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Fire up system container for GN



We have the following check list

Create container

Create a system definition

We create

and the accompanying shell script.

To build the system container you need to add channels. Check the setup with `guix describe'. It should show something like

Generation 1    Mar 01 2024 17:01:22    (current)
  gn-bioinformatics 5fa3e2b
    repository URL: https://git.genenetwork.org/guix-bioinformatics
    branch: master
    commit: 5fa3e2bcaafb498ec3bca51f72545f5a16b5a527
  guix-forge 6c622a6
    repository URL: https://git.systemreboot.net/guix-forge/
    branch: main
    commit: 6c622a67051c22eeefe37eedb17d427fbb70c99b
  guix-past 921f845
    repository URL: https://gitlab.inria.fr/guix-hpc/guix-past
    branch: master
    commit: 921f845dc0dec9f052dcda479a15e787f9fd5b0a
  guix aeaa390
    repository URL: https://git.savannah.gnu.org/git/guix.git
    branch: master
    commit: aeaa390b71a15335bef03f83bd9dc946fa535398

after fetching the latest channels with `git pull` defining ~/.config/guix/channels.scm:

(list (channel
       (name 'gn-bioinformatics)
       (url "https://git.genenetwork.org/guix-bioinformatics")
       (branch "master"))
       (name 'guix-forge)
       (url "https://git.systemreboot.net/guix-forge/")
       (branch "main")
    "7F73 0343 F2F0 9F3C 77BF  79D3 2E25 EE8B 6180 2BB3")))))

Now make sure the right guix gets fired up (the one you built) and run a container script as defined in gn-machines.

which guix

To get a shell inside the system container try

nsenter -at 399307 /run/current-system/profile/bin/bash --login
herd status

Note that mysql and virtuoso are running inside the container. It is important that these daemons do not share files with other daemons(!)

https certificates

On the host we need to tell nginx to forward to the system container. This is done with the nginx streaming library.

Note we use the stream feature of nginx. This requires on debian

apt-get install libnginx-mod-stream

Inside the contianer, the first time you may check the certificates

/usr/bin/acme renew

After that you should be able to run

wget localhost:8891

because there is no upstream python server yet.

Start mariadb

Herd will tell you that mariadb is running and if you use the client from the store you can see there is no GN database yet.

/gnu/store/xj4bfqch8zs3sfzvj65ykbvnpprwaj7f-mariadb-10.10.2/bin/mysql -e 'show databases'

mariadb initialized a new database in /var/lib/msyql. We need to stop the container and use an existing database on the host. Make sure not to share it with the host daemon! Disable mariadb in systemd if it is enabled.

On restart the permissions in the container were not mysql.mysql user. So I had to do

chown mysql:mysql -R /var/lib/mysql/
herd enable mysql
herd start mysql
/gnu/store/xj4bfqch8zs3sfzvj65ykbvnpprwaj7f-mariadb-10.10.2/bin/mysql -uwebqtlout -pwebqtlout -e 'show databases'
| Database                  |
| db_GeneOntology           |
| db_webqtl                 |
| db_webqtl_s               |

Once I got this working, however, I decided to run mariadb on the base system instead (outside the container). The same with redis (see below). If /run/mysqld is mounted correctly we should be able to see mariadb on the base system.

Start redis

After adding the default redis-service make sure the database is mounted on /var/lib/redis. `herd status` in the container will tell redis is running.

Note that, again, file permissions may prevent redis from running. Debug output appears in /var/log/messages.

The way to deal with this is chown in the activation stage. The alternative is to run a service directly on the host machine.

To test redis

redis-cli PING

and similarly in the container:

/gnu/store/pglq03ffx9b26ky057171g50m1nl9iw9-redis-7.0.12/bin/redis-cli PING

Try also INFO memory and the size should be in GBs.

Note I got a `Failed opening the temp RDB file temp error` on the host redis. This turned out to be a systemd setting

  # recommended that you remove/comment this line:

Xapian index

Search in GN3 uses xapian. To update the index there is a script in genenetwork3/scripts/index-genenetwork.

Inside the container you can do something like

 /gnu/store/ysmyk5r15n1794m7j34wp9d4ixs16plm-genenetwork3-0.1.0-5.6bb4a5f/bin/index-genenetwork /export/data/genenetwork-xapian/new mysql://webqtlout:webqtlout@

and then move the .glass files from new into its parent.

Genotype files

This is a directory containing bimbam files etc.

Mapping nginx on host

The host needs to be told that certain connections get mapped to the system container. On tux02 we have, for example

server {
    server_name test1.genenetwork.org test1-auth.genenetwork.org;
    listen 80;
    location / {
        proxy_pass http://localhost:8890;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;

which maps two outside addresses into the container nginx setup. Note that the domains are handled inside the system container.

Meanwhile nginx.conf on the host contains

  # We forward several HTTPS connections into various Guix containers.
  # We do not decrypt the traffic.  TLS termination, certificates,
  # etc. reside purely inside the Guix containers.
stream {
    upstream genenetwork {
    upstream host-https {

    map $ssl_preread_server_name $upstream {
        test1.genenetwork.org genenetwork;
        test1-auth.genenetwork.org genenetwork;
        default host-https;

    server {
        listen 443;
        proxy_pass $upstream;
        ssl_preread on;

So, the first forwards port 80 and the second 443. Certificates are (automagically) handled inside the system container (see acme above).

In our case the ports are 8890 (http) and 8891 (https), reflected in fallback.scm.


Where are the logs?

Inside the container you'll find the error logs in /var/log.

Debugging and developing code

(made with skribilo)