Running Pressbooks and Manifold in Reclaim Cloud

I have been playing around with a few things recently prompted by some requests in Reclaim’s Community forums as well as a ticket or two. Tim already documented his process getting the open source scholarly publishing tool Manifold up and running in Reclaim Cloud,  but when we got a question regarding issues during the Docker container setup I decided to jump in given I wanted to give it a spin. Turns out the documentation we had needed to be updated given the developer of Manifold, the great Zack Davis, was updating the code base and we needed to pull the latest version, which he supplied me within seconds of my Github issues post—amazing!

So, the Docker instance of Manifold works a treat, and I am running a fresh test instance, featured above, to prove it. I dig Manifold, it is quite slick. After doing this install it was pretty apparent a one-click installer would be dead simple. I have to talk with Tim about that (he helped me with Azuracast, so I may go back to that well), but that would be a welcome addition to the Reclaim Cloud marketplace.

The other application I started playing with was a fresh Pressbooks instance on Reclaim Cloud. There is no Docker instance of Pressbooks available, which is a bummer, but we have a WordPress one-click installer that has WordPress Multisite as an option, so I used that and then went about installing the main Pressbooks plugin, uploading the book themes and moving a few files around, per the Pressbooks installation instructions. It  was another dead simple install (despite the lack of a Docker file), and a sure-fire candidate for a one-click installer on the Cloud. What’s more, given it’s a virtualized server environment it can be setup to have the required server-level dependencies for PDF conversions, ePubs, etc. installed by default, something we cannot do on our shared hosting servers. I think this is another lay-up for us, adding these scholarly publishing tools to Reclaim Cloud’s one-click installer marketplace is just another brick in the Cloud 🙂

It felt good to be playing in the Cloud again after a bit of a hiatus given things with the move, general Reclaim busyness, and the holidays converged to make any play-time a scarcity. I’d like to get these to one-click installers out sometime this month, as well as another for PeerTube, which i have been using a lot recently and still love it. So, here to more Reclaim Cloud in 2021!

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9 Responses to Running Pressbooks and Manifold in Reclaim Cloud

  1. Ed Beck says:

    Do you have all the dependencies working on the one-click installer? PrinceXML and MathJax?

    We’ve been paying to add Pressbooks to our Domains project, but I have always felt very uncomfortable with the fact that we can’t do accessible math because you can’t run the MathJax server from a shared hosting environment. The way the MathJax works, I just need a server somewhere, so Reclaim could even run one MathJax server for all of their shared hosting clients and have us all point to that server in our config file.

    Lots of open sources users use the (now depreciated) BC Campus mPDF plugin, but if you want accessible PDFs, nothing beats PrinceXML.

    I’ve always said that if anything shuts me down in SUNY, it will be people worried about the accessibility of these loosely managed projects, so I work really hard to try to stay ahead of that.

    • Reverend says:

      I didn’t try PrinceXML given I believe it is a paid addon and I don’t have a personal need for Pressbooks. That said, I now I can install it (and MathJax) given I have root access to the docker container. It is a dit different than a VPS, but Tim created a guide: This is the first time I am seeing MathJax, but you could be that change you want to see by running a MathJax server in the Cloud 🙂

      I bet the cost of Pressbooks in the Cloud would be pretty similar to it on a DoOO server, and it sounds like you might have more options, so may be worth exploring—let me know if you want to do that.

      • Ed Beck says:

        PrinceXML has a pretty liberal non-commercial license. Because we are using Pressbooks for as an OER repository, we fit their criteria if we add a simple webpage as required by their terms and don’t remove the watermark on the first page.

        Basically, Pressbooks was designed to run with PrinceXML, and if you use it, your outputs look just like your website and are accessible. If you use the mPDF open-source plugin, your exports aren’t a tagged PDF and they have different styling than your webbook.

        I’m concerned about budgeting with the cloud and was waiting until you had more experience forecasting costs!

        • Jim Groom says:

          We are giving Domain of Ones Own schools $500 cloud credit to play as they like, so it might be a good opportunity to play around with this, and I would love to help if you pot your findings in The cost will ultimately depend on traffic, and it may prove that wrapping it into DoOO is cheaper long-term, but if you run the experiment on Reclaim Cloud with PressBooks I can ensure it will not go beyond $50 a month through 2021 despite usage, just so we can have a real-life case-study. Reach out offline and we can discuss this in more detail, or perhaps we move it over the the Community forum and discuss it there.

  2. Did you keep track of the steps you followed for the PressBooks install? If you did, it’s relatively straightforward to recreate them in your own DockerFile and thus create a Doocker PressBooks image.

    • Reverend says:

      Yeah, I should be able to reproduce it pretty easy, will probably just take the one-click installer for WordPress and make in WPMS and add the plugin and move the files my default, the trick will be getting all the server dependencies for the ePub and pdf convertors given that is often what folks need, haven;t done that yet, but from what I hear from Ed above there may be interest, so might follow-up on that.

      • Rowena M. says:

        I am interested in those steps to install server dependencies. I have small mostly OER pressbooks for a rural community college and being able to provide pdfs is crucial to support OER efforts here. Would be happy to help write instructions for others. I have “Root Access to Any Container” instructions but am stuck on next steps after that.

        • Reverend says:

          Hi Rowena,

          I just installed Prince on the Pressbooks Clone environment you have in Reclaim Cloud, let me know if that is working for you, if they ask where it is located it is in the /usr/local/ directory. If you have issues let me know here, and I can follow-up with details of how I did it once I know it is working.

          I have to say that MathJax is a bit of a different beast, and I have not had luck getting that one working yet. But always game to try again once I can confirm this is up and running.

        • Reverend says:

          Re-upping the previous comment given I am not sure emails were sending from the blog for last week or so

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