MediaWiki with Lighttpd & SQLite on Ubuntu

Eric Gustafson


In rebuilding an old, and rarely used server that runs MediaWiki I reconsidered how to install all of the dependencies that MediaWiki sits on top of. My goal was to choose lightweight components. The only thing that would run on this web server would be MediaWiki, and the wiki would be lightly used. I concluded the following components were likely more suitable choices than the defaults MediaWiki and/or Ubuntu’s package system used.

The second goal was, based on my preference for Ubuntu as a distribution, build MediaWiki on top of Ubuntu using just Ubuntu packages, no source installation. The principal value in this is that over time the components in use can be simply upgraded using the stock Ubuntu package mechanisms (i.e. apt-get upgrade).

The following is the sequence I used to install MediaWiki. This installation guide is based on Ubuntu Oneiric (11.10).

Install Prerequisites

(note, sudo is generally required, but dropped from the commands below)

# apt-get install lighttpd
# apt-get install php5-cgi php5

next, edit /etc/php5/cgi/php.ini to enable php5 in lighttpd and uncomment the line:


Then enable the fastcgi configuration in lighttpd:

# lighttpd-enable-mod fastcgi
# lighttpd-enable-mod fastcgi-php
# service lighttpd force-reload

Install php5-sqlite:

# apt-get install php5-sqlite
# service lighttpd restart

Install optional extras that MediaWiki will take advantage of:

# apt-get install imagemagick php5-gd php5-cli
# service lighttpd restart

Install MediaWiki

Note: The MediaWiki package in Ubuntu (Oneiric) has ‘mysql-server’ listed as a recommends dependency. This has the implication that unless explicitly forced to NOT include the dependency, it will be included as part of the package install. This is accomplished with the --no-install-recommends.

# apt-get --no-install-recommends install mediawiki
# apt-get install mediawiki-math

Configure MediaWiki

Add the following to lighttpd’s configuration:

alias.url += ( "/wiki" => "/var/lib/mediawiki/" )

restart lighttpd to effect the configuration change:

# service lighttpd restart

Create a data directory for MediaWiki to store the SQLite database in:

# mkdir /var/lib/mediawiki-data
# chown www-data.www-data /var/lib/mediawiki-data

Browse to the wiki root: http://hostname/wiki and complete configuration through the web browser.


Following browser configuration, copy the generated configuration to the permanent location, as specified on the final browser page:

# cp /var/lib/mediawiki/config/LocalSettings.php \
# chown www-data /etc/mediawiki/LocalSettings.php
# chmod 600 /etc/mediawiki/LocalSettings.php
# rm -rf /var/lib/mediawiki/config