_name; } }

client_max_body_size was added in March 2023 to allow uploads of large pictures


Now, restart nginx:

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

Finally, enable TLS/SSL with Letsencrypt:

sudo apt-get install python3-certbot-nginx sudo certbot --nginx -d # don't forget to edit the URL

You will then need to choose whether or not to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS:

Please choose whether or not to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS, removing HTTP access. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1: No redirect - Make no further changes to the webserver configuration. 2: Redirect - Make all requests redirect to secure HTTPS access. Choose this for new sites, or if you're confident your site works on HTTPS. You can undo this change by editing your web server's configuration. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Select the appropriate number [1-2] then [enter] (press 'c' to cancel):

Redirecting HTTP to HTTPS is recommended.


3 - Install the mobile REST API

At the moment, the REST API is the last part of the openIMIS system that was not adapted to Postgres. It can be installed on Linux or other systems via Docker. This guide will show how to set it up as a stand-alone docker.

The REST API does NOT work with Postgres. You must use a Microsoft database for the REST API.


3.1 - Setting up the REST API

First, go to oi and clone the REST API repository:

cd /oi git clone cd rest_api_c-sharp

At this stage, you should be on the main branch.

Currently (May 4 2023), there are some issues that must be fixed on the main branch, so you should use the fix/docker_compose branch until it has been merged into main.

In order to to that, you can enter git switch fix/docker_compose.


Before starting the REST API, you will need to edit the docker-compose and Dockerfile files with the database information.

Here is a sample docker-compose file. Replace the 5 database values in the environment section:

version: '2.4' services: restapi: build: context: ./ args: BUILD-FLAVOUR: ${BUILD-FLAVOUR:-Release} environment: - DB_HOST=Server - DB_NAME=IMIS - DB_USER=IMISuser - DB_PASSWORD=IMISuser@1234 - DB_PORT=1433 ports: - 8080:80 volumes: - ./OpenImis.RestApi/config:/app/config - ./OpenImis.RestApi/logs:/app/log - ./OpenImis.RestApi/Certificates:/app/wwwRoot/Certificates - ./photos:/app/photos - ./Escape:/app/Escape - ./FromPhone:/app/FromPhone restart: always

Here is a sample Dockerfile file. Replace the 5 ENV database values:

FROM AS build-env WORKDIR /app COPY /OpenImis.RestApi/*.csproj ./ RUN dotnet restore ARG BUILD-FLAVOUR=Release COPY . ./ RUN dotnet publish OpenImis.RestApi/OpenImis.RestApi.csproj -c $BUILD-FLAVOUR -o out FROM WORKDIR /app ENV DB_HOST=Server ENV DB_NAME=IMIS ENV DB_USER=IMISuser ENV DB_PASSWORD=IMISuser@1234 ENV DB_PORT=1433 # copy appsettings templates COPY ./OpenImis.RestApi/config/appsettings.Production.json.dist /app/tpl/ COPY ./OpenImis.RestApi/config/appsettings.json /app/config/ COPY ./scripts/ /app/ RUN chmod a+x /app/ COPY --from=build-env /app/OpenImis.RestApi/out . RUN echo 'deb stretch main' > /etc/apt/sources.list \ && echo 'deb stretch/updates main' >> /etc/apt/sources.list \ && apt-get -o Acquire::Check-Valid-Until=false update \ && apt-get install gettext -y \ && rm -rf /var/lib/apt/lists/* ENTRYPOINT /app/


Then, you can start the Docker service:

docker-compose up -d


3.2 - Making sure the REST API is working

Once the container has finished building and has started, you can check that the REST API is properly working:

  • First, you can type docker ps. In the STATUS column, you should see something similar to Up xx minutes.

  • Then you can access the REST API and see if you see any data fetched from the database, for instance by accessing the following page: <your-openIMIS-URL>/rest/api/claim/Controls



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