TWiki Installation Guide

Clean install of the current public release (01-Sep-2001)


These installation steps use the Apache web server on Linux as an example. TWiki should run on other web servers and Unix systems as well. (TWiki on Windows is possible, but has not been well-documented. More on that at

  • NOTE: This Installation Guide assumes the following:

    • User nobody= is used for all files manipulated by the CGI scripts (executed by the Web server), and user =twiki for all other files. Replace user nobody with another user if your Web server executes scripts under a different name (default for Debian is www-data). Also, you can substitute user twiki with your own username.

    • You have control over the Web server configuraton files. In case you don't - you may be installing on an ISP-hosted server - follow the steps but use these directories instead:

TWiki dir: What it is: Where to copy: Example:
twiki/bin CGI bin cgi-bin enabled dir /home/smith/public_html/cgi-bin/twiki
twiki/pub public files htdoc enabled dir /home/smith/public_html/pub
twiki/data topic data outside of htdoc tree (for security) /home/smith/twiki/data
twiki/templates web templates outside of htdoc tree (for security) /home/smith/twiki/templates

Read in case you want to install TWiki on SourceForge.

Standard Installation

Request and download the TWiki 01-Sep-2001 distribution in Unix ZIP format from

Step 1: Create & Configure the Directories

  • Create directory /home/httpd/twiki and unzip the TWiki distribution into this directory.
  • The twiki/bin directory of TWiki must be set as a cgi-bin directory. Add /home/httpd/twiki/bin to file /etc/httpd/httpd.conf with only ExecCGI option.
  • The twiki/pub directory of TWiki must be set so that it is visible as a URL. Add /home/httpd/twiki to file httpd.conf with normal access options (copy from /home/httpd/html ).
  • Now add ScriptAlias for /twiki/bin and Alias for /twiki to file httpd.conf .
    Note: The ScriptAlias must come before the Alias in Apache, otherwise it will fail to correctly set up /twiki/bin/ , due to the fact that it sees that as being just another subdirectory of the /twiki/ alias.

Example httpd.conf entries:
 ScriptAlias /twiki/bin/ "/home/httpd/twiki/bin/"
 Alias /twiki/ "/home/httpd/twiki/"
 <Directory "/home/httpd/twiki/bin">
    Options +ExecCGI
    SetHandler cgi-script
    Allow from all
 <Directory "/home/httpd/twiki/pub">
    Options FollowSymLinks +Includes
    AllowOverride None
    Allow from all

Step 2: Check the Server Directory Settings

  • Restart Apache by /etc/rc.d/rc5.d/S85httpd restart .
  • Test if the twiki/bin directory is cgi-enabled:
    • Enter the URL of that directory into your browser ( ). It is not set correctly as cgi-bin in case you get something like "Index of /twiki/bin" . It is OK if you get a message like "Forbidden. You don't have permission to access /twiki/bin/ on this server."
    • Execute the testenv script from your browser ( ). It shows a table with all CGI environment variables and tests the settings in your twiki/bin/ configuration file.

Step 3: Enable Perl File Permissions

  • Make sure Perl 5 and the Perl CGI library are installed on your system. Default location of Perl executable is /usr/bin/perl. In case Perl is installed in a different location, the first line of all Perl scripts in the twiki/bin directory must be changed (alternatively you can create a symbolic link from /usr/bin/perl ).
    • IMPORTANT: On most ISP virtual domain accounts, Perl CGI scripts require a .cgi extension to run. Some systems need .pl, the regular Perl extension. Change all twiki/bin scripts appropriately if necssary.
  • To be able to edit the Perl scripts and .tmpl files it is necessary to chown and chgrp -R twiki so all the files have the owner you want.
  • The scripts execute as nobody. Set the file permission of all Perl scripts in the twiki/bin directory as executable to -rwxr-xr-x (755).
  • Set the permission of all files below twiki/data so that they are writable by user nobody. A simple way is to chmod them to -rw-rw-rw- (666).
  • Set the permission of the twiki/data directory and its subdirectories so that files in there are writable by user nobody. A simple way is to chmod them to drwxrwxrwx (777).
  • Set the permission of the twiki/pub directory and all its subdirectories so that files in there are writable by user nobody. A simple way is to chmod them to drwxrwxrwx (777).

Step 4: Set the Main Configuration File

  • Edit the file twiki/bin/ and set the variables at the beginning of the file to your needs.
    • Set the file extension in the $scriptSuffix variable to cgi or pl if required.
    • Make sure RCS is installed. Set $rcsDir in twiki/bin/ to mach the location of your RCS binaries.
  • Note in case the cgi scripts are not running as user nobody: The *,v RCS repository files delivered with the installation package are locked by user nobody . In case the user is different (e.g. www-data ), it is not possible to check in files, this has the effect that the topic version number does not increase when saving a topic. In this case you need to unlock all repository files and lock them as user www-data (check the rcs man pages), or simply delete all the repository files. A simple way to switch the locker of the RCS files is to use sed:
    for f in *,v; do sed 's/nobody\:/www-data\:/' $f > x; mv x $f; done
  • Security issue: Directories twiki/data , twiki/templates and all its subdirectories should be set so that they are not visible as a URL. (Alternatively, move the directries to a place where they are not visible, and change the variables in twiki/bin/ accordingly)
  • Enable email notification of topic changes, Notification of Changes has more.
  • Add the TWiki:Main.PoweredByTWikiLogo to your Main topic.

Step 5: Finish Up from Your Browser

  • Point your Web browser at and start TWiki-ing away!
  • Edit the TWikiPreferences topic in the TWiki:TWiki web to set the WIKIWEBMASTER email address, the WEBCOPYRIGHT message and other preferences.
  • If you use .htaccess, edit the file and add the file extension to edit, view, preview, etc.
  • Edit the WebNotify topic in all webs and set the users you want to notify.

That's it for the standard virgin installation of TWiki. Read on to learn how to customize TWiki.

Additional Server-Level Options

Complete a Standard Installation and your new TWiki site should be up and running. You can develop and manage most aspects of your site from the browser interface. Core set-up functions require direct access to the server file system, via Telnet or FTP. You can make server-level site changes during installation, or at any time afterwards.

Creating a New Web

  • To create a new web:
    1. Create a new web data directory under twiki/data and check the file permission of the directory.
      • Use a name consisting of characters A..Z , a..z but not in WikiNotation.
    2. Copy all files from the twiki/data/_default directory to the new data directory, preserving the original files' owner, group and permissions (on Unix, use cp -p). The data files must be writable by the owner the CGI scripts are running on (usually, nobody).
      • Hint: You can set permissions of .txt and .txt,v files to -rw-rw-rw- (666) and then edit the topic using your browser; RCS will restore the file permissions correctly when saving the topic.
    3. Add the new web to the web list (visible in the upper right corner of each topic) by editing the site-level preferences, TWikiPreferences:
      • Add the new web to the %WIKIWEBLIST% variable.
    4. Update the web settings by editing the WebPreferences topic of the new web:
      • Customize the %WEBTOPICLIST% variable to contain the web-specific links you prefer.
      • Set the WEBBGCOLOR variable to a color. The number represents the unique color for the web.
      • Set Plugins, access privileges, custom variables, other web-level options (ex: %WEBCOPYRIGHT% can be set for an individual web).
    5. Add the new web to the color-coded web directory table by editing the TWikiWebsTable topic.
    6. Test the new web: view pages, create a new page.

  • That's it for a basic new web set-up. You can also further customize the web:
    • Create customized templates in the new templates directory (otherwise, templates are inherited from twiki/templates).
      • NOTE: For web-specific templates in a templates subdirectory, ex: twiki/templates/someweb.
    • Create Form Templates to add form-based page input that's stored separately from the main free-form topic text.

  • NOTE: User home topics are located in the TWiki.Main web - don't try to move them or create them in other webs. From any web you can refer to users located in the TWiki.Main web with Main.UserName or %MAINWEB%.UserName - using the %MAINWEB% variable is preferable, particularly if you might change the Main web name.

Adding Variables & Rendering Rules

  • You can add new rendering rules or new %VARIABLES%. To insure an easy upgrade of TWiki, it is recommended to do this sort of customization with TWiki Plugins and the Plugins API.

Enabling Basic Authentication (.htaccess)

  • If you are on a non-authenticated server - not using SSL - and you would like to authenticate users:
    1. Rename file .htaccess.txt in the twiki/bin directory to .htaccess and change it to your needs. For details, consult the HTTP server documentation (for Apache server: [1], [2]). In particular, the following red part needs to be configured correctly:
      Redirect /urlpath/to/TWiki/index.html
      AuthUserFile /filepath/to/TWiki/data/.htpasswd
      ErrorDocument 401 /urlpath/to/TWiki/bin/oops/TWiki/TWikiRegistration?template=oopsauth
      • NOTE: The browser should ask for login name and password when you click on the Edit link. In case .htaccess does not have the desired effect you need to enable it: Add "AllowOverride All" to the Directory section of access.conf for your twiki/bin directory.
    2. Copy the TWikiRegistrationPub topic to TWikiRegistration. Do that by either editing the topics in theTWiki web, or by renaming the .txt and .txt,v files in the twiki/data/TWiki directory.
      • NOTE: You can customize the registration form if needed, like deleting or adding input tags. The name="" parameter of the input tags must start with: "Twk0..." (if this is an optional entry), or "Twk1..." (if this is a required entry). This will ensure that the fields are processed correctly.

    • A new line containing user name and encrypted password gets added to the data/.htpasswd file when a users registers. The file that comes with the TWiki installation contains a few user accounts of TWiki core team members (needed for testing). You can edit the file and delete those lines.

TWiki File System Info

See A: TWiki File System for an installed system snapshot and descriptions of all files in the TWiki 01-Sep-2001 distribution.

-- MikeMannix - 07 Sep 2001

This topic: TWiki > TWikiInstallationGuide
Topic revision: r30 - 2001-09-09 - MikeMannix
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