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Installing Symbiosis on Brightbox Cloud

Symbiosis is a legacy open source server management system originally created by hosting company Bytemark.

We’re assuming you’ve used Symbiosis before, and want to install it on Brightbox Cloud.

We’re starting after you’ve signed up, and provided your public SSH key and logged into Brightbox Manager.

How to install Symbiosis on Brightbox Cloud

Create a server

Firstly, we will create a Cloud Server with Debian 9:

The server will take about 25 seconds to build, when it’s done, click the wheel, and get the ssh details:

SSH to the server:

$ ssh debian@public.<your-server-here>.brightbox.com

Prepare for installation

Firstly we need to change the server hostname to match the primary Cloud IP DNS record name. This makes testing new websites work as expected.

$ brightbox=public.$(wget -qO-
$ echo $brightbox | sudo tee /etc/hostname | sudo tee /etc/mailname
$ sudo hostname $brightbox

Let’s add the Symbiosis GPG key

$ wget https://secure.bytemark.co.uk/key/repositories-2014.key
$ sudo apt-key add repositories-2014.key

And the Symbiosis repository

$ echo -e "# \n# Bytemark Symbiosis Packages \n# \ndeb http://symbiosis.bytemark.co.uk/stretch/ ./ \ndeb-src http://symbiosis.bytemark.co.uk/stretch/ ./" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/symbiosis.list
$ sudo apt-get update

Installing Symbiosis

And get Symbiosis installed!

$ sudo apt-get install -y --install-recommends bytemark-symbiosis

We will be asked a number of questions throughout the installation process:

Configuring Symbiosis-MySQL root password

Enter a memorable and secure mySQL root password for local databases and make a note of it somewhere:

PHPMyAdmin webserver

Run under Apache2 or lighthttpd? Press space to select Apache2, and Tab to get to OK:

Roundcube database configuration

Press enter to select default “Yes” to use dbconfig-common

Choose roundcube database

Select default mysql. Press tab, then enter.

Roundcube password setup

Leave blank. Press tab and then enter.

PHPMyAdmin dbconfig-common config

To select “Yes”, press enter.

PHPMyAdmin password

Leave blank. Press tab and then enter.

Final Symbiosis setup

We’re nearly done!

Setup login for admin user

When we start using Symbiosis, we’ll use the “admin” user, rather than the “debian” user. Let’s set it up so we can login using our ssh key.

$ sudo mkdir /srv/.ssh/ 
$ sudo cp /home/debian/.ssh/authorized_keys /srv/.ssh/ 
$ sudo chown admin:admin -R /srv/.ssh/

Set admin password

Let’s set a password for our new “admin” user so we can easily use sudo.

$ sudo passwd admin


And we’re almost done - let’s reboot it to make sure everything comes online as expected.

$ sudo reboot

Connect to Symbiosis

We can now login to Symbiosis with username “admin” and the ssh key you used to login last time.

$ ssh admin@public.<your-server-here>.brightbox.com

What next?

Maybe create a website or migrate some existing sites?

Known issues:

As Bytemark virtual machines had a different approach to networking, and access to a slightly different set of services there are currently a few things known to work differently:

DNS record creation

Brightbox does not run any DNS service and recommends using a 3rd party DNS provider. This effectively means that the Symbiosis features related to DNS aren’t functional on Brightbox cloud. Currently this means that you will have to create DNS records manually. A Symbiosis fork is looking at creating some tight integration with 3rd party DNS services

Support and help?

Development of Symbiosis appears to have stalled and a fork Sympl has sprung up Gitlab. At present, the Sympl community (#sympl on irc.freenode.net) seems like the best place to follow and contribute to the future development of the project.

Last updated: 06 Jun 2019 at 16:38 UTC

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