Installing Slash for a Private Project

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If you've thought about using Slash for a personal project, read this first, and learn from Paul's frustrations and do-overs.
Red Hat 8 Footnote

I tested these instructions on Red Hat 8 and initially had problems with the pre-installed Apache 2. When I downgraded to the 1.3.27 version of Apache/mod_perl, things worked perfectly. The only downside was the resulting system was as slow as molasses. This slowness had more to do with the fact that Red Hat 8 was running on my two-year-old laptop, configured with 64MB of RAM (well below the recommended minimum for Slash) than anything else. On top of this, I tested the system from localhost using the Mozilla browser, which did not help matters.

Resources

I could not have made it through the install and configuration of MySQL without a copy of my trusty reference, MySQL, written by Paul DuBois and published by New Riders, 2000.

The source code for wwwb is part of the bundle.

The SLASH web site

The Perl web site

The CPAN Repository

The zlib web site

The expat web site

The Apache web site

The mod_perl web site

Slashdot

Use Perl

Paul Barry lectures at The Institute of Technology, Carlow in Ireland. His first book, Programming the Network with Perl, was published in February 2002, by Wiley. His next book, Bioinformatics, Biocomputing and Perl, is a collaboration with Michael Moorhouse. It is due to be published in late 2003, again by Wiley.

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Slash hosting?

Anonymous's picture

While LJ audience is probably mostly system administrators, pros, and hobbyists looking for roll-your-own solutions, there are many of us who would rather not babysit a server, and would be happy to pay someone else to do that for us. So is there anyone offering Slash hosting for a reasonable price? I get OpenACS hosting for $30 a month, which frees up my time and energy for actually building the site, creating and editing content, etc. I'm sure there would be many takers for Slash hosting -- is anyone offering it?

Re: Slash hosting?

Anonymous's picture

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

Anonymous's picture

The most important line in the entire article:

The true extent of the folly of relying on RPM binaries was becoming clear to me.

I hate RPM.

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

Anonymous's picture

Goddamnit, you all ripped off my original work!

THE ORIGINAL SLASH FAQ

Slash 0.2 for fsck's sake!

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

barryp's picture

I didn't look much further from the Slash site for help on installing. This FAQ document and the "for Dummies" link referenced above would have helped assuming, of course, that I'd followed the standard advice: RTFM. :-)

Get HELP! with a how-to

Anonymous's picture

What you need to do before installing slash is get help. The best help available usually comes in the form of a how-to. And here is one, How-To Install Slash for Dummies
this is an excellent how-to that got me through the install process. One thing that probably got in your way is not installing apache from the source. The how-to is right on the money on that:

NOTE!! If you already have apache and/or mod_perl installed via RPM or .DEB packages, its very very unlikely slash is going to work for you. You can try to use them, but 9.99 times out of 10 it will fail miserably in some form or other and you'll be frustrated as to why this or that didn't work correctly. For this documentation, I'm assuming you've either just installed your distro without apache, or correctly removed all apache traces via your package manager.

I even managed to set it up on OS X!
Furthermore, once it's installed, it's no maintenance and works perfectly.

Pierre-Etienne Chartier
--patience et longueur de temps font plus que force ni que rage

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

Anonymous's picture

I used the slash engine for about a year for a personal website. The hassles of getting all the perl modules to work together and upgrading to a new version of slash was just too much for me to handle (I have a kid now, and don't have a lot of extra time).

I finally installed ezPublish from ez.no and have been very happy with it.

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

Anonymous's picture

How does it work? I am running my website at some hosting company. The way I upload files is through ftp.

Do I need to move hosting to ezSystems? Or I can still host my web site at my hosting company and do editing from eZ publish desktop?

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

Anonymous's picture

Slash is way too complicated right now. I tried it last year and gave up with compilation problems. I thought things have improved by now, but theyre not by the sounds of this article.

I wonder if theres a standard extensible content management apache-based software that can handle mysql, postgre and others. It should preferrably be built in C/C++ and portable to all POSIX systems. Would be nice if it plugged into apache2 as well, and came with most RPM and dpkg based distros. Now theres a software niche to be filled.

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

Anonymous's picture

While Slash is a neat tool with quite a few bells and whistles, IMHO it's far too technical (as the article indicates) and requires too much knowledge to install and run.

Far better solutions are right here. Linux Journal opted for PHP-Nuke. The PostNuke CMS adds many features and cleaner code onto the old PHP-Nuke base.

"Normal" users will find these *Nuke-based CMSs far, far easier to install, run, and maintain.

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

Anonymous's picture

I've installed PostNuke on 3 different boxes all with apache/php installed from binaries. Install is pretty much point and click aside from copying the PN source into your html folder. It's not Slash, but its close, and there's a wide range of folks developing add-on modules. Definitely a better choice in IMHO.

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project - use something else.

barryp's picture

A couple of points on this.

First off, what drew me to Slash was my experience with UsePerl. I also wanted something rock solid, and as Slash is used by Slashdot, that's what I believe I'm getting.

Granted, my article shows how complex things can get when you try to cut corners (which it what I did). I had a choice when writing the article. I could just show the correct steps and commands to install Slash. This was certainly tempting. If I described a perfect install, everyone would think I was "on-the-ball" and an all-round smart guy. Or, I could describe what actually happened: I made a few mistakes and paid the price. This was not Slash's fault, it was mine. If I had done what the documentation told me to do, I wouldn't have had the problems I had ...

When it comes down to it, we are all human and we all make mistakes. It is often comforting to newbies to see that things can go wrong even for those of us who should know, or be, better. I'm reminded of Jerry Pournelle's articles from the print-version of BYTE - he was forever stumbling about in the dark with some of the things he did, but it was always great to read what he went through, because these types of things can happen to anyone, not just newbies.

As for using PHP-Nuke over Slash, well, for every good system, there's always alternatives. Each to their own, is what I say. Thanks for your comment.

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

Anonymous's picture

Another option other than Slash (which seems like overkill, but you'll be scoffing when you see my alternative) is to use Zope and your Zope-oriented CMS of choice. I work in a small office, and decided to use Zope to help me keep track of my "to-do" list of computer repairs. I don't know if Squishdot (the Slash work-similar) works on the newest versions of Zope yet, as there are problems porting it to newer versions.

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

Anonymous's picture

If you'd like to use the latest Zope, check out Plone:

http://www.plone.org

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

barryp's picture

One of the great things about having the article published on-line is the ability to add to the article after it's "out there". I noticed my Slash site wasn't properly displaying the number of comments made to a story. It turned out the slash daemon wasn't running (even though I thought it was). On RedHat (and similar systems) the "nobody" account uses "/sbin/nologin" as it's default shell (in the "/etc/passwd" file). This needs to be changed to, for example, "/bin/bash" for the slash daemon to function properly. So, if you are not seeing a comment count on your slash site, check "/etc/passwd" to see which default shell the owner of your slash site is operating under and change the shell value if needs be.

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

Anonymous's picture

> On RedHat (and similar systems) the "nobody" account uses "/sbin/nologin" as it's default shell (in the "/etc/ passwd" file). This needs to be changed to, for example, "/bin/bash" for the slash daemon to function properly. So, if you are not seeing a comment count on your slash site, check "/etc/passwd" to see which default shell the owner of your slash site is operating under and change the shell value if needs be.

That could open up a security issue for other daemons that run under 'nobody' and expect the default no-shell behavior. The better thing to do would be to create a separate 'slash' user with the limited priviliges needed and the shell you need, and change 'nobody' back to the no-login shell.

Re: Installing Slash for a Private Project

barryp's picture

This is certainly good advice. Thanks.

nobody user -> slash user

Anonymous's picture

Paul, you certainly are a great sport!

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