Forum upgrades

Filed under: Software and Technology by Hari
Posted at 16:47 IST (last updated: Fri, May 8, 2009 @ 17:36 IST)
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I was helping my brother upgrade his newly launched forum from SMF 1.0.5 to SMF 1.1 RC. All right, so we should have gone ahead and installed 1.1 RC in the first place. But since Fantastico allows installs of 1.0.5 with a single click of the mouse, we thought it would save us the trouble of uploading the installation files and upgrade later at our convenience.

Actually it is a simple upgrade procedure. Just upload and overwrite the old SMF files with the upgraded versions of those files and run upgrade.php. Right! That's what I was thinking too.

It appears that SMF will not work unless you absolutely set the file permissions exactly the way it should be. So first, the upgrade script refused to work at all. At that point, we thought we had somehow screwed up the installation because we kept getting HTTP 500 errors. So we started with a clean plate and reinstalled SMF 1.0.5 all over again and restored the database. Then we tried upgrading again and we got the same error. Now I was convinced that something else was wrong and we had done exactly what the upgrade procedure told us to do. Then with a little bit of searching around in the SMF forums, we realized that there was a problem with file permissions. Finally we managed to set the correct file permissions 755 to upgrade.php and it worked fine. Although there was a bit of trouble with the cache loading the previous error pages which at first led us to believe that we had made another mistake, it sorted itself out all right in the end. We'll now be working on bringing the forum back online after making a few changes to the templates.

I had mentioned before that SMF is definitely not the most intuitive forum software out there from the administrator's point of view. Whatever be the drawbacks of phpBB, it is definitely a much more user-friendly and admin-friendly forum software. However I think the current problems are quite minor and with some time, these little niggles should be smoothed out by the developers of this feature-rich forum package. I eagerly await the next major release of SMF (whenever it is due).

By the way, phpBB has released 2.0.18 after a long period and it's a massive upgrade for those who are doing the code changes manually. Just a tip if you have a heavily modded board - I would suggest applying the upgrade in an offline test server and test it out thoroughly before you take it to your live forum. In any case, always follow the golden rule: take a back up of everything on your server before you proceed. Better safe than sorry!

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