Creating Webpages on Opal

Getting Access to the Opal Web Server

SILS students and students enrolled in specific INLS courses may use the Opal web server to create websites. Ask your instructor for login information if you need Opal access for a class; SILS students who need access for a project, thesis, or master's paper should contact the help desk.

Transferring Files to Opal

Use an SSH or SFTP client to connect to your Opal directory. If you have never used an SSH client before, we recommend SSH Secure Shell or Putty for Windows, and Fetch for MacOS. Use the following connection settings:

Hostname: opal.ils.unc.edu
Connection Type: SFTP
Username: your onyen
Password: your onyen password

To connect to Opal from off-campus, connect to the UNC VPN and then log in to Opal as usual.

Opal connections open your home folder automatically. To make files available on the web, transfer them into your public_html folder.

Setting File Access Permissions

Before you (or anyone else) can view your files in a web browser, you must change the access permissions for your home directory on opal. If these permissions are set incorrectly, anyone trying to view your webpage will see a Forbidden error rather than your content. Follow these instructions to set the correct permissions:

  1. Open an SSH connection to Opal. On Windows, you'll need to use an SSH client for this; on MacOS and Linux, you can open a Terminal window, enter ssh your_onyen@opal.ils.unc.edu and then enter your password when prompted.
    Once you've connected, you should see a command prompt like this:
    [your_onyen@opal ~] $ 
  2. Type chmod 711 . with both the space and the period. If you get a "missing operand" error, make sure you included the space and the period at the end.

Your SSH client may have a permissions editor built in. If so, you can use it to set your home directory permissions as well. Be sure to change the permissions for your home folder and not public_html, and set them as below:
Permissions window

Password-Protecting Your Webpage

If you'd like, you can require users to log in with an Onyen to view your webpages. To configure Onyen authentication for your opal.ils.unc.edu web space, follow the instructions in the ONYEN-AUTHENTICATION.txt file inside your home directory.

Viewing Your Webpage

After you have uploaded your files and set the correct permissions, your webpage will be viewable at https://opal.ils.unc.edu/~onyen/ . This will take you to the index page in your public_html folder; you can also navigate directly to other pages or subfolders you've added, such as https://opal.ils.unc.edu/~onyen/my_folder/my_page.html 

Learning HTML, CSS, XML, XSL, XHTML, PHP

The World Wide Web Consortium (also known as the W3C) has the specifications for these languages and more. They also have online Web tutorials to get you started. If you're just getting started making Web pages, visit the HTML Tutorial. More advanced Web developers should browse the list to find what they need. There are also many useful books in the SILS Lab that can be checked out with your OneCard. O'Reilly's Web Design in a Nutshell is a handy reference for the initiated and a good place to start for newbies.