Virtual Environments: Servers¶
There are two predefined virtual environments in the Vagrantfile:
This document explains the purpose of, and how to get started working with, each one.
If you plan to alter the configuration of any of these machines, make sure to review the Testing: Configuration Tests documentation.
If you have errors with mounting shared folders in the Vagrant guest machine, you should look at GitHub #1381.
If you see test failures due to
Too many levels of symbolic links
and you are using VirtualBox, try restarting VirtualBox.
A compromise between the development and production environments. This configuration can be thought of as identical to the production environment, with a few exceptions:
- The Debian packages are built from your local copy of the code, instead of installing the current stable release packages from https://apt.freedom.press.
- The production environment only allows SSH over an Authenticated Tor Hidden Service (ATHS), but the staging environment allows direct SSH access so it’s more ergonomic for developers to interact with the system during debugging.
- The Postfix service is disabled, so OSSEC alerts will not be sent via email.
This is a convenient environment to test how changes work across the full stack.
You should first bring up the VM required for building the app code Debian packages on the staging machines:
make build-debs vagrant up /staging/ vagrant ssh app-staging sudo su cd /var/www/securedrop ./manage.py add-admin pytest -v tests/
To rebuild the local packages for the app code:
The Debian packages will be rebuilt from the current state of your local git repository and then installed on the staging servers.
If you are using macOS and you run into errors from Ansible
OSError: [Errno 24] Too many open files, you may need to
increase the maximum number of open files. Some guides online suggest
a procedure to do this that involves booting to recovery mode
and turning off System Integrity Protection (
However this is a critical security feature and should not be
disabled. Instead follow this procedure to increase the file limit.
/Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxfiles.plist to the following:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd"> <plist version="1.0"> <dict> <key>Label</key> <string>limit.maxfiles</string> <key>ProgramArguments</key> <array> <string>launchctl</string> <string>limit</string> <string>maxfiles</string> <string>65536</string> <string>65536</string> </array> <key>RunAtLoad</key> <true/> <key>ServiceIPC</key> <false/> </dict> </plist>
The plist file should be owned by
sudo chown root:wheel /Library/LaunchDaemons/limit.maxfiles.plist
This will increase the maximum open file limits system wide on macOS (last tested on 10.11.6).
The web interfaces and SSH are available over Tor. A copy of the the Onion URLs
for Source and Journalist Interfaces, as well as SSH access, are written to the
install_files/ansible-base directory, named:
For working on OSSEC monitoring rules with most system hardening active, update
the OSSEC-related configuration in
install_files/ansible-base/staging-specific.yml so you receive the OSSEC
A copy of the the Onion URL for SSH access to the Monitor Server is written to
the Vagrant host’s
install_files/ansible-base directory, named:
Direct SSH access is available via Vagrant for staging hosts, so you can use
vagrant ssh app-staging and
vagrant ssh mon-staging to start an
interactive session on either server.
This is a production installation with all of the system hardening active, but
virtualized, rather than running on hardware. You will need to
configure prod-like secrets, or export
ANSIBLE_ARGS="--skip-tags validate" to skip the tasks that prevent the prod
playbook from running with Vagrant-specific info.
You can provision production VMs from an Admin Workstation (most realistic), or from your host. Instructions for both follow.
Install from an Admin Workstation VM¶
In SecureDrop, admin tasks are performed from a Tails Admin Workstation. You should configure a Tails VM in order to install the SecureDrop production VMs by following the instructions in the Virtualizing Tails guide.
Once you’re prepared the Admin Workstation, you can start each VM:
vagrant up --no-provision /prod/
At this point you should be able to SSH into both
From here you can follow the server configuration instructions to test connectivity and prepare the servers. These
instructions will have you generate SSH keys and use
ssh-copy-id to transfer
the key onto the servers.
If you have trouble SSHing to the servers from Ansible, remember
to remove any old ATHS files in
Now from your Admin workstation:
cd ~/Persistent/securedrop ./securedrop-admin setup ./securedrop-admin sdconfig ./securedrop-admin install
The sudo password for the
mon-prod servers is by
After install you can configure your Admin Workstation to SSH into each VM via:
Install from Host OS¶
If you are not virtualizing Tails, you can manually modify
and then provision the machines. You should set the following options in
ssh_users: "vagrant" monitor_ip: "10.0.1.5" monitor_hostname: "mon-prod" app_hostname: "app-prod" app_ip: "10.0.1.4"
Note that you will also need to generate Submission and OSSEC PGP public keys, and provide email credentials to send emails to. Refer to this document on configuring prod-like secrets for more details on those steps.
To create the prod servers, run:
vagrant up /prod/ vagrant ssh app-prod sudo su cd /var/www/securedrop/ ./manage.py add-admin
A copy of the the Onion URLs for Source and Journalist Interfaces, as well as
SSH access, are written to the Vagrant host’s