System Administrator's Guide/Installing Mahara/How to install Mahara in Ubuntu

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If you are unfamiliar with Linux in general, and Debian-based distributions in particular, this guide will show you how to proceed, in addition to the "Installing Mahara" document.

This guide is just for installing a development site of Mahara as a localhost. For a production site, you would read the complete "Ubuntu Server Guide"  documentation.

These instructions assume that you're running a fresh installation of Ubuntu 11.10 or similar.

Install Required Packages

sudo apt-get install apache2 php5 postgresql-9.1 php5-gd php5-pgsql php5-xmlrpc php5-curl php5-mbstring

This should install all the dependencies we need.

After installing the packages, just follow the instructions provided in the "Installing Mahara" main document to unzip and install the Mahara folders.

Download and unpack Mahara

In this example, we install mahara to /srv/www/[hostname], and store our data in /srv/data/[hostname].


 cd /srv/
 mkdir data www
 cd www
 wget http://launchpad.net/mahara/1.4/1.4.0/+download/mahara-1.4.0.zip
 unzip mahara-1.4.0.zip
 rm mahara-1.4.0.zip
 mv mahara-1.4.0 [hostname]

Configure the Database

The easiest way to create the database is to switch to the postgres user.

We'll create a new user (mahara), and also a new database (also mahara).

 sudo su - postgres
 createuser -SRDP mahara
 [password]
 [confirm password]
 createdb -O mahara -EUTF8 mahara
 exit

Configure Apache2

The next step is to add your Mahara site as a new virtual hosts. There are many ways of doing so but this is the most straight forward:

  1. Create a new file called "mahara.conf" (for instance) at /etc/apache2/sites-available.
  2. You need to edit that file by typing from the console:
  sudo gedit /etc/apache2/sites-available/mahara.conf

(or alternatively "sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available").

The following is a very basic example of an Apache configuration for Mahara. You'll need to put this into the mahara.conf file you just opened


   <VirtualHost *:80>
       ServerName [hostname]
       DocumentRoot /srv/www/[hostname/htdocs
       <Directory />
           Options FollowSymLinks
           AllowOverride None
       </Directory>
       <Directory /srv/www/[hostname]/htdocs/>
           Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
           AllowOverride None
           Order allow,deny
           allow from all
       </Directory>
       ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/error.log
       CustomLog /var/log/apache2/access.log combined
   </VirtualHost>


We'll then need to enable the site. On Ubuntu, Apache comes with a suite of commands for doing this kind of thing. We'll use the Apache2 Enable Site command:


 sudo a2ensite mahara.conf

DNS/Friendly Name

Depending on what you chose as your host name, you may need to add a DNS entry, or a line to the /etc/hosts file.

In this example, I'm running mahara on my local system for development/demonstration purposes. I don't have proper DNS available so I'm adding my mahara.local domain.

 sudo gedit /etc/hosts


And add:

127.0.0.1 [hostname]

Mahara Configuration

The next step is to create the config.php from the config-dist.php. This step is pretty well explain at the "Mahara Configuration", but essentialy we'll

 cd /srv/www/[hostname]/htdocs
 sudo cp config-dist.php config.php
 sudo gedit config.php

The key items to set are:

  • $cfg->wwwroot
  • $cfg->dataroot
  • $cfg->dbname
  • $cfg->dbuser
  • $cfg->dbpass

If you've followed the steps so far, the following should work

 <?php
 $cfg = new stdClass();
 $cfg->wwwroot = 'http://[hostname]';
 $cfg->dataroot = '/srv/data/[hostname]';
 $cfg->dbname = 'mahara';
 $cfg->dbuser = 'mahara';
 $cfg->dbpass = '[password]';

We'll need to make sure that the web server can write to the data directory (dataroot). To do this, we'll change who owns the directory with the chown command. Apache2 typically runs as the user 'www-data' on Debian and Ubuntu:

 sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /srv/data/[hostname]

There is a very good-and short-tutorial  about how to change permissions and groups of users in Ubuntu by using the chmod command. It only takes 10 minutes to read it and it really gives you a good insight.

Install Mahara

You should now be ready to actually install Mahara. Open your browser of choice, and visit the site (e.g. http://[hostname])

After checking you're ready to proceed, Mahara will install and ask for an e-mail address and password for your admin user.