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READ ME FIRST: answers to common questions


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Nigel's profile picture
Posts: 1643

02 June 2009, 9:41 PM

Here are the answers to some common questions we see on the forums:

Mahara won't install!

First things first: have you been reading and following the installation instructions?

There is a troubleshooting page that may have an answer for you.

If the installer is crashing and you can't figure out why, look in your apache error log for your Mahara installation - it often has more information than the installer screen does about a given error. For example, the installer will often just say that it "could not create the config table", while the logs will tell you why that was - your database user doesn't have permission to create tables for example.

Some/All E-mails are not being sent?

 E-mail sent by Mahara can either be sent immediately - for example, "Contact Us", new user and registration e-mails - while others are delayed, such as forum post notifications.

If you're not receiving any e-mails, one possible reason is that the no-reply address Mahara is using is not valid, which has caused the local mail program to refuse to send it. You might want to try setting $cfg->noreplyaddress to a valid e-mail address in config.php.

If that's not the cause, the chances are that e-mail on the server is not configured properly. This is not Mahara's fault, and Mahara cannot detect this, as the local mail program may accept the e-mails from Mahara, but then be unable to deliver the mail on.

The easiest way to tell if the mail program is not set up properly is by examining its logfiles. If you're on a Debian box using exim to send mail, the logs are in /var/log/exim4 - you can look through them to see if it tried to deliver any mail from your Mahara system. On other systems, and using other mail programs, the logs will be in different locations, though normally on unix based systems they'll be under /var/log somewhere.

If you're unable to send mail this way and unable to configure the mail program properly, you could try using the SMTP sending facility of Mahara - look in config-defaults.php for the settings required, copy them to config.php and set them accordingly.

If only the delayed e-mails are not being sent, it's very likely that you have not set up the cron job properly. There's always the possibility that even if you think you've set it up, it's not working properly right now, so you should investigate this. It always pays to set up your cronjob to append its output to a logfile so you can see every time it runs.

I moved my Mahara installation to a new server/wwwroot, and now it doesn't work?!

Mahara stores the wwwroot for the site in the config table in the database. If you move your site, you must update this value too. An SQL command such as this will suffice:

UPDATE config SET value = '[new-wwwroot]' WHERE field = 'wwwroot'; 

Moving wwwroot will break MNET, because SSL keys are generated for hostnames. If you are moving host, you will have to delete your existing key, and then re-peer with any remote applications. The steps involved are:

  1. Run this SQL: DELETE FROM config WHERE field LIKE 'openssl%';

  2. Visit the Networking page in the admin section, which will generate a new key for you (you can verify this by looking in the config table)

  3. Take the public key shown on the networking page, and give it to the remote application. For example, with Moodle you'll need to update the public key for the Peer that corresponds to your Mahara site.

I think I've found a bug!

Please post it to the tracker Smile. You can ask here if you are unsure if it is a bug, but if you're pretty sure you've found one, you may as well post straight to the tracker.

However: if you are having trouble installing Mahara, it's almost always a configuration problem rather than a bug in Mahara itself, so post here first.

The reason that we store bugs in the tracker is so that we can track them all in one place. That means that, sooner or later, we will get around to fixing them - or at least providing you a good reason why it won't be fixed! If you post in the tracker, you'll raise the chance of your bug being fixed many times, as we do not look through the forums for bugs when it comes time to do bugfixing.

I'm on shared hosting and it isn't working properly/Why don't you support shared hosting better

It's not a primary goal for us, sorry. There's only a few developers and we'd rather spend our time working on nice functionality Wink

  • "Will Mahara work on shared hosting?" On some hosts, yes.
  • "Will you accept patches for shared hosting?" If they don't compromise Mahara in any other way, yes.
  • "Do you think I should deploy Mahara on shared hosting?" No! Tongue out Get a VPS or dedicated host, or talk to one of the Mahara Partners.
  • "But I just want to play?" Try a shared host by all means, but be prepared to encounter some issues Wink

I want to develop something with Mahara, where is the documentation?

We have developer documentation for those people looking to write plugins or hack on the Mahara core itself. There is also simpler Customising documentation for things like changing the theme. The documentation is constantly being worked on. If none of it helps you, please feel free to ask specific questions in the Developers Forum.

This post hasn't answered my question, it's time to post?!

Yes! And there's no such thing as a silly question, and nobody will hurt you if you ask something answered elsewhere Wink

In order to get the quickest answers, it will pay you to include the following information:

  • Version of Mahara you're using, and where you got it from (downloaded from mahara.org, installed via packaging in Ubuntu/Debian)
  • What platform you're running Mahara on (Linux/Mac/Windows, Apache or some other (unsupported) webserver, PostgreSQL or MySQL database, version of PHP and any other information that you think might help. Please include version numbers for all of these things if you know them!
  • What you were trying to do, what happened, and what you expected to happen 

If your problem is that you did something that caused an error (in particular a "non-recoverable error", the single biggest piece of information we need to see is a backtrace from the web server error log for your site. If you can find it and include it with your post, that would be great - but please consider filing a bug report if you do encounter such an error, in accordance with the "I think I've found a bug!" section above.

If you can provide as much of this information as you can, we can help you much faster! Wink

Here's an example of a good post:

"I am using Mahara 1.1.3 on Ubuntu 9.04, which I got from mahara.org. I'm using PostgreSQL 8.3. Every time I click on the 'Groups' tab, I see "A non-recoverable error occured", and I get this backtrace in the logs:

 <backtrace goes here>

Thanks for anyones assistance!"

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