Tag Archives: indie web

Installing Known on DreamHost

On a second(ish) attempt, I have successfully installed Known to my own domain on a DreamHost server! My first attempt, late last year, was briefly noted in my post Learning by doing is…hard.

A few weeks ago, I took another look at the installation, hoping for more documentation or even a one-click install — which Ben from Known suggests is a future possibility (they seem really busy, so even getting a personal response to my email is hugely appreciated).

A new version was available, so I elected to delete everything in my server directories, and replaces the files with the unzipped new version. There they sat for some time as I worked up the energy and courage to have another go.

Today was the day! I want to emphasize that I consider myself very much a layperson; getting Known up and running on a shared server was far from obvious, but it was far from impossible, too. At the end of the day, everything I needed was available from just a couple webpages and with pretty simple tools.

The Known welcome screen
Such a welcome site, er, sight!


Installing Known on DreamHost

Pointing your browser to your Known instance’s URL brings up the auto-installer, the second page of which shows a list of requirements. Uh-oh — the installer can’t determine if I have Apache mod_rewrite installed, which allows for normal, human-readable URLs. This was also the case last year. Some Googling led me to suspect that creating the .htaccess file would solve this problem, so — as it my wont — I ignored this. The worst that could happen is another failed install!

Moving forward with the installation, I needed to create a fresh MySQL database (accomplished from my account panel at DreamHost) and enter some details in to the installer. This allows Known to create a config.ini file. I had to create a new directory named “Uploads” in the root of the Known installation and make sure that the permissions gave Write access to Group. Okay…directory created, permissions checked, database details entered, and…first major failure! Known could not connect to my database. User error on that one…I gave a bad name for my database. So I pulled up the config.ini file in Notepad++ and made the correction.

And…next major failure! Known can’t find the information it needs from my database.

Digging into Known’s developer docs provides the solution. The Known installer will not automatically provision the database. I had to go to the /schemas/mysql folder, download mysql.sql, and upload this to my database on the phpMyAdmin dashboard.

Refreshing the page allowed the installer to continue.

I also then created the .htaccess file by copying the contents of htaccess-2.4.dist and saving as .htaccess, placing this in the root of the installation.

Success! I created my admin user account and was off and running.

Welcome to your new Known site
A blank slate.

To summarize, here is what I had to do and the resources I used:


  • Created a subdomain for Known
  • Uploaded the latest Known files (available here)
  • Created a mySQL server host (hostname) and database


  • Fix the config.ini created by the Known installer (because of my own error)
  • Create an .htaccess file that included the contents of the htaccess-2.4.dist file included in the installation files
  • Create a directory called /Uploads in the root of the Known instance and ensure that permissions included Group –> Write


  • Notepad++ with the FTP plugin (for easy editing and uploading of text files)
  • FileZilla (for easy browsing of the Known directories & files on my DreamHost server)
  • The Known installer
  • phpMyAdmin (for uploading the mysql.sql schema to my database)
  • Known developer docs, specifically:

That is pretty much it! Configuring my Known site involved some other fun, such as creating new Twitter and Facebook apps (not at all hard for the former, a little confusing for the later) and so forth.

The fruit of my labor is here: http://known.neonacorns.org

P.S. – Thank you, Erin and Ben, for your work, passion, curiosity, creativity, and general coolness. Getting my Known instance going was a personal challenge that I am proud to have completed successfully — thanks for that, too.

Learning by doing is…hard

After many, many months of playing with various ways to “roll your own” on the Web — including using Google Drive as a site host, installing a slew of open source scripts to my local machine, and running a few websites from my desktop for an audience of exactly one — I have taken the plunge into a hosted server environment.

What a weekend. The image of the hand-coded index page reveals more of what I cannot do than of what I can. I managed to knock at least some of my server properties out of commission for still-mysterious reasons (but clearing the cache and refreshing the DNS entries at least did not make it worse, whether or not they helped). The past couple of days have held a lot of uncomfortable learning, which is simultaneously the very best and least welcome kind.

At least I accomplished the choosing of a server and the spinning up of this very WordPress blog. Advantages of the server company I chose include “unlimited” this-and-that, a “free” domain renewal each year, and especially monthly billing, so that I can throw in the towel any time I like. Disadvantages, however, include a relative dearth of one-click script installs, the benefits of which are quickly becoming evident.


  • One domain, two sub-domains (so far)
  • Apache, PHP…the usual — but no ability to customize the server environment because it is shared



This is the same software familiar to those who use Wikimedia properties. Configuration is a bit frustrated for a layperson, but using it as an end-user is easy enough. A Wiki is both simple and flexible; achieving that can result in alienating casual users, since “simple” does not necessarily mean “easy”. There is a reward on the other side, however.


Still one of the best, and with Jetpack, even a self-hosted instance (like this one!) can take advantage of a bunch of quick integrations — social sharing, Markdown, basic stats, and so forth.


After asking to be one of the Beta kids, and after receiving my invite, I promptly put off signing up until a couple of days ago. Known offers both free and paid accounts, but also is available as an open source script. My attempt to install it — and then trouble-shoot the installation — was unsuccessful, unfortunately; unlike both MediaWiki and WordPress, this script was not a supported one-click installation. Known is social networking that caters to the person rather than to the platform, encouraging both individual ownership and considered openness.


Ah, Moodle. Almost as prickly on the back end as MediaWiki, and every bit as robust. I have run this on my local machine, but have yet to try for a proper installation.

Some things that make me sad:

Ghost runs on Node.js and is generally not supported in a shared server environment. Meanwhile, the hosted version offers no freemium. Ghost is a beautiful, elegant, simple, Markdown-driven blog platform, but one that eludes me. At least one WordPress theme mimics the front-facing glory of Ghost, if not the back-end joys, but, alas, does not quite offer the menu I want without PHP fiddling.

Some things that make me happy:

Markdown syntax in the WordPress editor? Nice! Moreover, users of Draft get a small win in being able to create WP posts and pages in the comfy Draft editor and send the content back to WP with a minimum of fuss.

Next up…


To be learned!


To be re-attempted!


I am a curator without a collection…or am I?


Clearly, I will never get anywhere without this…