(One pseudo-geek’s experience)
This page is not intended to be a definative set of step-by-step directions for setting up a wiki. Basically, these are notes to myself for how I set up the MediaWiki software on a local server.
However, I hope they help if you are trying to do the same thing. I’m working on a Mac G4 running OS X but the process will be the roughly the same for Windows, Linux, or most any other box you happen to have.
Incidently, many web hosting companies provide support for PHP and MySQL as standard parts of even the lowest priced plans. If that’s the case with yours, it won’t be difficult at all to install the MediaWiki software.
A side benefit to all this is that I am also able to run a WordPress blog on the same computer, since that software uses PHP and MySQL as well. Just skip everything down to here.
getting the pieces
For the computer I’m using a Mac G4 with 512mb RAM, 80gb hard drive, running OS X 10.3.9. Most of the software packages I used require 10.3.x.
For the software, I downloaded and installed four packages. All of these pieces are free and based on open source projects.
Although Mac OS X comes with Apache, I installed this version because the same company produces companion packages for PHP and MySQL that requires the use of this version of Apache. Server Logistics has set this and the other two software up using the standard Apple installer making it very easy. If you’re using Windows or another OS, see the section below for obtaining the necessary software.
As with the Apache 2 package, these two installs were double-click simple. My SQL requires an extra step to initialize the database but that’s as easy as opening the System Preferences.
This piece is not really necessary as long as you understand how to manage a MySQL database from the command line. I don’t. Fortunately, this package is both free and easy to install as well.
Finally we get to the piece that uses all that other stuff to create the wiki. It too is easy to install and set up.
Before you begin
Make sure you have a couple of hours of uninterrupted time to do this. It shouldn’t take that long but there are always little glitches that can pop up. None of this is complicated but if you miss a step, you may have to throw everything out and start over. At least, I wasn’t able find a way to fix a couple of errors I introduced into the process. You may be able to find better solutions
If you’re planning to do this on a local machine as I did, ask your tech support people for a fixed IP address for the computer. Since the URL people will use to access the wiki is based on the IP address, you don’t want to have it changed if the dynamic address changes.
Open the System Preferences, click on Sharing and turn off Personal Web Sharing. That piece uses the built-in Apache software and you can’t have versions 1 and 2 both running at the same time.
Installing the packages
Complete Apache 2 – Read and follow the very brief directions in the install guide.
Complete PHP – Read and follow the very brief directions in the install guide.
Complete MySQL – Read and follow the very brief directions in the install guide. Make sure you don’t miss the part about initializing MySQL the first time. I did, and trying to use the admin program without having a database running is frustrating (not to mention stupid).
DON’T however, follow the directions to set the root password at this point. The wikiMedia software seems to expect to find the default password when it starts.
phpMyAdmin – After unzipping the package, rename the folder phpmyadmin and drag it into the htdocs folder inside the Apache 2 folder (follow this path: your hard drive –> Library –> Apache 2 –> htdocs. You could also put the folder in the Servers folder inside your account folder but that will lengthen the address people will use to access the wiki to include your login ID for the computer, which is not something I wanted to do. You can now administer your MySQL databases by going to this address: http://ipaddress/phpmyadmin/index.php.
Open your browser and enter the address for the wiki: http://ipaddress/wiki/index.php (or whatever you called the wiki folder). The page you get will have a simple link to the config page. DON’T CLICK that link yet. You need to tell the system that the folder can be modified.
Now click on the config link. You will get a page that will ask for some basic information. Don’t lose the passwords, especially for the WikiSysop since that is the all powerful account allowing you full control over the wiki.
If someone tries to visit your wiki and forgets to type the index.php at the end of the address (http://ipaddress/wiki/), they will see a directory for the folder. If they click on the link for index.php, all will be fine. However, a list like this will confuse many people.
By default, Apache sends people to index.html. As a work around, I created an HTML page that was nothing more than a redirect to the PHP page. It takes a couple of seconds longer to connect but the delay was not a big deal.
If you are using Windows, Linux or another OS to host your wiki, you will still need to have Apache, PHP and MySQL installed. I’ve included the links below where you can find that software for your platform.
Apache (web hosting software)
Most current Linux installations come with PHP built-in so this site has no Linux files.
The phpMyAdmin and wikiMedia packages use PHP and so the files from the URLs listed earlier will run on any platform with PHP and MySQL installed.