How to Install WordPress MU on Windows Vista Desktop

As my blog is prowdly powered by WordPress (the non-MU version), I went through setting (the MU version of) it up onto my Vista desktop computer, to be able to try out things with it more closely. More than once things went tricky and I took some notes at those points, just in case for potential future reference. I decided to make these notes part of the global Internet noise. The result is below, starting from setting up Apache and ending with some last WordPress MU configuration option cleanup.

I am slipping quickly through the steps where things went smoothly. Special notes are made for the steps that required some scull-breaking. Instead of writing the detailed steps in most of the parts I am referring to the other web pages/guidelines that I found and that helped me through the process.

So, here are the notes:

  1. Apache server — follow this guideline when installing — Apache is very inconvenient to use on Vista with default installation setup and the referred guideline fixes this Vista-specific annoyance.
  2. PHP5 — follow this guideline when installing — the important nuance, as the guideline says, is that you must download .zip file, not .msi installer. Installer ends up in a broken setup and the installed PHP just doesn’t work. I tried it.
  3. MySQL — there was an issue with post-installation default setup. Unfortunately I lost the notes on this one, but I remember, that setting up first database with MySQL Administrator ended up in an error message — I googled the error message and got a guideline page that helped me solve this.

    1. You have to turn on MySQL extension for PHP. Follow this guideline.
    2. Should you forget your MySQL root password, then follow this guideline.
  4. Enable Apache mod_rewrite — almost working guideline is there — the only issue with this guideline is that <Directory /> is a wrong section of apache config file to configure. It works, when you configure the <Directory “C:/Program Files/Apache Software Foundation/Apache2.2/htdocs”> section. As it is pretty easy to miss something with it, you must test it definitely now:

    1. Create a separate subfolder test-rewrite under the apache htdocs folder (the root folder of the html documents that apache serves on your Vista).
    2. Into that test-rewrite folder create a file test-hidden.html — write “Great success!” into that file.
    3. Check with your browser, that the apache server works and shows the file to you — enter http://localhost/test-rewrite/test-hidden.html to the location bar. The browser should show you the “Great success!” message now. If it is not showing, then something has gone wrong with the generic (i.e. not rewrite specific) setup of the apache server. I can’t say what might have gone wrong for you, but you have to fix it before moving on — otherwise the rest won’t work either.
    4. Check another URL with your browser: http://localhost/test-rewrite/blah.html — it should give you the “Page not found” error as we haven’t created such file nor did we set up any rewrite rule yet.
    5. Create a file .htaccess into that same folder. Windows explorer and friends won’t let you create a file with such kind of name — they demand you to add a name before the “.” mark. To solve this, take some decent code editor, like vim — that will do it nicely, without whining.
    6. Write the following lines into .htaccess file:
      Options +FollowSymLinks
      RewriteEngine On
      RewriteRule ^(test).html test-hidden.html
    7. Save the .htaccess file.
    8. Check the following URL with your browser again: http://localhost/test-rewrite/blah.html (hit Refresh as this is the same URL we tried last time). It should show you the “Great success!” message. If it doesn’t then something has gone wrong. I can’t say what might have gone wrong for you, but you have to fix it before moving on — otherwise the rest won’t work either.
  5. WordPress MU — download and install, guideline is there.
  6. At the fourth step of the guideline at wordpress.org, when I entered the URL http://localhost/test-blog-wpmu/index.php (test-blog-wpmu is the folder I created for WordPress MU installation), I got the following error message: “Installing to http://localhost/ is not supported. Please use http://localhost.localdomain/ instead.” — this error message gets fixed by using IP address instead of the localhost name: http://127.0.0.1/test-log-wpmu/index.php
  7. On the first setup page at http://127.0.0.1/test-log-wpmu/index.php see the “Sub-domains” section — select “Sub-directories” instead of “Sub-domains” (despite of WordPress recommending otherwise — starting to set up some subdomain chemistry for Vista desktop installed WordPress MU is unnecessary (unless you really want to play with the WordPress multi-user subdomains feature on your desktop).
  8. Fill up the form and submit. If you get the empty white page (white screen of death) and in the Apache error log you see the message “Parent: child process exited with status 3221225477 — Restarting”, then

    1. Follow this guideline.
    2. Another important note, when something goes wrong at the form submitting step, is that the easiest to proceed is to delete the entire WordPress MU web directory and extract it again from the downloaded package. It seems the setup form tries to modify the files at web directory, and leaves things easily into some inconsistent broken state from where it is not able to proceed. I had to go through this delete-extract-try-again-cycle multiple times until it finally succeeded.
  9. WordPress MU should be now up and running. The following is some post-installation admin optsions tweaking/cleanup — log into your freshly installed WordPress MU as administrator and go through some settings. The settings are referred here starting from the menu points that is on the left side of the Admin screen. I give here my suggestions, but you can decide yourself, of-course:

    1. Settings
      1. Writing:
        1. CHECK: Atom Publishing Protocol.
        2. CHECK: XML-RPC
        3. CLICK: Save Changes
      2. Discussion:
        1. UNCHECK: Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article (slows down posting.) — you don’t need it on your Vista desktop
        2. UNCHECK: Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks.) — you don’t need it on your Vista desktop
        3. CLICK: Save Changes
      3. Privacy:
        1. SELECT: I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors
        2. CLICK: Save Changes
    2. Site Admin->Options:
      1. Allow new registrations:
        1. SELECT: Enabled. Blogs and user accounts can be created.
      2. Upload media buttonUpload media button:
        1. CHECK: Images, Videos, Music
        2. CLICK: Update Options
  10. Enjoy your WordPress MU installed on Windows Vista desktop.

If you ended up on this page because you needed help on this, I hope it was useful. If you bump into something notable that is not covered here, feel free to add it to the comments, or if you got some question, feel free to ask.

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