Installing Moodle

Revision as of 15:11, 2 July 2005 by Przemyslaw Stencel (talk | contribs) (Go to the admin page to continue configuration)

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Don't panic! :-)

This guide explains how to install Moodle for the first time. For some of these steps it goes into a lot of detail to try and cover the majority of possible web server setups, so this document may look long and complicated. Don't panic, once you know how to do it you can install Moodle in minutes!

If you have problems please read this document carefully - most common issues are answered in here. If you still have trouble, you can seek help from Moodle Help

Another option is to contact a web hosting company who can completely maintain Moodle for you, so that you can ignore all this and get straight into educating!


Moodle is primarily developed in Linux using Apache, MySQL and PHP (also sometimes known as the LAMP platform), but is also regularly tested with PostgreSQL and on Windows XP, Mac OS X and Netware 6 operating systems

The requirements for Moodle are as follows:

  1. Web server software. Most people use Apache, but Moodle should work fine under any web server that supports PHP, such as IIS on Windows platforms.
  2. PHP scripting language (version 4.1.0 or later). PHP 5 is supported as of Moodle 1.4.
  3. a working database server: MySQL or PostgreSQL are completely supported and recommended for use with Moodle. MySQL is the choice for many people because it is very popular, but there are some arguments in favour of PostgreSQL, especially if you are planning a large deployment.

Most web hosts support all of this by default. If you are signed up with one of the few webhosts that does not support these features ask them why, and consider taking your business elsewhere.

If you want to run Moodle on your own computer and all this looks a bit daunting, then please see our guide: Installing Apache, MySQL and PHP. It provides some step-by-step instructions to install all this on most popular platforms.

Download and copy files into place

There are two ways to get Moodle, as a compressed package or via CVS. These are explained in detail on the download page:

After downloading and unpacking the archive, or checking out the files via CVS, you will be left with 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, or you can copy all the contents straight into the main web server documents directory, in which case the site will be simply

If you are downloading Moodle to your local computer and then uploading it to your web site, it is usually better to upload the whole archive as one file, and then do the unpacking on the server. Even web hosting interfaces like Cpanel allow you to uncompress archives in the "File Manager".

Site structure

You can safely skip this section, but here is a quick summary of the contents of the Moodle folder, to help get you oriented:

  • config.php - contains basic settings. This file does not come with Moodle - you will create it.
  • install.php - the script you will run to create config.php
  • version.php - defines the current version of Moodle code
  • index.php - the front page of the site
  • admin/ - code to administrate the whole server
  • auth/ - plugin modules to authenticate users
  • blocks/ - plugin modules for the little side blocks on many pages
  • calendar/ - all the code for managing and displaying calendars
  • course/ - code to display and manage courses
  • doc/ - help documentation for Moodle (eg this page)
  • files/ - code to display and manage uploaded files
  • lang/ - texts in different languages, one directory per language
  • lib/ - libraries of core Moodle code
  • login/ - code to handle login and account creation
  • mod/ - all the main Moodle course modules are in here
  • pix/ - generic site graphics
  • theme/ - theme packs/skins to change the look of the site.
  • user/ - code to display and manage users

Run the installer script to create config.php

To run the installer script (install.php), just try to access your Moodle main URL using a web browser, or access http://yourserver/install.php directly.

(The Installer will try to set a session cookie. If you get a popup warning in your browser make sure you accept that cookie!)

Moodle will detect that configuration is necessary and will lead you through some screens to help you create a new configuration file called config.php. At the end of the process Moodle will try and write the file into the right location, otherwise you can press a button to download it from the installer and then upload config.php into the main Moodle directory on the server.

Along the way the installer will test your server environment and give you suggestions about how to fix any problems. For most common issues these suggestions should be sufficient, but if you get stuck, look below for more information about some of common things that might be holding you up.

Check web server settings

Firstly, make sure that your web server is set up to use index.php as a default page (perhaps in addition to index.html, default.htm and so on). In Apache, this is done using a DirectoryIndex parameter in your httpd.conf file. Mine usually looks like this:

DirectoryIndex index.php index.html index.htm

Just make sure index.php is in the list (and preferably towards the start of the list, for efficiency).

Secondly, if you are using Apache 2, then you should turn on the AcceptPathInfo variable, which allows scripts to be passed arguments like http://server/file.php/arg1/arg2. This is essential to allow relative links between your resources, and also provides a performance boost for people using your Moodle web site. You can turn this on by adding these lines to your httpd.conf file.

AcceptPathInfo on

Thirdly, Moodle requires a number of PHP settings to be active for it to work. On most servers these will already be the default settings. However, some PHP servers (and some of the more recent PHP versions) may have things set differently. These are defined in PHP's configuration file (usually called php.ini):

magic_quotes_gpc = 1    (preferred but not necessary)
magic_quotes_runtime = 0    (necessary)
file_uploads = 1
session.auto_start = 0
session.bug_compat_warn = 0

If you don't have access to httpd.conf or php.ini on your server, or you have Moodle on a server with other applications that require different settings, then don't worry, you can often still OVERRIDE the default settings.

To do this, you need to create a file called .htaccess in Moodle's main directory that contains lines like the following. This only works on Apache servers and only when Overrides have been allowed in the main configuration.

DirectoryIndex index.php index.html index.htm
<IfDefine APACHE2>
    AcceptPathInfo on
php_flag magic_quotes_gpc 1
php_flag magic_quotes_runtime 0
php_flag file_uploads 1
php_flag session.auto_start 0
php_flag session.bug_compat_warn 0

You can also do things like define the maximum size for uploaded files:

LimitRequestBody 0
php_value upload_max_filesize 2M
php_value post_max_size 2M

The easiest thing to do is just copy the sample file from lib/htaccess and edit it to suit your needs. It contains further instructions. For example, in a Unix shell:

cp lib/htaccess .htaccess

Creating a database

You need to create an empty database (eg "moodle") in your database system along with a special user (eg "moodleuser") that has access to that database (and that database only). You could use the "root" user if you wanted to for a test server, but this is not recommended for a production system: if hackers manage to discover the password then your whole database system would be at risk, rather than just one database.

If you are using a webhost, they will probably have a control panel web interface for you to create your database.

The Cpanel system is one of the most popular of these. To create a database in Cpanel,

  1. Click on the "MySQL Databases" icon.
  2. Type "moodle" in the database field and click "Add Database".
  3. Type a username and password (not one you use elsewhere) in the respective fields and click "Add User".
  4. Now use the "Add User to Database" button to give this new user account "ALL" rights to the new database.
  5. Note that the username and database names may be prefixed by your Cpanel account name. When entering this information into the Moodle installer - use the full names.

If you have access to Unix command lines then you can do the same sort of thing by typing commands.

Here are some example Unix command lines for MySQL:

  # mysql -u root -p
  > CREATE DATABASE moodle; 
          TO moodleuser@localhost IDENTIFIED BY 'yourpassword'; 
  > quit 
  # mysqladmin -p reload

And some example command lines for PostgreSQL:

  # su - postgres
  > psql -c "create user moodleuser createdb;" template1
  > psql -c "create database moodle;" -U moodleuser template1
  > psql -c "alter user moodleuser nocreatedb;" template1

Creating a data directory

Moodle will also need some space on your server's hard disk to store uploaded files, such as course documents and user pictures.

The Moodle installer tries hard to create this directory for you but if it fails then you will have to create a directory for this purpose manually.

For security, it's best that this directory is NOT accessible directly via the web. The easiest way to do this is to simply locate it OUTSIDE the web directory, but if you must have it in the web directory then protect it by creating a file in the data directory called .htaccess, containing this line:

deny from all

To make sure that Moodle can save uploaded files in this directory, check that the web server software (eg Apache) has permission to read, write and execute in this directory.

On Unix machines, this means setting the owner of the directory to be something like "nobody" or "apache", and then giving that user read, write and execute permissions.

On Cpanel systems you can use the "File Manager" to find the folder, click on it, then choose "Change Permissions". On many shared hosting servers, you will probably need to restrict all file access to your "group" (to prevent other webhost customers from looking at or changing your files), but provide full read/write access to everyone else (which will allow the web server to access your files).

Speak to your server administrator if you are having trouble setting this up securely. In particular some sites that use a PHP feature known as "Safe Mode" may require the administrator to create this directory properly for you.

Go to the admin page to continue configuration

Once the basic config.php has been correctly created in the previous step, trying to access the front page of your site will take you the "admin" page for the rest of the configuration.

The first time you access this admin page, you will be presented with a GPL "shrinkwrap" agreement with which you must agree before you can continue with the setup.

Now Moodle will start setting up your database and creating tables to store data. Firstly, the main database tables are created. You should see a number of SQL statements followed by status messages (in green or red) that look like this:

CREATE TABLE course ( id int(10) unsigned NOT NULL auto_increment, category int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0', password varchar(50) NOT NULL default '', fullname varchar(254) NOT NULL default '', shortname varchar(15) NOT NULL default '', summary text NOT NULL, format tinyint(4) NOT NULL default '1', teacher varchar(100) NOT NULL default 'Teacher', startdate int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0', enddate int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0', timemodified int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0', PRIMARY KEY (id)) TYPE=MyISAM


...and so on, followed by: Main databases set up successfully.

Set up cron

Create a new course