In order to take full advantage of the functionalities and benefits of ODK, a server that has been specifically designed and configured to communicate with ODK Collect installed in your tablet devices is necessary. The standard server used with ODK is called the ODK Aggregate which can be deployed as a cloud server using Google’s App Engine or as a local server installed on your own computer. More information on how to deploy ODK Aggregate can be found here.

Other than ODK Aggregate, there are also various pre-built servers that are available for use by those implementing ODK-based data collection campaigns. These servers have been setup to be accessible to users by creating an account on their fully scaled web service. Through this account, users are able to have the same/similar functionalities as that of ODK Aggregate. In addition, there are other functionalities that have been added to these servers that make them more user-friendly and accessible to most users. Some examples of these pre-built servers avaiable online are Formhub, Kobo Toolbox, SurveyCTO or ONA to name a few.

For this tutorial, you will be shown how to initiate a locally deployed Formhub server. This tutorial assumes that you have already setup a Formhub server onto the computer you wish to use as the local server. If you haven’t, this guide will show you the step-by-step process of setting up a Formhub server.

Now it’s time to initiate the Formhub server on the computer you have designated as your server.

1. Open Oracle VM VirtualBox

To open Oracle VM VirtualBox, go to Start –> All Programs –> Oracle VM VirtualBox

2. Start the Formhub virtual machine

This is what you will see on your screen once you open the Oracle VM VirtualBox. You will see on the left-hand side the list of servers installed on the virtual machine. In this example, there are two servers installed: Formhub and ODK Aggregate.


For this tutorial, select the Formhub server (1) and then click on ‘Start’ on the upper menu section (2).


You will then see a terminal window appear on your screen (1). For a few minutes, the terminal window will show a series of command lines which indicate that the virtual machine is being setup to become a server.


You will know that the virtual machine has finished setting up and the server is ready when you see the following lines on the terminal window (1):

Debian GNU/Linux 7 debian7vm tty1
debian7vm login: _


3. Identify the local IP address of the server

Now that the local server has been setup, you need to identify the local IP address of the server so that you can access the Formhub portal. This can be done by bringing the cursor down to the bottom right corner of the terminal window and then locating the icon with two overlapping computer screens. Once located, hover over the icon (1) and shortly a popup information on the network used by the virtual machine will come out (2). This includes the the local IP address of the virtual machine.

In this example, the local IP address of the server is at


Another way to determine the local IP address of the virtual machine hosting the Formhub server is to check the network interface configuration of the virtual machine using the terminal window.

To be able to do this, you first have to login as root. This is done by typing in ‘root’ in the login prompt on the terminal window then press ‘Enter’ (1).

It will then ask for a password. Type all4one then press ‘Enter’ (2). Remember that the password is spelling specific and case-sensitive. For security purposes, nothing is shown when you enter the password so that others won’t be able to see the password you are typing.


You will know that you are now logged in as root and have entered the right password if you see the following on the terminal window and the terminal prompt shows the following:


Now, on the terminal prompt, issue the command for the network interface configuration. Type on the terminal window the following:


and then press ‘Enter’.


You will now see the network interface configuration of the virtual machine shown below.

Look for the settings for ‘eth0’ (1) which is the network connection used by the Formhub local server. Here you will see an entry named inet addr followed by an IP address (2). This is the local IP address of the virtual machine which in this case is


Yet another way to check the local IP address of the virtual machine hosting the server is to check all the IP addresses on the network interfaces. This can be done by again logging on as root (see above) and then on the terminal prompt, type the following:

hostname -I


You will then be given the local IP address of the virtual machine which in this case is


4. Go to the Formhub portal

Open a web browser and then enter the local IP address you got from the previous step. You will then be able to see the Formhub portal as shown below.

This step can be done on the computer that hosts the virtual machine or on a different computer that is on the same network as the host computer and the virtual machine (i.e., on the same internet connection).


5. Log in to the Formhub portal

On the upper right hand corner of the webpage, click on the ‘Log In’ button.


You will then be asked for your username and password. Enter the details of the user that you have created when you installed Formhub on your local server or the details that have been provided to you by your IT administrator when you were provided the Formhub local server computer.

For this example, we use the details for Valid Measures user.
username: validmeasures
password: valid14

Once you have entered your user details, click on ‘Sign in’ to continue.


Once you have successfully logged in, you will see this on the webpage.

Congratulations! You have now successfully initiatied the Formhub local server and have been able to log in to the Formhub portal. You can now upload forms and distribute to ODK Collect remotely, accept finalised forms or submissions from ODK Collect remotely, manage collected data and export the collected data into various formats.


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