Downloading and installing onCourse

Contents

System requirements
Network requirements
Cloud
Virtualisation
Database considerations
Installation
onCourse on Windows
onCourse on Mac OS X
Running onCourse
Installing onCourse Server on other platforms
Upgrading onCourse
What is an onCourse upgrade?
Backing up your onCourse datafile
Upgrading the onCourse datafile
Upgrading the onCourse clients
Can I downgrade my onCourse software?
Starting a new data file
Running multiple versions of the onCourse Server
Troubleshooting connection problems

onCourse is free to download and use and is available for download at http://www.ish.com.au/download .

You will need to download two applications: onCourse Client and onCourse Server. The Server application manages your data and the Client application allows you to log in, edit and view your data. You will usually only need one onCourse Server application running, and onCourse Client installed on every workstation which needs access.

Tip

There are no limits to the number of clients you connect to your server. There is no 'single-user' version of onCourse, but you can run the server and client on the same machine.

You should normally only run one onCourse Server on your network to avoid problems that arise from having multiple databases.

System requirements

One of the following operating systems is required to run onCourse Client.

  • Windows XP or later. Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 are supported, and all desktop and server versions of Windows should work fine.

  • Mac OS X 10.6 or later

  • Linux/BSD or any other unix running Gnome or KDE.

One of the following operating systems is required to run onCourse Server.

  • Windows XP or later. Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server (all versions) are supported, and all desktop and server versions of Windows should work fine. You don't need Windows Server to run onCourseServer.

  • Mac OS X 10.6 or later

  • FreeBSD/BSD/Solaris either with a desktop or headless

Java 7 or Java 8 are required for both the client and the server. You can install the latest Java from http://www.java.com at no cost. You do not need a Java plugin for your browser.

The actual operating system configuration is largely irrelevant to onCourse. onCourse will not run any better or worse on a 'server' operating system. Use any operating system you feel comfortable in supporting.

Tip

Although the operating system isn't that important, make sure that you are running the most recent version of Java available for your system and keep it updated.

onCourse Client requires a minimum of 512Mb of free RAM to run. onCourse Server will run in 1024Mb of RAM, however we recommend 1.5Gb as a minimum and more RAM is beneficial for the Server application in larger installations. Note that if you are running a 32bit operating system you are limited to 1.5Gb and we recommend running onCourse Server on a 64bit operating system. Note that the above RAM requirements are the RAM needed for onCourse itself; you require more RAM to run other applications and the operating system itself.

onCourse will run with less RAM than the minimums above, however the performance will suffer if the application has to write to swap memory on disk.

If you want to utilise more than the minimum amounts of RAM for the onCourse Server you must change the server configuration to allow it to take advantage of your extra RAM.

Network requirements

onCourse Client makes a network connection to onCourse Server, by default on port 8181 (unencrypted) or 8182 (encrypted). One or both of these ports must be open on any firewall you have in place. By default onCourse Server sets the Windows firewall to allow those ports inbound: in other operating systems you may need to put a manual rule in place if you have a server-based firewall.

onCourse will work fastest if you have a gigabit or better ethernet connection from the client to the server, but it will also work acceptably over slower connections. Depending on your data size you may be able to work from an onCourse Client on an ADSL connection, but you need to ensure that the onCourse Server has a good outbound data link. Many consumer grade ADSL connections have a slow outbound data speed so you need SHDSL or at least ADSL with Annex M. Ask your ISP about these things.

onCourse Server also requires outbound access to oncourse-replicate.ish.com.au on port 443. This allows the server to download the latest TGA course data, send SMS and synchronise data to your website. onCourse Server will connect to LDAP or AD if you have that configured and it will try to send email to a mail server on port 25. You can configure that within the preferences window to point to your preferred SMTP mail server.

Cloud

onCourse has been optimised for the cloud and ish offer different hosting packages to run, maintain, upgrade and backup the server. You can do the same within your own data centre or with a virtual hosting environment such as AWS or Rackspace.

Virtualisation

onCourse will run perfectly fine in a virtualised environment such as VMWare. Ensure that you have sufficient RAM and CPU allocated to onCourse and consult your VMWare expert for tuning. onCourse Client will rarely write to disk and onCourse Server only writes log files to disk unless you are using the built-in database option.

Many colleges choose to run onCourse Client under Terminal Services. This is a good option if you use Terminal Services to manage your client deployment and can give you better performance if your client workstations are at the other end of a slow network link.

Database considerations

onCourse Server can be used with its built-in database, or for larger installations with an external database. You can choose between the following databases:

  • Built-in

  • MySql (minimum version 5.5)

  • MariaDB (minimum version 10.0)

  • Microsoft SQL Server (minimum version 2008)

Most users should choose the built-in database option as it is by far the simplest and performs very well even for databases of over 100,000 students and a dozen simultaneous users. The other database choices will require an Enterprise support plan from ish (see our onCourse services and web site pricing guide for further information onCourse Price Guide ), and could be more appropriate if you already have existing database skills and infrastructure and have more advanced reporting and auditing requirements.

When setting up or upgrading a database on MS SQL, the simplest approach is to create a new user, which will have db owner level of security permissions. If you instead use the SA user the upgrade will not work.

Caution

If you use the built-in database, make sure that you put your data file on a disk connected directly to the computer onCourse Server is running on. That is, do NOT put the data file on a disk which is shared over the network (eg. on a NAS device or file server).

Installation

Download the server version for your operating system from the website: www.ish.com.au/oncourse/download . You can mix platforms within the one installation, so for example the server could be running on Linux, some clients on Windows and others on Mac.

onCourse on Windows

onCourse Server Download and Installation

  1. Download the server version for Windows: www.ish.com.au/oncourse/start .

  2. You will have the option to open the zip file or save it to your computer. Select your preferred option.

  3. Once the file has downloaded, extract the file to somewhere on your computer you want to save the onCourse program, for example 'Program Files'

  4. Double click on the server application onCourse Server.exe to start it

For new users:If this is the first time that you've run the onCourse server, you will be prompted to either create a new database from scratch or run with a sample database. Using the sample database will let you get a feel of the onCourse software with some pre-populated data, like Courses, Classes, Tutors and Students. Selecting New File will let you start adding your own data for your College. We recommend you select the Sample File database to use until you get the hang of onCourse. It's easy to remove the sample database when you are ready to start using your own data. Which ever option you choose, you will be asked to choose a location to store the database. The location can be anywhere on your computer where you wish to keep the data and can be changed later. onCourse will create a folder called onCourse.iocdata wherever you choose to store your data file.

For existing users:If you already have created a data file during a previous installation of onCourse, you will not be asked to create a new data file. onCourse will continue to use your previous data file unless you have moved or deleted it. This location will be confirmed each time the server starts. If onCourse does not automatically find your data file it will ask you to select from three options. Choose Existing File and point it to the storage location of your data file.

onCourse Client Download and Installation

  1. Download the client for Windows: www.ish.com.au/oncourse/start . You can put it on the same computer as the server or a different computer.

  2. You will have the option to open the zip file or save it to your computer. Select your preferred option

  3. Once the file has downloaded, extract the file to somewhere on your computer you want to save the onCourse program, for example 'Program Files'

  4. Double click on the client application onCourse.exe to run it (you need to have the server already running)

  5. The initial user name is "admin". Enter the password "admin"

  6. Click on the "advanced" button to see the server details

  7. Click on the "Find Server" button that appears, then click "login"

By default, the host appears as "localhost" and the port as 8181. If you are using Windows Vista or have a firewall installed, you may need to allow traffic through that port for onCouse to run.

If the login failed, you will need to manually find the host name or IP address of the computer you started ish onCourse Server on. If they are running on the same computer, you can use "localhost". If the Server is on another computer, it might have an IP addrress which looks like "192.168.0.10". You can find the IP address in "Control Panels>Network connections" under Windows.

If you start the onCourse client before the onCourse server has finished loading, you will get an error message. If it is your first time starting the server, it may take a few minutes as the data file populates. Check the status of the server, wait a few minutes and try again.

onCourse on Mac OS X

onCourse Server Download and Installation

  1. Download the server version for Mac: www.ish.com.au/oncourse/start .

  2. You will have the option to open the zip file or save it to your computer. Select the preferred option.

  3. Mount the disk image by double clicking on it, Copy onCourse Server from the window that pops up into your "Applications" folder.

  4. Double click on the server application onCourseServer.dmg to start it

For new users:If this is the first time that you've run the onCourse server, you will be prompted to either create a new database from scratch or run with a sample database. Using the sample database will let you get a feel of the onCourse software with some pre-populated data, like Courses, Classes, Tutors and Students. Selecting New Filewill let you start adding your own data for your College. We recommend you select the database to use until you get the hang of onCourse. It's easy to remove the sample database when you are ready to start using your own data. Which ever option you choose, you will be asked to choose a location to store the database. The location can be anywhere on your computer where you wish to keep the data and can be changed later. onCourse will create a folder called onCourse.iocdata wherever you choose to store your data file.

For existing users:If you already have created a data file during a previous installation of onCourse, you will not be asked to create a new data file. onCourse will continue to use your previous data file unless you have moved or deleted it. This location will be confirmed each time the server starts. If onCourse does not automatically find your data file it will ask you to select from three options. Choose Existing File and point it to the storage location of your data file.

onCourse Client Download and Installation

  1. Download the client version for Mac OS X. It can be on the same computer as the server or a different computer. This will be a file called onCourse.dmg

  2. You will have the option to open the zip file or save it to your computer. Select your preferred option

  3. Mount the disk image by double clicking on it. Copy onCourseClient from the window that pops up into your "Applications" folder

  4. Double click on the client application onCourse.dmg to run it (you need to have the server already running)

  5. The initial user name is "admin". Enter the password "admin"

  6. Click on the "advanced" button that appears, click "login"

By default, the host appears as "localhost" and the port as 8181. If the login failed, you will need to manually find the host name or IP address of the computer you started the ish onCourse Server. If they are running on the same computer, you can use "localhost". If the server is on another computer, it might have an IP address which looks like "192.168.0.10". You can find the IP address in "System Preferences > Network" on a Mac.

If you start the onCourse client before the onCourse server has finished loading, you will get an error message. If it is your first time starting the server, it may take a few minutes as the data file populates. Check the status of the server, wait a few minutes and try again.

Running onCourse

Running the Server

For new users:

If this is the first time that you've run onCourse server, you will be prompted to choose one of the following:

"New File" - for new database which will let you start adding your own data for your College.
"Sample File" - pre-populated with a range of sample records to allow you to get a feel for the onCourse software without needing to enter lots of data.
"Existing File" - used to locate a onCourse database you previously created.

We recommend you select the "Sample File" until you get the hang of OnCourse. It's easy to remove the sample database when you are ready to start using your own data. Which ever option you choose, will be asked to choose a location to store the database. The location can be anywhere on your computer where you wish to keep the data and can be changed later. onCourse will create a folder called "onCourse.iocdata" wherever you choose to store your data file.

For existing users

If you already have created a data file during a previous installation of OnCourse, you will not be asked to create a new data file. OnCourse will continue to use your previous data file unless you have moved or deleted it. If OnCourse does not automatically find your data file it will ask you to select from the three options. Choose "Existing File" and point it to the storage location of your data file.

Running the Client

The relationship option, click "select" to choose a type of relationship between contacts

  1. Username is "admin". Password is "admin".

  2. Click the on the "advanced" button to see the server details

  3. Click on "Find Server" button that appears, then click "login"

If you have a workstation firewall installed, you may need to allow traffic through that port for OnCourse to run.

If the login failed, you will need to manually find the host name or IP address of the computer where ish onCourse Server is running. If they are running on the same computer, you can use "localhost". If the server is on another computer, it might have an IP address which looks like "192.168.0.10". You can find the IP address in "Control Panels > Network connections".

Tip

If you see a line on the Server that says "Application service running" with a twirling busy icon next to it, this means the server is busy and will be unable to accept client connections. Wait until the icon goes away before connecting a client. If you start the OnCourse client before the OnCourse server has finished loading, you will get an error message. If this is your first time starting the server, it may take a few minutes as the data file populates. Check the status of the server, wait a few minutes and try again.

Installing onCourse Server on other platforms

onCourseServer on FreeBSD

Installing
  1. Download the FreeBSD server package (onCourseServer.tgz) onto your FreeBSD box.

  2. Run as root:

    pkg_add onCourseServer.tgz
    echo 'onCourseServer_enable="YES"' >> /etc/rc.conf

Our package places onCourse Server into the FreeBSD default location and creates a startup script to run when the machine reboots.

Uninstalling the server
  1. Type the following command as root in a shell:

    pkg_delete onCourseServer-<version>

then press enter to safely remove all components of onCourse Server except for your very valuable data.

Tip

You can figure out what packagename and version of onCourse Server is installed by running

pkg_info -v | grep -i oncourse
Starting and stopping the server

onCourse Server is not started immediately after the install, you will need to execute as root:

/usr/local/etc/rc.d/onCourseServer start

And of course stopping the server is just:

/usr/local/etc/rc.d/onCourseServer stop
Upgrading

In order to upgrade to a newer version of onCourse Server, run as root:

/usr/local/etc/rc.d/onCourseServer stop
pkg_delete onCourseServer-<package version>
pkg_add onCourseServer.tgz
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/onCourseServer start
Other notes
  • You will need Java installed. Consult the FreeBSD docs on how to best do that. You can set the amount of memory that Java will allocate to onCourse Server by adding to /etc/rc.conf:

    onCourseServer_mem="768M"

    replacing 768 with however much memory you wish.

  • Make sure you have the latest timezones installed via the ports system, which can be done by installing the "zoneinfo" port.

  • You will also need to add an argument to the startup parameters of onCourseServer in rc.conf along the lines of

    onCourseServer_flags="-Duser.timezone=Australia/Sydney"

    replacing Australia/Sydney with the timezone that you wish the server to be in.

Linux, Solaris and any other Unix

  1. You will need a recent JVM installed in order to run onCourse. Please review the requirements.

  2. Download the unix package and transfer this file onto your server.

  3. Extract the contents of the package into the /opt directory using the tar command line utility, ie:

    sudo tar xvzf onCourseServer.tgz -C /opt
  4. This should extract a directory onCourse with two files in it.

    onCourseServer.sh
    onCourseServer.jar
  5. Run the onCourseServer.sh script to start the server (Please read the onCourseServer.sh carefully as this will explain how to start successfully).

  6. sudo bash /opt/onCourse/onCourseServer.sh

Upgrading onCourse

How to install a new version of onCourse

What is an onCourse upgrade?

Periodically, ish release new versions of the onCourse client and server software. These new releases may include new features, new reports or important fixes from previous version.

When we release a new version we also publish release notes outlining the changes we have made in plain English. All onCourse releases or product updates are available freely to download for all users on both paid and free plans. We will send a message to all users on our onCourse mailing list and also publish information about the release on our blog.

Users can choose how and when to upgrade their business software. Both the server and client software will need to be upgraded, meaning that you will not be able to access your onCourse database during the upgrade process. Usually this will take less than 10 minutes. Your onCourse website will continue to function and take enrolments during the upgrade process.

Backing up your onCourse datafile

All the important customer and business information you have entered into onCourse is stored in a file called onCourse.iocdata on your server machine. When you first installed onCourse you would have specified the location for this file, but if you can't remember where you saved it you can search your machine for this file. The file may appear as a folder on some operating systems.

This file is very important. As a general rule, you should ensure you have set the internal onCourse backup process to run daily. You then should ensure that the backup file is copied to an offsite storage location, like a remote server in another office or taken offsite daily on a USB or tape drive.

In addition to this automatic backup process, you can also manually backup onCourse prior to running an upgrade. To do this you need to first make sure all your users have logged out of onCourse client and that you have shut down the onCourse server software (or stopped the onCourse service if running as a service on a Windows machine).

1. Shut down the onCourse server

2. Locate the onCourse.iocdata file

3. Make a copy of the onCourse.iocdata file and save it in another folder or drive

4. Rename the copied onCourse.iocdata file something like onCourse.manualbackup1-3-10

Upgrading the onCourse datafile

Now you have made a backup of your most recent datafile you are ready to upgrade your database.

To upgrade, you first need to have downloaded the most recent onCourse server software

Run the downloaded install package and install the new version of the onCourse server in the same location as the previous copy of the onCourse server. This will overwrite the server software.

When you run the new copy of the server software it will automatically upgrade your onCourse data to the latest version. This process may take up some time if significant changes were made or if you are upgrading from a much older version.

Please contact us with a copy of your onCourseServer.log file if during this process you get a message that the upgrade process has failed.

Upgrading the onCourse clients

On all machines where your users access onCourse, you will need to make sure that the local copy of the onCourse client software is upgraded.

If an older version of the client attempts to access the server, it will be unsuccessful and get a message about the server being a newer version.

To upgrade the clients, ensure you downloaded the most recent onCourse client software

Run the downloaded install package and install the new version of the onCourse client in the same location as the previous copy of the onCourse client on each machine. This will overwrite the client software.

Ensure the server software is back up and running before attempting to log in the new client. All user names and passwords will stay the same as prior to the upgrade.

Can I downgrade my onCourse software?

No, after you have upgraded you can not then downgrade your onCourse data file. This is because structural changes will have been made as part of any upgrade process which means the data is no longer compatible with the previous version.

If you need to downgrade or run a previous version of onCourse for any reason, you can use the manual backup file you made prior to upgrade. Please note that any new data you have entered after the upgrade will not be available from your backup. You can request copies of previous versions of the onCourse software installation files from ish at any time.

Starting a new data file

I have been running the onCourse sample file, now I want to start my own new datafile. How can I do this?

  1. On the machine running the onCourse server, ensure the server software is shut down.

  2. Find the location of the onCourse.iocdata (most likely in C/Program Files/onCourse on a Windows machine)

  3. Rename the onCourse.iocadata file something like onCourse.iocdata.olddata. Changing the file extension means the server software won't recognise or open the file when it next starts up.

  4. Run the onCourse server. Because you hid the old datafile it will ask you if you want to start a new, sample or existing datafile. Choose new and save the datafile in the same location as before. This will create a new onCourse.iocdata file

  5. Once the server has completed the start up process, connect an onCourse client. Allow about 5 minutes for the TGA data to download. You can check it has completed by looking in the 'Unit of Competency' window. It will say 0 shown of 52000 odd records in the window header bar when it has completed.

You are now ready to start the process again of setting up your sites, courses, classes, students and enrolments.

Running multiple versions of the onCourse Server

If you have an onCourse website it is very important that you never run two copies of your onCourse datafile simultaneously or attempt to revert to an onCourse backup without contacting ish first. We can ensure your backup datafile does not try to override your website data when you run it. This includes customers who wish to run a test or training installation of a new onCourse software version using their current datafile.

Troubleshooting connection problems

When you run into problems with connecting a client to the server, the login window will often display some messages in red text to inform you of difficulties. Here some common causes for each error message.

1.

A connection to the server could not be established.

  1. This is generally a networking issue or onCourse server may not be running.

  2. Your workstation or the server may not be connected to the network.

  3. You have ticked Secure connection (SSL) in the advanced options, but the server is not running in SSL mode.

  4. You have not ticked Secure connection (SSL) in the advanced options, but the server is running in SSL mode only.

2.

The server and client versions are incompatible. The "client/server" is a more recent build.

  1. You are attempting to connect an older client with a newer server.

  2. You are attempting to connect a newer client with an older server.

Ensure the client and server are the same versions. Download them from http://www.ish.com.au/download

3.

Authentication failed.

  1. Either the password is incorrect or the username is incorrect or both.

  2. If you have never logged in before, try "admin" as the username and "admin" as the password.

4.

None of the TGA Qualifications or Units of Competency have downloaded, or there seem to be some missing.

The mechanism within onCourse that is utilised by our clients with an onCourse managed webservice is also used to poll our webserver periodically for any changes to the TGA data, including customers using the free onCourse community version, to ensure you have the latest version of the data (and also to save us packaging this data within our application download - the first time your sever connects you will have downloaded the 52,000 odd unit of competency records)

Your server makes a connection once a day to https://oncourse-replicate.ish.com.au on port 443. If this port is blocked by your firewall, you won't be able to access any of the TGA data updates. Make sure you can visit this URL and that the firewall allows traffic.