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INSTALL - Slash Installation
This document describes how to install Slash 2.2. For instructions on
installation or upgrade of previous versions of Slash, see the INSTALL
document included with those distributions.
These instructions have only been tested on Linux. Installation under
BSD and other Unix OSes should work similarly, but there are problems
with the Makefile and installtion under some non-Linux OSes. Feel free
to submit bug reports (better, patches) for any such problems. We've had
reports of the 1.0.x version of Slash running on Windows, but have done
no testing and have no further information, and have no information
about Slash 2 running on Windows.
PostgreSQL support in Slash 2 is currently alpha-quality.
Slash can always be downloaded from, from the FTP site,
and via CVS.
See the page for patches and bug reports.
Important Note
The software and hardware requirements are listed at the end of the
document, because we know you want to get right into the installation.
Please read those requirements if you have any question about what might
be required.
Upgrading information is also toward the end of the document.
Installation Notes
* For slashd (see utils/slash, which starts slashd), mod_perl (see
httpd/httpd.conf), and MySQL, we set all processes to run in GMT.
Then it is easy to convert dates to whatever the user's local time
is. If you have date offset problems, check that all of these are
properly set to run in GMT.
* You cannot have different versions of the Slash modules installed
for different sites on the same Apache server. Well, if you want to,
you can try the Apache::PerlVINC module, but this is not recommended
for performance reasons. Slash is designed to have one shared core
of code for all Slash sites on a system. (This is made easier than
it was in 1.0.x, where to customize a site, you needed to change the
module code; this should no longer be necessary.)
* All of the installation steps below should be executed as root.
Installation Procedure
There are six steps to installation. Skip the parts you already have
installed (making sure you have the correct versions). Make sure to read
the special note about Apache / mod_perl installation.
1. Install MySQL.
Please refer to MySQL documentation for compilation and/or
installation notes for any questions with this process. Find the
script that runs mysql (probably safe_mysqld) and add these lines to
the beginning of it:
export TZ
Start MySQL (it must be running for the installation of Perl modules
and Slash).
Create a database to be used by Slash.
Create a username/password that can access that database (by
default, we normally set the user to have all permissions, but that
might not be appropriate for your site; make sure that you have at
least privileges to select, insert, update, delete, create, drop,
index and alter).
2. Install perl.
perl is likely already installed on your machine; make sure its
version is at least the minimum required (see the section on
3. Install Apache and mod_perl.
You MUST install mod_perl and Apache as directed here. OK, that is
not strictly true, but unless you really know what you're doing,
just assume it's true. If you already have mod_perl installed,
it is probably not configured properly to work with Slash and
you will have to rebuild it.
If you are using the provided httpd.conf file from the slash
distribution, and find that Apache is giving you errors, chances
are mod_perl is not installed correctly, and you need to build
it from scratch. Not following this direction is one of the most
common reasons we see for a Slash install not working.
Of course, if you have your own Apache modules or build options,
you will need to modify the instructions here appropriately.
First, untar apache and mod_perl. Then, go to the mod_perl
directory, and have mod_perl build and install apache for you:
perl Makefile.PL APACHE_SRC=/where_you_have_the_source DO_HTTPD=1 \
make test
make install
NOTE: You may be unsuccessful with "make test" if the perl
modules are not yet installed. However, some Perl modules will
not install without Apache and mod_perl installed. If you wish,
come back and run "make test" after installing here, and then
installing the Perl modules, to make sure everything is OK. Also,
as of January 2002, a "make test" has thrown spurious errors for
several months because of a persistent minor bug; if you see
"Can't locate object method 'new' via package 'URI::URL'",
read this:
NOTE: If you know what you're doing, Slash will work with a DSO
Apache. Be sure you're on the latest versions of Apache and
mod_perl and remember PERL_MARK_WHERE=1 and EVERYTHING=1.
4. Install the Perl modules.
The best way to do this is with the CPAN module.
You might also wish to install each module by hand, using
distributions found on the CPAN. See the perlmodinstall manpage for
more information on installing perl modules.
Overactive CPAN
With some versions of the CPAN module, the module will try to
download and install the latest version of Perl. Watch what the
module is doing; if it begins to download an entire perl
distribution, interrupt it (hit ctrl-C) until it stops, then try
again with the CPAN module. This should not be an issue in the
latest version of Bundle::Slash.
Uninstalling Old Modules
Sometimes, you will be installing a newer version of a module
that exists elsewhere on the system. You might want to tell the
CPAN module to automatically remove older files. To do that from
the CPAN shell, type:
cpan> o conf make_install_arg UNINST=1
Old Version
If you have previously installed Bundle::Slash, you will want to
install it again, but you will need to delete the existing
version. Go to your .cpan/Bundle directory (usually
~/.cpan/Bundle/) and remove
Additional Libraries
You must have certain libraries existing on your system before
building, for Compress::Zlib and XML::Parser (see the section on
If running BSD, also install the BSD::Resource module.
Alternate DBs
If not using MySQL, just allow the installation of its drivers
to continue, and possibly fail. Then install the driver you need
(e.g., for PostgreSQL, use "DBD::Pg") using the CPAN shell.
But note -- while our design allows for supporting multiple
DBs, _actually_ supporting anything other than MySQL has
fallen by the wayside with recent (post-2.0) versions of
Slash. We haven't heard from our users that this is an
important feature and it isn't one we need ourselves, so
it's not a high priority. We welcome patches and feedback.
When installing DBIx::Password, you will be asked for various
information, the same information used to create the database
and database user in Step 1. You will also be asked for a
virtual user name, which will be the identifier for all of this
data. You can just use the name of your site, or any other
alphanumeric string. You will use this virtual user name in
other places, so do not forget it. If you don't understand what
you're doing here, don't fake it; this is a common reason we
see for Slash installations failing.
libnet Broken
libnet is currently broken somewhat in its tests. Please use
"install Net::Cmd" first, before you install anything else. If
it fails only tests 8 and 9 of t/require, then it is OK; just do
"force install Net::Cmd", then continue on with the rest of the
modules installation.
To use the CPAN module, invoke the CPAN shell:
perl -MCPAN -e shell
After it has been configured, install Bundle::Slash:
cpan> install Bundle::Slash
To read the README for any module, before or after installing:
cpan> readme MODULE
If you have problems, feel free to re-run "install Bundle::Slash".
It will safely skip anything already installed.
To read the documentation of any of the modules, once they have been
installed, type "perldoc MODULE" at the command line.
5. Install Slash.
Unpack the distribution and go to the new directory that creates,
and type:
make install
Note: you will want the GNU versions of fileutils (version 4.0
recommended, for cp and install) and make. Older versions of
install, and make and cp from other systems, might not work.
There are a few options to "make" and "make install" you may want to
option default purpose
SLASH_PREFIX /usr/local/slash Location for
installed files
INIT /etc or /etc/rc.d Location for init
USER nobody User to own files
GROUP nobody Group to own files
CP cp Name of or path to
alternate `cp`
INSTALL install Name of or path to
alternate `install`
(USER and GROUP will also be changed later on a per-site basis, in
step 6. while running install-slashsite.)
So, for example, you might type (although the default SLASH_PREFIX
is *strongly* recommended):
make SLASH_PREFIX=/home/slash
make install SLASH_PREFIX=/home/slash
When done, a configuration file for Apache will be created at
$SLASH_PREFIX/httpd/slash.conf. You can put its contents into
your httpd.conf, or you can just "Include" it in your httpd.conf.
You must do one or the other!
Please be aware that if you include $SLASH_PREFIX/slash.conf or
$SLASH_PREFIX/sites/sitename/sitename.conf more than once, or if
this file shares contents with directives in httpd.conf, that your
Slash site WILL break. The directives in $SLASH_PREFIX/slash.conf
should be run only ONCE in any any site context. Read through
$SLASH_PREFIX/slash.conf to make sure it all looks proper.
6. Install your Slash site.
Go to your installation directory (by default, /usr/local/slash) and
execute (where "VIRTUAL_USER" is the name of the virtual user given
in the DBIx::Password distribution):
bin/install-slashsite -u VIRTUAL_USER
The program will prompt for answers to several configuration
questions. Answer the questions. When done, another configuration
file will be created at $SLASH_PREFIX/$SITENAME/$SITENAME.conf. You
can put its contents unto your httpd.conf, or you can just "Include"
it in your httpd.conf.
NOTE: Read the message printed at the end of running
install_slashsite. Failure to pay attention here is another common
reason we see for Slash installations not working.
7. Start it up.
After installation of the site is done, and Apache has been stopped
and started (do NOT try to restart Apache, but do a full stop and
start), run slashd. This should be done via the init script:
/etc/init.d/slash start
slashd is the daemon that runs routine maintenance on Slash sites,
including sending out daily mailings, cleaning up the database, and
updating stories. The init script above will start up an individual
slashd daemon process process for each installed site.
Multiple Servers
You can, of course, have a separate database server from your Slash
server. Further, you can have multiple web servers for one Slash site.
Slashdot, for instance, has one primary server with all of the code
(Apache, perl, etc.), and it runs slashd and NFS. Each web server then
mounts the code read-only over NFS. Some notes:
* Make sure the MySQL server allows the user to log in from each web
server, and the NFS server.
* Make sure, if you use the same httpd tree on all machines, that the
httpd.conf is listening to the proper IP addresses. This can be done
by putting all of the IP addresses in the conf file, or by having a
separate Listen file on each machine. Similarly, make sure that each
web server's logfiles unique to each machine, not written to the NFS
Virtual Hosts
Slash has support for virtual hosts, so you can have multiple Slash
sites on one machine. Simply execute step 6 in the install process for
each Slash site (after adding a new virtual user to DBIx::Password for
In Slash, there are two variables for the root URL of the site.
absolutedir is the full URL, including protocol, while rootdir is the
URL without protocol:
rootdir //
absolutedir is used only for creating external links to the site (such
as in RSS files). rootdir is used for internal links; that way, you can
use the same HTML pages for SSL and non-SSL. You don't have to do
anything special to the code or preferences to allow it to work with SSL
by itself, SSL and non-SSL together, or non-SSL by itself.
It is possible to install and run everything here without root.
Describing the process for a non-root install would take up significant
space and time, having to account for differences in various systems,
and all the workarounds necessary for it to work.
If you must have a non-root install, consult the various documentation
for Apache, MySQL, and perl about running and installing without root
access. Then, for Slash, you simply need to set the make variables
PREFIX, SLASH_PREFIX, and INIT appropriately for your needs.
Note: Slash (or, more accurately, Apache + mod_perl and MySQL) take up a
lot of system resources. It is *not advisable* for anyone to run Slash
at all on a system, without the permission of the administrator of that
These upgrade procedures are still in testing. Please read them entirely
before beginning. We are not responsible for any loss of data or
Slash 2.0 -> Slash 2.2
Slash 2.2 is a major upgrade from Slash 2.0. It takes a little bit of
work to get it going.
2. Install Bundle::Slash. If you have done so previously, follow the
instructions for removing the existing version of Bundle::Slash
before proceeding.
3. Apply this patch to your installed Slash::Install module (probably
easiest to hand-edit the file):
--- Wed May 9 15:02:34 2001
+++ Fri Sep 28 12:44:41 2001
@@ -116,7 +116,7 @@
sub writeTemplateFile {
my($self, $filename, $template) = @_;
open(FILE, '>' . $filename) or die "$! unable to open file $filename to write to";
- for (keys %$template) {
+ for (qw(section description title page lang name template seclev)) {
next if ($_ eq 'tpid');
print FILE "__${_}__\n";
$template->{$_} =~ s/\015\012/\n/g;
4. Run "template-check" on your site, and make a note of every change
you've made to the standard templates. You will need to make those
changes again, manually, later.
This is unfortunately unavoidable, because templates include code
that changes significantly between releases. It is recommended that
you compile your changes into a THEME so they may easily be updated
and applied.
5. Stop Apache and slashd on the target machine(s).
6. Install Slash.
If installing on a different machine ...
1 Install slash 2.2 as normal. Do not yet run install-slashsite.
2 Make sure that from this machine, you can access not only the
database used for this installation, but the one used for the
old installation. You may wish to, instead of accessing that
database directly if it on another machine, dumping it and
adding it to your new database server under a different name.
3 Add a virtual user to DBIx::Password for the old installation.
If installing on the same machine ...
1 Create a new database for the new installation. You cannot use
the same database for both installations.
2 Add a new virtual user to DBIx::Password for the new database,
and update (and flush) MySQL privileges appropriately. You
cannot use the same virtual user for both installations.
3 It is highly recommended that you move /usr/local/slash (or
whatever your installation directory is) to a new location, such
as /usr/local/slash-old, and install a clean slash 2.2
installation. However, this is not necessary to do; you may
install slash 2.2 on top of the slash 2.0 installation.
The reason to not move anything is that you can keep any
customizations done (images, additional scripts and plugins,
static files, etc.). The reason to move it is so that everything
is clean. It is highly recommended that you move it, and then
manually copy back the pieces you want.
4 In any event, either move the old directory, or don't, and then
install slash 2.2 as normal. Do not yet run install-slashsite.
7. If you have plugins or themes from the old installation to install,
copy them over now. Warning: some plugins and themes might need to
be ported first. You may wish to deal with them later if they are
not yet ported to slash 2.2.
8. Run install-slashsite. Use the new virtual user.
9. Copy over any files (images, FAQs, etc.) that need to be copied, if
10. Run update script, utils/slash2toslash2.2. Read its instructions!
11. Update templates.
12. Doublecheck Apache configs (httpd/slash.conf,
site/sitename/sitename.conf). These configs have changed from the
last version. Read the comments and set them up as desired.
13. Start Apache.
14. Start slashd.
Slash 2.2.x -> Slash 2.2.y
Read all of this section before doing any of it.
The first thing to do is to, as per the instructions below under
INSTALLATION, unpack the latest distribution and run make and make
install with the proper arguments.
Overwriting Changes
This process will overwrite any customizations of your installed
modules, or customizations of the installed scripts in
/usr/local/slash/themes/ and /usr/local/slash/plugins/ (for themes
and plugins that come with Slash). If you ran install-slashsite with
the default option of using symlinks, and made customizations to the
originals instead of breaking the symlink and copying the file over,
then this will overwrite your changes.
If you did modify the original instead of a copy, then break the
symlink, copy over the original (as modified), and then continue.
The original will be copied over by the new version, and your
modified copy will remain intact.
With every update, there are changes to templates. But most people
will modify their templates. A relatively simple way to see what has
changed is to use template-tool and template-check. This procedure
should help most users deal with the integration of new templates
into an existing site (it will only work with the slashcode theme,
but a simple modification to the code of template-check can fix
Use template-tool to dump your templates into an empty
% mkdir templates
% cd templates
% template-tool -u VIRTUAL_USER -d
(Defaults to current directory.)
Use template-check to compare installed templates in
/usr/local/slash/themes/slashcode/ and /usr/local/slash/plugins/
against the templates that have been dumped.
% template-check -u VIRTUAL_USER
(Defaults to current directory.)
This will use diff to show you the differences. You can either
go into the templates with a text editor (in another window) and
change the dumped ones by hand, edit them by hand in the
Template Editor via the web browser, or take a note of every
template you want to copy over your existing template.
After each directory of templates is done, hit "q" to continue
to the next plugin/theme.
If you made changes by hand via the web, you are done.
Otherwise, take the list of templates to update, and pass the
full filenames to template-tool (this will either be the
templates you modified by hand in the dump directory, or the
unmodified ones in the installation directories). You might need
to put each filename in quotes because of the ";" character in
the filenames. This will overwrite your existing template with
the new template.
% template-tool -u VIRTUAL_USER -s LIST
Slash 1.0 -> Slash 2.2
Please read the complete documentation of utils/slash1toslash2.2. It is
a program that will convert your database from Slash 1.0 to a new Slash
2.2 database. The program documentation (which can be read with perldoc)
details exactly what process it follows to do the conversion, so you can
attempt to do it by hand if you prefer.
Below, the main software components needed are listed. The recommended
version is noted, along with the earliest version that has been tested
(or is expected) to work. The earliest versions are not necessarily
supported, but should work. perl 5.005_03 is supported, but MySQL 3.22
is not.
Version 5.6.1 (5.005_03).
Version 3.23.42 (3.23).
Version 1.3.20 (1.3.6).
Versions 1.26 (1.21).
Sendmail or other transport daemon
Refer to your OS distribution.
Perl module distributions
See and to get each
module individually; however, we recommend you download them using
the CPAN module.
The latest version of each module is recommended.
For Compress::Zlib, the zlib development library is required. For
XML::Parser, the expat library is required. If they are not present
on the system already, download and install them before installing
the modules.
The following required distributions are all included in the
Bundle::Slash distribution.
Template-Toolkit (version 2)
There are no specific hardware requirements. Apache (with mod_perl) and
MySQL both take up a lot of RAM; running a complete system with 128MB
might be possible, if you do some tuning of the configuration, but a
practical minimum 256MB is recommended, though less could be sufficient
with some tuning.Storage space depends on how busy you expect the site
to be; 250MB is possible, but a minimum 1GB is recommended. Necessary
processor speed is also dependent on how busy the site is; Pentium 133
or equivalent might work, but less than a Pentium II/200 is not
For the curious, Slashdot (as of September 2001) runs on nine machines:
nine webservers (each is Pentium III/600, 1GB RAM, 9GB hard drive), one
NFS server (600MHz PIII, 1GB RAM), and three database servers database
server (quad 600MHz PIII, 4GB RAM). One database server is live, one is
a replicated backup, and a third is for doing live searches and
performance-intensive SELECTs by daemons etc.
However, this is certainly overkill for most sites (and possibly even
overkill for Slashdot). runs on two web servers and one
NFS/database server. Many sites can run fine on just one machine for
everything (we use a minimum of two web server machines on every site
for load balancing and redundancy).
Each version of slash has a code name, and the files on CVS for that
version are tagged with that name. The current release is always MAIN.
The versioning scheme is as Linux and Perl are,
revision.version.subversion. version is even for releases, and odd for
development. The codename applies to the development version and
subsequent release.
For example, 1.0.11 is a normal release, while 1.1.0 is the first
development release for what will be the next release (either 1.2 or
The CVS repository is tagged with version numbers, so to get release
1.0.3, use tag "v1_0_3_0". The last number (in this case a zero) will be
incremented during development ("v1_0_3_1", "v1_0_3_2", etc.) until the
next release.
Here are some common reasons why Slash installations fail.
* Failure to build mod_perl with PERL_MARK_WHERE=1 EVERYTHING=1.
We emphasize this in the instructions for a reason. Go back and
reread the Installation Procedure, step 3.
* Perl module installation troubles.
If you have a unix-like system with CPAN properly installed
and no serious firewall issues, perl module installation will
usually go pretty smoothly. Some modules will have overactive
testing code; for example, if your system lacks "nslookup", some
of the net-related modules will complain and refuse to install
themselves even though it isn't strictly speaking necessary.
If you suspect overactive testing, "force install Foo::Bar" for
the offending module and then try "install Bundle::Slash" again.
We list perl 5.005_03 as supported, but 5.6.1 is recommended.
If you're having CPAN installation troubles, upgrading to the
latest version will make life easier. Note that you'll want to
recompile mod_perl/Apache after upgrading perl.
* Multiple Perls installed.
If you have more than one binary file named "perl", trouble
awaits. It's OK to have a "/usr/bin/perl5.00503" even after
installing 5.6.1, but if your "/usr/bin/perl" is a different
version from "/usr/local/bin/perl", you're in for a world of hurt.
* httpd.conf errors.
After you "install-slashsite", you're told that you probably
want to add "Include /usr/local/slash/httpd/slash.conf" to
its httpd.conf. Note that that file Include's your site-specific
conf file at /usr/local/slash/site/sitename/sitename.conf.
One way or another those site-specific directives have to be
processed by Apache.
Are you doing virtual hosting? Make sure you've set it up
* Database authentication issues.
For each dynamic page your Slash site delivers, an Apache httpd
child needs to connect to your MySQL server. There's a chain of
access to get from Apache to MySQL and a number of places where it
can break:
* The Apache child httpd process needs to have read access to
your DBIx/ module file. That process is probably
running as "nobody:nobody" (or similar). If you don't know
where DBIx/ was installed, try:
# perl -MDBIx::Password -le 'print $INC{"DBIx/"}'
If that fails, it's probably not installed; check also
# locate DBIx/ | grep perl
Make sure the module is installed and that "nobody:nobody"
can read its .pm file. If you've sharing that file over the
network, did you set up ownership correctly?
(If you are concerned about security on a multiuser system,
first, don't let people on your system you don't trust, and
second, you may wish to chmod DBIx/ 750, give it
a group, and set Apache to run with that group.)
* The DBIx/ file needs to be correctly configured.
Open it up with a text editor and make sure $virtual1 contains
an entry for your Slash virtual user that is correct in every
respect: driver, (MySQL) username, database, password, host,
and connect string. These are the values you typed in when
you installed the module but maybe you made a typo.
If you have only one machine for your whole setup, host can be
"localhost". Otherwise use an IP number.
* Network connectivity.
Can the Apache machine connect to the MySQL machine?
* MySQL permissions.
The username field in your DBIx/ file refers to
a MySQL user which you set up in step 1 of the Installation
Procedure. Make sure this user has permission to connect
to the Slash site's database you also set up in step 1
(and check it from the Apache machine over the network too).
If you don't fully understand MySQL permissions, don't guess;
start your reading here:
Make sure you don't confuse the different types of "users":
* Apache user -- a unix system user account, e.g. "nobody";
* DBIx::Password virtual user -- SlashVirtualUser directive;
* MySQL user -- DBIx::Password virtual user field, points to
a database user.
If you've doublechecked all this, you're sure you followed the
directions, and it still doesn't work, stop in IRC #slash on and ask your question. Someone there may know
the answer.