This video podcast features a tutorial screencast explaining how to use the free web-based software installation tool Fantastico to install the open source learning management system Moodle onto a custom sub-domain of a website you pay a web host to use. I use the web host Siteground, which permits me to create an unlimited number of MySql databases to use with different web applications. These can include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, TikiWiki, and Moodle to name a few. These choices are amazing, particularly considering the fact that a robust account with a commercial host like Siteground costs less than $100 US per year. Moodle is a robust, flexible, and powerful learning management system which is entirely free to use as an open source project. Fantastico and CPanel make it very straightforward (I hesitate to say “easy” but that word almost fits here) to install and keep these programs updated on your website. Check the podcast shownotes for links to referenced programs.

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Show Notes:

  1. Free QuickTime software is required to view this video podcast
  2. Siteground – my webhost
  3. CPanel (WikiPedia entry)
  4. Fantastico (WikiPedia entry)
  5. Moodle (WikiPedia entry)
  6. Moodle (official website)
  7. My Moodle (Speed of Creativity Moodle sites)
  8. Subdomain (WikiPedia entry)
  9. CyberDuck (the free FTP client for Mac I use)
  10. ScreenFlow (the approx. $100 screencasting software program I used to create this tutorial)

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[tags]moodle,siteground,fantastico,cpanel,install,setup,tutorial,howto,configure[/tags]


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  • Randy

    Wes, nice video. Although Fantastico does a great job, there are some things to be aware of when using it to install Moodle. I recently worked on a Moodle install for a group that used Fantastico for the installation. Read about it at http://k12opensourcehelp.com/blogs/randy-orwin/fantastico-install-moodle-do-not Two things in particular to look at; 1) is your version of Fantastico installing the database and all of the tables and fields as UTF8? In this case all were latin which can cause some problems. If you go to the “Site Administration -> Server -> Environment section of your site this will show if UTF8 was used in the install. 2) The other thing to be aware of is the location of the Moodle data directory. By default Fantastico places this directory in your Moodle root directory which can make it accessible by anybody that knows what they are doing, which can be a security risk. Moodle will tell you there is a potential security risk if this is the case if you go to the notifications section in your Site Administration area.

    This is just an FYI to make folks aware of a couple of issues. Additionally if you are going to use 3rd party modules you want to do a manual install any way. I am not putting down Fantastico in any way because it is a great tool, but for production sites you may want to consider a manual install.

  • Randy: Thanks for these pointers and tips. I’ve worked with WordPress a lot more than Moodle or Drupal and I do prefer a manual install for it. Since I’ve done it multiple times now that isn’t a mystery, but each program is a little different setup-wise and takes some time to learn. I did a manual install of MediaWiki for the StoryChasers wiki recently and was very impressed with how easy it was. As you point out, however, it is important how secure the install is, not just how easy it is to setup initially.

    Is there a straightforward way to move my Moodle root directory on my install that I did with Fantastico without reinstalling everything from scratch? I could do that of course and learn how to do the manual install… but if there is a way to move the directory and achieve the more secure functionality I’d prefer to do that I think.

  • Randy

    Wes: Just move your moodle data directory to someplace that is outside of your web root. Once you have moved your directory/folder to the more secure location, go to the Moodle core files folder and open the config.php file and change the path to the moodledata folder so it reflects the current location. That should take care of it. Just make sure the permissions move along with the folder.

  • Wes,
    One word of warning. Fantastico is so simple it may cause overconfidence (at least it did in me). If you ever need to upgrade Moodle, I strongly recommend backing up everything on your site first. If you have done any manual installations of modules or plugins, Fantasticao could fail.
    The combination of manual module installations and an aborted Fantastico upgrade left me in a situation where I couldn’t figure out how to go back to the previous version of Moodle, and couldn’t figure out how to finish the upgrade. In the end, I ended up blowing away the database and reloading the new version of Moodle using Fantastico.
    A real pain, but a valuable lesson learned.
    Have a great day,
    Kent

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