Friday, August 21, 2009

Installing Joomla! 1.5 on Windows with XAMPP

XAMPP is a project by Kai 'Oswald' Seidler and Kay Vogelgesang. For several years now, these two have been cooking up a complete development environment with the ingredients: Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl, and various appropriate extensions. XAMPP can be downloaded from as a ZIP archive for various operating systems. This is immensely useful for people like you and me, who are primarily interested in Joomla! and not so much in how all of it works. The entire installation can also be removed from the computer with a single mouse-click without leaving a trace.

To download and install XAMPP:
  1. Download the xampplite-win32-1.6.5.exe file from the website at
  2. Double-click on the file and the files are unpacked from the archive. You can unpack it to the drive of your choice. When you have unpacked it then a directory, xampplite, is automatically created.
  3. When you double-click on the xampp-control.exe file in the xampplite directory, Apache and MySQL start up. PHP is launched automatically as an Apache module. XAMPP makes no entries in the Windows Registry and sets no system variables.
  4. It is possible that Windows Firewall starts up and finds out indignantly that you have started two servers; it will ask you whether you really want to do this. Click on Do Not Block Anymore. After that you still have to explicitly click on Continue in Windows Vista.
  5. Open your Internet browser and enter or http://localhost/. You should see the XAMPP start page now. Click on the English link and the following page will be displayed:
The document directory of your website is:


This directory contains all the pages that are accessible by a remote computer on the Internet. Carefully read the included readme_en.txt file for your own security. It also contains additional information about the necessary passwords.

To uninstall the package, stop all of the currently running servers and simply delete the xampplite directory.

Now, after you have successfuly installing XAMPP on your Windows, It's time for Joomla! Installation Guide. Are you ready? ...

Joomla! Installation
To install Joomla!, you need the source code. Download the latest Joomla! 1.5 package on and save it on your system.

Selecting a Directory for Installation
You have to decide whether Joomla! needs to be installed directly into a document directory or a subdirectory. This is important, since many users prefer a short URL to their homepage.

If Joomla! is unzipped directly in /htdocs, the web page starts when the domain name is accessed from its local computer http://localhost/ and from the server on the Internet. If you have created subdirectories under /htdocs/, for example, /htdocs/Joomla150/ and you unpack the package there, you have to enter http://localhost/Joomla150/ in the browser. This isn't a problem locally, but doesn't look good on a production Internet site.

However, some HTML files and subdirectories are already in /htdocs in the local XAMPP Lite environment under Windows, which, for example, displays the greeting page of XAMPP Lite. Depending on the distribution and the web server, a starting page is also displayed in your local Linux environment.

I recommend that you create a subdirectory named Joomla150 under the document directory in Windows using Windows Explorer.

The directory tree in Windows Explorer should now look as follows:
A page with an empty index appears in the XAMPP Lite version when you enter the URL http://localhost/Joomla150 in your browser:

With Linux or another configuration you might get a message that you don't have access to this directory. This depends on the configuration of the web server. For security reasons, the automatic directory display is often deactivated in Apache's configuration. A potential hacker could draw many interesting conclusions about the directory structure and the files on your homepage and target your computer for an attack.

For security reasons, you are usually not allowed to access the appropriate configuration file of the Apache web server. Should you be able to, you should leave the content directories deactivated and/or only activated for those directories that contain files for downloading.

Now you can finally unpack the package file into the designated directory. In Windows XP and Windows Vista you can unpack this package directly with the file explorer. In all other versions of Windows a separate unpacking program, like the free program, TUGZip, is required.

This structure is the same on all operating systems; only the presentation differs.

Joomla! Web Installer

From now on, everything is going to go lightning fast because the Joomla! web installer will be taking command. Go to http://localhost/Joomla150/

Step 1: Language Selection

Choose Language is the first of a total of seven installation steps. Select the desired language and click on the Next button.
Step 2: Pre-Installation Check

Next, you will see the Pre-Installation check. This check should help you determine whether your server environment is suitable for a Joomla! installation.
If you predominantly see green test results, it is a good sign. Depending on your configuration there can be discrepancies here. The Joomla! installer takes the configuration settings of the web server (in our case Apache), PHP, and the operating system into consideration. On Unix-based systems (Linux, Mac OS X) you have to pay attention to the write rights. This is in particular important for the configuration.php file. This file is created at the end of the installation with its customized values. If the installer does not have write rights in the folder, Joomla! cannot create this file and the installation will fail. If this happens, try to configure the rights appropriately and click on Check Again.

If you are working with the XAMPP Lite solution under Windows, your screen should like the previous screenshot. Click on Next and you are in the licensing step.

Step 3: License

Every piece of software is licensed under certain conditions. Joomla! uses the GNU/GPL licence, version 2.0.
After you read this license click on Next.

Step 4: Database Configuration

In the fourth step, Database Configuration, your database parameters are queried. You can set up as many databases as required in an XAMPP Lite server environment and you have a MySQL user with the name root (without a password). The user root is the MySQL administrator and can do everything in the MySQL system. An installation without a password is a significant security risk. In the beginning, locally, in order to get the system up and running as quickly as possible, this is not a problem. But in the long term, you should absolutely provide your XAMPP Lite installation with passwords in security check (http://localhost/security/).
Enter the following parameters in a local XAMPP Lite installation:
  • Host Name: localhost
  • User Name: root
  • Password: leave this empty—but be aware of the security risk!!
Now select a Database Name. An unlimited number of databases can be set up in a local XAMPP Lite environment since the user root has the right to do that. In an active environment with a provider, you presumably will have a set allocation of databases and the access data for the databases are usually preset.

Because of this, I can also enter a name of a database that does not exist yet in the installer. Here joomla150 is the database name used.

By clicking the green triangle in front of Advanced Settings, you can activate additional options. You can select whether the tables of an existing Joomla! installation in this database should be deleted or saved and whether they should be provided with the prefix bak_.

The MySQL Table Prefix is very practical. The text that you enter into the respective field is written in front of every table created by the web installer. The web installer recommends jos_ as the default.

There is a simple reason for this. Sometimes you only get one MySQL database from an Internet provider. If you have to operate two Joomla! sites, there would be a problem in this case, since you cannot differentiate one table from the other. It is possible to distinguish between the tables of different Joomla! installations (jos_smith_ or jos_jones_) by means of the Table Prefix. In this case you should accept the default jos_. This prefix is also used to mark saved data (bak_).

Step 5: FTP Configuration

In order to stop problems with access rights and a possibly activated PHP Safe Mode in their track, you have the option of using PHP's FTP functions for uploading and handling of files starting with Joomla! 1.5. This is not necessary in the local XAMPP Lite installation. But if you install Joomla! on the virtual web server of a provider, enter here the FTP data that your provider has given to you. If your provider permits these functions, it is advisable from a security perspective to set up different FTP accounts for yourself as user and for Joomla! and to activate the Joomla! FTP account only for the respective Joomla! directory.
Step 6: Configuration

This main step of the configuration is divided into three parts.

The first part of the configuration has to do with the name of your website. This name appears in the header of the browser window when somebody accesses your website. This name is also used in other places, for example, with confirmation emails to registered users. I have chosen the name Joomla! 1.5.0 for our example site.

In the second part, you are asked to enter the paths of the website, the administrator email address, and the administrator password. Write the password on a piece of paper (but don't stick it on the monitor or the keyboard!).
In the third part you define the type of data that your Joomla! installation is to contain.

  • Install Default Sample Data: The data is the most important part of your installation. Joomla! allows you to, and explicitly recommends that you, install sample data so that you can experiment without any worries.
  • Load Local Joomla! 1.5 SQL Script: You may already have created a local Joomla! website and now may want exactly this data in an online database. In this case you can specify the .sql file that holds your Joomla! data, which you have exported from the local version. Make sure that this file has the exact Joomla! 1.5 database design and is UTF-8 coded.
  • Load Migration Script: This option ports a Joomla! 1.0.x installation into a Joomla! 1.5 version.
The Install Default Sample Data is selected as default. During the course of the book we will look at other options.

Click on the Install Sample Data button. The installer loads the data into your database and changes the display. The process is a little unimpressive but necessary for the installation of sample data. The button disappears and a small textNow click on the Next button and your data are stored.

Step 7: Completion

The seventh and final step congratulates you on a successful installation. Let me congratulate you as well. There is a notice in bold text that prompts you to delete the installation directory. Take good heed of this notice, because your Joomla! website will not run without this step.

A file with the name of configuration.php was created in your document directory. If you want to repeat the installation, you have to delete the configuration.php file before you delete the installation directory. After this, if you go to the URL that contains the Joomla! files from your browser the Joomla! installer starts again.
Your administration user name is always admin.

The installation is now complete and you have a choice between the buttons Site (to view your homepage) and Admin (administration interface). To take a look at your newly created homepage, click on Site. If you haven't deleted the installation directory as of yet, you will get a friendly reminder to delete it and to check out your page after you've done that.


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