Sysadmin guide

General overview

The Sysadmin

  • Is the first registered user
  • Has access to the Sysconfig Panel with general settings impacting every team hosted on the server
  • Can create/edit/delete teams
  • Can send a mass email to all users
  • Can set the default language
  • Can configure timestamping (if another TSA is wanted)
  • Can change security settings (number of login attempts, manual validation of new users)
  • Can see error logs
  • It is possible to have multiple ‘Sysadmin’ accounts

Account creation

New users need to register an account on the register page, accessible from the login page. They need to choose a team from the list.

By default, newly created accounts are disabled. The admin of the team needs to validate them by going into the admin panel and activate new users. This guide assumes you already have a working installation of eLabFTW on a server. The Sysadmin has access to core settings of the eLabFTW instance like email configuration or security preferences.

Setting up email

If there is only one thing to do after an install, it’s setting up email. Otherwise users will not be able to reset their password!

If a mail server is present, it will work out of the box. However, it is recommended to use an authenticated SMTP account to avoid the emails going to the spam folders of recipients. That is, unless your mail server is perfectly configured (with DKIM and SPF).

Go to the Sysadmin panel (a link is at the bottom left of a page) and add the requested infos.

If you don’t know what to do, I highly recommend using SMTP2GO, they provide a free plan that will probably be enough for your use case.

smtp2go logo

Register an account using this link: SMTP2GO. Once logged in, it will provide you with a login and password to connect to the SMTP server “mail.smtp2go.com”. Input these credentials on the Sysadmin panel and test sending an email.

Set up backup

See the backup page.

Set up the teams (optional)

The Sysadmin panel (sysconfig.php) allows you to add another team to your install. You should also edit your team name.

Set up timestamping (optional)

eLabFTW provides an easy way to do Trusted Timestamping for your experiments, so you can have strong legal value for your lab notebook.

By default, it is setup to use pki.dfn.de as TSA. It is free for researchers. The only problem, is that they don’t have ETSI certification for this service (although their PKI infrastructure is certified ETSI TS 102 042).

So if you need a stronger certification, you should go with a commercial solution providing an RFC 3161 way of timestamping documents. We recommend Universign.eu, as they are one of the most serious and recognized TSA out there, but feel free to use the one you prefer.

You need to add the root certificate of the TSA somewhere where elabftw can read it for this to work.

Remember: no data is sent to the TSA (TimeStampingAuthority), only the hash of the data is sent, so no information can leak!

Set up a cronjob to renew TLS certificates (optional)

If you installed it with a proper domain name and you used letsencrypt to get your TLS certificate, then you need to renew them every 3 months.

Create a script containing:

# stop webserver
docker exec elabftw supervisorctl stop nginx
# renew certificate
certbot renew
# and start the webserver again
docker exec elabftw supervisorctl start nginx

Add this script as a cronjob:

0 4 1 * * /root/renew.sh

This line will run the script at 4am every 1st day of the month.

If the code above doesn’t work, try this:

# stop everything
elabctl stop
# renew certificate
certbot renew
# start elabftw
elabctl start

Update often

It is important to keep your install up to date with the latest bug fixes and new features.

Subscribe to the newsletter to be warned when a new release is out or select “Releases only” from GitHub’s Watch button on the repo page.

See instructions on updating eLabFTW on How to update.