PECE System Administration

How do I install PECE?

PECE is a Free Software-based Drupal distribution, therefore the standard installation procedure for Drupal 7 applies to PECE with a few extra dependencies.

The following instructions have been tested on a Debian 8 (jessie) server, but they are not OS-dependent. PECE should run on any system supported by Drupal 7. PECE has been tested in virtual machines with 256M allocated for PHP, being 128M the recommended minimum for Drupal 7 distributions. Your configuration, of course, may vary considerably depending on the usage you are making of the platform. Refer to our data management guidelines under the “sustainability” section to learn about the recommended minimum specs for your servers.

Downloading the Distro

Our distribution is currently being developed on Github. You can obtain the most updated version following the link “Releases” on the project’s git repository:

Alternatively, you can obtain the source code and build the distro yourself if you intend to help our team by fixing bugs and extending the platform for your research purposes:

git clone

If you are a developer who wants to contribute to PECE, you will need to follow special instructions to install and configure the tools for building the distro. Consult the sub-section Setting up the Development Environment below for more information.


PECE has extra dependencies in addition to the ones you will need for Drupal 7 core:

Quick Install

If you have the server backend already set-up, you can quickly install PECE following these steps:

Clone the ‘’pece-distro’’ repository:

git clone

Create an empty database:


Proceed to the URL in which your Drupal will reside, i.e. From there, you can install PECE like any other Drupal site. Follow the official documentation if you need further help. In the section Troubleshooting below we describe common issues users have when trying to install PECE without the proper backend dependencies, configurations, and permissions.

One important note: please, make sure to set the permissions on the filesystem properly. We cannot emphasize this enough. The official Drupal documentation explains how to do so, if you have questions. (In our experience, we have needed to set the file permissions at sites/default/files/artifacts to 770 and sites/default/files/private to 770.)

I want to use HTTPS with PECE. How can I do that?

A very simple tutorial for setting up HTTPS with Certbot on Ubuntu can be found here.

Your webserver is not properly configured to support what is called “Clean URLs” on Drupal. Make sure you have your httpd “rewrite” rules properly set-up. This configuration can be done in the vhost file of your nginx configuration, following the Perusio guide or using the default.htaccess file that is provided by default by Drupal if you are running Apache.

I get an error about a YAML parser being missing. How can I fix that?

Newer versions of PHP require you to install pecl-yaml for YAML parsing. You can find it here. We recommend using the latest version, which is 2.0.4 at the time of writing. Follow the pecl-yaml instructions to build and install it. Then edit your php.ini file. For example, if you are using PHP 7.2, the file will be found at: /etc/php/7.2/apache2/php.ini

Add the following line to php.ini:

When should the admin login credentials be used?

Distribute admin login credentials to as few users as possible. Admin login credentials should only be used to configure settings and to approve new users. The admin credentials should not be used to add content or comment on content.

How do I update the site information?

Go to “Administration » Configuration » System » Site information” and fill out the information about your site name, the basic admin password, contact, timezone and other relevant info.

How do I upload the terms of service?

Go to “Administration » Configuration » People » Legal” and click “Add T&C”, then fill-out the boxes with your custom text to be displayed to every user who requests an account on the system.

How do I set up back-ups?

As explained in our data management guidelines, PECE is configured to automatically generate backups. You should, however, revise the settings and set-up a SFTP connection to transfer your backup to another server and ensure that you have extra security when storing your encrypted backups. First, revise the settings we provided, changing whatever you think is needed (say, the most convenient time, when the site is not being used, to generate the backup). Go to “Configuration » System » Backup and Migrate” to perform this first step. Then, click on “Destinations” and “Add Destination” to set-up the SFTP connection with the credentials of your backup server. Please note that you have to use the port 22 (not 21) and password authentication, since ssh-key authentication is unfortunately not supported yet.

How do I configure SMTP so that emails can be sent from the platform?

PECE uses Drupal notification for key events on the system. It has to be configured using a regular email address, provided you have all the mail server information. You just need your SMTP server info and credentials to get this done. Go to “Administration » Configuration » System » SMTP Authentication Support” and provide your SMTP server information, including username and password.

How do I increase the file upload limit?

While logged-in as an administrator, navigate to Administration >> Configuration >> Media >> File Settings. Under the Maximum Upload Size field, enter a new value (we use 2GB). Click Save Configuration. You may also need to increase the upload limit on the server.

How do I update my instance when a new version of the PECE distro is released?

Always back-up your files and database before updating the platform.

Put the site in maintenance mode. Under sites/default/, there is a file called settings.php. Search for $update_free_access = FALSE; and change FALSE to TRUE.

Then, go to YourSite/update.php and follow the steps. In theory major updates are not handled differently, but sometimes issues have occurred.

Be sure to turn off maintenance mode when you are done.

Other Post-Installation Troubleshooting