If you’re running software applications or services in your GoGrid cloud, then there’s a good chance that you need a way for your customers to communicate with one another. Forums and bulletin boards are great tools for companies to allow their customers to help each other out with your products. Using these tools also alleviates some of the load on your support teams, saving you labor expenses and time. One of the best bulletin boards is the open-source phpBB software. This is a simple-to-install, feature-rich, PHP-based web application that takes only minutes to configure on a GoGrid server.
The latest version of phpBB (version 3.0) does have some specific server requirements, namely: Windows or Linux, an SQL database system (e.g., mySQL 3.23 or above, MS SQL Server 2000 or above, or PostgreSQL 7.x or above) and PHP 4.3.3 or above. GoGrid has you covered with those requirements so you don’t have to monkey around with doing any changes (with the exception of Windows, you will have to install PHP for that).
To start, simply deploy a GoGrid server through the http://my.gogrid.com customer portal. In this example, we’ll use a CentOS 4.5-based LAMP stack since it has all the software packages needed for a phpBB installation already installed.
- Click on the “+” button once you’ve logged in, then select “Web/App Server”. Enter a friendly name for your server, such as “phpBB” or the domain name you’ll use once your server is configured. Enter a quick description of the server and select an IP address (our new IP suggest function will suggest one automatically for you). If you already have a GoGrid server instance that runs your website and you want to install phpBB in a sub-directory or sub-domain, skip down to the second half of this article.
- Next, select the operating system to run your phpBB installation on. phpBB can run on either Windows or Linux machines, but in this example we’ll use a Linux-based CentOS 4.5 server image.
- Select the amount of RAM dedicated to your server. Depending on the amount of traffic you’re expecting, you may want to allocate a good amount of RAM to your server. I’m choosing to go with a 2GB server.
- Select the server image you want to deploy. In this case, I’ll be using a LAMP stack. (For Windows servers, you may want to select a Windows 2003-based operating systems with IIS and MSSQL Express installed on the server image.)
- Click on “Save” and your server will be deployed within a matter of minutes.
- Once your server’s light turns green, click on the new phpBB server and then select the “Passwords” button at the left. This will take you to the login information for your server.
Now that a server has been deployed, you can go ahead and connect to it remotely via SSH. If you work on a Windows machine, you can download the PuTTY client to connect to a Linux Server. If you’re on a Mac or a Linux machine, you can open your terminal and SSH directly to the IP address of the new GoGrid server.
- SSH to the new server and log in using the username and password credentials located on the “Passwords” page in the GoGrid portal. In my examples, I will use the IP address 184.108.40.206. Replace this IP address throughout this document with the IP of the server you just deployed:
Enter your username and password to log in.
- Navigate to the folder where you want the phpBB installation to live. In a Linux server, this is usually in /var/www/html. If you want to install this as a subdirectory of your website, create the directory and change directories to that folder (/var/www/html/your.subdirectory).
- Now you need to download the phpBB package from phbb.com (note: this is for the 3.0.2 version of phpBB. There may be subsequent versions so you should check and change the path below as appropriate):
- Once the package has finished installing, you’ll need to unzip it:
- A new directory called “phpBB3″ should appear when you enter the command ls to show the contents of your current directory. Now we’ll need to create the MySQL database associated with phpBB. Enter the MySQL prompt and create a new database and user for the phpBB installation. Note that you should create more securely named username, password and databases than I have below. These are just examples:
mysql -u phpbb3admin -p Enter password: Welcome to the MySQL monitor. Commands end with ; or \g. Your MySQL connection id is 21 Server version: 5.0.58 Source distribution
- Now, the rest is quite simple. Open a web browser and navigate to the directory where you installed phpBB. In this example, the directory is in the root web directory, so all I have to do is navigate to my IP address (or host name if DNS records have been properly set up), and presto! The install page should appear. If it does not appear, append the URL with /install/index.php.
- Read through all the docs on the initial page. This provides information about the GNU public license, provides links to the install guide and gives details on how to get support from phpBB.
- Next, click on the “Install” tab at the top of the page. This will provide a web-interface to pass parameters to the configuration files:
- Follow the on-screen instructions that will guide you through the installation. Since this server has all the requirements necessary for a LAMP environment, there should be no issues with the requirements page at all.
- Follow the on screen instructions to the “Database Settings” page. The “Database server hostname or DNS” field will be localhost. Fill in the “Database Name” and “Database Username” fields according to the database name and database user you created in step 5. Don’t worry about the “Database Server Port” field unless you have manually changed the port that MySQL runs on. In my case, I would enter phpbb3 in the “Database name” field and phpbb3admin in the “Database User” field. Enter the “Database Password”; in my case, this is abcd1234. You should receive the “successful connection” message. Now you can click on the “Proceed to next step” button.
- This is where you set your phpBB admin user details. Choose any name and password combination that you like. It is always best to use a random password generator; just make sure you write it down! Enter your email address as well. Click on the “Proceed to next step” button and you should receive the “test passed” message. Click the button again.
- This page will write your configurations to the config.php file. You may receive an error message saying that config.php is not writeable. If this happens, change permissions on the file and refresh the page, but be sure to restore security to it after the install is complete:
chmod 777 config.php
- You should be prompted with a message that says the configuration file was written. You can then click the “Proceed to next step” button again to move on. You should be at the “Advanced Settings” page. Fill in all of the information in the “Email Settings” section if you want to be able to send and receive emails through the phpBB software. You can also choose to use an external server to handle your email from this page. Next is the “Server URL Settings” section. If you are running this installation locally and haven’t changed any default settings in Apache, leave this information as is. If you are running an SSL cert, you will need to follow the on screen instruction in the first three fields of this section. If you have already set up DNS records and have www address, you can note this in the “Domain Name” field. Click on the “Proceed to next step” button when finished.
- You should receive a message that says that the database tables have been written successfully. Click on the “Proceed to next step” button again. This may take several minutes as the installation finishes according to all your configurations.
- Move or rename the install directory on the server so that it is not accessible by the outside world. This command will move it up into the /www directory if the phpBB install was done in the root web directory:
mv install/ ..
Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the buffer.
mysql> CREATE DATABASE phpbb3; Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec) mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON phpbb3.* TO "phpbb3admin"@"localhost" -> IDENTIFIED BY "abcd1234"; Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec) mysql> FLUSH PRIVILEGES; Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)
mysql> EXIT Bye
That’s it! You should be brought to the admin control panel where you can configure your new bulletin board to your liking. Download, modify and design your own skins, add extensions from http://phpbb.com and setup users and permissions.
phpBB is an excellent community tool that developers, customers and support agents can all use to communicate with one another. It allows businesses to save support and developer labor, provide an elevated level of customer service and get feedback from their users all in one centralized and easy-to-use place! Set up moderators and administrators to keep your forums organized and reply to your users as you see fit.
Be sure to check the GoGrid blog regularly for more How-To’s. GoGrid Cloud Servers truly give you “control in the cloud” and can help you quick build and scale community services like phpBB or WordPress.