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Lessn More 2.5.1


Lessn More is a free, open-source personal URL shortener with a lot of enhancements over the original 2009 Lessn.


  • The option to specify custom short URLs (/rickroll) when shrinking
  • Your choice of random URLs (/fN6rBX) or incremental (/9, /a, /b…)
  • Bookmarklets for shrinking (and/or tweeting) URLs — with support for custom short URLs
  • Statistics on redirection usage
  • An API that supports the same commands as the web interface
  • Your choice of all-lowercase or mixed-case short URLs, and whether or not to avoid lookalike characters
  • An optional "banned word list" to prevent auto-generating offensive URLs
  • Theoretically works with a huge number of URLs in the database
  • The ability to add multiple redirections that point to the same long URL
  • Trims punctuation from the right of the slug (the unique part of the short URL), per best practices
  • Compatible with MySQL for sure and should work with Postgres and SQLite (these DBs are not officially supported, so use at your own risk and please contribute fixes)
  • Will return http: or https: short URLs to match the current protocol your server is responding to, by default; you can manually specify your preferred protocol

Attention to detail

  • Adding a new slug for a URL already in the database will become the "canonical" short URL, and will be returned if you ask Lessn More (either by API or not) for a short URL to the original resource
  • Lessn More lets you change the character set you want to use to generate short URLs on-the-fly with minimal or no "wasted" or skipped possible slugs, and yet the insertion algorithm is fast. (Not as fast as Lessn 1.0, by necessity, since Lessn 1.0 did not allow custom short URLs; but the worst-case insertion time after upgrade or a switch of insertion algorithms is on the order of O(log(n)) where n is the number of redirections in your database, and the common case is on the order of O(1) (constant time).)
  • Compliant with URL shortener best practices and standards whenever possible
  • An easy migration script will upgrade your database from an existing Lessn or Lessn More installation.


  • It is not recommended to use this shortener in incremental mode when there is a good chance that two or more URLs will be shrunk at the same time. (Simultaneous reads are, of course, fine.)
  • Lessn More is developed against MySQL and other databases are theoretically supported via PDO, but YMMV. Please report any issues.
  • Changing the character set used for URL generation, when in conjunction with incremental mode, is a supported use case but should be done seldom, and with deliberation.


  • PHP 5.6 or newer
  • PHP's PDO (usually included in PHP builds)
  • Database: MySQL (most solidly supported), PostgreSQL, or SQLite (though see this for SQLite support)
  • While your server doesn’t need to be Apache, the project ships with an Apache .htaccess file to handle redirecting requests to the Lessn More redirection engine, for your convenience. Michael McKelvaney has written about using Nginx instead. For IIS, bigworm reports success with this.



Lessn was the original personal URL shortening service, written by Shaun Inman. It required PHP, MySQL, and mod_rewrite.


Buttered URLs is a Lessn fork by Jeremy Knope. Buttered URLs added logging, custom URLs, a migration mechanism, and support for more database types.


Lessn More is a Buttered URLs fork by Alan Hogan. Lessn More increased the robustness of the insertion algorithm, prevented slug conflicts, updated the bookmarklets, added multiple auto-shorten modes, banned word lists, and enhanced security.


Trims punctuation from the right of the slug, per best practices


Better stats page.

More compatible with sqlite (see #7).

Other small fixes and improvements.

Supports a custom timezone in config.php.

Special thanks to Matt Wiebe for a lot of these changes.


Returns https:// short URLs when running on a secure server.

Allows shrinking of non-Web URIs such as ftp: or magnet:.


Users logging in over HTTPS will be authenticated with a cookie that will not leak out over HTTPS

Cookies are now set with HTTP_ONLY, which means rogue JavaScript cannot steal your authentication cookie

There is now a LOG OUT button

Lessn More now checks for an updated version of itself whenever you use the web interface. (You still have to manually upgrade!)


Stopped checking for new versions of Lessn More whiled logged out, because it will always fail then.


Big news! Now you can configure Lessn More to generate random slugs of a desired length instead of incremental, guessable slugs. This means you will generate URLs like /8RTvaN, /Nvb3QP instead of /a, /b, /c, if desired.

The link in LM's header now points to your main admin page, and the update check info in the footer will always link to the LM project home page.


Fixes JavaScript and the Back button on the stats page when on HTTPS.


Lessn is offered as-is, sans support and without warranty. Copyright © 2009-10 Shaun Inman and contributors. Offered under a BSD-like license; see license.txt.


Installation instructions are different depending on if you are upgrading or doing a fresh install.

All the following refer to files inside the dist folder.

Fresh Install

ONLY follow these instructions if you are not upgrading!

  1. Copy or rename /-/config-example.php to /-/config.php.

  2. Open /-/config.php in a plaintext editor and create a Lessn username and password then enter your database connection details. You may also choose other settings such as authentication salts, a default home page, and your current time zone.

  3. For the shortest URLs possible, upload the contents of this directory (dist) to your domain's root public folder.

  4. Visit to create the necessary database tables. (Watch for errors.)

  5. Visit to log in & start using Lessn More! Be sure to grab the bookmarklets.

NOTE: If your Lessn'd urls aren't working you probably didn't upload the .htaccess file. Enable "Show invisible files" in your FTP application. It's also possible that your host doesn't like the <IfModule> directives; try removed them and just leaving the Rewrite* lines that were wrapped by the <IfModule>. (This seems to happen on 1and1). Or, maybe you aren’t on Apache. That’s OK, probably — see the Requirements section.


If you are upgrading from a previous version of Lessn or ButteredURLs:

Upgrading from Lessn 1.0.0 or 1.0.1

  1. Using a tool like PhpMyAdmin or the MySQL CLI change the checksum index type to INDEX (from UNIQUE).
  2. Continue below with "ALL VERSIONS"

ALL VERSIONS: Upgrading to Lessn More 2

  1. You are strongly encouraged to back up your database.
  2. Note some old redirections so you can manually check they still work after upgrading (they should, but hey, it's important).
  3. Manually merge your old configs into the new config file. There will be new options you will want to make decisions about.
  4. Upload all lessn/BU files, excluding config.php, or making sure to use the new one.
  5. Go to where N is 2 if upgrading from Lessn 1.0, or
    N is 4 if upgrading from ButteredURLs 1.1.
  6. Test some old known working redirections
  7. Delete install.php.
  8. Grab the new bookmarklets with custom short URL support!

Congratulations. You are running the latest version of Lessn More.

Upgrading from Lessn More 2.0 or 2.1 to LM 2.2

Just upload the latest copy of Lessn More to your server, but skip or delete install.php.

Note that since v2.2, there is only a config-example.php file in the distribution, and no config.php file. You will not need to take care to avoid overwriting your existing config.php file, but do take care not to replace the whole /-/ folder and your config.php file; please make a backup copy of it before upgrading.

Upgrading from Lessn More 2.2 to 2.3

You only need the new /-/index.php for this upgrade. Optionally, add the new PROTOCOL_OVERRIDE constant from config-example.php into your config.php.

Upgrading from 2.3.0 to 2.4.0

Just copy over all the files in dist/ to your web server’s root (or wherever you previously installed Lessn More). Skip or delete install.php.

Upgrading from 2.4 to 2.5.0

Please replace the files on your site with those in the dist/ folder (keeping your config file). Add the new constant RANDOM_SLUG_LENGTH to your config.php. Be sure you get the new random_compat folder in /-/library if you are not on on PHP 7 or newer.

Upgrading from 2.5.0 to 2.5.1

Only /-/pages/stats.php changed in this release.


You can find API documentation here. It's super simple.


To report an issue or check known issues, visit the Lessn More issue tracker on GitHub.

Installation tips

  1. You may need to install the following packages for PHP:

    • php-bcmath
    • php-pdo
  2. If you are getting 404 Not Found errors when you try to use the shortlinks, and you have got the .htaccess file in place correctly, check if your Apache httpd.conf has AllowOverride set to All. If it is None then the .htaccess will get ignored.

  3. To help debug installation problems, add this line to the end of ./-/config.php:

     define('DISPLAY_ERRORS', true);


A self-hosted PHP-based URL shortener with stats and custom urls. Alan Hogan’s fork of Shaun Inman’s Lessn.







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