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Installing Solr and Search API on Ubuntu 13.10 for Local Development

At Forum One, we standardize our local development environments using virtual machines provided by Vagrant, but a local dev environment native to a host OS is sometimes also useful. I recently found myself adding Apache Solr to my Ubuntu host’s web server stack for a Drupal project, and I wanted to share my experience.

I was running Ubuntu 13.10 (saucy) and, for my sanity and system integrity, I always try to manage as many packages as I can through the actual Ubuntu/Debian package management system, APT. There are many great references out there – Ben Chavet’s article from Lullabot got me most of the way there – but I want to rehash it here quickly, with specific instructions for my software stack.

Unfortunately, as most installation guides note, the packages in many Linux distribution package archives tend to have older versions of Solr; Ubuntu’s saucy package archive has Solr 3.6. So in order to take advantage of the last couple of years of Solr development – as recommended by most Drupal-related references – Solr was the one exception where I installed the software manually outside of the package manager.

Reviewing the Software Stack

  • Ubuntu 13.10 (saucy)
  • Java 7 (openjdk-7 package)
  • Tomcat 7 (tomcat7 package)
  • Solr 4.8.1 (manual download/installation)
  • Drupal 7.25
  • Search API 7.x-1.11
  • Search API Solr 7.x-1.4

Installing Java

We begin by installing Java from the command line.

sudo apt-get install openjdk-7

Installing Tomcat

Now we can install Tomcat from the command line.

sudo apt-get install tomcat7

Once Tomcat is installed, we can verify that the Tomcat default web page is present by opening up a browser window and navigating to http://localhost:8080/.

ubuntu solr

Installing Solr

Download the latest version of Solr 4.8.1 from, expand the archive, and copy Solr’s Java libraries to the Tomcat library directory.

sudo cp solr-4.8.1/dist/solrj-lib/* /usr/share/tomcat7/lib/

Next, copy Solr’s logging configuration file to the Tomcat configuration directory.

sudo cp solr-4.8.1/example/resources/ /var/lib/tomcat7/conf/

We will also need to copy the Solr webapp to the Tomcat webapps directory.

sudo cp solr-4.8.1/dist/solr-4.8.1.war /var/lib/tomcat7/webapps/solr.war

Then, define the Solr context by modifying the solr.xml file.

sudo vim /var/lib/tomcat7/conf/Catalina/localhost/solr.xml

We just need a context fragment pointing to the webapp file from above and to the Solr home directory.

<Context docBase="/var/lib/tomcat7/webapps/solr.war" debug="0" crossContext="true">
  <Environment name="solr/home" type="java.lang.String" value="/usr/share/tomcat7/solr" override="true" />

Configuring Solr

To configure Solr, first create the Solr home directory.

sudo mkdir /usr/share/tomcat7/solr

Next, copy the Solr configuration files to the Solr home directory.

sudo cp -r solr-4.8.1/example/solr/collection1/conf /usr/share/tomcat7/solr/

Now we can verify that Solr is working by pointing our browser tohttp://localhost:8080/solr.

ubuntu solr

Finally, we’ll copy the Drupal Search API Solr Search module configuration files to the Solr home directory.

sudo cp sites/all/modules/contrib/search_api_solr/solr-conf/4.x/* /usr/share/tomcat7/solr/conf/

Defining the Solr Core

First, we’ll need to define our Solr core by editing solr.xml (the name of ‘drupal’ is arbitrary).

sudo vim /usr/share/tomcat7/solr/solr.xml
 <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
 <solr persistent="false">
   <cores adminPath="/admin/cores">
     <core name="drupal" instanceDir="drupal" />

Next, we’ll create the Solr core directory.

sudo mkdir /usr/share/tomcat7/solr/drupal

Then, we’ll copy our base Solr configuration files to the core directory.

sudo cp -r /usr/share/tomcat7/solr/conf /usr/share/tomcat7/solr/drupal/

Finally, we can verify the Solr core is available by browsing to http://localhost:8080/solr/#/~cores/drupal:

Ubuntu Solr

Configuring Search API

Now that Solr is up and running, add a Solr server within Drupal: use a “Solr Service” class on localhost with port 8080 and a path of: /solr/drupal:

Solr server

Next, add an index, selecting the previously created server and other settings of your choice:

Solr index

Head over to the Search API documentation and Search API Solr search documentation for more details.

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