Joomla is a complex
series of PHP scripts that run on a web server. When you browse a
Joomla site, these scripting are being generated on the fly and
creating what you see on the pages of the site. The key words here
are web server.
Running and Testing Joomla Without a Hosting
You cannot download
Joomla and try to run it on your computer like an exe file. It has to
have a web server, which means you need to have a hosting account.
Sounds obvious, but I have had a couple of people if they needed
windows XP to run Joomla!
Now, before we shell
out our hard earned money for a hosting account, there is something
else you can do first. You can actually run a web server on your
local computer, in other words, your desktop or laptop. This is known
as having a localhost. It may sound like I just contradicted myself
from the previous paragraph, but not quite. You canÂ’t “run”
Joomla itself on your own computer, but you can install a localhost
web server for it to “run on”.
What you need to pull
this off is some software that runs Apache, PHP and MySQL on your
computer. These are the same software packages that power websites.
There are two popular ones, WAMP
(www.wampserver.com/en/index.php) and XAMPP
and they are both free (PGL license)
I am going to quickly
run through setting up WAMP, not that this package is windows
Download WAMP from the
above link, and then install it. It will create a folder c:/wamp/www
Run WAMP, you should
get a handy icon in your system tray:
You need the dial to be
white to continue. Note if you run Skype, it interferes with WAMP and
so you have to start WAMP without Skype running (and then start Skype
if you need it)
Now open a browser and
go to localhost (no “www”)
You should see the
If you are not seeing
this then you should stop and figure out why. You have to get this
page before you can proceed. The WAMP site has some helpful
troubleshooting FAQ’s and a forum.
You should see your
folder called “Joomla” in the list of Your Projects.
Click on that folder and you will get taken to that “website”.
Installing a Joomla Site on a Hosting Account
So let’s assume
you either have a hosting account, or are going to get yourself one.
There are some minimum requirements for Joomla to run, and they are
slightly different for the different versions.
Here are the minimum
requirements for Joomla 1.0
- PHP 4.2.x or above
- MySQL 3.23.x or
above – www.mysql.com
- Apache 1.13.19 or
above – www.apache.org
You must ensure that
you have MySQL, XML and Zlib support built into your PHP.
For Joomla 1.5 itÂ’s
recommended you have PHP 4.4.3 or above (for enhanced security).
A thread on the Joomla
forums lists various hosting companies who are active Joomla
community members. The list can be found at
Note that from now on,
the steps are more or less the the same whether you are installing
Joomla on a localhost or on a remote web server.
Getting the Joomla Files
This part is easy. Head
on over to www.joomla.org and you will see a link to the download section on the home page, it
looks like this:
The version number is
the number given. This image shows that it’s the 11th release
in the 1.0 series.
Or you can head
straight to the Forge and you will see all possible downloads:
All versions are here
as well as various upgrades from one release to another, important if
you already have an installation of Joomla.
You cannot upgrade from
Joomla 1.0 to Joomla 1.5. There are significant enough changes in the
code that simply over writing files would break your site. The
developer team has carefully chosen to talk about migration.
“Joomla 1.5 does
not provide an upgrade path from earlier versions. Converting an
older site to a Joomla 1.5 site requires creation of a new empty site
using Joomla 1.5 and then populating the new site with the content
from the old site. This migration of content is not a one-to-one
process and involves conversions and modifications to the content
This has been a
deliberate choice to minimize the number of users who might attempt
the “overwrite the files” technique. More can be found in
“Joomla 1.5 is so
significantly changed from 1.0 that there is no ‘upgrade’ path. This
is the reason that we are providing a migration path. The concept is
to build a new site and to migrate data from the old site. Extensions
need to be installed and configured as if the site is new. The core
data migration does reconstruct menu items for core elements and also
keeps core module records with configuration settings.”
David Gal – forum.joomla.org/index.php/topic,63232.0.html
Unzipping the files
You need to unzip, or
unpack the big Joomla files you have onto your server. If you are
running as a localhost, your server would be the WAMP directory
mentioned above. If you are on a web host, you will need to upload
the file and then unpack it. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is
with cpanel. Almost all hosting companies provide it. Use your file
manager to upload the zip file to public_html (or whatever you have
on your host). You can then use file manager to extract the files.
I donÂ’t recommend
using Fantasico. Many hosts provide it but donÂ’t always have
the most current file releases.
Installing Joomla through a Web Browser
If you have got this
far that means you have unzipped the Joomla package to either a
remote web host or your local computer. Now for the fun stuff!
Using your browser of
choice (Firefox of course), navigate to the location of all the
You will see the first installation screen.
Here is the first look
at some of the internationalization features of Joomla 1.5, you can
select amongst many languages for the installation instructions.
A critical part in the
installation process, this checks if all the minimum system
requirements are met.
The first set are
required minimums, if they are red (not met) then you need to find a
new environment (change hosts), talk them into changing their
environment (upgrading PHP for example). Note that the last item is a
permissions issue on a file that is much easier to rectify. You can
usually change permissions through the cpanel provided by your host.
This tool is generally an industry standard.
The second set is
recommended settings. If you don’t meet them you can still install
Joomla but it you experience problems with functionality and
Once you are green to
go, click next.
Joomla is released
under a GNU/GPL license. One of the most common questions regarding
this license is Â“can I remove the footer link that says Powered
by JoomlaÂ”. ItÂ’s actually perfectly OK to do this, you
just have to keep the copyright statement in the source code.
However, I would recommend that you keep the link.
Joomla is an open
source project, it receives no funding from any kind of revenue from
selling its software. The bottom line is that thousands of developers
around the world are developing this software that you are using
right now. If you had to buy it from a commercial company, it would
cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you are getting it for free.
In return, keep the link, it will help the project gain in popularity
and grow. DonÂ’t hide the fact that you are using Joomla, be
proud of it! And donÂ’t be concerned about any kind of SEO
dilution with an extra link off your page. Links to authoritative
sites actually help you SEO!
OK, IÂ’ll get off
my soapbox nowÂ…
This is one of the main
pages of the installation process, itÂ’s where you need to enter
important information about the database that your Joomla site will
use. Note you will see a drop down for the database type. Joomla 1.5
only really runs on SQL, but some of the foundation has been laid for
the next release, 2.0, to use more types, for example Oracle.
The hostname will
almost always be Â“localhostÂ”
The Username and
password will have been provided by your hosting company, usually in
an email you got when you created the account.
If you are installing
on a localhost using WAMP or XAMPP, the Username is usually Â“rootÂ”
and the password is nothing/blank.
Once you have entered
this information, click Get Privileges and the Joomla installer
checks to see if that user has rights to create a database. You
should see this message:
If you made an error,
or the user does not have sufficient permissions, then you get this
message (after a small delay):
If the user you have
does not have permissions then you can ask your hoster to pre-create
a SQL database for you to use.
refer to various character sets available for different languages.
When you click the button you get a list of what is available:
Pick a Database name
for the SQL database that Joomla will use. Use some sort of name that
is not confusing. Other scripts use SQL databases and before you know
it you might have several on your server and will need to tell them
apart. DonÂ’t use spaces in the name.
If you are running
several Joomla sites but only have access to one database, you will
need to use a table prefix to distinguish them. YouÂ’ll need to
enter the prefix in the advanced settings (below)
Note if your user did
not have database creation privileges and you were provided with a
database instead you would obviously put that in as the name.
The advanced settings
are concerned with what content the site starts with and also the
table prefixes mentioned above.
If you have an existing
site and you are reinstalling over the top, you will need to select
Drop Existing Tables. If you need to keep a back of them, select
Backup Old Tables. Using Â“josÂ” as a table prefix is
conventional unless you have multiple sites in the same database.
The Main Configuration
page determines how you will insert content into your site. You have
- Install Sample
This installs the default Joomla content that you have
probably seen all over the web with Â“Welcome to JoomlaÂ”.
Note that is also includes all the menus, navigation links and
sections/categories. If you are learning how to use Joomla this is
highly recommended. Its easier to adapt and revise than to start
- Load SQL
This is a SQL file that might have a customized set of
- Migration from
This is a special function that is part of
a process to migrate a Joomla site running on 1.0 to 1.5 and
requires a special component to do so. This is discussed more in the
Give your site a name
(pay attention to SEO keywords) and then enter the super
administration information. This will be the first user in the site
and automatically gets that status. Note that if you donÂ’t
change the password, it will use the one shown on the left. Make sure
you write it down!
Cross your eyes, close
your fingers and click next. Hopefully you will see this screen
If you do get this
result, you can investigate different language options, view the site
or jump right to the administration of your site.
If you donÂ’t get
this page, then you have some work to do. Often issues arise because
of server environments. If the solution is not obvious, a useful step
is to copy the error message or the main part of it and then search
for it both on the Joomla help forums, forum.joomla.org and in
Google. The chances are if you get an error, someone else has before
Need some help with Joomla 1.5?
Head over to the forum.joomla.org/index.php/board,304.0.html