Tag Archives: blast

SequenceServer v1.0 pre-release

Just recently I have been lucky enough to have had access, for testing, to the pre-release version of SequenceServer

$ gem install –pre sequenceserver

NB – At the time of writing this post I was using pre2, that has now been updated to pre4 and I have had several chats with both Anurag and Yannick via email, so some of the information below is possibly slightly out of date. I will work at updating this over the weekend, but for now wanted to publish this ‘as is’ so people can actually get to read/see it! ūüôā

There are quite a few updates visually and in the underlying code. The interface is much cleaner now and the slightly garish orange/green colour scheme has been replaced by a frosty white and blue. The other major change is the output report of BLAST hits where we now have a graphical representation of where the hits align to the query – similar to the graphical report you see at NCBI’s web blast – but with a nicer colour scheme and the same image link map to take you to the relevant links. I would still like integration with CDD here to show protein domains… There are hints of more options to come, You can now download FASTA files of your sequences as well as¬†XML and TSV copies of the BLAST report. I’ve not looked too much at the code-base changes as I am not completely au-fait with Ruby (Anurag tells me: “We now have a minified CSS and JS file each for production deploy. And a gzipped version of each as well. Using [the] gzipped version improves page load times by 70%.) but there are a few more gems required and what looks like a tidying-up of some of the code!

If you remember from my previous post, here, I had the need to set up multiple versions of SequenceServer for different sequencing projects – rather than have all the sequence databases appear under one server – each associated with their own domain usinf Phusion Passenger. ¬†I accomplished this by pulling the github repository to a local directory (/usr/share) and then creating a set of symlinks to the files within that directory to a directory for each of my projects (e.g. /etc/blast_project1, /etc/blast_project2). Then from my apache install (/var/www)¬†creating another set of symlinks to each of the projects’ public folder. ¬†Although complicated, this allowed me to keep the repository up-to-date and keep each server running, and to be able to modify individual files by copying them and editing rather than using a symlink.

It worked remarkably well and other than when non-symlink files changed I didn’t get any problems other than WordPress making it difficult for sequence retrieval due to some .htaccess settings but that was easily sorted with a few settings changes in Apache.

This time I have had to figure out Ruby a bit more (still hate it! :p) as the pre-release version is installed via ruby gems but I have kept much of the same setup for testing. I will again attempt to keep a record below of how I achieved multiple SequenceServers running for multiple projects.

1. Ruby Gems Locations

You can find out where you local copy of Ruby Gems are installed by typing:

$ gem environment

RubyGems Environment:
– RUBY VERSION: 1.9.3 (2013-11-22 patchlevel 484) [i686-linux]
– INSTALLATION DIRECTORY: /var/lib/gems/1.9.1

So we can see that for Ubuntu Trusty Tahr they are located in /var/lib/gems/1.9.1 with Ruby 1.9.1 and Ruby Gems 1.8.23. BUT!!

$ gem environment

RubyGems Environment:
– RUBY VERSION: 1.9.3 (2013-11-22 patchlevel 484) [i686-linux]
– INSTALLATION DIRECTORY: /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.1

When I needed to update Ruby Gems (see below Section 5) they moved the location to /usr/lib/ruby/gems/ which is something to be aware of! So FRUSTRATING!

2. Symlink Directories

The final folder path for SequenceServer pre is either /var/lib/gems/1.9.1/gems/sequenceserver-1.0.0.pre.2 or /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.1/gems/sequenceserver-1.0.0.pre.2 and I am again going to make a chain of sym-linked directories to help manage the installation of multiple copies.

Source: /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.1/gems/sequenceserver-1.0.0.pre.2

1st Symlink: /usr/share/sequenceserver1 -> /var/lib/gems/1.9.1/gems/sequenceserver-1.0.0.pre.2

$ sudo ln -s /usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.9.1/gems/sequenceserver-1.0.0.pre.2 /usr/share/sequenceserver1

2nd Symlink (content of the folder): /etc/blast_projectX -> /usr/share/sequenceserver1

$ mkdir /etc/blast_projectX/ && cd /etc/blast_projectX

$ sudo ln -s /usr/share/sequenceserver1/* .

3rd Symlink: /var/www/projectX -> /etc/blast_projectX/public

$ sudo ln -s (see below, things to do first!)

You could symlink directly to the gems directory but this¬†way when SequenceServer updates to say¬†sequenceserver-1.0.0.pre.3 or the final version etc, I can modify the 1st symlink and then I should be able to keep everything else in place… (you might have to re-run ‘bundle install’ too). Well,¬†what will happen is that any files that no longer exist will be flagged (usually in red) that the symlink is broken [therefore you can delete those] and any new files in the new SequenceServer gems directory won’t be linked, but you can always symlink them one-by-one. Not the best solution but I can’t think of a better way when gems are managed in folders with version numbers ūüôĀ – if anyone has any thoughts on this I would like to hear them.

3. Static Config Files

Then we can go about setting up the config for this project (remove the symlink config.ru script and make it static and edit it to be specific to this project) note the dot…:

sudo rm config.ru
sudo cp /usr/share/sequenceserver1/config.ru .

Then modify the line that starts “SequenceServer.init” to look like (note the quotes and space before the colon are important):

SequenceServer.init :config_file => “/etc/blast_projectX/config.yml”

We also need to make one more change to this file – this might be due to the version of Sinatra I am running but I cannot be sure – ¬†the command “Run SequenceServer” needs to be changed to “run SequenceServer”. Note the word ‘run’ does not have a capital letter ‘r’.

run SequenceServer

The above should be fixed in pre4+. Yay!

Then we need to create the YAML config file, which contains the location of the blast databases for this project and the port to run on etc:

$ sudo nano config.yml

inserting your needed configuration (note ‘database’ is now written as ‘database_dir’):

bin: /usr/bin/
database_dir: /path/to/your/databases
port: 5678
num_threads: 1

4. Apache Configuration

Now we need to edit Apache’s configuration to allow Phusion Passenger to display the server as a RackBaseURI on a sub-domain. I won’t go in to installing Passenger here, there is information in my previous post and the SequenceServer website for that. But suffice to say, more configuration files have changed their location! In the latest version of Apache (2.4.7 in Trusty Tahr anyway) I have to edit /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf¬†and put the relevant directory information in there.

$ sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

Under the “Virtual Host” section add:

RackBaseURI /projectX
<Directory /var/www/projectX>
AllowOverride None
Options -MultiViews
AuthType Basic
AuthName “Blastocladiella Genome Project”
AuthUserFile “/etc/blast_projectX/.htpasswd”
Require valid-user

In this example I have also added some password protection to the directory.

Now we need to add a symlink to the public directory in our project folder to the Apache webserver directory.

$ cd /var/www
$ sudo ln -s /etc/blast_projectX/public projectX

 5. Troubleshooting

I also had to do a number of things to get the latest version of SequenceServer to run in the configuration above, these are detailed below.  On a different server, although also running Ubuntu Trusty, running the pre-release straight from the command line I had no issues.

I received this error:

There was a ArgumentError while loading sequenceserver.gemspec:
Malformed version number string 1.0.0-2 from
/var/lib/gems/1.9.1/gems/sequenceserver-1.0.0.pre.2/sequenceserver.gemspec:4:in `block in <main>’

To remedy it I had to update Ruby Gems from 1.8.3 to 2.4.5.

$ sudo gem install rubygems-update
$ sudo update_rubygems

But I am told when it hits final you won’t have to do that, but you will probably have updated anyway. Then you need to reinstall ‘bundler’:

sudo gem install bundler

I also needed to install the QT4 development pacakges to get the Capybara-webkit to compile.

$ sudo apt-get install libqt4-dev

And finally (do not run bundle as sudo, it will ask if/when it is needed) – I am running with the option ‘–without development’ here to remove the previous [strike through] error I had received:

bundle install –without development

One more oddity was that there was no Gemfile.lock in the SequenceServer gems directory so I created it (prior to running bundle install) and then symlinked it to the /etc/blast_projectX folder also. Bundle should create this but twice now, for me, it has not. Go figure!

Running Multiple SequenceServers on Apache2 and Ruby 1.9

What I would like to do is run multiple instances of SequenceServer under different sub-directories on one domain, e.g. http://richardslab.exeter.ac.uk/blastocladiella and http://richardslab.exeter.ac.uk/hyphochytrium but running from one source code directory and one central location for blast databases (although the FASTAs should be in different sub-directories).

This is how I managed it. It’s similar to the way I have set up multiple copies of mediawiki. It’s a little involved, but it seems to work and there may well be other ways – which I would be interested to hear about – and so I can’t guarantee this is the correct, sanest or safest way! So YMMV. However, there are a few challenges to get through first.

Ruby 1.9.* has had a few security updates and in so doing they have removed ‚Äú.‚ÄĚ (the current directory) from load PATH. There’s lots of talk about it on the internet (e.g. here) with various solutions to get it running. It took a bit of figuring out for SequenceServer which would not run directly from github for me, but I think I have cracked it for the latest version (as of 2014-03-31 – 0.8.7?) if you are running it through Apache with Phusion Passenger. Incidentally – and this may be testament to my lack of knowledge of (and desire to know about) Ruby but it won’t run from the command line unless we make a different set of changes. But I suppose you can always install the gem rather than github for that scenario… Unless some one else can help out on this front…

The reason I am running from git source is that I’m not sure where the ruby gem files get installed or what ruby gems does with them and so this way I can be in control of exactly what files I am going to change below…

1) Install SequenceServer from github

First lets put SequenceServer somewhere safe.

cd /usr/share/

Then clone the source from github;

sudo git clone https://github.com/yannickwurm/sequenceserver.git

You’ll notice you cannot run ./bin/sequenceserver without it throwing an error. We will fix that shortly. You may want to at this point run

sudo bundle install && sudo gem update

in order to make sure any ruby gem dependencies that are needed are installed and updated.

You will also need to make sure you have Phusion Passenger installed for Apache.

gem install passenger


Don’t worry about adding the second part to your Apache config, we’ll do that below… BUT you do need to add the first bit!!!

a2enmod passenger

2) Changes to the Sequence Server Source Code

Follow the changes highlighted (bold) in each file below; substitute ‘nano’ for your favourite awesome text editor.

sudo nano config.ru

require ‘rubygems’
require ‘bundler/setup’
#require ‘sequenceserver’
require File.expand_path(File.join(File.dirname(__FILE__), ‘lib/sequenceserver.rb’))

run SequenceServer::App

We will be coming back to this file later…

sudo nano lib/sequenceserver.rb

require_relative ‘./sequenceserver/helpers’
require_relative ‘./sequenceserver/blast’
require_relative ‘./sequenceserver/sequencehelpers’
require_relative ‘./sequenceserver/sinatralikeloggerformatter’
require_relative ‘./sequenceserver/customisation’
require_relative ‘./sequenceserver/version’

sudo nano lib/sequenceserver/helpers.rb

require_relative ‘../sequenceserver/database’

3) The ‘tricky’ Part!

First make a directory for your the first instance of SequenceServer you want to run. In this example I have called my directory blast_genome_n; where n = 1…n etc. You might like to make it something more specific to your needs.

cd /etc/
sudo mkidr blast_genome_n
cd blast_genome_n/

Now we are going to make symlinks to our source code repository in /usr/share/sequenceserver – Note, that we want to get the files (*)¬†from the directory, not the directory itself. We shall be copying them to our current location ‘.’

sudo ln -s /usr/share/sequenceserver/* .

Next comes a bit that you don’t want to mess up. We are going to be removing two of the symlinks and replacing them with copies of a static file. This is because they both contain information that will be specific to each of your instances…

sudo rm config.ru
sudo cp /usr/share/sequenceserver/config.ru .

sudo rm example.config.yml
sudo cp /usr/share/sequenceserver/exampl.config.yml .

You now need to edit each file accordingly.

sudo nano config.ru
We edited this file previously, but we need to update it with the proper location of our configuration file (e.g. this is where you specify the blast database locations etc). So, add this bold line;

SequenceServer::App.config_file = ‘/etc/blast_genome_n/config.yml’
run SequenceServer::App

sudo mv example.config.yml config.yml
sudo nano config.yml

For example;

database: /your/specific/blast/databases/

4) Update Apache httpd.conf

sudo nano /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

Add the section below to the <VirtualHost *:80> section in the config file;

RackBaseURI /blast_genome_n
<Directory /var/www/blast_genome_n>
Options -MultiViews

5) Add a symlink Directory to your Apache Directory

sudo ln -s /etc/blast_genome_n/public blast_genome_n

Make sure it is to the “public” directory! Incidentally, you can also change files in the public directory to ‘static’ files and make individual changes to each server portal, e.g. web page colours…

5) Repeat

Repeat Steps 3-5 for any other separate genome blast portals you wish to create

6) Restart Apache

sudo service apache2 restart

And you’re done! It should now work! ūüôā


I run WordPress on the same server in the document root and have mod_rewrite enabled to give nicer URLs, however this will interfere with the sequence retrieval of SequenceServer. So, if you are in the same situation (doesn’t have to be WP, it could be Joomla or any situation where mod_rewrite is interfering) you need to add a few lines to the .htaccess file in the root folder

sudo nano .htaccess
It will look something like this:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

You need to add a line to make it look like this:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteRule ^blast_genome_n/ – [L]

RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

Note how it occurs after turning mod_rewrite on but BEFORE wordpress rewrites are carried out!


For some reason the above “solution” for .htaccess had stopped working. The below now seems to work…

# BEGIN WordPress
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index.php$ – [L]

# Include in the next line all folders to exclude
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !(blastocladiella|deepsea|paramecium|hyphochytrium|frogliver) [NC]

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
# END WordPress