Partkeepr 1.4.0 on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS LAMP stack

I like PartKeepr. I use it everyday. It is, however, not exactly trivial to install, and development has slowed to a crawl, so it no longer works with a completely up-to-date software stack.

Nonetheless, it can still be made to work, and it is still very useful.

So what is it?

Partkeepr is an inventory management system, that is particularly geared towards electronics and engineering parts. It runs as web service, providing a pretty easy-to-use user interface to a database containing your data. PartKeepr allows you to define storage locations, and zones, as well as a hierarchical category for the part.

PartKeepr also maintains a datastore for datasheets, images and other useful files that are associated with the part which are easily accessible, so it doubles up as handy document control for your reference.

Octopart

Partkeepr integrates with Octopart.com, which gives you immediate access to part costings, suppliers, as well as descriptions and datasheets. All from a part number. You can even just type in the RS components stock code, and partkeepr and Octopart will do all the work for you.

There is a catch though. The Octopart service used to offer unlimited free access to their API to enable this integration magic, but then they removed this free option. Recently, they reintroduced a free tier again, which currently restricts you to 500 parts per month. That should be fine for most small-time operators like me. A credit card is required to access even the free tier, but they promise to not charge it until your opt to upgrade to a paid tier. The free ‘pro’ dataset is the one you should select.

Yay! There’s a free tier again!

Installation

I’ve installed partkeepr a few times on various versions of Ubuntu. The dependencies haven’t really changed, but the OS has, making those dependencies harder to find. Stock Ubuntu 20.04, unfortunately isn’t going to work out of the box.

Partkeepr runs on PHP 7, but needs a slightly older version than that which ships with Ubuntu. Its only that which causes installation issues. The rest is all stock.

The issue is that PartKeepr is written using the Symfony2 framework, and the version is old, so it is only compatible with PHP 7.0 or PHP 7.1

Ubuntu 20.04 ships with PHP 7.4 which upgrades Symfony and breaks PartKeepr. When someone has time to migrate to a newer version, then this issue will go away.

Staging

Firstly, I would suggest making a test installation with a fresh Ubuntu install, to dry-run all the steps, before you apply to your server hardware. That way, if something you do is going to have side-effects and break something, at least you know what you did and can back it out.

I downloaded the latest Ubuntu 20.04.2.0 AMD64 ISO image and fired up a fresh VirtualBox machine. There is also a Ubuntu server image on the same site, if that is your preference.

LAMP

Firstly, you need to setup a LAMP stack. If you really have to use Nginx (LEMP) then just setup as appropriate and ignore the Apache parts.

The ‘L’ part is easy – we already have Ubuntu Linux.

The ‘A’ part is for Apache2. Let’s apply that:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt -y install apache2

Next you need to let HTTP into the firewall (if installed)

$ sudo ufw app list

You should see a bunch of Apache2 applications. Let’s let the HTTP access in and check it worked:

$ sudo ufw allow 'Apache Full'
$ sudo ufw status

For a quick test, we should be able to see apache2 serving its default welcome page to the local loopback address. Open up a browser and send it to http://127.0.0.1 This will obviously only work if you are operating on a local machine. You can safely skip this step in that case.

Apache2 works

We need to setup apache2 to allow it to serve from the network side.

Firstly, let’s enable mod_rewrite and restart apache:

$ sudo a2enmod rewrite
$ sudo systemctl restart apache2

If you don’t have it to hand, we need the IP address of the machine in question (yes, I am ignoring machines with multiple interfaces) If this address has a domain attached to it, that works, you can use that instead.

$ ip address

Next, backup the default apache config, and make a new file with this content:

$ cd /etc/apache2/sites-available
$ sudo cp 000-default.conf 000-default.conf.bak
$ sudo nano 000-default.conf
<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerName your-ip-address -or- domain

        DocumentRoot /var/www/html/partkeepr/web/
        AcceptPathInfo on

        ErrorDocument 403 "<h1>Update in progress. Check later.</h1>"

        <Directory /var/www/html/partkeepr/web/>
		Require all granted
                AllowOverride All
        </Directory>

  ## Logging
  ErrorLog "/var/log/apache2/partkeepr_error.log"
  ServerSignature Off
  CustomLog "/var/log/apache2/partkeepr_access.log" combined 
</VirtualHost>

Restart apache:

$ sudo systemctl restart apache2

We’ll come back and test it once we’ve got the other bits installed.

Now, we move on to the ‘M’ part. ‘M’ is for ‘MySQL.’

Install and secure it and set the MySql root password:

$ sudo apt -y install mysql-server
$ sudo mysql_secure_installation

We need to adjust the MySQL authentication method:

Open up /etc/mysql/my.cnf and insert the following section:

[mysqld] default-authentication-plugin=mysql_native_password

Now would be a good time to restart MySQL and check for any errors:

$ sudo systemctl restart mysql.service
$ sudo systemctl status mysql.service

The last bit is ‘P’ for PHP. This is the bit that’s differs from stock Ubuntu 20.04. We need to configure an older PHP repository to provide the specific version we need. We’re going to aim for PHP 7.2.

Handily Ondřej Surý has provided a backports PPA repository we can make use of for just this situation:

$ sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:ondrej/php
$ sudo apt update

Let’s install the bulk of the PHP components we need

$ sudo apt install php7.2 php7.2-apcu php7.2-apcu-bc php7.2-curl php7.2-gd php7.2-intl php7.2-ldap php7.2-mysql php7.2-xml php7.2-zip

We’ll need to configure the PHP time-zone before anything will work. Open up the config file and locate the [Date] section to make the changes:

$ sudo nano /etc/php/7.2/apache2/php.ini
[Date]
; Defines the default timezone used by the date functions
; http://php.net/date.timezone
date.timezone = Europe/London

You need to check the official PHP timezone list to match where you are.

That’s the LAMP stack setup we need done, now to actually download PartKeepr and configure it:

Grab a zip or bzip archive from the download page. You can clone the github repo if you want, but there are a couple of extra steps you need to do, detailed on the partkeepr setup guide. We’ll download it, uncompress it and move it somewhere the web server can find it.

$ wget https://downloads.partkeepr.org/partkeepr-1.4.0.zip
$ sudo cp partkeepr-1.4.0.zip /var/www
$ cd /var/www
$ sudo unzip partkeepr-1.4.0.zip
$ sudo mv partkeepr-1.4.0 html/partkeepr

Then we fix up the ownership and permissions:

$ cd /var/www/html
$ sudo chown -R www-data:www-data partkeepr
$ sudo find partkeepr -type d -name "*" -exec chmod 775 "{}" \;
$ sudo find partkeepr -type f -name "*" -exec chmod 664 "{}" \;

We need to hack the code a little, to get around a weird monolog issue in symfony. This code change seems safe, and get’s the job done.

$ sudo nano /var/www/html/partkeepr/vendor/symfony/monolog-bundle/DependencyInjection/Configuration.php

Look in function getConfigTreeBuilder() around line 594. Comment out the line of code shown and add the one below, so it looks like:

->validate()
//->ifTrue(function ($v) { return ('fingers_crossed' === $v['type'] || 'buffer' === $v['type'] || 'filter' === $v['type']) && 1 !== count($v['handler']); })
->ifTrue(function ($v) { return ('fingers_crossed' === $v['type'] || 'buffer' === $v['type'] || 'filter' === $v['type']) && (empty($v['handler']) || !is_string($v['handler'])); })
->thenInvalid('The handler has to be specified to use a FingersCrossedHandler or BufferHandler or FilterHandler')
->end()

During configuration you may get a warning about PHP execution time, if you are on older hardware or there is considerable load, this is an error you will see often. And its annoying. There is a quick tweak to the PHP config file:

Need a faster server

In /etc/php/7.2/apache2/php.ini:

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
; Resource Limits ;
;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

; Maximum execution time of each script, in seconds
; http://php.net/max-execution-time
; Note: This directive is hardcoded to 0 for the CLI SAPI
max_execution_time = 300

Restart apache, then you can just point your web browser at:

http://<your-ip-or-domain>/setup and you should see:

You can hit ‘next’ and start the checks & setup process. If you see errors then you will need to check the previous steps, but first try restarting apache, to be sure.

PartKeepr Config

On the next setup page, it will prompt for the authentication key. Grab it from here, and paste it into the window:

$ cat /var/www/html/partkeepr/app/authkey.php

Click ‘next’ a few times, until we get to the database setup page. You will want to select ‘MySQL’ and check ‘show commands to create database.’

We will enter a few details, then go off to the command line to actually create the database to match them. Helpfully PartKeepr will give us a set of commands to use that won’t work any more, but the changes aren’t too extensive.

Database setup

We need to manually create and configure a database for PartKeepr:

$ sudo mysql -u root
mysql> create database PartKeepr character set utf8;
mysql> create user 'partKeepr'@'localhost' identified with mysql_native_password by '<my password>';
mysql> grant all privileges on PartKeepr.* to 'partKeepr'@'localhost';

As soon as you quit, you can hit the ‘next’ button in the setup to test the database connection and create the PartKeepr database contents.

Hit ‘next’ and setup your first user account.

On the final setup page (2 of 2) if you see failure on the ‘warming up the cache’ section, then you need to go back and check you edited the PHP source file Configuration.php correctly.

Final Steps

PartKeepr needs some cron setup in order to operate correctly:

$ sudo nano /etc/cron.d/partkeepr
0 0,6,12,18 ​* www-data /usr/bin/php /var/www/html/partkeepr/app/console partkeepr:cron:run

Once you leave the last page, you should get automatically directed to the login prompt. This is the user/password you configured a few steps back. It is not the MySQL user.

Any additional users you need are configured in the ‘users’ menu item under ‘edit.’

Octopart

We have a problem

The instructions in this section are relevant and correct, but at the time of testing it is unclear if the API is actually going to work with this version of PartKeepr. We need v3 API access, but it is possible that new API keys will only work with v4 API, which PartKeepr does not currently support. Oh well. I’ll post an update if I get anywhere with it.

Let’s not get carried away with adding storage locations, part categories and data just yet – since there is the killer feature to enable – octopart integration.

Now we’ve got all the other config done, we can get the API key, place it in the config file and rerun setup to complete.

Head on over to octopart.com and register an account, then jump to the API selection page to select the free tier professional option.

Go open up /var/www/html/partkeepr/app/config/parameters.php and add the key to the variable partkeepr.octopart.apikey
You just then need to re-run the setup page, as earlier, and just accept all the page contents.

I had a strange problem on the ‘warming up the cache’ item, which I resolved by manually deleting /var/www/html/partkeepr/app/cache/prod.

That should be all there is to it. Help if needed can be found on the PartKeepr Users google group, which is currently still quite active.