Talking Hawaiian: or how I chose and set up a wiki

Wikiwiki is Hawaiian and means something like quick or fast (just that you get the title).
I was never that much interested in wikis, I only used the English and German Wikipedia with great enthusiasm. But a friend of mine needed a wiki very urgently and offered me even a little reward to set up her wiki as quick as possible. So I did.

At first, I thought that would be easily done. It wasn't. First, she suggested Twiki, but I should do my own research. I found a very good comparison website, WikiMatrix. They have a huge database with wikis and their features and you can choose different wikis you want to compare. For those who have no clue at all (as me, at least I used to) they have a wizard, who asks you questions about your wishes and preferences and suggests you the fitting wiki systems. Very good for a novice like me.

I consulted the WikiMatrix wizard and I had only a few wiki softwares left. I looked over their features by hand and I could exclude a few more. After all, I had still PMWiki, TWiki.

Let's start with PMWiki. PMWiki is PHP based and needs no database. I tried it first with my localhost, the setup is very easy. Very easy. I thought that would fit all my needs and I transferred it to the webserver. The basic installation was the same: Very quick, very easy. As I uploaded PMWiki I wondered for the first time why it was so lightweighted: It's zipped only around 200 kilobytes large, at least without the language files. So, the basic wiki worked.

There was just one problem: My friend needed some important features, as a comfortable editor (like Worpress') and file upload and so on. And I had to change some settings. Though, that wasn't as easy as the installation. WikiMatrix said there would be an WYSIWYG editor for PMWiki, installable with a plugin. Unfortunately the wiki website denied that. Shit, that was a problem. And because the documentation is not as I wanted and needed it to be, I kicked PMWiki's butt and said goodbye. Next one.

Second try: TWiki. TWiki needs no database, as PMWiki. It is written in Perl. I didn't knew anything about Perl and I still don't. Nevertheless I tried it. But I could install it. It seemed easy too, but I had one little problem, on my localhost as on the webserver: The Perl scripts wouldn't work. I don't know why. The wiki has a subdirectory with Perl scripts called 'bin'. The Perl scripts are stored there and they have no file extension. The TWiki documentation suggests, that you may have to change the file extension. I tried several possibilities (e.g. .pl) and I even changed the Perl directory path (?) at the beginning of every file from !/usr/bin/perl -w to another possibility, once for my localhost installation and once for the webserver. Although TWiki seems to be a nice wiki software, I dumped it.

Damn, I didn't knew what to do. I consulted the WikiMatrix wizard again, but with less restrictions. I then spotted MediaWiki. And of course, I knew the software already!!! Do you? You have too, as it is the software Wikipedia uses. I then knew, that I had to get this software to work. And I did.

The installation was a child's play. You have to upload the files (MediaWiki is very large) and configure the database installation with any kind of a webbrowser. Now, the MediaWiki works. I don't want to digg into it, because the documentation for this wiki is very good. I mean, it's an Wikimedia project ;-)

After all, I took some more time to configure the wiki, because you have so many possibilities and it's unlikely that your config file is ready to use (I mean to use – the wiki worked from scratch on) after your first try.
By the way, I created a Wikipedia account when I had finished ;-)


5 Responses to “Talking Hawaiian: or how I chose and set up a wiki”

  1. Omar Says:


  2. Jona Says:

    Damn!! I appreciate it when you read my articles, but I could send you to hell for your damn, senseless comments! Mohfa!!

  3. Michael Says:

    You missed the second “Aachener Wikipedia Roundtable” last night. See for details on the next meeting.

  4. Jona Says:

    I didn’t even knew about it ;-) Mayhap in the future …

  5. Michael Says:

    That was the problem – few people knew about it. So we were 6 all in all, inlcuding a journalist from the local newspaper who needed some computer geek stuff :-(

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