[Mediawiki-l] Is MediaWiki-l dysfunctional? What is it good for, really?

Ian Smith ismith at good.com
Thu May 24 18:18:04 UTC 2007

Monahon, Peter B:
> "Fill in the form and those "database details" are an undocumented,
> unexampled, very deep mystery for newbies (and oldies alike),

Please speak for yourself.  I'm looking at that form right now, and I
can't see anything particularly mysterious there.  In the database
section, all it wants is the database server name (usually "localhost",
which is already filled in), and the user names / passwords for the wiki
user and superuser.  All of this is adequately explained in the form and
the MediaWiki web site, and shouldn't be a problem to anyone with system
administration skills.

If you don't have those skills, then setting up and managing a wiki is
going to be very difficult.  Setting up a Wiki is a system
administration task -- this isn't some simple application like a web
browser, it's a server, and has quite a complex set of supporting
components (as you've discovered).  There are also some serious security
issued that need to be handled carefully if this is going to be exposed
to the public.

The bottom line is that setting up something like this requires someone
with system administration skills and experience.  If that isn't you,
then you need to pass the job to someone who has those skills.

Likewise, you're going to need system administration rights on the
server -- without that, the job is at least going to be much harder,
maybe impossible.  The fact that you have repeatedly asked for help with
setting up a wiki on a Windows host where you have no admin rights, and
that you haven't got an answer, is your clue that no-one else has
experience with doing it this way -- so you're on your own.  Good luck!
But if you want my advice, don't even bother -- doing something like
this without admin rights is pretty absurd.  Get admin rights, or pass
the job to someone who has those rights, or tell your boss that you're
wasting your time.

> May I suggest that try documenting and share your own MediaWiki
> installation steps, detail by detail, and why you made any choices?
> Please actually try to document every single exact on-screen prompt
> response ...

That would be pretty pointless, unless you want to install your wiki on
*my* computer, and using exactly the same configuration that I use.  The
point is that you have to use the documentation on the MW site to
*figure out* what the appropriate settings are for your wiki on your
server.  If you can't, well, that's what I was saying about "system
administration skills and experience".

A troubleshooting guide isn't going to help you either.  The number of
things that could go wrong, considering the number of possible
configurations of your server, and that you're doing weird things like
installing without admin rights, means that the number of possible
installation exceptions and errors is extremely large.  You aren't going
to find any shrink-wrapped guide to handling all those situations; you
need someone with system administration skills and experience to figure
them out.

> ... Apache "custom" install offers a
> dozen-and-a-half screens plus at least 5 changeable areas ...

It baffles me that you're having all this trouble, and then making it
more complex by trying a custom install...?

> Let's just all admit that a:
> "...contemporaneous, complete, accurate, *linking steps and
> checks* for [installing] the entire suite of OS/WS/DB/PI/WP/E&E..."
> ...ain't out there, and it's up to Peter Blaise to do it if he wants
> (unless someone beats me to it?).

Go for it.  But I suspect that the type of guide you're describing isn't
as useful to a wide audience as you might think.  It sounds like the
kind of thing you would write for people managing *your* wiki on your


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