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How to Upgrade

Want to know when new versions are released and what’s new? Read the announcements forum.

This guide will help you upgrade Open Journal Systems (OJS). It describes the knowledge and tools you will need to upgrade your software, and provides a step-by-step tutorial you can follow.

The instructions below describe how to upgrade OJS when it is running on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack. However, these steps can be adapted to upgrade other PKP software (OMP, OPS) as well as perform upgrades in different server environments.

Required Knowledge and Tools #

Do not proceed if you do not have experience with the items listed below. A mistake during upgrade can lead to unrecoverable errors.

In order to use this guide, you will need experience with basic system administration tools, as well as an understanding of the tech stack in your server configuration. You should have:

  • Basic GNU/Linux administration skills
  • Server credentials, including database credentials
  • Knowledge of your server stack (this guide assumes a LAMP stack)
  • The ability to access your server’s terminal (SSH)
  • An identified OJS release package to upgrade to (downloaded in step 5)

Preparing to Upgrade #

Before starting your upgrade, you can review docs/release-notes and the release notebook for your upgrade version to learn about important changes introduced in each version. The config.TEMPLATE.inc.php includes a description for most configuration parameters.

Note that an upgrade may take from a few minutes up to several hours depending on the size of your site.

A Note on Versions #

All PKP applications use a variant of Semantic Versioning described as major.minor.revision-build. Each point of the version number describes the kind of changes you can expect.

Type Example Description
major 3.x.x-x Comprehensive breaking changes that may effect plugins, server configuration and all parts of the software.
minor 3.3.x-x Breaking changes that may effect plugins and server configuration.
revision 3.3.3-x New features may be added but breaking changes are kept to a minimum.
build 3.3.3-3 No breaking changes or database migrations.

In order to understand the upgrade process, you should first determine the size of the upgrade “jump”. A jump from version 3.3.0-6 to 3.3.0-7 can likely be done with minimal down time. However, a jump from version 2.4 to 3.2 will be a long, complex process with a higher risk of introducing problems.

You should always perform upgrades in a test environment first, even when upgrading from one build to another.

Upgrading from 2.x #

It is not always possible to upgrade from 2.x to any version of 3.x. When performing upgrades from a 2.x version, you should first upgrade to in-between versions. The table below describes the necessary steps.

From To Description
< 2.4.8 2.4.8-x Before upgrading to 3.x, make sure you are upgraded to the latest 2.4.8-x build.
2.4.8-x 3.2.1-x You can not upgrade to 3.3.x or later from 2.x
3.2.1-x 3.3 >= Upgrade from 3.2.1-x to any version 3.3 or later.

Upgrade Tutorial #

The following tutorial provides a recommended step-by-step process to safely upgrade OJS. However, each installation is different and your server environment might differ substantially. In all cases, you should review and understand the commands before executing them.

During the tutorial, you will see commands for Debian or RHEL Linux systems. You should only run the command appropriate to your server.

1. Set Environment Variables #

The tutorial below uses the following variables to simplify the terminal commands.

VARIABLE Default Description
WEB_USER www-data Webserver user
WEB_GROUP www-data Webserver user’s group
OJS_ROOT_PATH /var/www OJS root folder
OJS_WEB_PATH /var/www/html OJS web root folder
OJS_DB_HOST db Database host’s name
OJS_DB_USER ojs Database user
OJS_DB_PASSWORD ojsPwd Database password
OJS_DB_NAME ojs Database name
OJS_BACKUP_PATH /srv/backup/ojs Folder to store your backups
OJS_VERSION ojs-3.3.0-8 Version as in the ojs filename
DATE YYYYMMDD-HH:MM:SS The current system date and time

Rewrite the command below to set up these variables with the correct values for your installation.

$ WEB_USER="www-data" && \
WEB_GROUP="www-data" && \
OJS_ROOT_PATH="/var/www" && \
OJS_WEB_PATH="/var/www/html" && \
OJS_DB_HOST="db" && \
OJS_DB_USER="ojs" && \
OJS_DB_PASSWORD="ojsPwd" && \
OJS_DB_NAME="ojs" && \
OJS_BACKUP_PATH="/srv/backup/ojs" && \
OJS_VERSION="ojs-3.3.0-8" && \
OJS_PUBLIC_PATH="$OJS_WEB/public" && \
OJS_PRIVATE_PATH="$OJS_ROOT/files" && \
DATE=$(date "+%Y%m%d-%H:%M:%S)"

2. Enter Maintenance Mode #

Before beginning the migration, you should put the site into maintenance mode to ensure that visitors do not see error messages and there are no changes to the database or files while backups are being made. Maintenance mode should prevent all requests from being sent to the application.

OJS does not support a maintenance mode yet, but we plan to support it.

Modify your Apache VirtualHost directive or place an .htaccess file in the OJS_WEB_PATH with the following content.

order deny,allow
deny from all
ErrorDocument 403 "This site is undergoing maintenance and should return shortly. Thank you for your patience."

Reload the apache server to apply the changes:

(Debian)$ service apache2 reload

(RHEL)$ systemctl restart httpd

3. Create Backups #

Do not skip this step. An upgrade can fail for many reasons. Without a backup you may permanently lose data.

The steps below will backup the following folders and files.

Common Path Description VARIABLE
/var/www/html/public Public files OJS_PUBLIC_PATH
/var/www/files Private files OJS_PRIVATE_PATH
/var/www/html/config.inc.php config.inc.php  
/var/www/html/.htaccess .htaccess or vhost (if any)  
/var/www/html/plugins plugins  
locale files, custom code, etc. local customizations  

Backup the database.

$ mysqldump --host="OJS_DB_HOST" -u $OJS_DB_USER -p$OJS_DB_PASSWORD $OJS_DB_NAME --result-file="$OJS_BACKUP_PATH/backupDB-$DATE.sql"

Character encodings are a common source of database problems during upgrades.
Read more in the Admin Guide.

Backup the private file directory.

$ tar cvzf "$OJS_BACKUP_PATH/private-$DATE.tgz" "$OJS_PRIVATE_PATH"

Backup the public files directory.

$ tar cvzf "$OJS_BACKUP_PATH/ojsfiles-$DATE.tgz" "$OJS_WEB_PATH"

Backup any other customizations you have made to the software, such as custom plugins or locale files.

4. Create Sandbox #

Use your backup to create a sandbox environment and test the upgrade in that sandbox first. The steps below can be used in your sandbox environment to perform an upgrade.

Once the test is complete, you can run any automated or manual tests you have configured to ensure the upgrade did not introduce regressions.

Only perform the next steps on your live, production environment if you have already completed a test upgrade in your sandbox environment.

5. Download Release Package #

Download the correct release package.

$ cd "$OJS_ROOT_PATH"
$ wget "https://pkp.sfu.ca/ojs/download/$OJS_VERSION.tar.gz"

6. Check System Requirements #

Check the README file from the downloaded tar.gz and be sure your system meets the following requirements.

  • Apache version
  • MySQL or PostgreSQL version
  • PHP version
  • Server libraries and module requirements

In addition, you will want to perform the following checks.

  • Adjust your PHP timeouts and memory limits to ensure the upgrade process can complete successfully.
  • Check the server libraries and module requirements for any plugins you’ve added (these can often be found in the plugin’s README file).

7. Install Release Package #

Backup the application files.

$ mv "$OJS_WEB_PATH" "$OJS_BACKUP_PATH"

Extract the release package.

$ mkdir "$OJS_WEB_PATH"
$ tar -xvz --strip-components=1 "$OJS_VERSION.tar.gz" -C "$OJS_WEB_PATH"

Restore the config.inc.php file.

$ cp "$OJS_BACKUP_PATH/html/config.inc.php" "$OJS_WEB_PATH"

Run the following command to compare your configuration file with the template of the new release. Add or remove any configuration options as necessary.

$ diff "$OJS_BACKUP_PATH/config.inc.php" "$OJS_WEB_PATH/config.TEMPLATE.inc.php"

Restore the .htaccess file if it exists.

$ cp "$OJS_BACKUP_PATH/.htaccess" "$OJS_WEB_PATH"

Restore the public files.

$ cp -r "$OJS_BACKUP_PATH/html/public/*" "$OJS_PUBLIC_PATH"

Set the permissions of new files as required by your server configuration.

(Debian)$ sudo chown -R $WEB_USER:$WEB_GROUP "$OJS_PUBLIC_PATH" "$OJS_WEB_PATH/cache/"

(RHEL)$ sudo chown -R apache:apache "$OJS_PUBLIC_PATH" "$OJS_WEB_PATH/cache/"

Set the permissions for the plugin directories as required.

(Debian)$ sudo chown -R $WEB_USER:$WEB_GROUP "$OJS_WEB_PATH/plugins/"

(RHEL)$ sudo chown -R apache:apache "$OJS_WEB_PATH/plugins/"

If the server is running under SElinux, reset the file contexts.

(RHEL)$ sudo restorecon -R "$OJS_WEB_PATH/"

8. Run the Upgrade #

Confirm the version numbers match your expectations.

$ php tools/upgrade.php check

In the screenshot below, we can see that we are currently running 3.2.1-4 and will be upgrading to 3.3.0-6.

An example of running the PHP upgrade check in the command-line.

Finally, when you are ready, run the upgrade script, which may take several hours to complete. You may also wish to log the output.

$ php tools/upgrade.php upgrade

If the upgrade is successful, you will see the message below informing you that the upgrade was successful.

An example of the "Successfully upgraded" message in the command-line.

Log the Output #

The upgrade script will print a lot of information to the terminal. We recommend sending the output to a log file. This will help you troubleshoot if the upgrade fails.

$ nohup php tools/upgrade.php upgrade > $OJS_ROOT_PATH/upgrade.log &

Check the progress of the upgrade.

$ tail -f $OJS_ROOT_PATH/upgrade.log

9. Remove Maintenance Mode #

When the upgrade is complete, remove the maintenance mode previously configured by modifying your Apache VirtualHost directive or updating your .htaccess file.

$ cd "$OJS_WEB_PATH/"
$ mv .htaccess .htaccess.disabled

If your PHP timeouts and/or memory limit were adjusted, restore their original values.

Reload the apache server to apply the changes.

(Debian)$ service apache2 reload

(RHEL)$ systemctl restart httpd

10. Test the Upgrade #

It’s important to test the site after an upgrade. Any core functions for your journals should be tested, as well as custom plugins or themes once they have been reinstalled.

The following is a short checklist that covers common use cases.

1. Reader interface
    - The homepage loads
    - The theme loads correctly
    - Published articles can be downloaded
    - Letters and text characters are displaying correctly
    - No timeouts or long delays
    - No broken links
    - Articles appear correctly in the search
2. Database
    - Charset and collation on database, tables and fields
    - Database engine is innoDB for database and all tables (MariaDB/MySQL only)
3. Register a new user account and login
     - Register an author
     - Get a registration email
     - Login with the new user
4. Complete the editorial workflow
    - As a Journal Manager:
        - Create a new testing journal
        - Register your new user as an author in the testing journal
    - As an Author:
        - Login as author and submit an article to a test journal
        - Confirm you are able to upload a document
    - As an Editor:
        - Assign the article to a section
        - Accept article without revision
        - Create a new issue and assign the article to it
        - Publish the issue
        - Download the published article
        - Unpublish the article and remove the issue
5. User management
    - As a Journal manager:
        - Assign new roles to the new user
        - Change new user's profile data and password
        - Remove the new user by merging it to your admin account
6. Additional testing of common tasks

11. Restore Custom Plugins #

Use the Plugin Gallery to restore any custom plugins that were installed.

If you have installed custom plugins which are not in the Plugin Gallery, check with the plugin distributor for an update which is compatible with your upgraded version.

12. Cleanup Backup Files #

You may wish to retain your backup files, but if you don’t, you can remove them.

$ sudo rm -fR "$OJS_BACKUP_PATH/*"

13. Celebrate #

Your OJS instance has been successfully upgraded. Congratulations!

Troubleshooting #

Consult the following resources if you encounter any problems.


Copyright: Simon Fraser University holds the copyright for work produced by the Public Knowledge Project and has placed its documentation under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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