What is SMF
SMF is an acronym for Simple Machines Forum. It is simply an Open Source bulletin board software package. This software is free and easy to setup and configure with our basic guide to the Simple Machines Forum. SMF is free to download and use and with its template management allows you to easily customize your forum outlook. Its unique SSI (Server Side Includes) function lets you have your forum and your website interact with each other.
According to Softaculous, SMF allows you to set up your own online community within minutes. Its powerful custom made template engine puts you in full control of the lay-out of your message board and with the unique SSI, Server Side Includes function; you can let your forum and your website interact with each other. SMF is written in the popular language PHP and uses a MySQL database. It is designed to provide you with all the features you need from a bulletin board while having a minimal impact on the resources of the server. SMF is completely free!
- Comprehensive template system.
- Advanced permission and user management.
- Supports multiple languages at once.
- Open and well-documented source code.
- Tracking of new and old unread topics, not just from your last visit.
- Designed for optimal performance and scalability.
- Multi-media output. (XHTML, XML, RSS, WAP)
- Multi-language support from a large community.
- Package manager that automatically installs or uninstalls mods (also known as hacks.)
- Search the entire forum, a category/board or within a topic.
- Search within your personal messages.
In order to run the SMF forum software, the server must meet the following requirements, and will run best on servers that also meet these recommendations. The SMF software has also been tested and verified to work with the clients listed below, which are all internet browsers.
Basic Server Requirements
The following are required on any server intending to run SMF 2.0.
A webserver with approximately 20MB of available disk space. Much more is recommended so that other content can be uploaded over time.
A webserver that supports PHP, such as Apache or Internet Information Server (IIS).
PHP 4.1.0 or higher
Versions of SMF below 2.0.7 will not work on PHP 5.5. If you use PHP 5.5 it is required to use SMF 2.0.7 or greater.
The following must be changed in the php.ini file:
- The <code>engine</code> directive must be set to On.
- The code magic_quotes_sybase code directive must be set to Off.
- The code>session.save_path code directive must be set to a valid directory or empty.
- The code file_uploads code directive must be set to On.
- The code upload_tmp_dir code directive must be set to a valid directory or empty.
One of the following databases must be installed:
MySQL 4.0.18 or higher (at least 4.1.0 would be better) and PHP MySQL client API 4.0.18 or higher.
PostgreSQL 8.0 or higher (standard_conforming_strings must be set to off, starting from PostgreSQL 9.1 default is on)
SQLite; SQLite 2.x (SMF is not compatible with SQLite 3.x)
The following are requirements for the database:
For a cleanSMF installation, at least 2 MB of storage space in the database. Please note that this is only enough for the installation.
The database user must have at least the following privileges: SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, ALTER,
The database user must have the code CREATE/code and code; DROP/code privileges during installation, conversion and some package installs.
These are not fundamentally required, but may be beneficial to your SMF install and enable you to use more functions.
GNU Aspell 0.50 or higher (with appropriate dictionaries) for spell checking functionality.
Apache 2.0.x or above with AcceptPathInfo set to On for queryless URL support.
PHP with the following set in your php.ini file:
max_input_time set to a value of at least 30.
post_max_size and upload_max_filesize set to the size of the largest attachments you wish to be able to upload.
memory_limit set to at least 32M.
max_execution_time set to at least 15.
register_globals set to Off.
session.use_trans_sid set to Off.
safe mode disabled, or PHP suExec enabled.
mod_security disabled (please see Mod security - Having problems with mod security Mod security for more information).
GD Graphics Library 2.0 or higher.
Basic Client Requirements
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher (7.0 or higher recommended).
Opera 7.0 or higher (9.5 or higher recommended).
Netscape 6.0 or higher.
Mozilla Suite 1.0.2 or higher.
Konqueror or Galeon.
Apple Safari 1.0 or higher (3.0 or higher recommended).
Mozilla Firefox 3.0 or higher (3.5 or higher recommended).
Installing the SMF Software
This guide demonstrates how to manually install the Simple Machine Forums (SMF) program. A manual installation means installing the program without the help of third party installer programs like QuickInstall and Softaculous. This typically takes more steps than using installer programs such as Softaculous. Below are the steps to help you get started.
Before you begin, make sure you have downloaded the latest version of SMF to your local computer.
Log into your cpanel and under the services tab, click to view the details of the website under which you want to install SMF. Use the shortcut links to login to your website cPanel.
Within your cPanel area, find the Databases category and click on the MySQL Databases icon to enter the database creation screen.
In this screen, choose a database name and enter it on the New Database field. Click the Create Database button to complete the database creation.
Once you get the success message, click the Go Back link to return to the database creation page.
Now you will need to create a database user for the database you just created. Scroll down to the MySQL Users section. Enter a username at the Username field. Note that the prefix to the username will always be your cpanel username. Enter a password of your own or use the password generator for ideas. Once you have entered the password in both password fields, click the Create User button to finish generating the user.
Again, you will get a user creation success message. Click the Go Back link to return once again to the Database creation page.
Now, we will have to assign the user to the database. Scroll down to the Add User To Database section where you will see two fields: User and Database. Use the dropdowns to select the username to assign to your desired database. Click the Add button to add the user to the database.
You will then be taken to a privileges screen. Click on the All Privileges checkbox to add them to the user and click on the Make Changes button at the bottom to save them.
Click the Go Back link once you get the success message and you have finished creating the database for your SMF manual installation.
Uploading SMF Files To Your Web Hosting Account
Now you will need to upload the SMF zip package to your filemanager. This part of the article assumes you are using a host with cPanel. Todhost uses the cPanel control panel.
Log into your cpanel and select the service/website under which you want to install SMF. As above click the green button which allow you to view details and navigate to the shortcut links.
Find the Files category and click on the File Manager icon.
From here, you will be given a popup box to select the area you want to enter. Select the domain you want to upload your SMF program into. If you are using a subdomain, Click the Go button once you have selected the proper destination
You are now in the File Manager. Click on the Upload tool found along the top row of icons. This will take you to the file upload screen.
Use the Browse button on this screen to locate your SMF ZIP file on your local computer. Once uploaded, click on the Back button in the middle of the screen.
From here you will see the ZIP file on the page. Click it to highlight it and select the Extract tool from the list of icons across the top of the page
A popup will appear asking you to confirm or change the destination folder. If you are installing into the home directory, then you will simply proceed to extract. If you are installing in a sub directory, you will need to drag the zipped file into the folder before you extract.
The program has now been uploaded and extracted. You can now proceed to the next step of the installation process.
Install The Program From The Domain
Visit the domain you extracted the program files to. It should redirect you to the install page.
The first page is an introduction to the installation process. To begin, click on the Continue button in the lower right corner.
The next page goes over database settings. There are several fields here that deal with connecting to the database. Once you have entered the information, click Continue
Database Type: This may change depending on your host.
Server Name: If your database is on the same server as your account, you will use localhost otherwise this will be the IP address or domain name of the database server.
Username: Username for the database you created earlier
Password: Password for the database user.
Database Name: Name of the database you created earlier.
Table Prefix:Unless you have a custom setup, you can leave this with the default smf_.
Next we have the Forum Settings. These are customizable settings for your Forum. If you are unsure of any custom settings you may need, simply leave the default settings in place. Click Continue when you are ready to move to the next step.
The next page is a confirmation that the database tables were created and populated with beginning data. There are no options on this page so click Continue when you are ready to move on.
Now it is time to create an administrative account for the forums. Once all information is entered here, click Continue when you are ready for the final step.
This is the last step of the installation. Be sure to click on the checkbox entitled Click here to delete this install.php file now. (doesn't work on all servers.) for security purposes. This should delete your install.php file to prevent anyone from breaking into the site.
Congratulations, you have successfully installed your Simple Machine Forum Software. Now you can proceed to customize your website and use.