Programming, Software and Code

Setting Up a MediaWiki Server

We requested a server with Ubuntu, but ended up with one using CentOS. No big deal I thought, I'll play with it and see what I can do. Less then an hour later I had a support ticket open with our host to change it over to Ubuntu. Linux is Linux and everything should Just Work, but the reality is that there are some pretty significant differences between distros, and I didn't want to waste any time riding the learning curve. Ubuntu is what I know best, and so it's what I'm going to use.

So starting with the documentation, it seemed to me that installing a MediaWiki server should be as easy as:

sudo apt-get install apache2 php5 libapache2-mod-php5 mysql-server mediawiki imagemagick mediawiki-math

Right? So, I try that very command, it grinds away for a few seconds, and then it claims to be done. However, things weren't quite right, I noticed that some files didn't contain what they were supposed to contain, I was seeing a lot of references to php4 in the log, and nothing worked the way the manual suggested it should. So, I did a quick cat /etc/issue and saw the terrible truth: The Ubuntu version that the host loaded my server with was 6.06 Dapper Drake, instead of anything within the last two years. The old repos contained old versions of all the software, including an old MediaWiki that was still relying on PHP4. I asked the host to upgrade, they said they couldn't, so I did it myself:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

And a few minutes of churning and some questions answered later, I had Ubuntu 8.04 installed. I reinstalled all the software I needed, and I ended up with a running MediaWiki instance. Things still aren't quite perfect though, and I did find a few inconsistencies in the MediaWiki documentation that had me pretty confused for a while.

Luckily, I found a third member of the team who was able to fix all the mess up. Woozle, who was recommended to me by another Parrot developer (Tene), is a consultant who specializes in MediaWiki hosting and development. Perfect fit, right? He's already started work getting MediaWiki updated and properly installed and configured.

I sent out an email to the team a few minutes ago outlining most of the technical tasks that we have to do for the next 10 weeks. I'm hoping that a second or third pair of eyes don't find the tasklist to be overwhelmingly ambitious or misguided. Development work on this project will be beginning soon in earnest, after the basic installation and configuration work gets out of the way. I'm looking forward to it, I suspect this project will be fun and successful.

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