Installation Guide Part 2

Return to "Installation Guide Part 1 or see the Complete Installation Guide on one page

Beyond the basic installation

Once you have Foswiki installed and running, you can perform one or more of the following steps to tailor your installation to your needs. Many of the references in this section refer to topics within your Foswiki installation. For example, System.Skins refers to the Skins topic in your System web. To go directly to a topic, enter the full topic name, such as System.Skins, into the "Jump" text box at the top right of any Foswiki page.

To make it easier to follow the instructions in this section, you can view this installation guide using your Foswiki site by entering System.InstallationGuide into the "Jump" text box. By doing this instead of using the INSTALL.html file from the distribution, you will be able to use the embedded hyperlinks to jump directly to the referenced pages.

All of the Foswiki documentation can also be found online in the Foswiki documentation section (the "System" web) of the Foswiki web site.

Note the configure page mentioned in this section is accessed by visiting your web browser.

Site configuration and maintenance

Set Foswiki Preferences

Preferences for customizing many aspects of Foswiki are set by editing Main.SitePreferences. If a given preference is not set in Main.SitePreferences, then a default value is picked up from System.DefaultPreferences, if present, or, for extensions, from the extension topics.

To simplify your upgrades, do not modify System.DefaultPreferences. Instead, copy any settings you want to change from System.DefaultPreferences to Main.SitePreferences.

To see the available preferences that can be set, look through System.DefaultPreferences.

If, for some reason, you wish to pick up default preferences from a different topic, you can set the location in the Miscellaneous settings pane of the configure page, in the {SitePrefsTopicName} setting (visible when Expert mode is enabled). It is recommended that you leave this setting to its default value, DefaultPreferences.

Select the desired security level

Foswiki has a many security features that can be enabled/disabled and adjusted to suit your needs.

In many cases enabling a security feature prevents other features. It is a balance that the administrator has to choose depending on the purpose of the Foswiki installation (confidential vs public knowledge), the type of installation (intranet vs internet), and your type of business.

A new administrator is encouraged to read Foswiki:Support.SecurityFeatures which gives a walkthrough of the different security aspects and how to set the appropriate configuration settings. Note that that some security settings are only visible in configure in "expert mode" which you enter by clicking the "Yes, I've read all the documentation" button at the top of the configure screen.

Enable Email Notification

Each web has an automatic email notification service that sends you an email with links to all of the topics modified since the last alert. To enable this service:
  1. Confirm the Mail and Proxies settings on the configure page.
  2. Setup a cron job (or equivalent) to call the tools/mailnotify script, as described in the System.MailerContrib topic.

Enable Signed Email Notification

Foswiki administrative emails are an attractive target for SPAM generators and phishing attacks. One good way to protect against this possibility to enable S/MIME signatures on all administrative e-mails. To do this, you need an an X.509 certificate and private key for the the {WebMasterEmail} email account. Obtain these as you would for any other S/MIME e-mail user.

To enable Foswiki to sign administrative e-mails:
  1. Enable e-mail as described above
  2. Ensure that the system has the CPAN module Crypt::SMIME installed.
  3. If necessary, convert your certificate and key files to PEM format ( openssl has all the necessary utilities)
  4. Place the certificate anyplace convenient that the webserver can read. It should be protected against write. The conventional place under linux is /etc/pki/tls/certs
  5. Place the key file in a secure location that only the webserver (or CGI user) can read. It must not be readable by anyone else, and must not be served by the webserver.
  6. Using the configure script, change the following settings under Mail and Proxies:
    1. "Email Server" tab. Follow the directions under {MailMethod} and {MailProgram} to enable an external mail program such as sendmail. Net::SMTP is not supported.
      • {SMTP}{MAILHOST}, {SMTP}{SENDERHOST}, {SMTP}{Username} and {SMTP}{Password} are not used an may be deleted.
      • If Foswiki variable SMTPMAILHOST is defined in Main.SitePreferences it should be removed.
    2. "S/MIME" tab:
      • Enable the S/MIME checkbox
      • Enter the full path to the certificate file in the {SmimeCertificateFile} configuration variable
      • Enter the full path to the private key file in the {SmimeKeyFile} configuration variable
    3. Save the configuration
  7. Re-run the configure script an resolve any errors that it identifies

All out-going administrative e-mails will now be signed.

Automate removal of expired sessions and lease files

By default Foswiki cleans out expired session and lease files each time any topic is viewed, but this has a performance cost. Instead you may wish to schedule a cron job (or equivalent) to run the tools/ script, and set a negative value on the configure page for {Sessions}{ExpireAfter}. For more details, read System.CommandAndCGIScripts#tick_foswiki_pl.

Enable WebStatistics

You can manually or automatically generate a listing of the most popular pages for each web, based on number of visits. For information on setting up this feature, see the System.SiteTools#WebStatistics topic.

Enable Localisation

Foswiki supports displaying national (non-ASCII) characters, and using different languages for its basic interface elements. To configure localisation, modify the Localisation section of the configure page. For more information, see Foswiki:Support.InternationalizationSupplement.

Customizing your site

Customize pages for managing personal information

If you are not using Foswiki to manage your users' passwords or email addresses, or would just like to enhance the default pages, then modify the following topics accordingly with information appropriate for your site:

Customize the user topic for new users

When a new user registers on your Foswiki site, a topic with a name corresponding to the user's WikiName is created in the Main web: this topic is the user's user topic. The user topic is based on the Main.NewUserTemplate topic; if it is not present, then System.NewUserTemplate (and its associated System.UserForm) is used as a default. If you want to customize the user topic for your users, copy System.NewUserTemplate to Main.NewUserTemplate, and System.UserForm to Main.UserForm, and make your changes to Main.NewUserTemplate and Main.UserForm. (See ManagingTopics#CopyTopic for instructions on copying a topic.)

You can edit these topics to suit your needs, such as the following:
  • Customize the user topic for your site.
  • Add an ALLOWTOPICCHANGE preference setting to Main.NewUserTemplate so only the user can edit their own user topic. In particular, on a public Foswiki site, restricting edit access will avoid vandalism and spam.
  • Add and remove fields defined in the Main.UserForm.

If you added or removed fields from the user form you may also need to tailor Main.UserRegistration to match (copy over the contents from System.UserRegistration to Main.UserRegistration when creating it).

Customize the appearance of your Foswiki site

The real power of Foswiki lies in its flexibility to be customized to meet your needs. To change the look of the default skin, PatternSkin, please refer to System.PatternSkin and System.PatternSkinCustomization.

At the Foswiki website you can find more resources. A good place to start exploring is Foswiki:Support.BestPracticeTips and Foswiki:Support.FAQ which offer tips and tricks for customizing your Foswiki site. Many of these are best done before any content has been added to your site, so immediately after installation is a good time to consider the possibilities.

Left, Top and Bottom Bars with PatternSkin

The top bar and bottom bar are common across all webs.

To customize the top bar, copy System.WebTopBarExample to WebTopBar, and make your desired changes to WebTopBar.

To customize the bottom bar, copy System.WebBottomBarExample to WebBottomBar, and make your desired changes to WebBottomBar.

The side bar can be customized on a per web basis. To customize the side bar, copy the WebLeftBarExample topic in the given web to WebLeftBar, and make your desired changes to WebLeftBar. If you would like to move the side bar to the right of the page, see System.PatternSkin for more details.

Copyright, License and Classification Statements

At the bottom of each topic, there is a copyright statement that is set in the WEBCOPYRIGHT preference. Its default is the following: Copyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.

If your Foswiki site is used in an environment without public access you should replace this with your normal copyright notice. You should also consider adding a security classification (e.g., For Internal Use Only) so people do not have to add this manually to every new topic.

If your Foswiki site is publicly accessible, you need to decide which copyright and license you wish to apply to all contributions. For open source applications, licenses such as the GNU Free Documentation License, FreeBSD Documentation License, and one of the various Creative Commons licenses are possible licenses to consider. Remember that once people have started contributing, you cannot retroactively change the license (unless it has a provision for this).

To change the copyright statement, perform the following steps:

  • Copy the WEBCOPYRIGHT preference setting from System.DefaultPreferences to Main.SitePreferences. Change the value to your desired text. This value will be your new default across all webs.
  • You can create a unique message for a specific web by setting the WEBCOPYRIGHT preference in the WebPreferences topic for the given web. For example, you could add a confidential classification to a web that has restricted access.
  • The WEBCOPYRIGHT preference setting in System.WebPreferences covers the documentation that comes with Foswiki, and should not be changed.

WYSIWYG vs Raw Edit

In Foswiki, the WYSIWYG editor is used by default in edit mode. An Edit Raw link is available for those who prefer to edit the raw topic text.

If you prefer to use the raw text editor by default and have a separate WYSIWYG button, as in TWiki 4.1, then you can modify the templates that define the edit screen as described in Foswiki:Support.FaqHowToMakeRawEditDefault.


Foswiki:Extensions is an extensive library of plugins for Foswiki that enhance functionality in a huge number of ways. A few plugins are pre-installed in the Foswiki distribution. There are several types of Extensions available:
  • Plugins extend Foswiki functionality without altering the core code.
  • Skins Skins overlay regular templates to give different looks and feels to Foswiki screens.
  • Contribs and AddOns are any other Extension that provides added functionality beyond Plugins and Skins

Installing extensions

Extensions can be installed using any of several different methods:
  • the configure web interface
  • the generic shell installer tools/extension_installer
  • by manually downloading the extension zip or tar file
ALERT!Caution: Users of the debian .deb packages should only use the debian tools when installing extensions.

The simplest way is to visit configure:Extensions. Use the Find More Extensions button to download and install additional extensions from the website. If you are behind a firewall or your server has no access to the Internet, you can also install plugins manually. Installation instructions for each plugin are located in its corresponding topic on Additional documentation on Foswiki plugins can be found at Foswiki:Support.PluginsSupplement.

When installing an extension from the configure interface:
  • Even if available, local Extension installers and archives are not used
  • The extension is downloaded from the configured archive
    • The latest version of the Extension is always downloaded. There is no automatic means of downloading older versions.
  • If the extension is already installed, a backup is taken to the working/configure/backup directory
  • Dependencies on other Extensions are automatically resolved and installed
    • Dependencies are downloaded from the same archive where the Extension was found. No additional searching is performed.
  • The Extension is installed.
    • By default, unless a collsion occurrs with an existing file, the Extension's topics will not be checked in to the revision control system.
    • If previous topics or attachments are found, then the topic will be checked in under the Administrators user id.
    • If the topics or attachments are flagged as !noci, disabling checkin, they will still be checked in if existing revision control files are found, suggesting that local modifications have occurred.
  • CPAN dependencies and other external packages are not resolved and should be resolved manually

When installing extensions from the command line:
  • The _installer package must be run from the root directory of the Foswiki installation.
  • The Extension _installer module must be downloaded from the Extension repository. The extension archive will be downloaded if required.
  • When the _installer is run, it will install the Extension and dependencies similar to the configure interface except:
    • You will be given the option to use local archives if available in the root of the Foswiki installation
    • You will be given the option to resolve CPAN dependencies after the Extensions and dependencies are installed.
    • Any other dependencies still need to be manually resolved.

When using either the web or shell instalation tools:
  • After installation, the Extension _installer module is saved in working/configure/pkgdata
  • A complete log of the actions taken by the installer is saved in working/logs/configure/[NameOfExtension]-yyyymmdd-hhmmss-[Action].log

Plugins must be manually enabled in the Plugins section of the configure page. In addition, some extensions also require configuration in this section.

The instructions for using the extensions installer from the shell are retrieved by using the "usage" command: tools/extension_installer usage or ./SomePlugin_installer usage

perl working/configure/pkgdata/X509UserPlugin_installer usage

Usage as a custom installer:

       X509UserPlugin_installer -a -n -d -r -u -c install
       X509UserPlugin_installer -a -n uninstall
       X509UserPlugin_installer manifest
       X509UserPlugin_installer dependencies

Usage as a generic installer:

       tools/extension_installer X509UserPlugin -a -n -d -r -u -c install
       tools/extension_installer X509UserPlugin -a -n uninstall
       tools/extension_installer X509UserPlugin manifest
       tools/extension_installer X509UserPlugin dependencies

If command (install, uninstall ..) is not provided, default is to 
install the extension.

Operates on the directory tree below where it is run from,
so should be run from the top level of your Foswiki installation.

Depending upon your installation, you may need to execute perl directly
  perl tools/extension_installer ...   or
  perl X509UserPlugin_installer ...

"install" will check dependencies and perform any required
post-install steps.

"uninstall" will remove all files that were installed for
X509UserPlugin even if they have been locally modified.

-a means don't prompt for confirmation before resolving
-d means auto-download if -a (no effect if not -a)
-r means reuse packages on disc if -a (no effect if not -a)
-u means the archive has already been downloaded and unpacked
-n means don't write any files into my current install, just
   tell me what you would have done
-c means don't try to use CPAN to install missing libraries

"manifest" will generate a list of the files in the package on
standard output. The list is generated in the same format as
the MANIFEST files used by BuildContrib.

"dependencies" will generate a list of dependencies on standard

Removing (uninstalling) extensions

ALERT! Caution: When removing an extension, no dependency checking is performed.
  • Dependencies are not removed
  • Other Extensions dependent on the removed extension may become non-operational.
The web and command line interfaces can be used to uninstall extensions. When an extension is remove, the following occurs:
  • The _installer package is used to recover the manifest. If it cannot be found locally, it will be downloaded from the configured extension repository
  • A backup of the previously installed files per the manifest will be taken to the configure/working/backup directory
    • Note: If download of the _uninstaller was required, the backup will be made per the current installer's manifest. It is preferable to always save the _installer modules.
  • The Extension files along with any ,v revision control files will be removed, including the _installer.
    • Any additional files saved locally are not removed.
  • A complete log of the steps taken is saved in working/logs/configure/[NameOfExtension]-yyyymmdd-hhmmss-[Action].log

  • Plugin modules are not automatically disabled in the configuration - they must be disabled manually.

Run the uninstall from the "root" of the Foswiki installation: working/configure/pkgdata/SomeExtension_installer uninstall

Restoring a removed, or previous version of an extension

The backup can be extracted from the root directory of the Foswiki installation. The archive is taken "relative" to the root of the installation, so an unzip or tar -xzf of the backup file should be all that is required:
cd /root/of/foswiki
tar -zxvf * working/configure/backup/[Extension}-backup-[yyyymmdd]-[hhmmss].tgz
# or
unzip working/configure/backup/[Extension}-backup-[yyyymmdd]-[hhmmss].zip

TWiki Compatibility

Foswiki is 100% backwards compatible with TWiki® markup up to and including TWiki 4.2.4. Existing TWiki webs, topics and attachments can be used with Foswiki without requiring any changes.

To support a seamless upgrade from TWiki, Foswiki ships with a plugin called TWikiCompatibilityPlugin. This plugin enables most TWiki extensions to work with Foswiki, without modifications. It also maps requests for legacy TWiki web topics to their Foswiki equivalents, as defined in Foswiki:Development.TopicNameMappingTable. The TWIKIWEB and MAINWEB TWiki variables are also mapped to the new Foswiki macros SYSTEMWEB and USERSWEB.

If you are not upgrading an existing TWiki installation and do not plan to install plugins from the TWiki web site, it is recommended that you disable the TWikiCompatibilityPlugin in the Plugins Section on the configure page.

If a plugin exists both in a TWiki version and a Foswiki version, it is strongly recommended that you use the Foswiki version, as this is coded to work optimally with Foswiki. As part of the Foswiki project, the Foswiki community is evaluating all of the extensions that are available for TWiki, and porting them over to the Foswiki name space. Many of them are being enhanced through the removal of bugs and security vulnerabilities, resulting in better, more functional extensions for Foswiki.

Web Acceleration (mod_perl, FastCGI, ...)

Foswiki is installed by default supporting standard CGI scripts as well as CLI access. For best performance, Foswiki can be accelerated using one of the several accelerators, however, you must install the required Foswiki extension and host modules before enabling accelereation! See the listed extensions for more information.

Fast CGI FastCGIEngineContrib Supports the mod_fastcgi and mod_fcgid extensions
mod_perl ModPerlEngineContrib supports the apache mod_perl extension

ALERT! Caution
  • Ensure your site is fully configured and working before enabling either of these extensions. They can be challenging to configure.
  • The ApacheConfigGenerator will help creating a valid configuration for these accelerators.
  • Enabling the apache configuration without installing the pre-req modules and extensions will break your site!
  • The core default extensions are well tested with web acceleration, other extensions can exhibit inconsistent behaviour when accelerated.


Related Topics: InstallationGuidePart1, AdminDocumentationCategory, Foswiki:Support.SupplementalDocuments

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Topic revision: r1 - 25 Jul 2011, ProjectContributor
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