Installing thummer 0.01 on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Server

Posted on Wed 14 January 2009 in thummer • Tagged with apache, cutycapt, django, gecko, thummer, ubuntu, webkit, xvfb

thummer is a website-snapshot and thumbnailing utility I am working on, built using django. Read my previous thummer blog post to find out more about the project.


In this article, I am assuming that we are installing thummer on an existing Ubuntu server (8.04 or later) with Apache already installed, and that you are comfortable with editing apt's sources.list file.

Step 1: Install A "Fake" X-Server

If you do not have a desktop environment installed on your server (probably a good thing!), then you will need to install xvfb, which provides a virtual screen so that we can capture the rendered output of the website:

Xvfb provides an X server that can run on machines with no display hardware and no physical input devices. It emulates a dumb framebuffer using virtual memory.
sudo apt-get install xvfb

Step 2: Install CutyCapt

We now need to install CutyCapt (webkit rendering).

First, we need to install the cutycapt dependencies and build tools:

sudo apt-get install build-essential

For hardy only: We also need some packages from hardy-backports - add the following lines to /etc/apt/sources.list.

deb hardy-backports main restricted universe multiverse
deb-src hardy-backports main restricted universe multiverse``

Now install the required qt4 packages:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libqt4-dev libqt4-webkit libqt4-svg

It's now probably a good idea to remove (or comment out) the hardy-backports lines from your sources.list file.

Download cutycapt source, and expand the tarball:

cd ~/
tar -xvvzf CutyCapt.tar.gz\?view\=tar

Compile cutycapt:

cd CutyCapt

Step 3: Install Django

First install some packages we'll need later:

sudo apt-get install python-django python-imaging python-pysqlite2 libapache2-mod-python

For hardy only: The version of django hardy ships with is too old for thummer. Install Jaunty's version of python-django from the updates repository by downloading the .deb file from Launchpad (remember to keep an eye out for future security updates):

cd ~/
sudo dpkg -i python-django_1.0-1ubuntu1_all.deb

Step 4: Install & Configure thummer

Download thummer, expand the tarball, and move the extracted files to /var/www:

cd ~/
tar -xvvzf thummer_0.01.tar.gz
sudo mv thummer_0.01 /var/www/thummer

Make sure subversion is installed:

sudo apt-get install subversion

Download the required site-package, sorl-thumbnails:

sudo svn checkout /usr/local/lib/python2.5/site-packages/sorl``

Create the database, and initial admin user:

cd /var/www/thummer/thummer
./ syncdb

Set owner so that the apache process can write to the database:

sudo chown -R www-data /var/www/thummer/database

Set owner so that the apache process can write to the media directory:

sudo chown -R www-data /var/www/thummer/media

Update the django website settings:

sudo nano ./

Make sure that "XVFB = True", specify the full path to the database for DATABASE_NAME.

Ensure the full path to the CutyCapt binary is correct.

Step 5: Configure Apache

Ensure that the python module for Apache is enabled:

sudo a2enmod mod_python

Create a virtual-host site configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/thummer

Paste in the following configuration - replace "" with your desired domain name:

<VirtualHost *>

  DocumentRoot /var/www/thummer/thummer

  <Directory "/var/www/thummer/thummer">
    AllowOverride All
    Order Allow,Deny
    Allow from All

    SetHandler python-program
    PythonHandler django.core.handlers.modpython
    SetEnv DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE thummer.settings
    PythonPath "['/var/www/thummer'] + sys.path"

  # Static Media Content
  Alias /media /var/www/thummer/media
  <Location "/media">
    SetHandler None
    Order Allow,Deny
    Allow from All

  Alias /admin-media /usr/share/python-support/python-django/django/contrib/admin/media
  <Location "/admin-media">
    SetHandler None
    Order Allow,Deny
    Allow from All


Enable the site, and restart apache:

sudo a2ensite thummer
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Bam! Thats It! Enjoy, and let me know how it goes!


Just use the following URL syntax to reference the image (e.g. in img elements):[width]/[height]/[crop]/http://url-to-capture/

the value of [crop] can either be 0 or 1, where 0 = scale & fit, and 1 = scale & crop.

e.g. to generate a 300x300 pixel cropped thumbnail of the BBC News website:

<img src="" alt="BBC News website thumbnail" />

And here is the result:

BBC News website thumbnail

Remember you can access the admin interface by going to where you can delete snapshots - so that they are regenerated next time they are requested.