Requirements to run and use miniBB-based forums
MiniBB is a forum software with its specific requirements, which include server-side requirements for executing the software itself, client-side requirements for using the software with the maximum effect, installation knowledge for setting up the program on the web-server, and administration knowledge for maintaining the virtual community. Please study these conditions carefully, for being sure miniBB meets all requirements on your side.
Contents of this article:
MiniBB is not a standalone application. It can be executed only on the web server with installed libraries, packages and programs which are interacting with each other using miniBB's interface and scripting files. These libraries are offered by any level Web hosting service. So, you will need the following to run miniBB:
- A web server. This is the main program supporting your web-space. A web hosting provider, which you have chosen for keeping miniBB forums, should prefferably offer Apache-based server, "The Number One HTTP Server On The Internet"; servers like NGINX or Lighttpd are also suitable. Server's type doesn't matter a lot when we speak about running miniBB. It even supports Microsoft's Internet Information Services and probably any kind of other server, which is correctly interprets cookie headers and just outputs webpages.
Note: miniBB's user-friendly / keyword-rich URLs module is based on the Apache's mod_rewrite rewriting engine via .htaccess. If you'd like to enable such URLs, you should stay with a server which supports RewriteEngine and its rules.
- PHP - one of the most popular hypertext preprocessors nowadays. An initial PHP version to run the miniBB starts from 5.2, followed by 5.4.x, 5.5.x, then followed by PHP 7.x and by PHP 8.x - you could have any latest PHP version, as miniBB doesn't have anything critically specific or version-oriented in its code (and if it's present, it's not limited to a certain version). Below are additional notes about necessary configuration of PHP and its modules:
The primary requirement about PHP configuration is that magic_qoutes_runtime and magic_quotes_sybase settings of php.ini should be set to OFF, as they are set by default.
Another important security setting in PHP is about short_open_tag. PHP documentation says, that "This directive determines whether or not PHP will recognize code between <? and ?> tags as PHP source which should be processed as such. It's been recommended for several years that you not use the short tag "short cut" and instead to use the full <?php and ?> tag combination." MiniBB developers agree to this. Our recommendation is to set this tag to OFF value, specially because some file scanning options of miniBB on upload relate to this tag.
PHP should be bundled with the mysqli module to connect to MySQL, or any fork of the MySQL, which is closely compatible with MySQL, like MariaDB or Percona Server for MySQL; or services like Azure Database for MySQL could be used. Check for more MySQL requirements below.
MiniBB does not use PHP functions like exec, system, passthru, shell_exec, proc_open, popen, show_source, curl_exec, curl_multi_exec, parse_ini_file, and even eval construct, which all may be blocked by the web service provider for security reasons. That means, you can execute miniBB with the extra secured php.ini configuration, or if there is a Suhosin Patch installed for PHP. MiniBB also works in Safe Mode of PHP.
If you are going to use mailing functions of miniBB, like new reply notifications, PHP also must be compiled with sendmail or similar SMTP program. It is also possible to configure miniBB for sending emails using PHPMailer class. For mailing functions, you need an email address, which will be used in Reply-To fields of the sent messages. This email address should come from the similar domain your forums will be installed on, to avoid undelivered messages on 3rd party servers.
MiniBB modules like C.A.P.T.C.H.A. or Image Galleries also require GD Graphics library compiled with PHP, preferrably with Freetype module; for some add-ons there's also possible to plug-in the Imagick library. These specific requirements, however, are nowadays offered by the most Web hosting service providers.
If you set up the forums in UTF-8 encoding (Unicode), it would be best if you have Multibyte String Functions compiled with your installation of PHP. Then for Unicode texts, miniBB may use such functions as mb_substr, mb_strlen, mb_strtolower. However this is optional. If PHP is not compiled with these functions, miniBB could use its own custom text-parsing (but which could be a bit slower).
MySQL - the most known branded open source database. miniBB uses very native and simple MySQL commands, and if we talk about the latest releases of MySQL, its version doesn't matter a lot. However 5.1.x or greater version is still recommended for security and compatibility reasons. Also, if you have MySQL version 5.5.3 or greater, you could safely apply the 'utf8mb4' mode, which extends from a regular UTF-8 to support the majority of symbols.
It is possible to extend miniBB scripts to use another database, but it should be preferrably MySQL-compatible (for example, like MariaDB). Currently, MySQL-based commands set is the only one miniBB officially supports for its operations, but this set is supplied as a standalone module, and could be manually adopted and/or updated to support alternative databases.
If we speak about Operating System - miniBB should work with any major OS, supporting the software mentioned above. Those recommended by miniBB team are Linux-based or FreeBSD; users have reported, that it also executes on Windows or Mac OS X with no problems.
miniBB is a collection of pre-processed scripts, which produce the W3C-valid HTML output. On the client side it is accessed by any kind of modern web browser. Browsers we recommend are Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, Safari or, at least, Internet Explorer / Edge (that one supplied with the recent Microsoft Windows OS by default). They are most widely used in Internet; however, if you are using some kind of other specific browser, it also shouldn't bring a big problem in viewing miniBB-forum pages. MiniBB just has nothing specific and heavy to make troubles.
Though we would mention some specific browser's requirements:
If RSS feed is available on miniBB-based forums (i.e. the RSS add-on is installed), you probably will need the RSS Feed reader. We recommend the one supplied with Mozilla Thunderbird.
Installation and Maintaining
Despite miniBB it free and it is called 'mini', it doesn't mean you could take it and install just clicking a couple of buttons. Its installation, setup and maintaining are processes, which would require some technical experience and knowledge. This means that you should know in advance:
- how to work with plain text files, i.e. open, edit them, cut and paste the codes;
- how to properly edit PHP files, having basic knowledge about their structure;
- how to work with an FTP client, having FTP access to the hosting server, or how to upload and modify files on the server some other way;
- if required, how to create MySQL database and assign user privileges to it, like for example from cPanel, Plesk, DirectAdmin or any other alternative platform for managing your server;
- finally, how to backup your forums and files for archiving purposes.
It is also preferred that you know English, since miniBB documentation and support, basically, are provided in English only.
If you are a professional coder or administrator, most probably these requirements would make you smile. They look very common and basic, if you are in this business. However they could look tough for absolute beginners and newbies. Please note, that on miniBB.com, we do not provide free lessons on the mentioned topics. If you would like to install miniBB, but do not know how, please refer to our qualified paid support or hire a person, who'll arrange the things for you.
Some users think by mistake that they could just install the forums and forget about their existence, making profits or collecting information automatically. But if you care about quality of your forums, they will need an each-day, each-hour or even each-minute constant moderation. The person who moderates the forums could be you, i.e. the same administrative person who has installed them; or you can give administration privileges to other persons as well, called moderators. What each forum moderator should know, are basic principles of how a forum software functions. You must understand, what the term "Internet forum" actually means, before installing the software like miniBB.
If everything above seems clear and affordable for you, welcome to Download or Compile miniBB, and have your own forums running in just few minutes! Do not forget that buying exclusive paid extensions for miniBB, you are supporting it's lifecycle, and investing in your own forums, too.
Thank you in advance for understanding and choosing our forum software.