Content Management Systems

i need a system that will use graphics i create and will let me customize colors and layout, while also remaining consistent between several joined communities with different graphics for each.

i’ve looked at mambo and joomla and am now looking at typo3 - didn’t know about typo4 until i looked at the dreamhost wiki.

for a cms, i need to have a database. if i’m creating different communities with subdomains, do i need a different install of my chosen cms for each subdomain? and a different database for each?

is there a how-to on CMS’s somewhere that someone could point me to? i know i need to make a database, but i really don’t know what else i have to do. and during test installs of mambo i become completely lost. i’m not stupid, i just have no idea where to start learning what.

please advise with delicacy at your leisure, folks.

When making a decision like yours, I think it’s important to research popularity, and I don’t mean with web consumers only. The more popular an open-source product is, the more apt it is to have a good developer base. Since Joomla split off from Mambo in late 2005, this Google trending result is limited to 2006 and speaks for itself.

Joomla can do all the things you’re asking about, and a lot more. You can bridge the various products like Galleries, Forums, etc, or install them independently. I presume Joomla and Mambo are still somewhat similar in terms of UI, so both can be a little overwhelming at first. The info is out there though, and a lot of people are happy to help. Here are some good places to jump off with further research. Keep reading, and keep asking questions. :slight_smile:

Joomla Installation Guide:
Joomla Developer Manual:
Available Joomla Extensions:

thank you for the response and links. i will take a second look. i’ve started joomla’s install previously.

can you point me to a link on the net that just talks about CMS in general? i know i need a database. how do i know if my dreamhost account has the right things to run a site that uses a CMS? how do i know if i have php scripting allowed? when i make a database, it seems to get some sort of default name. can i rename it to suit the instance of the CMS that i’m working with?

so many questions that the individual tutorials for each piece of software doesn’t seem to answer. they assume a certain bit of knowledge - that i don’t seem to have!

again, thank you for replying.

Hold on before getting too worried and continue to do some research, you’re on the right path but are seeing this as more difficult than it is. Part of the point of a CMS is to take some technical requirements off the webmaster who selects it. If you have to design and manually create all the necessary tables and code, you’re no longer talking about a CMS. You’re talking about a custom solution.

Probably about 90% of the time, what you need done for a CMS is automated by scripts designed by it’s user community. You don’t have to code something until you get past the first stage. Custom work allows you to implement cool stuff that you think is innovative, templates that aren’t easy to pull off, unique functionality, etc.

I do a lot of custom development because some stuff just isn’t out there yet. I am constantly fighting an internal battle regarding open source though. All this great stuff was made available by dedicated developers for nothing. Using their offerings, I was able to pull off some projects in days instead of months. It’s sometimes a little tough to give the awesome stuff back to the communities though.

I’ll leave the answer as an exercise for the reader, who knows I am still a capitalist. Still, I think it’s only right to give some cool things back to the community, but there might be some that stay close to the chest.

Check these:

thank you.

the only part that scares me really is knowing what to do in the first place. i’m not yet panicked because i’m not suffering from any timelines but my own. however, every time i try to follow these tutorials, i get lost because they start speaking above my knowledge base.

i know they are meant to be worry free, and that the work is really done for the user by the developer. but there are things that a user still has to do in order to use these packs. i just want to know what those things are, like the list of questions i gave. i’d love some links that answer that. maybe the ones you gave have the answers. i will take a look.

just wanted to say thank you above all =)

[quote]how do i know if my dreamhost account has the right things to run a site that uses a CMS? how do i know if i have php scripting allowed? when i make a database, it seems to get some sort of default name. can i rename it to suit the instance of the CMS that i’m working with?..

…there are things that a user still has to do in order to use these packs. i just want to know what those things are, like the list of questions i gave.[/quote]
Your list essentially looks like you want to ascertain that you’ll be able to use a CMS here at Dreamhost. Given that we’re both DH customers, talking about my experiences using Joomla on the DH forums, I figured it was reasonably evident that you can use a CMS. I can see where there may be some confusion though, so let me clarify that every hosting level here can do this.

Please understand that I’m trying to be completely honest here, and hope to not come across as patronizing. With Dreamhost you can either implement Joomla as your CMS with an automated install process, or you can rely on your expertise to install an alternative CMS manually. There are at least a handful of people on this forum that use Joomla, and seem willing to offer advice.

After multiple attempts to bring up various CMS installations, you found that you always ended up getting stuck because you simply didn’t know where to start. There is no reason to be upset that you don’t just know this stuff the first time through, but I’ve provided pretty much the most helpful and beginner oriented resources I can think of.

Until you get the first earnest attempt under your belt, using a lot of Google and wiki searches, there seems to be only one answer here. If you’re going to go for it, you should use Joomla and the one-click install offered by Dreamhost. There is no less complicated method of getting started available here.

Joomla Forum:
Joomla FAQs:,49.0.html

I’m basically an ordinary web user and I’ve managed to install all sorts of CMS’s: drupal, mambo, pmachine, expression engine, plus various forums and galleries. Here are some things that I see or do over and over again to install these packages that I wasn’t born knowing :slight_smile: My suggestion is to google the key terms to learn about them, and read instructions that mention them in context.

  1. Learn to log in to your shell account. You can do many or even most things necessary to install a CMS using a good FTP client, but it is helpful to know what the FTP client is doing ‘underneath the covers.’ I also find that working in the shell is often a lot faster.

  2. Learn a few basic UNIX or Linux commands to do things like make a directory (mkdir), list files (ls or ls -a), change directory (cd), rename a file or directory (mv). If you are logged in to your shell, you can usually type ‘man cd’ to read help information about cd or most other commands. Or just google.

  3. Learn how to change file and directory permissions. Almost every install requires you to set various permissions to various settings. You might use an ftp client to do this, or you might do it in the shell, using the ‘chmod’ command.

  4. Learn how to unpack an archive using ‘tar’. You’ll also want to learn how to make an archive using tar, as it will allow you to make backups of entire directories with ease. Many CMS’s come packaged as ‘tarballs’ and will need to be unpacked into the final directory structure. There are also programs that do the unpacking (Stuffit, WinZip etc) or you can do it on the command line in your shell account.

  5. Learn to use a text editor and open, edit, save, and close .php files without damaging them :slight_smile: You will often have to open a file named something like config.php and change some values, usually to list the name of your mysql database, the ‘username’ of the database, the password for the database, and the name of the web host of the database.

Dreamhost will let you choose PHP4 or PHP5 for any given domain, so as you read the system requirements for stuff, if it says ‘only works in PHP5’ or whatever, don’t worry. You’ll probably be able to run it.

Your web panel will lead you through the process of creating an empty database. As mentioned up-topic, MOST installers will automatically populate the database. The key things I suspect are behind some database installation frustrations are these:

  1. The database must have a ‘hostname’ and at Dreamhost your database is NEVER ‘localhost’ - you will ALWAYS need to specify some name like ‘’. Almost every application will ask you for these things, all of which are set up by the DH panel: username, password, hostname, database name. The username and password are special to the database and not your regular login. Again, the panel will lead you through it.

  2. WAIT for the hostname to propagate. Sometimes they seem to go ‘live’ in minutes, other times it takes until tomorrow! I usually check by clicking on the database on my web panel. When the empty database finally loads up without error in phpMyAdmin (the database tool thingy) I know I can reach the database and it’s probably safe to start installing my application.

I don’t know if this gets anywhere near the kind of things you are looking for. Apologies if too simple.

Great post, Haggis. I think I was just guilty of doing the exact same thing that kskellington6 was talking about. Jumping past the mandatory fundamentals because I assumed too much. You listed some basics, but they’re crucial.

One (embarrassing) thing that comes to mind from quite a while back, was knowing I could move up a directory from “/topdir/subdir” using “cd /topdir” but being oblivious to the fact that “cd …” did the same.

Sorry if getting the right answers from me was like pulling teeth. :slight_smile:


That was a great post, and very accurately describes exactly what I encountered as “newbie” installing CMS systems at Dreamhost. I think your post is a candidate for a Wiki page! :slight_smile: