Thoughts On Running Forum Software?

A forum I visit regularly is about to go under. I've thought about creating a "phoenix" (rising from the ashes) forum so users will have a place to go. I already have a hosting site, but I'd like to POC this on my Ubuntu MATE box (lots of RAM, disk, etc.). I can pretty much start fresh, so my choices are...?

Since this will be a sandbox test, I'd like to try something free (open source) and without needing to install too many other options. I figure I'll need a database (Maria?), PHP/Perl/Python, a browser, perhaps an editor and maybe some admin tools.

My goal is to get a framework (and some working knowledge) that I can then transfer to my host ISP and publish with a minimum of tweaking.

Who recommends what? Any gotchas? Warnings?

I'd personally recommend phpBB; it's widely deployed, well tested, and lightweight enough for the purpose. It's a little bit difficult to use and maintain initially but you get the hang of it. One problem is that it's not hyper user-friendly in all respects: When somebody posts you have to refresh the page to see the latest posts, for instance.

For less maintenance, you might also try the forum software that powers this forum you're on right now: Discourse. I know less about Discourse than I do about phpBB, but it looks fairly good as well!

If you opt with phpBB, I'd strongly suggest using version 3.3 or later; earlier versions, especially version 2, were very limited in their capabilities and look and act very dated.


Thanks @gordon. I actually installed Discourse on my Ubuntu MATE server, and as they indicate, it took only about 30 minutes. Their instructions and scripts download, configure, and start everything needed. There is even a wizard to walk through site creation. Quite impressive, actually!

What I need to find out is how my ISP is set up. Can I install software into my own /var and bin directories?

I am also reading the instructions for phpBB 3.3 Proteus, which seems similarly complete and straightforward. What I do know is that I'm graphically challenged, so creating logos and artwork is something I'll likely have to farm out.

So after installing Discourse (yes, it really only takes about 30 minutes!) and going through some "site setup" operations, my initial impressions are that this is pretty good stuff.

And then I realized this site (Ubuntu MATE Community) is powered by Discourse! :smile: