Networking a Xaira Corpus

1. Networking a Xaira corpus

A corpus indexed by Xaira can be made available in several different ways. If the corpus was indexed on a Windows machine, you can also search it on the same Windows machine, using the Windows client. We call this standalone access. But you can also make the corpus available over the internet, to other computers on your local network, or to other computers anywhere on the internet. We describe here very briefly how to do this.

1.1. Scenario 1: Unix server and Windows Client

This scenario assumes the following:
  • you have a Unix server machine, on which you have installed release 1.17 or later of Xaira;
  • you have one or more Windows client 2000 or XP machines, on which you have installed release 1.17 or later of Xaira;
  • your windows machines can access your server machine over the network

Incidentally, I know of no reason why you shouldn't run the server software on a Windows machine, and use Windows networking, but I haven't tried it. See also 1.3. Scenario 2: Windows is all I have below.

Here's what you do.
  1. Start the server running: typically, you will just type xaira_daemon -p corpus_parameters.xml in the directory where your corpus is installed. Wait for the message Started server to appear.
  2. Create a xcorpus file on each client machine that is going to access the server. This is most easily done using the Windows Xaira Tools package (see 1.2. Creating an xcorpus file) but you can use a plain text editor, or copy an existing file as you please.
  3. Click on the xcorpus file to connect to your server.
What can go wrong?
  • If your server is behind a firewall, you may need to talk to your server administrator to open up the relevant port. Xaira uses port 7000 by default, but you can use any available port: set this with the -l option on the xaira_daemon command.
  • You can log all access to the server (if you have plenty of diskspace): set this with the -g option on the xaira_daemon command
  • other bugs to be reported...

1.2. Creating an xcorpus file

  1. On any networked PC, open Xaira Tools
  2. Choose New Remote Corpus on the file menu
  3. Enter the DNS name or IP address of your server (e.g. mybox.laputa.edu, 123.456.7.8 ...) in the Host box
  4. Change the range of ports on which Xaira services may be running if necessary.
  5. Click the Scan button and wait while the client tests each of the ports specified.
  6. A list of Xaira services available to you is displayed in the middle box. Click on the one you want and press the Select Button
  7. Now press the Browse button and navigate to the place on the local machine where you want to create the xcorpus file (the root of your C: drive is a good place)
  8. Finally, press the Save button to save the xcorpus file. The Edit button will open a further dialog where you can set a few other options for the service.

1.3. Scenario 2: Windows is all I have

In this scenario, you install the Windows client on a bunch of work stations, and the corpus and index files on a shared drive. It's really just the same as the standalone option, except that you don't need to make copies of the corpus and index files on each workstation.

  • Talk to your network administrator to find out what shared drives are available to you. We'll assume there's at least one shared drive which all the workstations on your network can see. Install or build your corpus in a directory on this drive and check that each workstation can see it (read-only access should be OK).
  • Now install the Windows client (only) on each workstation, or in a shared Program Files directory if there is one. Note however that the XAIRA client program has to be able to create its own files in a local Windows TEMP directory. Note also that the client will try to create a directory called usr when it starts up, so it must have some writeable disk space. On balance life is easier if you install the client locally.
  • Look in the shared directory where you installed or built your corpus, and you should see a file called corpusname.xcorpus (where corpusname is the name of your corpus), as well as a number of other items. Make a shortcut link to this file, and copy that to the desktop of each workstation.
  • Double-clicking on the shortcut should now launch XAIRA using the local copy of the xaira client to access the copy of the corpus on the shared drive ... all being well.

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