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Merge with virt install docs & rewrite

Installing TWiki On A Hosted Site

Despite TWiki's specialized development for the high-end corporate intranet market, it keeps showing up ever more frequently on a variety of public Web sites. TWiki with a broader user base can't be a bad thing. Unfortunately, while most major corporations run their own networks, the most small business and personal sites use virtual domains - shared server space leased from Web hosting companies, with certain limitations that make TWiki installation a potential problem.

Fortunately, TWiki can be easily and fully installed on a virtual domain - a hosted account - with the right services. So, the purpose of this document is to make sure that anyone with a PC, Net connection, and $20 a month, and this, can experience the Joy of TWiki, easily, quickly, completely.

This document covers Linux/Apache hosted accounts only, as no clean Windows installation path, or service provider, has been found so far.

Verified TWiki/RCS Web Hosts

Why only one? Because it's the only 100% verified provider located so far. No doubt there are others, to be added when found. Why list less than the best? (For a broader list that you can add to, including open source development sites, like SourceForge, see TWikiOnWebHostingSites.)

Provider: $/month Comment: Verified? Sample Installation:
Hostway $22 Installed RCS locally with no problem on a Linux/Apache account. TWiki then sets up like a breeze. Top-rated, great price & service. For the US, at least, there's no apparent need to look further. Yes

Host: Hostway (http://hostway.com - listed in table above)

Account: best deal is Gold Plus, $22/month at the highest month-by-month rate; Linux/Apache 1.3.x; Dual Pentium III; RAID SCSI drive system; SSH (Secure Shell/Telnet); SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption; CGI-BIN (.cgi to run anywhere); Perl v5.x, C++, gcc, TCL, Python; 24x7 FTP access; 200MB Disk space; 10GB Monthly traffic ~1,000,000 hits/month; Free secure server URL; Daily data backup; MySQL; PHP; VolanoŽ chat; domain name

Why TWiki Hosts Are Hard to Find

For all of the server-side details, see System Requirements in the Reference Manual. The crucial....
  • Linux/Apache
  • Telnet/SSH for shell access
    • needed to install RCS; not available in many entry-level packages
  • RCS or the permission/ability to install it, for version control
    • chances are remote that you'll find a host with RCS - installing it yourself (it's Free Software) is easy on the right host
  • cron (or equivalent) for WebNotify and WebStatistics
    • scriptable timer that's not usually offered, but can be had on request from some companies for sensible use, or there are workaround scripts

TWiki/RCS Virtual Domain Installation

TWiki itself, as a set of Perl CGI scripts, is easy to install on practically any hosted account. The problem comes with its companion program, GNU RCS (Revision Control system)....

1. Step-by-step RCS Installation

RCS: Downloaded from a mirror to a Win98 machine: find one at GNU Free Software: http://www.gnu.org/directory/rcs.html .

  1. Uncompress and change a couple of config file paths from default to local virtual account (it's in the install instructions)
    In my case running configure with --prefix=PATH was all to do. =PATH= is the directory where RCS should be installed. -- GuentherSchmid - 24 Feb 2004
  2. FTP to CGI-BIN directory at the root level of the virtual account (any directory name should be fine)
  3. Telnet in.
  4. In /www/mysite/cgi-bin/RCS-5.7/ run configure (type in, hit return!)
  5. run make
  6. run make install
  7. run make clean (optinal clean-up)
  • Ta-da!

Time: 5 minutes.

2. Step-by-step TWiki Installation

  1. Download the package to your PC. (Note for Debian users: you want the .zip file, not the Debian apt-get package.)
  2. Unzip it in an empty new directory, ex: yourtwiki.
  3. Append a .cgi extension to all files in bin (except .htacess.txt) more on this?
  4. Upload all files and directories by FTP (everything transfers as ASCII - text - except image files in pub/...) need to know more?
  5. * easiest is to upload the directory you unzipped into, yourtwiki
  6. * that directory becomes your root TWiki directory
  7. Change all directory permissions to 777, working your way down. NOTE: Set bin to 755.
  8. Change permissions for the bin/*.cgi scripts to 755 more permissions...
  9. Configure your Twiki installation by editing the file lib/TWiki.cfg (the longest step, just filling in the blanks) problems with paths?
  10. Upload TWiki.cfg, overwriting the original copy
  11. Browse to http://yoursite.com/.../yourtwiki/ - the starter index.html file has a link to TWiki - click it and you should be running!

    • CGI Extension: Chances are you host uses the .cgi extension to identify CGI scripts for execution. If not, well, follow the instructions - check your host's user manual CGI script section, or email their tech support. This is all absolutely standard if your account comes with CGI access...so you should have no problems, whatever the exact set-up.
    • Text Transfer: You're probably fine if you upload all files as binary - default for most FTP programs - but transferring text files as...text can't hurt, it prevents weird control characters popping up in scripts and breaking them, which happens.
    • More Permissions: You may have to set more permissions later on, if anything, all files in the data directory to 666 so that they can be written to, but that'll only come later, when you try editing... See below!
    • Setting TWiki.cfg: There are quite a few variables, but each one is explained and should be clear - and you can leave the majority with their default settings. If you're not clear on the paths - ex: /www/yoursite/.../yourtwiki/..., check your host's User Guide, or contact their tech support. Or run the testenv script in bin, ex: http://yoursite.com/yourtwiki/bin/testenv.cgi, and see DOCUMENT_ROOT.

  • That's the basic set-up. Once you're running, you can then read the docs, check the TWiki controls, RCS, Plugins, and also, customize:
    • edit and create topics, attach files, try it all - see the detailed sections in the TWiki documentation.
    • set TWikiPreferences & WebPreferences in each web
    • set up user authentication: .htaccess or SSL (most hosted accounts includes a secure server option that takes little more than using https instead of http - it's a little slower)
    • whatever else...there's stuff to tweak for as long as you like

It should all be really easy, because the Web server is already configured for what you want to do.


Find the points below in the TWiki manual, create links to them above, then clear these out

  • If you use .htaccess, you must change edit view preview, etc. to edit.pl, view.pl, preview.pl, etc. etc. (or .cgi)

  • If you are trying to lock down the site (require valid-user in the .htaccess globally) be sure to put a similar .htaccess in the /pub directory or someone could browse to your attachments. (yes, with the path, they can get to files. how serious? guess .htaccess works??)

  • I could not get the distribution ,v files to work (probably because they showed up as me owning them?). The symptom is that everything works except versioning UNLESS you are working with a brand new page. I deleted all the ,v files and then everything worked fine. (Or s/r ownership. Also, Q on need for versions in distrib.)
    • The TWiki distribution's *.txt,v files are apparently delivered already 'locked' (in RCS terms) by the user 'nobody'. Hence, if your CGI userid is different from 'nobody', you must either delete the *.txt,v files (simplest solution) or use some RCS commands to unlock and re-lock (e.g. co -l) the files. You'll require suitable permissions on the web directory, as mentioned above. See RcsWontKeepHistory for more details. This should really be documented in the standard installation docs as well. -- RichardDonkin

Related Topics

Contributor Credits

Topic based on: TWikiOnWebHostingSites, with contributions from AlWilliams, JoachimDurchholz, KristopherJohnson, MartinCleaver, MatthewSimpson, PeterThoeny, RandyKramer -

-- MikeMannix - 29 Dec 2001
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Topic revision: r6 - 2006-03-18 - DavidBeckwith
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