When we released Learning Locker v1 in May 2014 one of the first hurdles to overcome in order to use our free, open source software was getting it installed.  Whilst v1 was a PHP application on the surface, underneath it had dependencies and complexities that made deploying the software a fair undertaking.  

Thousands have made the effort but many more would have found the experience left wanting.  When we came to build out v2 of Learning Locker, one of the first features on the table was ‘simple installation’.

Unfortunately that feature list also had some increasingly complex features, like using MongoDB to create real-time graphs… Or statement forwarding… Or multi-factor authentication… And advanced permissions… And embeddable dashboards… And… you get my drift.

As such, when we came to review what it was we had created with Learning Locker v2, it was decidedly not easy to get up and running. Dependencies and technologies had become somewhat more complex, not less.

That’s when we set about automating the process, first with a script that does it all for you, and then latterly with a new Amazon Machine Image, or AMI. 

Using the Learning Locker Install Scripts

So what does the install script (and subsequently the AMI) do? Our Technical Architect, Gareth, lays it out as follows:

With our install script, we wanted to take care of all the dependencies that Learning Locker requires, but also give you the flexibility to install only the bits you need when setting up a larger production environment.

As such the first thing the script does when you run it, is to ask a small number of questions about how you’re going to be running the system.

Learning Locker LRS AMI Installer Run Questions

Running the install script via a Linux server using Putty on Windows

If you just want to get up and running with minimal fuss then you can just pick the defaults to all these options and everything required will be installed, setup and configured to work with Learning Locker.

Because we wanted to make this work for as many people as possible, this script is designed to work on CentOS, Fedora, AWS Linux, Ubuntu & Debian.

Another thing we quickly realised is that because Learning Locker is a rather complex bit of software (with a large build process which needed a good amount of RAM), people couldn’t run it on the free tier of AWS and it could still take up to 30 minutes to get up and running while everything installed and built; even though we’d made things fairly straightforward,

We wanted to fix this too, so have taken care of all the compilation of the code and installation of the required software and packaged the server up as a standard Amazon Community AMI – which anybody with an AWS account can start and run, even on the AWS free tier.

These community AMIs are available in all Amazon availability zones so can be deployed wherever you are.

Installing Learning Locker using an AMI

To prove that it really is that simple to get going with Learning Locker v2 using an AMI, the technical team had me do it. Here’s what happened…

So, what are you waiting for? Your own Learning Record Store is literally a couple of clicks away…