SeqLab vs SeqWeb

Joseph J. King, Ph.D. jking at mailbag.com
Fri Jul 10 07:15:20 EST 1998


Steve asked me to answer this question so I'll give it a go.

Jim Phelps wrote:
> >Hi Paul,
> >  SeqWeb is a very straight forward interface to the Wisconsin Package.
> << snip >>
> >
> >Sincerely,
> >  Steve
> >
> Steve,
> Can you answer some questions about the location of sequence data?  I have
> heard that SeqWeb does not store user data under the $HOME directory as is
> usual.
> 1) Where is the data stored?

When a researcher does an analysis she can specify a file or
paste in a sequence.  The SeqWeb client communicates this data to
the server.  The server caches this data for repeated use on the
server computer in a directory chosen by the site administrator. 
This cached data is owned by the SeqWeb server.  Researchers save
their results to the location of their choosing using the SeqWeb
client.  Researchers can manipulate the cached data using
SeqWeb.  When specifying a file, SeqWeb puts up a file browser
that works in a manner that is consistent with other desktop
software (the browser is, in fact, a facility of the web
browser).  The researcher can also specify a database entry.  In
this case, the entry is retrieved from the Wisconsin Package and
placed in the cache.

SeqWeb does not assume that the researcher has an account on the
UNIX computer that happens to be running the SeqWeb server.  If a
site runs Samba or another UNIX/Desktop file sharing program,
users of SeqWeb can browse UNIX directories and specify their
UNIX files for analysis with SeqWeb.  They can also save their
results to the same directories using SeqWeb.  Since this file
sharing software is inexpensive (some are free) and of generally
good quality, GCG did not engineer this feature into SeqWeb
> 2) What permissions/access privledges are needed by the web server for
> users to see their data?

No special privileges are required.  In fact, SeqWeb is designed
so that it can run as "nobody."  This is a more secure
arrangement then having the server run as root so that it can
change users at login or gain access to all users' files on your

> 3) What impact on system security might the web interface pose?

Since the SeqWeb server runs as a non-privileged user and never
has to access files outside of the Wisconsin Package and SeqWeb,
it is no less secure than your average web server and CGI.

> Thanks,
> Jim
> 0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0
> Jim Phelps
> Director, Biological Computing Consortium
> Oregon State University
> 0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0~~~*~~~0


Joseph J. King
madnordski - http://danenet.wicip.org/madnord/
also: Project Leader, GCG

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