MIT SIPB Script Services for Athena Fedora 20 transition

Keeping the servers secure is one of the most important things that the team works on. This includes not only careful design and review of the custom software that we run, but keeping up to date with security patches for Fedora, which is the distribution of Linux that we run. Fedora’s security support for Fedora 17 has ended, so we will be upgrading to Fedora 20 to receive official security support for approximately another year.

The actual transition is scheduled for July 12, 2014.

Will I need to do anything to my website?

We expect that for the vast majority of our users, the upgrade will be very smooth, your applications will work with no changes, and you won’t have to do anything. However, we strongly encourage you to test your website as soon as possible. Also, check the list of known issues to see if you are likely to experience any problems we’re already aware of. In particular, the system installations of Django, Trac, Rails and TurboGears have had upstream upgrades that are somewhat backwards incompatible.

Will there be a service outage?

We do not expect there to be any service outage. Our plan is to simultaneously add the Fedora 20 servers to the load-balancing pool and then remove the Fedora 17 servers. If your website and scripts work with our Fedora 20 testing server, they should work and be available to your visitors continuously throughout this process.

How do I test my website?

There are several options available to you.

Note: If you are running an application that asks you to upgrade it when you use our testing server, do not perform the upgrade until the official roll-over. If you do, your site will most likely work on the testing server, but no longer work on the production Fedora 17 servers. If you do perform an upgrade, you will most likely have to restore a backup of your database and/or application. If you wish to test your application sooner, you may wish to make a new copy of it that uses a different database.

Athena workstation

On any Athena workstation, you can log in and run these commands (make sure you do not have a web browser open first):

athena% add scripts
athena% firefox-test

This will start Firefox for you with special configuration that ensures that any website you visit that’s hosted on scripts will be retrieved from our test server. You can then try using all the features of your website just as you ordinarily would. Note that this will be using your real website; it is not a separate copy of your site.

This configuration will only be used while you have that copy of Firefox open. If you close it and run Firefox normally, you will no longer be using our test server.

SIPB Office

If you visit the SIPB office (W20-557), there are a few specially labelled workstations there which always use the scripts testing server. You do not need to do any special configuration to test your site on these machines. Feel free to come by SIPB any time we’re open (the office doesn’t have fixed hours, but is open most afternoons and evenings; feel free to call 617-253-7788 to check if we’re open before coming over) and test your site on these machines.


If you use Linux, or a similar operating system, and are comfortable with system administration tasks, you can temporarily configure your system to use our testing server by adding a line to your /etc/hosts file that maps the hostname your website uses to the IP address Note that your website might use any of these hostnames:,,

or something like Be sure that the line you add to your /etc/hosts uses the correct name, and be sure that you remove that line when you are done testing. If you are on a Windows system, the analogous file is


May I ssh into the test server?

Yes, anyone with a scripts account may ssh to, just as you ordinarily would ssh to, if you would like to use a shell.

What are the known issues at this time?

Currently, Ruby (including Ruby on Rails) web applications do not work on the test server due to a missing Ruby FastCGI library. This will be fixed before the transition.

Currently, Python web applications using AuthKit do not work due to a missing Python library. In particular, Bluechips sites use this and as such will not work on the test server. This will be fixed before the transition.

How can I stay up to date on news about Scripts?

News about is posted to our blog periodically. Important announcements are e-mailed to the scripts-announce mailing list. If you’re not already signed up for the list, please take a moment to do so by clicking the link above.

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