Discus Installation Instructions

Discus Installation Instructions


Thank you for choosing to install Discus. We have done our best to make the installation process simple and efficient. Please follow our directions carefully. (You may choose to print out a copy of these installation instructions for reference during setup.)

Choose Your Platform


Unix Web Server - New Installation

Installation on a unix web server proceeds by three easy steps. An initial setup script gathers some information about your system. A WWW-based setup form then helps you to set up your directory structure and to specify other parameters for your board. This WWW-based setup form then creates a final Perl script, customized for your system. You run the final Perl setup script from the command line to complete installation. There are no scripts for you to modify!

If you have opened this tar file on your local machine, you need to FTP the tar archive or the tar gzipped archive (whichever you downloaded) to your unix web server (unless, of course, your "local machine" is the unix web server onto which you are going to install Discus).

Setup Procedure

  1. Transfer, by FTP, the tar archive (or tar gzipped archive) to the unix web server. Put it in any directory you wish -- it does not need to go into your server's cgi-bin or even into a directory that is accessible by the server at http://your.server.com...
  2. Do not FTP the individual files; FTP the archive file in binary mode.

  3. Log in to your unix web server using telnet.

  4. 'cd' to the directory where you placed the Discus archive:

      cd discus_download_dir

  5. If you have downloaded and wish to install the gzipped version (discus2_x.tar.gz), unzip the file on your unix machine:

      gunzip discus2_x.tar.gz

    This replaces the discus2_x.tar.gz file with a file called discus2_x.tar.

  6. Extract the tar archive:

      tar -xvf discus2_x.tar

    This creates a directory called discus2_x in your current working directory, and all Discus setup files are extracted into that directory.

  7. 'cd' into the newly created directory:

      cd discus2_x

  8. Use Perl to run the initial setup script:

      perl setup.pl

    Follow on-screen instructions.

  9. Use your web browser to access the WWW-Based Setup Form. You are given a suggested URL upon the conclusion of the initial setup script. You need to access the WWW-Based Setup Form at http://your.server.com/someurl/board-setup.cgi as instructed. Follow on-screen instructions.

  10. When finished with the WWW-Based Setup Form, you will be instructed to run the final Perl setup script. Instructions for running this script will be provided on the WWW-Based setup form. This will require that you do this in your telnet session:

      cd generated_file_dir
      perl install.pl

  11. For instructions on logging in the first time, visit the Discus Getting Started Tutorial, available at:

    You will be given instructions for registration when you have logged in for the first time.

    Congratulations on installing Discus!


Unix Web Server - Upgrade from Previous Version

Upgrades are now handled using an interactive upgrade script. The script will guide you through the upgrade.

Upgrade Procedure

  1. Transfer, by FTP, the tar archive (or tar gzipped archive) to the unix web server. Put it in any directory you wish -- it does not need to go into your server's cgi-bin or even into a directory that is accessible by the server at http://your.server.com...
  2. Do not FTP the individual files; FTP the entire archive.

  3. Log in to your unix web server using telnet.

  4. 'cd' to the directory where you placed the Discus archive:

      cd discus_download_dir

  5. If you have downloaded and wish to install the gzipped version (discus2_x.tar.gz), unzip the file on your unix machine:

      gunzip discus2_x.tar.gz

    This replaces the discus2_x.tar.gz file with a file called discus2_x.tar.

  6. Extract the tar archive:

      tar -xvf discus2_x.tar

    This creates a directory called discus2_x in your current working directory, and all Discus setup files are extracted into that directory.

  7. 'cd' into the newly created directory:

      cd discus2_x

  8. Use Perl to run the upgrade script:

      perl upgrade.pl

    Follow on-screen instructions.

    Note that in the unix upgrade, you are given a choice to do a typical upgrade (updates all files to the current version) or a custom upgrade (which allows you to choose which files are upgraded so you can keep any customizations you have made).


Unix Web Server - Reinstallation of Current Version

If, for some reason, you need to reinstall the current version of Discus (for example, if you tinkered with the CGI scripts and your board ceases to function properly), you can reinstall Discus.

The reinstallation of Discus is done from within the upgrade script (you will upgrade from the current version to the current version. See the instructions on Upgrading. Note that if you have completely screwed up your board, you should do a custom upgrade and answer yes to all options.


Windows 95/NT Web Server - New Installation

Discus is now compatible with the Active State port of Perl to Windows 95/NT. (Unfortunately, the CPAN port of Perl does not support the crypt function and therefore cannot be used to support Discus.) A compatible port of Perl can be downloaded from the Discus Windows 95 Page (the Perl port works with Windows 95 and Windows NT).

Discus also requires that you have a web server installed on your Windows machine. If you are running NT, Microsoft IIS is probably installed. With Windows 95, a WWW server is not installed by default, so you can download one of our recommended servers from the Discus Windows 95 page if you need a server.

Before you try to install Discus, you must have installed both your Perl interpreter and your web server. Only after you have installed those programs can you install Discus. Please note that installing Perl and your web server is your own responsibility and the Discus Team does not provide support for installation of Perl or your web server -- if you do have support questions, you should address them the programmer of the server or to the makers of the port of Perl that you are trying to install.

Here is how to set up Perl with our recommended servers:

Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS)

Run regedit and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W3SVC\Parameters\Script Map. In the right frame, right-click to bring up the "New >" menu, and choose "String Value." Enter ".cgi" without the quotes (yes, there is a dot there) and press ENTER. Double-click on the new ".cgi" value and enter "C:\Perl\Bin\Perl.exe %s" without the quotes into the "Value data" blank. (If you installed Perl somewhere else, you will need to adjust this accordingly, but you need the "%s" to make it work right.) Then close regedit and restart your server -- this is important!

Standard warning: Editing your registry can corrupt your machine and make it unbootable. Be careful that you only edit the portion of the registry that you are instructed to edit. Make a backup of your registry before doing this step.

Microsoft Personal Web Server (PWS)

PWS is just a scaled-down version of IIS. Use the same procedure indicated above for IIS.

Apache, Xitami

These robust programs recognize the unix-style #! at the top of scripts, so Discus setup automatically configures the scripts to be executed with Perl. No action on your part is necessary!

Please also note that unless your Windows 95/NT machine is connected to the network, your Discus forum will probably not be of much use to the outside world. People can only access your Discus board when your computer is on and connected to the internet. Also, note that you do not need to have Discus installed on your Windows 95/NT machine to be able to use a Discus board that is located somewhere else on the internet -- any existing Discus board can be accessed and administered using your web browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer).

Setup Procedure

  1. Make sure that the recommended port of Perl as well as your web server have been properly installed on your computer, and that you have rebooted your computer as required by the setup processes of Perl and the web server (usually only if you installed a Microsoft server).

  2. Use a program that handles tar files on the Windows 95/NT platform (WinZip is one such program that is available on a shareware basis -- you can download it and use it immediately for evaluation). Set your zip program to preserve directory structure (this is an explicit option when you are extracting files with WinZip).

  3. Open the Discus archive with your zip program, and extract the archive to some folder on your computer (it does not matter where you extract it to). When you extract the archive, make sure to preserve directory structure! With WinZip, the "Check Out" option works great for this.

  4. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the directory where you extracted the archive. You will see a directory called discus2_x. Click on that directory to enter it. Double-click on the setup.pl program. If you have properly associated your Perl interpreter with this extension, the Discus setup program should appear in a new window.

    If double-clicking on the setup.pl program does not open the program in a new window, use a MS-DOS prompt window (on NT, this is called a "Command Prompt" window) and 'cd' to the directory that contains the setup.pl program. Then type perl setup.pl at the command prompt.

    If you still cannot open the file properly, you need to type C:\full_path_to_perl\perl.exe setup.pl (where you fill in the correct full path to Perl on your system).

  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up Discus.

  6. If you installed Discus onto any web server other than one of the servers that is explicitly supported, you will be instructed to follow additional instructions in another file that will be generated. Otherwise, after you have restarted your web server, you can access Discus using your web browser.

  7. Close your zip program. You can delete the discus2_x directory (if you used the CheckOut option like we recommended, WinZip will do this automatically after you answer "Yes").

  8. For instructions on logging in the first time, visit the Discus Getting Started Tutorial, available at:

    You will be given instructions for registration when you have logged in for the first time.

    Congratulations on installing Discus!


Windows 95/NT Web Server - Upgrade from Previous Version

Upgrades are now handled using an interactive upgrade script. The script will guide you through the upgrade.

Upgrade Procedure

  1. Make sure that the recommended port of Perl as well as your web server have been properly installed on your computer, and that you have rebooted your computer as required by the setup processes of Perl and the web server.

  2. Use a program that handles tar files on the Windows 95/NT platform (WinZip is one such program that is available on a shareware basis -- you can download it and use it immediately for evaluation). Set your zip program to preserve directory structure (this is an explicit option when you are extracting files with WinZip).

  3. Open the Discus archive with your zip program, and extract the archive to some folder on your computer (it does not matter where you extract it to). When you extract the archive, make sure to preserve directory structure! The Check Out option on WinZip works great for this!

  4. Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the directory where you extracted the archive. You will see a directory called discus2_x. Click on that directory to enter it. Double-click on the upgrade.pl program. If you have properly associated your Perl interpreter with this extension, the Discus upgrade program should appear in a new window.

    If double-clicking on the upgrade.pl program does not open the program in a new window, use a MS-DOS prompt window and 'cd' to the directory that contains the upgrade.pl program. Then type perl upgrade.pl at the command prompt.

    If you still cannot open the file properly, you need to type C:\full_path_to_perl\perl.exe upgrade.pl (where you fill in the correct full path to Perl on your system).

  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to upgrade Discus.

  6. Close your zip program. You can delete the discus2_x directory (if you used the CheckOut option like we recommended, WinZip will do this automatically after you answer "Yes").

Windows 95/NT Web Server - Reinstallation of Current Version

If, for some reason, you need to reinstall the current version of Discus (for example, if you tinkered with the CGI scripts and your board ceases to function properly), you can reinstall Discus.

The reinstallation of Discus is done from within the upgrade script (you will upgrade from the current version to the current version. See the instructions on Upgrading. Note that if you have completely screwed up your board, you should do a custom upgrade and answer yes to all options.


Encouragement for Beginners

This section is designed for anyone who says, "I've never tried to install a CGI script before, and I don't even want to look at the instructions because I won't understand them." It's also for anyone who asks, "What's a CGI script?"

First, have you looked at the instructions yet? There's really nothing that terrible there! You don't have to edit CGI scripts, change permissions, run your C compiler, mess around with "makefiles" or do those other terribly difficult things many programs require for installation.

If you're still grasping for a starting point, have you looked at step 1 of the instructions? If you are installing onto a unix server, use the instructions for a unix web server. To install the Discus program with a Windows 95/NT web server, use the instructions for a Windows 95/NT web server. Start on step 1 and plow your way through the instructions. You'll be pleasantly surprised how easy it really is.


Copyright © 1998, the Discus Team (Kevin W. Paulisse and William F. Polik), all rights reserved.