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OPUS FAQ
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Our support site can be found at
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http://foss.ulster.ac.uk/projects/opus/
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* What is OPUS?
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---------------
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OPUS is the On-line Placement University System, and is designed to
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facilitate placement operations for a school, college or university.
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It allows the following stakeholders access
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  - Placement administrators from the university;
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  - Students, who can apply for jobs with CVs, download resources, etc.;
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  - Companies and their HR staff, who can advertise jobs and recruit
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    students;
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  - Workplace supervisors who can assess students and get information;
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  - Academic staff who visit students on placement.
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OPUS is designed to 
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  - do tedious repetitive tasks for you, to help free up your time for
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    the important tasks;
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  - provide a mechanism for storing placement related information for
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    audit;
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  - give ownership to stakeholders;
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  - greatly speed up the placement process;
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  - provide speedy assessment functionality
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and more.
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* What if we don't use competitive recruitment?
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-----------------------------------------------
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That's only one string of OPUS's bow. All the other features could still
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help you.
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* Who produces OPUS?
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--------------------
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OPUS originated in the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering,
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now simply the School of Engineering in Ulster University as a solution
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to our problems, and is maintained on an ad-hoc basis by Colin Turner.
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Any help is welcome in its further development.
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Ulster has a very large proportion of programmes of study with
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placement, so OPUS supports our own activity at this time.
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* Can we get a Demo?
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--------------------
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You can play with a working installation of OPUS, albeit with some
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functionality disabled for security reasons. Only limited information is
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added but should give you an idea of the functionality. You can find it at
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http://fs2.ulster.ac.uk/opus/
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We also hope to produce live CDs, but there are still issues to be
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resolved there.
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Of course you can install and play with it, free of charge (see below).
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* How much does OPUS, and its underlying technology cost?
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---------------------------------------------------------
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Nothing, OPUS, and its underlying technologies are free software. Not only are
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they free of charge, but they are free for you to
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  - run for any purpose;
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  - modify to your needs;
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  - distribute in original or modified form.
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You should read the terms of the LICENSE document for more details.
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* Ah, so the upgrades are what you are selling?
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-----------------------------------------------
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No, upgrades are free of charge.
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* How do we get the upgrades?
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-----------------------------
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We announce new releases on our mailing list. Please go to our development
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website and subcribe to opus-announce which only sees a handful of
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messages a year. If you use Debian packaging upgrades will become, and
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will be handled automatically.
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* What do I need to run OPUS?
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-----------------------------
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OPUS is a web application, so it needs a functional web server, running
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with
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  - PHP >= 5.1
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  - MySQL >= 4
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You also need to obtain some other software, again, all of which is free
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  - Smarty Templating System >=3
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  - UUWAF (our framework) >=2
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and you might need to obtain
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  - Perl
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  - Unix utilities (if you are not running Unix / Linux / Mac OS)
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for some non-essential functionality.
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You can find more details in the INSTALL document. All of this software
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is available free of charge, and much of it is packaged nicely. Note
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that MySQL may not be free (as in money) for you to use if you are
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running a for-profit scheme, but it is cheap, and OPUS should run on
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alternative databases such as PostGreSQL but this is currently untested.
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* What hardware do I need to run OPUS?
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--------------------------------------
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This is now hard to quantify, since it is a year or so, and a version or
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so since we ran OPUS on really old, essentially obsolete hardware, but
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it still should not require anything special. It will certainly run with
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ease on a standard modern desktop machine.
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* How much storage space will I need?
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-------------------------------------
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Hard to quantify again, but looking at what we have racked up over about
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6 years of activity:
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  - Database       ~80M
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  - Resources      ~45M
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  - User Photos    ~180M
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  - Logs           ~350M
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Note that these logs contain maximum detail, stretch back years, and
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have the older files automatically compressed (on Debian). Obviously
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this isn't even 1 Gigabyte, so by modern terms storage is not a problem.
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* Can I run OPUS on Windows?
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----------------------------
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You can run OPUS on any environment for which the software above is
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available, which is almost every system and architecture since it is all
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open source.
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However, Windows, particularly its workstation versions is not, in my
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opinion, the ideal environment for a web application, and various steps
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in the installation might be harder for Windows. If you know what you
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are doing you will have no problems. See the INSTALL guide for more
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information.
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* So what OS should I use for OPUS?
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-----------------------------------
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OPUS will be easiest to install on a Unix / Linux server, and in
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particular it is trivial to install on Debian GNU/Linux since we package
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for that OS and use it ourselves. On that environment the installation
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is automated.
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Installing Linux based operating systems is now very simple, contrary to
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popular belief, and they are usually not resource hungry. As a
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consequence it is often easy to test an install on an old box. This will
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probably be much more simple than a Windows installation contrary to
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popular belief.
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* OK, I'm interested, now what?
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-------------------------------
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It's strongly recommended you sign up to the opus-announce mailing list.
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This read-only list is used for announcements of new versions, and
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updates.
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You can find all the mailing lists for OPUS listed here
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http://foss.ulster.ac.uk/redmine/projects/opus/wiki/Mailing_Lists
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Just click on the link for subscription and fill in your details.
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* How do I get it?
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------------------
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There are several ways. (For Debian packages, see the instructions in
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the INSTALL guide.)
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You will almost certainly want to download an official release. You can
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obtain these from:
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  - The official downloads directory (easiest):
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    http://foss.ulster.ac.uk/redmine/projects/opus/files
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    generally, download the latest version number, but previous versions are
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    also available. You can check the signatures of archives if you wish to
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    and know how.
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  - The source control system (more advanced):
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    git clone git://foss.ulster.ac.uk/git/opus.git
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    again, any tagged version can be used. You can use a version control
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    client/
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    You should generally NOT download from the bleeding edge directory
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    in source control. Only download this if you want to develop code
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    and are not running a production system with it.
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Did we mention yet you should sign up to opus-announce?
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* Does installation require much knowledge?
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-------------------------------------------
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On Debian, no. on other systems, a bit. See the INSTALL guide. Remember,
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installation is just a one time job, after that you won't need technical
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skill. If you are a placement practitioner, you might need help from IT
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staff to install OPUS, and as a matter of courtesy, you should inform
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them that you are running a web application on your machine.
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* Can we get help from you?
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---------------------------
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Yes, but please read the INSTALL guide carefully first, then file a
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support ticket at our site.
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We can only offer relatively simple help in what is our spare time,
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complex jobs can be undertaken under a consultancy agreement, including
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installation.
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* What other help is there?
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---------------------------
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Go to our support site, you will find
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  - support trackers for requesting help
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  - bug trackers for reporting problems
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  - mailing lists, including
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    * opus-announce (low volume, new releases, you should definitely
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      subscribe if you install OPUS)
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    * opus-users (general discussion and issues)
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    * opus-developers (discussion for developers, but open to all)
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* I've found a better way to install on X
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------------------------------------------
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* I've fixed a problem with your INSTALL for X
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----------------------------------------------
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Great, send us the details on a support ticket (see above) and we'll
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incoporate your fixes.
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* What sort of CV support is in OPUS?
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-------------------------------------
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OPUS used to, in its original version, build CVs for students from
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supplied information. Since then our local Personal Development System 
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pdsystem) was produced, which not only performs a better job of CV
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building, but provides lots of other relevant personal development help.
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Pace, the new name for the PDSystem is being discontinued soon.
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OPUS 4.x and above reintroduces basic standalone CV functionality,
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allowing students to upload CVs which they can use to apply for
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vacancies. You can have much superior CV handling if you also install
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the PDSystem which is also free software. You can of course try this out
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at a later stage.
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See http://foss.ulster.ac.uk/projects/pdsystem/
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* Will OPUS speak to our student records system (SRS)
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-----------------------------------------------------
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OPUS and its sister products do not speak directly to a Student Records
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System. Instead they talk to a web service layer. Example code for this
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is available on our development site at
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http://foss.ulster.ac.uk/projects/wservices/
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and you can adapt it to talk to any student records system. If you want
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us to do this for you, it might be possible under a consultancy
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arrangement.
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Otherwise we will advise on how you should do it.
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* Does OPUS really *need* to talk to a student records system?
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--------------------------------------------------------------
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No. It will be easier to do certain things with integration however,
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like mass import of students. You can always use the product for now,
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and think about tighter integration later?
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* How else can we import lots of students?
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------------------------------------------
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OPUS can import students from CSV files you will probably be able to
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export easily from student records, you will need to teach it (once) the
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format of your files. Go to Superuser -> CSV Mappings for more detail,
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or ask us.
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* Can I configure OPUS to authenticate against LDAP / X / Y?
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------------------------------------------------------------
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Yes. OPUS has a system of authentication plugins that tell it how to
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authenticate a user. LDAP is one of the supplied examples. You will need
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very simple PHP scripts to do this, and can find details in
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include/auth.d/README
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Note that this is NOT required to run OPUS normally, only if you want to
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tailor it this way.
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* Can student accounts be created automatically?
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------------------------------------------------
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From version 4.1.1 this will be possible, if you have a fully featured
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web services layer (see above), since that is required to obtain full
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student information and information about the structure of the
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institution.
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To disable automatic student creation add
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$config['opus']['disable_auto_add_student'] = true;
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to your local configuration. You can also add
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$config['opus']['disable_auto_add_student_on_unknown_programme'] = true;
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to allow student accounts to be automatically created, only for known
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programmes.
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* How do I delete user accounts
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-------------------------------
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You should not, and at the time of writing you cannot. OPUS is a system
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designed to help provide audit information, and deleting user accounts
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will cause other linked information to become less useful or possibly
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inaccessible.
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You should archive old accounts instead. It is a feature on the wishlist
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to exceptionally allow deletion of accounts even with dire warnings.
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* Can I change how OPUS looks?
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------------------------------
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Yes, you can change
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  - various text prompts (see INSTALL)
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  - larger text explanations (see Help Prompts in the application itself)
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  - the CSS files that define layout, colours and so on
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  - the raw templates used
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in ascending order of complexity.
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* Can normal staff run OPUS after installation?
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-----------------------------------------------
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Yes, that's the whole point. OPUS has a hiararchy of administrators that
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run the system. Starting off with superuser / root users who have total
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control. Ideally trained users should have that level of access, but
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generally responsible users who exercise care should be OK.
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Most administrative users should be ordinary admin accounts which
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themselves have configurable levels of access and control.
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* Why does OPUS ask to phone home?
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----------------------------------
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Good manners. Many products routinely send information, behind your
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back, to their home base. We are asking politely, and will honour your
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refusal. However it would be very useful to know you have installed OPUS
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and what your system is like in very coarse detail.
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* Why should I allow OPUS to phone home?
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----------------------------------------
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Because
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  - we don't send confidential information;
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  - you can see the emails yourself if you want;
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  - you can even check the code;
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  - we won't attribute anything against your individual institution;
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  - we want to understand our customers better;
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  - we want to help explain to our management why we are using open
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    source.
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In short, it supports our development of OPUS on our own, and your
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behalf.
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* Can OPUS produce a new report that has X, Y and Z?
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----------------------------------------------------
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OPUS has a number of built-in reports, but you can create new ones.
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The reports have a plugin architecture, but DO require good knowledge of
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PHP to create.
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see include/Model/reports/
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for more information. File a wish request in the tracker if you can't do
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it yourself, but if it is complex, and not of interest to us, it might
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require a consultancy agreement for us to write it for you.
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* Is there a manual?
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--------------------
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There is a work in progress only at this point in time. The application
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proves to be relatively intuitive however, and in particular, for
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non-admin users it is really quite straightforward.
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* Can we contribute work to OPUS?
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---------------------------------
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Absolutely, if you have code you'd like to contribute, then we will
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consider including it in the main codebase if:
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  - the code is licensed under the GPL as for the rest of OPUS;
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  - the code meets the coding guidelines set out.
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If you'd like to contribute anything else, artwork, documentation,
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please contact us. Lots of people can help.
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* How is the code ensured to be "authoritative"?
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------------------------------------------------
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While we are happy to accept code contributions, we will audit all code
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added by ourselves and others. We have automated systems in place to
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make this simple.
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Official releases will be in cryptographically signed archives, which
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allow you to be sure (should you choose to check) that the code was
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officially signed off by us, and not altered by any third party before
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you receive it.
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We will sign your GPG keys with appropriate documentation if we meet in
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person and are happy to provide documentation to allow you to sign ours.
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* OPUS produces a blank screen somewhere. What's happening?
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-----------------------------------------------------------
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This may be a PHP fatal error, and on screen reporting of errors is
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usually disabled for security reasons. Try editing the Apache (or
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similar) configuration and turn display_errors on, or alternatively
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enable the logging of errors (examples are shown commented out in the
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standard configuration), and restart the server. Now report a bug with
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the results of the problem if it doesn't reveal how to fix it.
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Don't forget to turn display_errors back to off, but you can leave
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logging of errors on if you like.
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* We get a wierd logout / second login problem
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----------------------------------------------
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This is usually caused by a misconfigured fully qualified host name for
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your server in the configuration, or you using an alias (like localhost)
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for testing which is then redirected to a new name. Check the config
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file.
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* Feature X is missing, but I saw it in a demo?
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  Is it not in the Open Source Version?
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---------------------------------------
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There is no "premium" closed source version, it's all open source. This
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is often caused by the fact that, for example, out of the box OPUS does
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not assume how you would wish to assess your students, so the default
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assessment group is empty. You need to configure that to your wishes.
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This is true of other examples too. If in doubt, please ask us.
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* Why is OPUS not sending mail?
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-------------------------------
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OPUS uses your standard SMTP server, if you have one, and the
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configuration of that is beyond this document, but you should look
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there.
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On Debian, the default SMTP server is exim4 but it installs in what is
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essentially a dormant state.
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Either go to a terminal (recommended):
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su (enter root password)
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dpkg-reconfigure exim4-config
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Or, if it's more comfortable in a gui
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System -> Administration -> Synaptic
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search for exim4-config, click on the exim4-config package, then from
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the package menu package->configure
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* Can I get more information out of OPUS, about what is happening in it?
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------------------------------------------------------------------------
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OPUS can produce a number of log files, here they are with what they are
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for
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  - general.log  (general, often quite detailed user activity)
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  - admin.log    (user activity for admin users)
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  - cron.log     (details activity performed offline to maintain the system)
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  - security.log (details of suspicious activity (OPUS is paranoid))
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  - panic.log    (details of problems, like database errors, usually empty)
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  - debug.log    (boring detail about some of the above)
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If you want even more detail about deep internals, you can switch on the
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waf_debug.lof, but it will rapidly become huge, so keep an eye on it.
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Go to your local config file and add some of what is below.
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-=-
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// Enables debug console, should ONLY be turned on for trusted IPs
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// Don't use it if your IP is behind a proxy shared with other users
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$config['waf']['debugging'] = True;
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$config['waf']['debug_only_on_IP'] = array("127.0.0.1", "your ip");
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// Enables extra logging (HUGE!!!!)
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$config['waf']['waf_debug'] = True;
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* CVs can't be downloading in IE6,7 and 8, but are fine in other browsers
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-------------------------------------------------------------------------
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(With thanks to John Voss:)
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Functionality works find with HTTP but not when SSL is enabled:
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Try adding the following line to local.conf.php:
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session_cache_limiter('none');
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See
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http://bytes.com/topic/php/answers/554529-internet-explorer-6-refusing-let-me-download
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for more details.
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* 
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-=-
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---
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End of Document