Installation and configuration


The supported approach for deploying SFM is Docker containers.

Each SFM service will provide images for the containers needed to run the service (in the form of Dockerfile s). These images will be published to Docker Hub. GWU created images will be part of the GWUL organization and be prefixed with sfm-.

sfm-docker provides the necessary docker-compose.yml files to compose the services into a complete instance of SFM.

For a container, there may be multiple flavors of the container. In particular, there may be the following:

  • development: The code for the service is outside the container and linked into the container as a shared volume. This supports development with a running instance of the service.
  • master: The container contains the master branch of the code at the time the image is built.
  • release: The container contains a release of the code. There will be a separate image for each release.

For more information, see Docker.

SFM can be deployed without Docker. The various ``Dockerfile``s should provide reasonable guidance on how to accomplish this.


  • Passwords are kept in secrets.env. A template for this file (example.secrets.env) is provided.

  • Debug mode for sfm-ui is controlled by the DEBUG environment variable in docker-compose.yml. If setting DEBUG to false, the SFM_HOST environment variable must be provided with the host. See the Django documentation for ALLOWED_HOSTS.

  • The default timezone is Eastern Standard Time (EST). To select a different timezone, change TZ=EST in docker-compose.yml.

  • Email is configured by providing the SFM_HOST, SFM_SMTP_HOST, SFM_EMAIL_USER, and SFM_EMAIL_PASSWORD environment variables. SFM_HOST is used to determine the host name when constructing links contained in the emails.

  • Application credentials for social media APIs are configured by providing the TWITTER_CONSUMER_KEY, TWITTER_CONSUMER_SECRET, WEIBO_API_KEY, and/or WEIBO_API_SECRET. For more information, see API Credentials.

  • The data volume strategy is used to manage the volumes that store SFM’s data. By default, normal Docker volumes are used; to use a host volume instead, add the host directory to the volumes field. This will allow you to access the data outside of Docker. For example:

        image: ubuntu:14.04
        command: /bin/true
             - /myhost/data:/sfm-data

Local installation

Installing locally required Docker and Docker-Compose. See Installing Docker.

  1. Either clone this repository:

    git clone

or just download docker-compose.yml and example.secrets.env:

curl -L > docker-compose.yml
curl -L > secrets.env
  1. Put real secrets in secrets.env.

  2. Bring up the containers:

    docker-compose up -d

Amazon EC2 installation

To launch an Amazon EC2 instance running SFM, follow the normal procedure for launching an instance. In Step 3: Configure Instance Details, under Advanced Details paste the following in user details and modify as appropriate:

repo_update: true
repo_upgrade: all

 - python-pip

 - curl -sSL | sh
 - usermod -aG docker ubuntu
 - pip install -U docker-compose
 - mkdir /sfm-data
# This brings up master. To bring up a specific version, replace master with the
# version number, e.g., 0.6.0.
 - curl -L > docker-compose.yml
 - curl -L > secrets.env
# Set secrets below. Secrets that are not commented out are required.
# Secrets that are commented out are not required. To include, remove the #.
# Don't forget to escape $ as \$.
# The password used for logging into the Rabbit Admin. Username is sfm_user.
 - echo RABBITMQ_DEFAULT_PASS=password >> secrets.env
# Postgres password.
 - echo POSTGRES_PASSWORD=password >> secrets.env
# The password for the admin account for SFM UI. Username is sfmadmin.
 - echo SFM_SITE_ADMIN_PASSWORD=password >> secrets.env
# The account used to send email via SMTP from SFM UI.
# - echo >> secrets.env
# - echo SFM_EMAIL_PASSWORD=password >> secrets.env
# The password used to log into the Heritrix UI. Username is sfm_user.
 - echo HERITRIX_PASSWORD=password >> secrets.env
# API keys for allowing users to connect to social media platform APIs.
# If not provided, credentials can still be provided in SFM UI.
# - echo TWITTER_CONSUMER_KEY=EHdoeW7ksBgflP5nUalEfhao >> secrets.env
# - echo TWITTER_CONSUMER_SECRET=ZtUemftBkf2cEmaqiyW2Ddihu9FPAiLebuMOmqN0jeQtXeAlen >> secrets.env
# - echo WEIBO_API_KEY=1313340598 >> secrets.env
# - echo WEIBO_API_SECRET=68ae6a497f2f6eac07ec14bf7c0e0fa52 >> secrets.env
# Values must be provided for all of the following.
# HERITRIX_CONTACT_URL is included in the HTTP request when harvesting web
# resources with Heritrix.
# The following are optional.
# The SMTP server used to send email.
 - export
# The email address of the admin account for SFM UI.
 - export
# The time zone.
 - export TZ=EST
# The host name of the server.
 - export HOST=`curl`
 - sed -i 's/\/sfm-data/"\/sfm-data:\/sfm-data"/' docker-compose.yml
 - sed -i "s/HERITRIX_CONTACT_URL=http:\/\/${HERITRIX_CONTACT_URL}/" docker-compose.yml
 - sed -i "s/${SMTP_HOST}/" docker-compose.yml
 - sed -i "s/${SITE_ADMIN_EMAIL}/" docker-compose.yml
 - sed -i "s/TZ=EST/TZ=${TZ}/g" docker-compose.yml
 - sed -i "s/${HOST}/" docker-compose.yml
 - docker-compose up -d

When the instance is launched, SFM will be installed and started.

Note the following:

  • Starting up the EC2 instance will take several minutes.
  • This has been tested with Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS, but may work with other AMI types.
  • We don’t have recommendations for sizing, but providing multiple processors even for testing/experimentation.
  • If you need to make additional changes to your docker-compose.yml, you can ssh into the EC2 instance and make changes. docker-compose.yml and secrets.env will be in the default user’s home directory.
  • Make sure to configure a security group that exposes the proper ports. To see which ports are used by which services, see master.docker-compose.yml.
  • To learn more about configuring EC2 instances with user data, see the AWS user guide.