How to: Set Up a Wiki on Windows Vista

In Linux this is reasonably straight forward, consisting of two steps:

  1. Install a LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) server
  2. Install a wiki distribution

And if you are running Ubuntu or similar, chances are you can do this in a single step with the package manager.

In Windows Vista it’s a little more complicated.

These are the steps I took to install a wiki in a hard-core Microsoft environment.

1. Install WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP).

  • Download wamp and install to c:\wamp
  • Check the autostart option
  • Go to http://localhost (If you can’t get to localhost, check you don’t have IIS running)

2. Configure the Wiki Database

  • Go to http://localhost
  • Click on phpmyadmin -> privileges
  • Select all users besides root and delete them
  • Edit the root user and change the password
  • Open C:\wamp\phpmyadmin\config.inc.php and enter the new password:
    $cfg['Servers'][$i]['password'] = 'yournewpassword';

3. Install MediaWiki
This is the same software that powers wikipedia. While there are many other excellent open-source and commercial wikis available, the main advantages of using mediawiki are:

  • Users should already be familiar with the look and feel
  • All the editing and help templates are available from wikipedia
  • It uses a reasonably standard mark-up
  • If the wiki ever needs to be migrated to another distribution, mediawiki is mainstream enough that there will likely be migration tools available

To install:

  • Download mediawiki and unzip to c:\wamp\www\wiki
  • Access the wiki by going to http://localhost/wiki (If you can’t see it, check that apache has permission to access the www\wiki directory)
  • Click ‘set up the wiki’
  • Fill in the fields, including the wiki administrator’s password (record this for reference).
  • Click install, and follow the remaining instructions
  • Go to http://localhost/wiki and view newly installed and up and running wiki

4. Configure the Wiki

  • Copy a company logo into the www/wiki/skins/common/images directory
  • Edit the www/wiki/LocalSettings.php file and add the following:
    $wgEnableUploads = true; # Enable uploads/attachments# Path to uploads. If the file doesn't render, it is likely because
    
    # the server does not have read permissions.
    
    $wgUploadPath = "$wgScriptPath/images";
    
    $wgUploadDirectory = "$IP/images";
    
    # Location of company logo
    
    $wgLogo="$wgScriptPath/skins/common/images/logo.png";

5. Make the wiki available to other users

  • Click on the WAMP icon in the systray and select ‘Put the server online’
    • If you are unable to access the wiki from another machine, you may need to install wamp/httpd as a service and run it as administrator.
  • Create a user friendly URL to access the wiki:
    • Ask the friendly IT admin guy to set up a DNS entry for the IP address of the wiki server, so users can go to http://wiki, or http://wiki.yourcomany.com
    • In the httpd.conf file create a rewrite rule such that http://wiki.yourcompany.com automatically redirects the the actual wiki URL, for example:
      At the top of the http.conf file enable the rewrite module:

      # Enable rewrite module
      LoadModule rewrite_module modules/mod_rewrite.so

      In the alias section add the following lines:

      RewriteEngine on
      
      #This will redirect everything from
      #wiki.yourcompany.com to http://wiki.yourcompany.com/wiki
      RewriteRule ^/$  http://wiki.yourcompany.com/wiki/

5. Enable mail notifications

There are two ways to do this:

  1. Install a mail server, such as a free version of sendmail or exim
  2. Use the existing SMTP server

The second option is probably easier. To do this, the friendly IT admin guy will probably just need to configure any firewalls to accept mail requests from the wiki server.

  • Click on the WAMP icon in the task bar and go to PHP->php.ini
  • Modify the following lines in the php.ini file
[mail function]

; For Win32 only.

SMTP = mailserver.yourcompany.com

smtp_port = 25; For Win32 only.

sendmail_from = wikiadmin@yourcompany.com

6. Send out an email to inform users of their new wiki

Be sure to stress that it is internal only, as otherwise the marketing folk may suffer a panic attack, as they mistake it for the real wikipedia.

7. Edit at will


There is also an excellent post over at LifeHacker on setting up your own personal wikipedia

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