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Installing Moodle

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This page explains how to install Moodle. If you are an expert and/or in a hurry try Installation Quickstart.

If you just want to try Moodle on a standalone machine there are 'one-click' installers for Windows (see Complete install packages for Windows) and for OSX (see Complete Install Packages for Mac OS X). These are unsuitable for production servers.

Contents

Requirements

Moodle is primarily developed in Linux using Apache, PostgreSQL/MySQL and PHP (also sometimes known as the LAMP platform). If in doubt, this is the safest combination (if for no other reason than being the most common). There are other options - see the Software section that follows:

The basic requirements for Moodle are as follows:

Hardware

  • Disk space: 160MB free (min) plus as much as you need to store your materials. 5GB is probably a realistic minimum.
  • Backups: at least the same again (at a remote location preferably) as above to keep backups of your site
  • Memory: 256MB (min), 1GB or more is strongly recommended. The general rule of thumb is that Moodle can support 10 to 20 concurrent users for every 1GB of RAM, but this will vary depending on your specific hardware and software combination and the type of use. 'Concurrent' really means web server processes in memory at the same time (i.e. users interacting with the system within a window of a few seconds). It does NOT mean people 'logged in'.

Software

  • An operating system (!). Anything that runs the following software; although the choice will most likely depend on the performance you need and the skills you have available. Linux and Windows are the most common choices (and good support is available). If you have a free choice, Linux is generally regarded to be the optimal platform. Moodle is regularly tested with Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, RedHat, Windows 7/2012 and Mac OS X.
  • Web server, primarily Apache. Not fully tested (or supported) but should work are IIS, lightttpd, nginx, cherokee, zeus and LiteSpeed. Moodle will refuse to install on any other web server. Your web server needs to be correctly configured to serve PHP files.The version is not critical but try to use the newest web server build available to you.
  • PHP - The minimum version is currently 5.3.3. (However, for Windows please see this forum post and always use the latest PHP version). A number of extensions are required; see the PHP page for full details. Installation will halt at the environment check if any of the required extensions are missing.
  • A database. MySQL and PostgreSQL are the primary development database, the most comprehensively tested and have extensive documentation and support. Oracle and MSSQL are fully supported (note that optional plugins may be untested with these databases) but documentation and online help are not as comprehensive as MySQL/PostgreSQL. If in doubt use MySQL (more documentation) or PostgreSQL (better stability/performance). You will need the appropriate PHP extension (configured if need be) for your chosen database.
  • Minimum browser for accessing Moodle: Firefox 4, Internet Explorer 8, Safari 5, Google Chrome 11, Opera 9

Set up your server

...or desktop computer, if you are just evaluating Moodle. There are lots of possibilities for installing the basic server software depending on your particular choices. Some links and pointers are at Installing AMP

If you are using a hosted server all this should be done for you. However, (especially on shared hosting) make sure you understand or find out how to change PHP settings (e.g. file upload maximums). This can vary a huge amount from host to host.

Download and copy files into place

IMPORTANT: While there are now a number of places you can get the Moodle code, you are strongly advised to obtain Moodle from moodle.org. If you run into problems it will be a great deal easier to support you.

You have two options:

  • Download your required version from http://moodle.org/downloads and unzip/unpack...
  • OR Pull the code from the Git repository (recommended for developers and also makes upgrading very simple):
$ git clone -b MOODLE_25_STABLE git://git.moodle.org/moodle.git 

...this fetches a complete copy of the Moodle repository and then switches to the 2.5 Stable branch (latest weekly build). For a fuller discussion see Git for Administrators.

Either of the above should result in a directory called moodle, containing a number of files and folders.

You can either place the whole folder in your web server documents directory, in which case the site will be located at http://yourwebserver.com/moodle, or you can copy all the contents straight into the main web server documents directory, in which case the site will be simply http://yourwebserver.com. See the documentation for your system and/or web server if you are unsure.

Tip: If you are downloading Moodle to your local computer and then uploading it to your hosted web site, if possible upload the compressed file and decompress at the remote end (check your 'file manager'). Failing that, watch FTP progress carefully for errors or missed files.
  • Secure the Moodle files: It is vital that the files are not writeable by the web server user. For example, on Unix/Linux (as root):
# chown -R root /path/to/moodle
# chmod -R 0755 /path/to/moodle

(files are owned by the administrator/superuser and are only writeable by them - readable by everyone else)

If you want to use the built-in add-on installer you need to make the directory writable by web server user. It is strongly recommended to use ACL when your server supports it, for example if your Apache server uses account www-data:

# chmod -R +a "www-data allow read,delete,write,append,file_inherit,directory_inherit" /path/to/moodle

Create an empty database

Next create a new, empty database for your installation. You need to find and make a note of following information for use during the final installation stage:

  • dbhost - the database server hostname. Probably localhost if the database and web server are the same machine, otherwise the name of the database server
  • dbname - the database name. Whatever you called it, e.g. moodle
  • dbuser - the username for the database. Whatever you assigned, e.g. moodleuser - do not use the root/superuser account. Create a proper account with the minimum permissions needed.
  • dbpass - the password for the above user

If your site is hosted you should find a web-based administration page for databases as part of the control panel (or ask your administrator). For everyone else or for detailed instructions, see the page for your chosen database server:

Create the (moodledata) data directory

Moodle requires a directory to store all of its files (all your site's uploaded files, temporary data, session data etc.). The web server needs to be able to write to this directory. On larger systems consider how much free space you are going to use when allocating this directory.

IMPORTANT: This directory must NOT be accessible directly via the web. This would be a serious security hole. Do not try to place it inside your web root or inside your Moodle program files directory. Moodle will not install. It can go anywhere else convenient.

Here is an example (Unix/Linux) of creating the directory and setting the permissions for anyone on the server to write here. This is only appropriate for Moodle servers that are not shared. Discuss this with your server administrator for better permissions that just allow the web server user to access these files.

# mkdir /path/to/moodledata
# chmod 0777 /path/to/moodledata

If your server supports ACL it is recommended to set following permissions, for example if your Apache server uses account www-data:

# chmod -R +a "www-data allow read,delete,write,append,file_inherit,directory_inherit" /path/to/moodledata

If you are planning to execute PHP scripts from the command line you should set the same permissions for the current user:

$ sudo chmod -R +a "`whoami` allow read,delete,write,append,file_inherit,directory_inherit" /path/to/moodledata

Securing moodledata in a web directory

If you are using a hosted site and you have no option but to place 'moodledata' in a web accessible directory. You may be able to secure it by creating an .htaccess file in the 'moodledata' directory. This does not work on all systems - see your host/administrator. Create a file called .htaccess containing only the following lines:

order deny,allow
deny from all

Start Moodle install

It's now time to run the installer to create the database tables and configure your new site. The recommended method is to use the command line installer. If you cannot do this for any reason (e.g. on a Windows server) the web based installer is still available.

Command line installer

It's best to run the command line installer as your system's web user. You need to know what that is - see your system's documentation (e.g. Ubuntu/Debian is 'www-data', Centos is 'apache')

  • Example of using the command-line (as root - substitute 'www-data' for your web user):
# chown www-data /path/to/moodle
# cd /path/to/moodle/admin/cli
# sudo -u www-data /usr/bin/php install.php
# chown -R root /path/to/moodle

The chowns allow the script to write a new config.php file. More information about the options can be found using

# php install.php --help

You will be asked for other settings that have not been discussed on this page - if unsure just accept the defaults. For a full discussion see Administration via command line

Web based installer

To run the web installer script, just go to your Moodle's main URL using a web browser.

The installation process will take you through a number of pages. You should be asked to confirm the copyright, see the database tables being created, supply administrator account details and supply the site details. The database creation can take some time - please be patient. You should eventually end up at the Moodle front page with an invitation to create a new course.

It is very likely that you will be asked to download the new config.php file and upload it to your Moodle installation - just follow the on-screen instructions.

Final configuration

Settings within Moodle

There are a number of options within the Moodle Site Administration screens (accessible from the 'Site administration' tab in the 'Settings' block. Here are a few of the more important ones that you will probably want to check:

  • Settings > Site administration > Plugins > Message Outputs > Email: Set your smtp server and authentication if required (so your Moodle site can send emails). The support contact for your site is also set on this page.
  • Settings > Site administration > Server > System paths: Set the paths to du, dot and aspell binaries.
  • Settings > Site administration > Server > HTTP: If you are behind a firewall you may need to set your proxy credentials in the 'Web proxy' section.
  • Settings > Site administration > Location > Update timezones: Run this to make sure your timezone information is up to date.

Remaining tasks

  • Configure Cron: Moodle's background tasks (e.g. sending out forum emails and performing course backups) are performed by a script which you can set to execute at specific times of the day. This is known as a cron script. Please refer to the Cron instructions.
  • Set up backups: See Site backup and Automated course backup.
  • Check mail works: Create a test user with a valid email address and send them a message. Do they receive an email copy of the message? If not, check the settings in Settings > Site administration > Plugins > Message outputs > Email. Don't be tempted to skip this step (clue: email is used to recover lost passwords, including the administrator password when you forget it!)
  • Secure your Moodle site: Read the Security recommendations.

Installation is complete :)

If something goes wrong...

Here are some things you should try...

  • Check the Installation FAQ
  • Check your file permissions carefully. Can your web server read (but not write) the Moodle program files? Can your web server read and write your Moodle data directory?
  • Check your database permissions. Have you set up your database user with the correct rights and permissions for your configuration (especially if the web server and database server are different machines)?
  • If you are having trouble creating a Configuration file (config.php), you can do it manually by copying config-dist.php (in the root of the Moodle program directory) to config.php, editing it and setting your database/site options there. Installation will continue from the right place.
  • Once you have a config.php (see previous tip) you can edit it to turn on debugging (in section 8). This may give you extra information to help track down a problem. If you have access, check your web server error log(s).
  • Re-check your php.ini / .htaccess settings. Are they appropriate (e.g. memory_limit), did you edit the correct php.ini / .htaccess file and (if required) did you re-start the web server after making changes?
  • Did you include any non-core (optional) plugins, themes or other code before starting the installation script? If so, remove it and try again (it may be broken or incompatible).
  • Explain your problem in the Installation problems forum. PLEASE list your software versions; explain what you did, what happened and what error messages you saw (if any); explain what you tried. There is no such thing as 'nothing', even a blank page is something!

Platform specific instructions

Note: Much of this information is provided by the community. It may not have been checked and may be out of date. Please read in conjunction with the above installation instructions.

See also