Download a la Mode - Server Setup

This is the last in a series (for now) of Download a la Mode entries. Thanks for reading!

Server Setup

In this section of Download a la Mode, the following questions are addressed:
  • How can you setup an FTP server on my computer?
  • How can one setup a MySQL/PHP server on their computer?
  • How can I FTP—file transfer protocol—files to a server from my computer?

"Miguel," shared one classroom teacher at the TCEA State Conference, "I want to setup my own web server in my classroom because I can't get space on the District server. Am I able to do that?" The answer is, "Of course!" Then, I remind the person that they should check into their district's acceptable use policy. At this point, the person just smiles and we move on to the details.

Today, you have access to a variety of choices of free, web-based tools known as "Read/Write Web" or Web 2.0 tools. Some popular ones include,, and a plethora of online blogging solutions, such as,,, and many more.

There are diverse approaches to the use of Web 2.0 tools. One that school districts have chosen is the "walled garden" approach, which involves creating tools that are the same, similar in function to Web 2.0 tools out in "the wild" but are under the complete control of school district network technicians. Many, if not all, Web 2.0 tools involve the use of a PHP scripting language--the web pages that interact with online databases. MySQL is the online database, available under the label of "free software." In fact, a suite of free software for setting up a server, regardless of operating system (Mac, Windows, GNU/Linux), that involves the following:
  • Apache - a powerful web server
  • MySQL - a online database
  • PHP - the scripting language and web pages that interact with the database.

The solutions offered below fall into two categories - those that use PHP/MySQL and those that use ONLY PHP. You have access to both on ANY computer you may have in your possession.


The following list is useful if you want to create a “walled garden” of safe Web 2.0 tools you can use within your school’s intranet, or even Internet, but have complete control over. So, a quick review of the tools available for those who want to “lock” things down and eliminate social networking OUTSIDE of school environment during the school day:

Setting Up PHP/MySQL

Once you setup PHP/MySQL on your server, you’ll be set and ready to go with the following applications. However, getting to that point might require some technical expertise. You can see some examples (screenshots) of walled garden applications.

Quick Setup Process

  1. Install WAMP/MAMP/XAMPP as appropriate on a computer that will work as a server.
  2. After installing the software, download your walled garden application of choice (e.g. Wordpress, Moodle) and put it in the appropriate folder (usually “htdocs” in an Apache server setting).
  3. Use a program like SQLYog (Windows), CocoaMYSQL (Mac) to create the database. The walled garden app will create all the necessary tables to house your data.
Note that you can follow this visual installation guide for WAMP? and SQLYog? to see what this might look like.

Software Tools

  • Windows Software
  • Macintosh Software
    • MAMP Server: Easy setup of Apache server, PHP and MySQL on on Macintosh OS X
    • CocoaMySQL: Allows you to interact with the database using Structured Query Language (SQL) statements.
Once you are setup with MySQL/PHP on your server, you’re ready to install any or all of the walled garden applications on that computer.

Blogging Tools

Service Substitution: Blogmeister, Blogspot,, Learnerblogs
  • b2Evolution: Enables you to control/moderate comments once certain hacks (ZIP file of hacks we use in my district) are applied, set up a “master” blog with multiple sub-blogs (each with its own RSS feed) inside, easy user management and assignment of permissions, and more. This is the solution we use for managing publication of online student writing and blogging (when it arises).
    View Example
  • Everyone knows about this tool, but it’s powerful. If you’re not sure how to install it, you can always follow this brief tutorial. I have hope that Multi-user WordPress will eventually work well.
Regular Wordpress example
  • Elgg: Blogs, e-portfolio and social networking; granular permissions.

Podcasting Tools

Service Substitution: Podomatic, Odeo


Service Substitution: Wikispaces, PBWiki
  • MediaWiki: Although I’ve looked at different wikis you can install on your own server, I keep coming back to MediaWiki for ease of use.
  • TikiWiki: Powerful wiki with user admin rights, but lacks the “open-ness” (as far as I can tell) that MediaWiki enjoys. Nevertheless, it can be powerful.
  • WikkaWiki: “a flexible, standards-compliant and lightweight wiki engine written in PHP, which uses MySQL to store pages. Forked from WakkaWiki. Designed for speed, extensibility, and security.”
  • See also WikiMatrix to compare various wiki engines.

Content Management Systems

Service Substitution:: web page editors like Dreamweaver/Frontpage Allow easy management, creation, and editing of web pages and sites by non-techie users.

Image Gallery with Tagging and RSS Publishing Enabled

Service Substitution:: Flickr

Online Discussion Board

Service Substitution: Blackboard/WebCT

Frequently Asked Questions

Service Substitution:: ???

Online Survey Tool

Service Substitution: SurveyMonkey

Online Radio

Calendar Management with RSS support

Social Bookmarking Tools

Service Substitution::, Simpy, Blinklist

Social Networking

Service Substitution: Myspace, Xanga

Maintaining Email Lists

Service Substitution: YahooGroups, Gmail Groups
  • phplist
  • mailman
  • Not sure about these…Bernie Dodge suggested them, but I’m open to suggestions.

Bulk Emailing Software

Service Substitution: None really, I just wanted this category for bulk emailing!

MySQL Backup Tools

Office tools

By the way, if you’re not interested in using these tools and are curious what is out there on the Web, check out All Things Web 2.0.



Blogging Tools

  1. Simple PHP Blog
  2. BBlog
  3. Serendipity

2.  Podcast Server Publishing Tools

  1. Podcast Generator

3.  Wikis

  1. PmWiki
  2. Dokuwiki

4.  Content Management Systems

  1. Limbo
  2. GuppY
  3. phpCMS
  4. CMSimple
  5. Drake CMS

5.  Image Gallery

  1. TinyWeb Gallery
  2. Singapore Image Gallery
  3. MiniGallery2
  4. BolGallery
  5. Simple Picture Gallery Manager


FTP Software

Server Software

Client FTP Software

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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