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b2evolution – A Comprehensive Blogging Engine

By Ian Gilfillan
on February 13, 2006

After looking at Gregarius last month, this time it’s b2evolution’s turn to be in the spotlight. b2evolution is blogging software (and more), written in PHP and MySQL, released under the GNU GPL, and it’s what I use for my personal blog. It’s definitely one of the few applications worth considering if you want to host and maintain your own blog. It has a comprehensive feature set, including multilingualism (the main developer, Francois Planque, is French, and non-English speaking developers tend to consider the issue right from the start), multiple blogs with different access levels, antispam tools, trackbacks and pingbacks, timezone handling, RSS and ATOM feeds and image uploads. The online documentation is pretty poor for an Open Source project, with somewhat outdated information, nor does it have the friendliest of forums, but the application itself is good, so hopefully this tutorial will be helpful to some.


b2evolution is an offshoot of an earlier blogging tool called b2cafelog. Fran??ois Planque installed b2 (as it’s usually known) in December 2002. However, the b2 maintainer took some time off from the project, and development stalled. As of April 2003, nothing had happened for 6 months, and Fran??ois had been wanting to add new features. Thanks to b2 being an Open Source project, he of course had access to the source code and could easily make additions. Shortly after, the b2 maintainer announced that WordPress was to be the official successor to b2, but by that time b2evolution was underway, and Fran??ois decided to keep it going as a separate product.

Requirements and Installation

b2evolution requires PHP 4.1 or above (and works with PHP 5 from version 1.6), and MySQL 3.23 or later. Installing it is simple. Simply download it, place the file in your webtree and unzip it (there’s no tarred version available). This creates a folder called b2evolution. From your browser, open the file called b2evolution/index.html, and follow the instructions there. View screenshot 1 to see what the page looks like.
You’ll notice that there’s a list of translations available. If the default English (EU), doesn’t appeal to you, choose one of the others. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll choose English (UK) (see screenshot 2). Then, click on “installing from scratch.” This tutorial won’t guide you step-by-step if you’re moving from another blog application, although the basics are the same.
Next, you’ll be asked for details pertaining to your database, and will need to set it up (screenshot 3). Hopefully you have access and permission to do so yourself. If not, you’ll need to ask your service provider to run the following commands to create the database, and assign permission to access it. We’ll create a database called phpbuilder_b2evolution, a user called phpbuilder_b2evo and a password phpbuilder_pword.
CREATE DATABASE `phpbuilder_b2evolution` ;
GRANT ALL ON phpbuilder_b2evolution . * TO [email protected] 
IDENTIFIED BY 'phpbuilder_pword'
Enter the details above on the page (screenshot 4) and submit. If you haven’t created your database, user or password correctly, you’ll see an error such as the one displayed on screenshot 5. However, there’s still most likely to be one thing outstanding. Even if your database has been set up correctly, it’s likely that your file permissions are not set up properly, and b2evolution cannot properly edit the config file (screenshot 6). Here are the commands you’ll need to run on a Unix-like system:
cd /var/www/impi/b2evolution/blogs/conf/
chmod 666 _config.php
Reload the page, and you should see a page asking (again) whether you want to do a new install, or an upgrade (screenshot 7). Again select New Install and b2evolution will create the tables in your database (screenshot 8). Once this has been completed, b2evolution automatically creates a user called admin and assigns a random password to it (screenshot 9). Use these to log into (screenshot 10)the admin pages (screenshot 11), and b2evolution is now installed–you’re almost ready to blog.


There’re a few more things you need to do before you’re quite ready to unleash your Pulitzer Prize winning-prose onto the world. Firstly, I suggest changing the admin password. To do this, click on Users (screenshot 12), edit the admin user (the hands and envelope icon) and change your password (screenshot 13). You can also customize it in other ways, adding firstname and surname details, email, locale, URL etc. Don’t worry too much about the level – b2evolution has been moving to a more sophisticated permissioning system, and the user level is not very important anymore. I suggest also keeping the notifications checkbox checked, as this will alert you every time someone comments on, or tracks back to, one of your posts. Since comment spam is an ongoing problem, you’ll probably want to be able to react quickly to this.
At this point you can also add other users if you wish, and you can even allow new users to register themselves (an option from the Settings tab.
Next, click on the Blogs tab (screenshot 15). There you’ll see four blogs that have been created for you. Until you actually choose one as default, anyone visiting your blog will see a standard error page. Blog A and Blog B are ordinary blogs. Click on the one titled Blog A to edit its features. Give it a name (I call it PHP Blog), set it as the default, and set the skin, tagline and notes (screenshot 16). If you’re not sure what these are, leave them as the default. Once you’ve viewed your blog you’ll soon see what you want to change.
Now, click on Exit to blogs on the top right, and you’ll see what your blog currently looks like to the rest of the world. Take note of the URL – by default it’s WEB_ROOT/b2evolution/blogs. That’s the URL you’ll be submitting to the Nobel literary committee for consideration, as well as any friends.