Brief MoinMoin howto

I recently started looking for some system/format to dump personal stuff on. I checked my own comparison of wiki software, and chose MoinMoin.

I have already installed some MediaWiki wikis for personal use, and I consider it a really nice wiki system. However, one of its strengths is also a drawback for me: the backend is a database. I want to be able to migrate the wiki painlessly, and with MediaWiki this is not possible. There is no end to the files and database dumps one has to move around, and then it is never clear if there is still something missing (like edit history or some setting). I want to have a single dir with all the data required to replicate the wiki, and I want to rsync just this dir to another computer to have an instant clone of the wiki elsewhere. MoinMoin provides just that (I think, I might have to change my mind when I use it more).

So here you are the steps I took to have MM up and running in my Ubuntu 8.10 PC.


Ubuntu has packages for MM, so you can just install them:

% aptitude install python-moinmoin moinmoin-common


Create a dir to put your wiki. For example, if you want to build a wiki called wikiname:

% mkdir -p ~/MoinMoin/wikiname

We made it a subdir of a global dir "MoinMoin", so we can create a wiki farm in the future.

Next you have to copy some files over:

% cd ~/MoinMoin/wikiname
% cp -vr /usr/share/moin/data .
% cp -vr /usr/share/moin/underlay .
% cp /usr/share/moin/config/ .
% cp /usr/share/moin/server/ .

If installing a wiki farm, you could be interested in the contents of /usr/share/moin/config/wikifarm/, but this is out of the scope of this post.

The next step is to edit to our liking. The following lines could be of interest:

sitename = u'Untitled Wiki'
logo_string = u'MoinMoin Logo'
page_front_page = u"MyStartingPage"
data_dir = './data/'
data_underlay_dir = './underlay/'
superuser = [u"yourusername", ]
acl_rights_before = u"iyourusername:read,write,delete,revert,admin"


You just need to run, there is no need to have Apache running or anything (like with, e.g., MediaWiki):

% cd ~/MoinMoin/wikiname/
% python &

Then open your favourite browser and go to http://localhost:8080, and you will be greeted by the starting page.

4 thoughts on “Brief MoinMoin howto

  1. Hi Iñaki,

    In my search for a wiki some years ago I also ended up with MoinMoin, but after trying it out for a while I finally switched to DokuWiki. It seemed much simpler to install/maintain, and better documented. It also has a strong community and very active development. Also DokuWiki seemed to have much more plugins, at least at the time, but I really don't know how MoinMoin has evolved.

    The key features for me were also no database backend and some kind of latex plugin, which both of them have.

    One big practical advantage of DW is that being php, is *much* easier to find a hosting for it, since sadly python support seems to be lacking nowadays.

    Well, my $0.02.

  2. Thanks for your contribution, Iñigo. DW is another contender worth taking into account. In my early wiki search I dumped it because it was a bit more complex to configure, and a bit uglier than MM. However your recommendation does give it more weight.

  3. Last time I installed it it was straightforward, at least for the generic installation plus plugins etc., just unpack, set some permissions and configure everything through the web interface with no problems. Also plugins, skins etc are trivial to install and configure. On the other hand, If I recall properly setting up a wikifarm was in fact more complex than in MM, but last time I looked at this was about one year ago and the thing could have changed. It has evolved a lot in the last versions.

    Another thing I like a lot is the way it has to control/add images and media, with a popup preview navigation window and classification of the them in folders.

    Also seemed to me more "natural", or at least configurable to be so, for the non geek user, which can be an important thing if they are new to wikis :-)

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