Running DiscoverEd

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This page contains raw documentation, some of which is only applicable to our DiscoverEd deployment. It will be massaged into more general docs in the fullness of time.

Instructions for running a crawl


  • For long aggregates and crawls, run in 'screen'.

Three phases to the process of updating the index:

  1. Aggregation (polling feeds old and new)
  2. crawling
  3. merging (merging the new index with the existing one).

Set up environment

Execute these commands to set up your environment for running the tools. It also places you in the discovered user's account.

$ sudo su - discovered
$ cd code

Managing Feeds

The feeds script (./bin/feeds) allows you to add curators or feeds. Running it without parameters will show the sub-commands. Feeds and curators are identified by URL (and yes, it's picky -- is not the same as ).


  • For each feed packaged by an OPML feed, the curator is set by the feed title. The OPML consumer will only add the curator/feed if the feed isn't already in the system.
  • If you add a feed that already exists, you'll just overwrite the old one (since it's a triple store and the URI is the identifier. Same with a curator; they're also identified by URI. It's more likely you'd get two curators, but so long as you're dealing with the same feed URL you won't get dupes.


Aggregation polls the feeds and adds new resources to the triple store. It will also poll any OPML feeds and add the new feeds it finds.

$ ./bin/feeds aggregate


Before you crawl you need to make a seed which tells the crawler what to retrieve.

If the directory "seed/" does not exist, create it with

mkdir seed

Then create the seed list of URLs:

$ ./bin/feeds seed > ./seed/crawl-urls.txt

When the crawl runs it will look in ./seed/ and open every file it finds there, expecting to find one URL per line (so remove files when you don't want them to be crawled).

To run the actual crawl do:

$ ./bin/

Finally, restart Tomcat (the Java app server) to make sure the new index is being used:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/tomcat6 restart

Managing curators and feeds

On in the $HOME/code directory, running ./bin/feeds with no parameters shows the list of subcommands:

  listfeeds        list all feeds
  listcurators     list all curators
  addfeed          add a feed
  resetfeed        reset the last aggregation date for a feed
  addcurator       add a curator
  rmfeed           remove a feed
  setcurator       set the curator for a feed

Each one is run as an argument to the feeds script (i.e. ./bin/feeds [command] [parameter1] [parameter2]...)


addfeed [feed_type] [feed_url] [curator_url]

Assuming you've added the curator for this feed with addcurator, the curator URL will set the curator (so you don't need to set it again with setcurator).

Feed type notes: "rss" is a parser that does RSS/Atom sniffing.


addcurator [curator_name] [curator_url]

Curator names with spaces should be surrounded by quotation marks (e.g. addcurator "CC Open Textbook Project"


setcurator [feed_url] [curator_url]

Deploying new WARs

To deploy a new war, do this:

  • sudo rm -rf /var/lib/tomcat6/webapps/search/ # clear the existing app to force redeployment
  • sudo cp nutch-1.1.war /var/lib/tomcat6/webapps/search.war
  • sudo /etc/init.d/tomcat6 restart

Things the server administrator should know


Many of our scripts require a JAVA_HOME environment variable to be set. For our convenience, we configured to have JAVA_HOME set for every user. We did that by adding this to /etc/profile:

JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk/ ; export JAVA_HOME

Maximum open files

Tomcat and Nutch sometimes have problems opening files. This is because they've exceeded the number of open files that a process can have.

To address this, we added this to /etc/security/limits.conf:

### For Tomcat etc.
*               soft    nofile          4096
*               hard    nofile          4096