I Switch to WordPress

I realize that Tiger Server’s in-the-box blogging tool is not what it’s cracked up to be.

I spent most of this week working on my server configuration: 3 out of 4 days, to be exact. (On Monday, I had a helicopter charter, then had to write an article for Mac Addict.) I haven’t gotten very far.

The goal this week was to turn on the Web server and put at least one Web site on it, then set up at least one blog.

The Web site setup went well. Apache is part of Mac OS X Server (and Mac OS non-server, if you want to get picky). The server includes a Server Admin application that makes setting up individual sites and enabling the Web server pretty easy. I created a folder for the Wickenburg Airport Web site — which is temporarily pointing to the wickenburg-az.com site I run — and copied the files to it. There aren’t many files. I built the site when I ran the FBO at the airport, but when I sold out, I pared down the site to the bare minimum amount of information so I wouldn’t have to update it very often. I wasn’t about to ditch the site. After all, I own the domain name and it’s nice to find some information about the airport on the Web.

I ran into one small problem with the setup, and that has to do with IP addresses. Setup asked what the IP address was for the site. The options were All, 192.168.0.2 (the local network IP address), and something else, which I can’t remember. I thought All would be the right option, but when I attempted to access the site from another computer on my network, it didn’t work (even after updating the .htaccess file on my production computer). I tried 192.168.0.2 and it worked. But I didn’t trust it; I didn’t think it would work from any computer. So I fired up my eMac and logged in via a dial-up connection I borrowed from my sister years ago for testing. (She still uses Earthlink on a dial-up account.) Sure enough, it worked from that computer, too.

I was very pleased about this, because not only did it prove that my server worked, but it proved that the Complete DNS Management feature on GoDaddy.com, where my domain names are registered, also worked. That means I can manage my own DNS without setting up a DNS server.

Next was the blog. I followed the instructions — such as they are — to enable the weblog feature of Tiger Server. The Weblog is created with a version of Blojsom. While Blojsom might be a highly configurable, powerful blogging software solution, the folks at Apple have done their best to limit customization and usability. That pisses me off, because the weblog capabilities in Tiger Server was one of the selling points that got me to buy Server in the first place. To make matters worse, I couldn’t get it running well enough to start fiddling around with customization options.

I posted a question in the Server discussion forum at the Apple Web site, asking how I could set up a blog and have a domain name point right to it (rather than something like www.aneclecticmind.com/blog). The idea was to build entire Web sites — like wickenburg-az.com, aneclecticmind.com, and langerbooks.com — with blogging software. These sites have frequent entries that I want to appear on the home page for a while, then get archived off based on date and category. EXACTLY what webLog software is good for. As a matter of fact, langerbooks.com was built with iBlog, the same package I use to maintain this blog. (Offline composition capabilities make it a nice tool for a laptop.)

Less than 2 hours passed before I got a response. The author of the response told me to try WordPress.

Now please understand that the last thing I wanted to do was switch to a different blogging package, one that wasn’t part of Tiger Server. As I said above, I bought Tiger Server partly because it had blogging software built right in. But because I was already stuck and couldn’t go any further with the installation I was working on, I decided to look at WordPress. And I liked what I saw.

Long story short: I downloaded WordPress and found two different documents that explained how to install it on Mac OS X 10.4. Of course, neither document covered how to install it on Mac OS X 10.4 Server. So, for example, even though I had MySQL installed, it was not the recommended version and it was a weird Tiger Server installation. It had trouble “talking” to PHP, which was also already installed.

I followed the first set of instructions I found, which used a package called MAMP. I wasted about 4 hours on that. I posted a question on the WordPress discussion board. That led to another message this morning, which recommended a different set of instructions. I followed that today. Twice. It required me to uninstall the Tiger Server version of MySQL and install the recommended version. Fortunately PHP was okay. I finally got the WordPress configuration windows to appear. And I even made some headway setting up a template for wickenburg-az.com.

Of course, to test this properly on my local network, I needed to assign a domain name to it. Right now, it’s gilesrd.com. But don’t go there now. It won’t work. I screwed up something in the configuration. WordPress’s “codex” Web site was up and down all afternoon, so I couldn’t get the info I needed to fix it. I looked it up tonight from home and found the answers I need. I hope to have it fixed by tomorrow.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the content will all be there. It’s still in early testing.

One of the things I need to do is set up multiple databases in MySQL and multiple WordPress installations. That’s the way you can get it to have multiple Blogs. And I’m going to need at least three of them. I figured I’d play around with this one for a while, then get serious and set up the ones I need. Then start filling them with archived entries — wickenburg-az.com alone has over 300 pages — and finally tweak the DNS to point to my server again.

I have time. There’s still about 7 weeks left on the two month hosting plans I set up for each site when I moved it off my server. And I can always extend that. I think I might do aneclecticmind.com first. And little by little, this blog will probably move over to that site.

I’m looking forward to a lot of evenings of copy and paste.

What do you think?