You don’t have to be an expert programmer or a system administrator in order to complete the following process. We’ll first give you a brief explanation of the underlying technologies, and then we’ll continue with a step-by-step guide. At the end of this article, you’ll have the online store installed on your local or remote machine and you’ll be ready to make all the required customizations to the frontend and the backend, depending on your needs.
Minimum requirements for Ubercart installation
In order to successfully install and use your online store, your system must meet the following requirements:
- Operating system: Drupal works fine in almost every operating system. Actually, you can transfer your Drupal installation from one operating system to another within minutes and no customization is required at all. All you have to do is to move the files and the database without altering any configuration files. For example, you can install Drupal on your local Windows or Mac computer, do all the customizations there, and then upload it to a Linux server to go live.
- Web server: The web server is the software that accepts HTTP requests from browsers and delivers web pages to the users of our site. The most popular web server is Apache and we’ll use it for our installation. It’s secure, extensible, fast, and easy to customize. If you’re not an expert in another web server, there is no reason to think of any other solution, because most of the available information and support is about Apache.
- Database: The purpose of the database is to store, organize, manage, and retrieve all the data of our website in a structured way. When referring to data, we mean not only the content that you put in your pages, but also every piece of information that Drupal uses for all its functions. In this book, we’re using MySQL as a database. Today, it’s the #1 open source database, and it’s used in millions of websites and applications, from small personal web pages to enterprise systems with millions of users.
The MySQL database of a basic installation contains about 50 tables and every new installed module creates one or more new tables. If you check your database after the installation of Ubercart, you’ll find that there are 100 tables in your database. These tables contain data such as pages, products, images, categories, orders, payments, caching information for your pages, theming information, comments from your visitors, menus, user information, and so on.
- PHP: PHP is a scripting language, ideal for web development. It began as a small personal project, but soon became a very popular scripting language. Drupal is written in PHP, so it’s absolutely necessary and there is no alternative to it.
Some PHP extensions are needed for our installation. We’ll mention them briefly here, so you can consult your hosting provider or examine your local system to check that everything is fine. The easiest way to check your PHP parameters is to use phpinfo. It’s a function that returns information about the PHP environment on your server. All you have to do is to create a blank file named phpinfo.php in your server and insert the following code using a text editor:
This is a small PHP script that runs the phpinfo function and displays the results on your screen. If you browse to phpinfo.php, you’ll see a page with your PHP configuration.
The basic PHP requirements are:
- PHP memory requirements: 1 6 MBs are enough for basic sites; however, 64 MBs are recommended for more complex installations.
- GD2 library: GD2 is an image manipulation library for PHP. Ubercart needs this library, so if we want to put images to our products, it has to be installed.
- Register Globals: This is actually a depreciated PHP feature, but some hosting providers with old systems still use it. It’s a security risk, so it has to be disabled for Drupal to install.
- Safe mode: Drupal 6 doesn’t support PHP’s safe mode, because it causes problems to file uploads, so it also has to be turned off.