Okay. I downloaded the program, installed it on Dreamhost, and checked it out. The whole install process took about 3 minutes (I already had a database setup, so I didn't have to wait for hostname to propagate). An important note here is that I was running the test installation under PHP4.
A number of points are worth mentioning here.
1) The installation is completely straight-forward if you RTFM - Check out the "readme.txt" file in the .zip
2) Although the program itself is GNU/GPL, the authors provide installation services for $9.95 (which seems more than reasonable - though you really should not need that)
3) To use this program with any degree of success in customizing the output, you will need a reasonable understanding of HTML, as there is no WYSIWYG editor, and all the "editing" is done in text input boxes. In other words, you could make a real mess of things if you don't know what you are doing.
4) The "demo" running on the author's site is running PHP4. While I have not gone through all the code, it appears to me that you will need to do some extensive recoding to get it to work under PHP5, due to the way variables are handled. Alternately, you could reset your webspace to use PHP4.
5) The permissions the program instructs you to use are unsafe and I strongly recommend that you do not run this program configured as instructed. The install program directs you to change several directories to "777" and instructs you to set you config.ini.php to "666". As Dreamhost runs PHP-CGI as your user, you can probably set the permissions more restrictively (755 for directories and 644 for files) without problems (my initial "quick test" worked, but I did not test extensively) but YMMV.
6) It appears that, in addition to setup/config issues, and the PHP4/5 issue, youo have not managed to sucessfully upload all the files and folders that are a part of the program. All the "debugging" ion the world will just leave you frustrated trying to get a system of this size to work without all the files reliably in place. You did not indicate what ftp client you are using, but other users have expressed difficulty withy partial file transfers with certain software. If you elect to "unzip" the package on your computer, and try to ftp all the files/folder to your webspace, you have to get all the files, and all the files must transfer completely and in the proper "mode". Otherwise, you will *never get this running.
I think you should understand something here. While I am more than happy to "point you in the right direction", and give you *specific" help if I can, I can not undertake here to teach you all the things you will need to understand to run this script responsibly. You need to take it upon yourself to "google" a bit and learn at least a little about PHP, MySQL, and webspace /server administration in order to be a responsible user of a shared hosting system. Enough of the lecture, here is how to install the script on Dreamhost:
*** IMPORTANT POINT NUMBER 1***
First of all: Delete all the files and folders created by your previous "borked" install attempts - This is important. You can do it with the shell if you know how, or use your ftp program if necessary, but it needs to be done.
Note: I'm going to describe how to do this the "easy way", in hopes of encouraging you to research further the tools used here.
1) Set your webspace to use PHP4 via the Manage Domains section of the DH Control Panel.
2) If you have not already done so, create a MySQL database for the program to use (using the DH panel), and record the host name, user name, user password, and database name as described earlier in this thread. If you already have that info from your "borked" install, that will work.
3) Log into your shell account using ssh or telnet
4) Navigate to your publicly accessable webspace using cd (in the examples that follow, (enter) is not to be typed, it means "hit the 'enter' key"):
cd yourdomain.com (enter)
5) Create a directory for your topsites program (name it whatever you want - I'll use "topsites" for the examples) using mkdir:
mkdir topsites (enter)
6) navigate to the direcorty you just created using cd:
cd topsites (enter)
7) Get a fresh copy of the "zip" archive for installation using wget:
** note that this should be all on one line with a space between the wget and the url - the forum bungles this sometimes)
8) you will now have a file named "phpfaber_topsites.zip" in your directory, and you will need to "unzip" it:
**Unzip will extract the files from the archive and place them in the appropriate directories. Just set back and watch.
9) Navigate in your web browser to "http://www.yourdomain.com/topsites". This will cause the install.php program to run.
10) Complete the form presented by the installer with the information you previously collected about your database.
11) Follow the rest of the instructions in the install. I recommend, however, that you set the permissions they tell you to set to "777" to "755" and what they recommend setting as "666" to "644". This seemed to work fine in my 30 minites or so of playing with the program, but if problems later develope you can tweak the permissions as necessary.
12) Enjoy learning enough HTML to customize the site contents and templates.
you are done.
You can accomplish the zip file transfer and unpacking with by transferring the "zip" file to the appropriate directory on the server, and unzipping from there, or ftping everything already extracted into folder on your own computer if you really don't want to use the shell, but you will have to make sure everything makes it intact and in the proper place (and transferred in the correct ftp "mode!) for it to work. Try it my way, you'll be glad you did and hopefully it will encourage you to learn a bit about using the shell.