This article will include:
- dotProject setup options including server, database, and browser issues
- Prerequisites for installation of the tool
- The process for control panels and browser-based installations
- Troubleshooting your installation
Installing dotProject is usually an automated process if your server and database are already installed and configured. dotProject is packaged with an installation wizard that walks you through the basic setup process. It is always wise to have an understanding of the process and the setup options before you begin.
It is important to make sure that everything is ready and in place for dotProject to be installed. Let’s go over what we need to have prepared for a successful installation of dotProject.
Before you Install
It seems redundant to review the requirements again, doesn’t it? There are a few last-minute things to discuss, especially if a control panel installation is not possible. First, make sure that the software required to run dotProject is already installed. Installing a web server, MySQL, and PHP is beyond the scope of this book. There are many fine books and online materials that explain the installation of web servers, MySQL, and PHP in detail. The dotProject team recommends the following environment:
- Apache web server (version 1.3.x or 2.x).
- MySQL server (version 3.23.x).
- A downloaded copy of dotProject. 2.0.4 or later is ideal. The most recent stable release can be downloaded from SourceForge.
- MySQL should be set up first, so that a dotProject user can create temporary tables during installation. Specifically, the database user should have ALTER and DROP permissions.
- In the section on browser-based installation, we will go over how to deal with the config.php file. If your installation already contains a config.php file (not a config_dist.php file, etc.), then dotProject will assume you are trying to upgrade.
Your PHP installation should have register_globals set to OFF in order for dotProject to run in an optimized and more secure mode. The dotProject installer automatically detects the state of register_globals. dotProject will work with register_globals set to ON, but it is not recommended.
LAMP, WAMP, or WIMP?
There are several key requirements to run dotProject. You must have an active web server running PHP and MySQL, and an Internet browser. There are three main web-server setups that people running dotProject use. Which one you pick depends on what you already have and whether you have a preference for one over the other. If you use an Internet Service Provider (ISP) you may not have a choice on which to use.
- LAMP : Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP
- WAMP : Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP
- WIMP : Windows, IIS, MySQL, PHP
LAMP is the most popular in the open-source community. Using LAMP provides an entirely open-source environment.
Most web servers used today are either Apache or Microsoft IIS. Apache version 1.3.x or 2.x should be used. Your ISP or that clever person in the IT department knows which one your organization is using. There are always exceptions, so check the dotProject forums if you are using a different web server.
Apache is the preferred environment for running dotProject.
To install dotProject 2.0, you must be using version 4.1 or higher of the very popular online programming language PHP. If you are using an Internet Service Provider, check your service details to see if PHP is provided. PHP can be downloaded from http://www.php.net/downloads.php. PHP 4.46 is the last stable version of PHP 4. PHP 5 is not recommended for use with version 2.0.4.
dotProject uses the MySQL database system. You will need to have it installed before you begin as well. Version 3.23.x is recommended for use with dotProject. MySQL can be downloaded from http://www.mysql.org/downloads/. The dotProjectteam recommends that MySQL version 5 and above should not be used with version 2.0.4 of dotProject.
The recent release of dotProject, version 2.1.0-rc 1 has been made more compatible with PHP 5 and MySQL 5; however, the changes incorporated does not take care of this completely. The features of this release are discussed in http://docs.dotproject.net/index.php/What%27s_New_-_2.1.0_-_rc1.
Using a bundled combination of PHP/Apache/MySQL is the best way to go if you do not already have them installed. This will save you the time and headache of installing them one at a time. The dotProject volunteers list the Apache2Triad available at http://apache2triad.sourceforge.net. Since there are limitations of dotProject being compatible with PHP5, version 1.2.3 is the download that is advisable.
As of version 2.0, sending mail is not a requirement. Administrators can set up the outgoing mail in the Administration panel.
TrueType fonts are used for JpGraph, which is in turn used by the Gantt charts module. Most of the fonts JpGraph uses should already be installed on your system. All the fonts are not provided with dotProject because some of them have very specific licenses. If the Gantt charts module is insisting that font files are missing and you don’t already have a spare copy of the files, search SourceForge or another reliable site for available fonts.
The Gantt charts module can eat up your allocated memory. If the Gantt charts won’t appear, and there is no error, chances are, you’ve reached your memory limit as set in the php.ini file. If your service is hosted, you will need to talk to your Internet Service Provider about increasing the memory limit set in your php.ini file.
There are two methods of dotProject installation:
- Online control panel installation
- Browser-based installation
The most recent versions of dotProject, 2.0 and later, are not meant to be manually installed. The online control panel method is very simple and usually takes between five and ten minutes. The browser-based installation generally takes a little longer, roughly ten minutes to an hour.
Which should you choose? If you already have an ISP who hosts your domain, they probably already provide you with an installation script for dotProject using one of the popular online control panels such as cPanel or Plesk. If they do not have the script available, they may be willing to install it for you if you make the request. dotProject can also be installed using a browser-based installation wizard. I recommend the online control panel installation for people who want a quick installation or are not technically inclined. The browser installation method is best for IT administrators or those who are comfortable installing web applications. If your only choice is a browser installation, don’t worry; we will walk through one later in this article.
It is always smart to take back up of any crucial files or databases that might be affected by a new installation. Always have a backup plan when a new installation is about to be performed.
Installing with an Online Control Panel
Most control panel installations can be completed in a few steps. Be sure to write down or otherwise make a note of any file, folder paths, or other crucial information as you go. We will walk through a control panel installation using cPanel/Fantastico. If you have never used cPanel before, this is a great opportunity to get your feet wet. Your ISP should have provided you with a link to your cPanel when you first setup your service. You will need a user name and password provided by your ISP to log in to cPanel. Once you are logged in you will see a screen with icons for different online tools.
- Log into your cPanel control panel.
- Select Fantastico (double mouse-click). The Fantastico icon is usually located at the bottom right corner of the screen.
- Scroll down the Fantastico screen until the Project Management category appears.
Left mouse-click on dotProject. There will be a short description about dotProject. Make a note of the version of dotProject available. The latest stable installation should be listed. The version of dotProject is in parenthesis by the new installation link. We will be using version 2.0.4 in the examples.
- Click on the New Installation link to begin the installation process.
Type in the name of the subfolder, where your dotProject installationshould be installed. If you leave it blank, then dotProject will be installed in the root folder of the URL path. For example, if I had left the folder field blank, the install tool would have placed the dotProject files directly in the public_html folder of www.leesjordan.net. I do not recommend leaving the folder field blank unless you already have a special URL set aside or are using a sub-domain.