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TWiki Reference Manual (04 Sep 2004 $Rev: 1742 $)

This page contains all documentation topics as one long, complete reference sheet.
Doubleclick anywhere to return to the top of the page.

Note - if you are reading this at, then you are reading about the most recent code under development.
If you want to read about the features on your local TWiki, then you should read the documentation there!

Note: Read the most up to date version of this document at

Related Topics: TWikiSite, TWikiHistory, TWikiPlannedFeatures, TWikiEnhancementRequests

TWiki System Requirements

Server and client requirements for TWiki 01-Sep-2004

Low client and server requirements are core features that keep TWiki widely deployable, particularly across a range of browser platforms and versions.

Server Requirements

TWiki is written in Perl 5, uses a number of shell commands, and requires RCS (Revision Control System), a GNU Free Software package. TWiki is developed in a basic Linux/Apache environment. It also works with Microsoft Windows, and should have no problem on any other platform that meets the requirements.

Resource Required Server Environment *
Perl 5.005_03 or higher (5.6.1 recommended, 5.8.x does work in most cases, but see TWiki:Codev.IssuesWithPerl5dot8)
Non-standard Perl modules • Unix: Net::SMTP (or sendmail)
• Windows: Net::SMTP, MIME::Base64, Digest::SHA1
• Internationalisation: Unicode::MapUTF8   (only for non-ISO-8859-1 sites using TWiki:Codev.EncodeURLsWithUTF8 with Perl 5.6 or lower)
RCS 5.7 or higher (including GNU diff)
Optional, but the all-Perl RCS replacement is not currently recommended for live sites - see TWiki:Codev.RcsLite
GNU diff GNU diff 2.7 or higher is required when not using the all-Perl RcsLite.
Install on PATH if not included with RCS (check version with diff -v)
Must be the version used by RCS, to avoid problems with binary attachments - RCS may have hard-coded path to diff
Other external programs fgrep, egrep
Cron/scheduler • Unix: cron
• Windows: cron equivalents
Web server Apache 1.3 is well supported; Apache 2.0 is not recommended yet (see TWiki:Codev.IssuesWithApache2dot0).
For other servers, CGI support, authentication, extended path info required; also, the register script is likely to need significant changes

ALERT! * Current documentation mainly covers Linux and Apache installations. See WindowsInstallCookbook for a Windows installation guide. See TWiki:Codev.TWikiOn for help with installation on various platforms including Unix, MacOS X, Apache mod_perl, web hosts, etc.

Client Requirements

The TWiki standard installation has extremely low browser requirements:

  • HTML 3.2 compliant
  • generates XHTML 1.0 pages that are compatible with HTML 3.2
  • minimal use of JavaScript in the user interface (degrades gracefully)
  • no cookies
  • no CSS (if the ClassicSkin is used)

You can easily add functionality, by customizing TWikiTemplates, for one, while tailoring the browser requirements to your situation.

Known Issues

  • The TWikiPlugins feature currently does not have compatibility guidelines for developers. Plugins can require just about anything - browser-specific functions, stylesheets (CSS), Java applets, cookies, specific Perl modules,... - check the individual Plugin specs.
    • HELP Plugins included in the TWiki distribution do not add requirements.

-- TWiki:Main.MikeMannix - 12 Jan 2002
-- TWiki:Main.PeterThoeny - 15 Aug 2004

TWiki Installation Guide

Installation instructions for the TWiki 01-Sep-2004 production release.

If you are reading this on your own TWiki installation, please get the latest installation guide (TWiki:TWiki.TWikiInstallationGuide), as this often has important updates to resolve installation issues.

These installation steps are based on the Apache web server on Linux. TWiki runs on other web servers and Unix systems, and should be fine with any web server and OS that meet the system requirements. Official documentation for platforms other than Linux is somewhat limited, so please check the topics listed below, they include some important tips for HP-UX, Solaris, OS/390, and many other platforms.

Standard Installation

Download the TWiki 01-Sep-2004 distribution in Unix ZIP format from Please review the AdminSkillsAssumptions before you install TWiki.

Step 1: Create & Configure the Directories

ALERT! NOTE: If you don't have access to your Web server configuration files - for example, if you're installing on an ISP-hosted account, or you don't have administrator privileges on your intranet server - use the alternative Step 1 instead.

  • Create directory /home/httpd/twiki and unzip the TWiki distribution into this directory.
  • The twiki/bin directory of TWiki must be set as a cgi-bin directory. Add /home/httpd/twiki/bin to file httpd.conf (typcially located in /etc/httpd/) with only ExecCGI option.
  • The twiki/pub directory of TWiki must be set so that it is visible as a URL. Add /home/httpd/twiki to file httpd.conf with normal access options (copy from /home/httpd/html ).
  • Now add ScriptAlias for /twiki/bin and Alias for /twiki to file httpd.conf .
    ALERT! NOTE: The ScriptAlias must come before the Alias, otherwise, Apache will fail to correctly set up /twiki/bin/, by treating it as just another subdirectory of the /twiki/ alias.
  • The twiki/data and twiki/templates directories should be set so that they are not visible as URLs. Add them to httpd.conf with deny from all.

Example httpd.conf entries:
 ScriptAlias /twiki/bin/ "/home/httpd/twiki/bin/"
 Alias /twiki/ "/home/httpd/twiki/"
 <Directory "/home/httpd/twiki/bin">
    Options +ExecCGI
    SetHandler cgi-script
    Allow from all
 <Directory "/home/httpd/twiki/pub">
    Options FollowSymLinks +Includes
    AllowOverride None
    Allow from all
 <Directory "/home/httpd/twiki/data">
    deny from all
 <Directory "/home/httpd/twiki/templates">
    deny from all

  • Restart Apache by service httpd restart (or as appropriate to your flavor of UNIX or Linux).
  • Test that the twiki/bin directory is CGI-enabled by trying visiting it in your browser:
    • Enter the URL for the bin directory,
    • Your settings are OK if you get a message like "Forbidden. You don't have permission to access /twiki/bin/ on this server".
    • Settings are NOT correct if you get something like "Index of /twiki/bin" - recheck your httpd.conf file.

Aletrnative Step 1: Create & Configure the Directories for Non-Root Accounts

To install TWiki on a system where you don't have Unix/Linux root (administrator) privileges, for example, on a hosted Web account or an intranet server administered by someone else:

  • Download and unzip TWiki on your local PC
  • Using the table below, create a directory structure on your host server
  • Upload the TWiki files by FTP (transfer as text except for the image files in pub)
TWiki dir: What it is: Where to copy: Example:
twiki start-up pages root TWiki dir /home/smith/twiki/
twiki/bin CGI bin CGI-enabled dir /home/smith/twiki/bin
twiki/lib library files same level as twiki/bin /home/smith/twiki/lib
twiki/pub public files htdoc enabled dir /home/smith/twiki/pub
twiki/data topic data dir secure from public access /home/smith/twiki/data
twiki/templates web templates dir secure from public access /home/smith/twiki/templates

Note: Don't worry if you are not able to put the twiki/lib directory at the same level as the twiki/bin directory (e.g. because CGI bin directories can't be under your home directory and you don't have root access). You can create this directory elsewhere and configure the /twiki/bin/setlib.cfg file (done in Step 3)

Step 2: Set File Permissions

  • Make sure Perl 5 and the Perl CGI library are installed on your system. The default location of Perl is /usr/bin/perl. If it's elsewhere, change the path to Perl in the first line of each script in the twiki/bin directory, or create a symbolic link from /usr/bin/perl.
      • On ISP-hosted accounts (and some intranet servers), Perl CGI scripts may require a .cgi extension to run. Some systems need .pl, the regular Perl extension. Rename all twiki/bin scripts if necessary.
      • Alternatively, you might try creating a file twiki/bin/.htaccess that contains the single line SetHandler cgi-script, which tells Apache to treat all files in this directory as CGI scripts.
  • Set the file permission of all Perl scripts in the twiki/bin directory as executable to -rwxr-xr-x (755).
  • To be able to edit the Perl scripts and .tmpl files it is necessary to chown and chgrp -R twiki so all the files have the owner you want.
  • HELP This Guide assumes user nobody ownership for all files manipulated by the CGI scripts (executed by the Web server), and user twiki for all other files. You can:
    • replace nobody with another user if your server executes scripts under a different name (ex: default for Debian is www-data).
      • TIP HINT: Run the testenv script from your browser: It will show you the user name of the CGI scripts, a table listing all CGI environment variables, and a test of your twiki/lib/TWiki.cfg configuration file (you'll configure that in a minute).
    • replace user twiki with your own username
  • Set permissions manually.
    • Set the permission of all files below twiki/data so that they are writable by user nobody. A simple way is to chmod them to -rw-rw-r-- (664) and to chown them to nobody.
    • Set the permission of the twiki/data directory and its subdirectories so that files in there are writable by user nobody. A simple way is to chmod them to drwxrwxr-x (775) and to chown them to nobody.
    • Set the permission of the twiki/pub directory and all its subdirectories so that files in there are writable by user nobody. A simple way is to chmod them to drwxrwxr-x (775) and to chown them to nobody.
    • HELP The twiki/data/*/*.txt,v RCS repository files in the installation package are locked by user nobody. If your CGI scripts are not running as user nobody, it's not possible to check in files (you'll see that the revision number won't increase after saving a topic). In this case, you need to unlock all repository files (check the RCS man pages) and lock them with a different user, such as www-data, or delete them all - new files will be automatically created the first time each topic is edited. You have two options to change ownership of the RCS lock user:
      • Run the testenv script from your browser; in the Fix line you can relock all the rcs files (recommended)
      • Alternatively, run this in your shell:
        cd twiki/data
        find . -name *,v -exec perl -pi~ -e '$. <= 10 && s/nobody:/www-data:/ ' {} \;
        This will create *,v~ backup files which you should remove after verification:
        find . -name *,v~ -exec rm -f {} \;

Step 3: Edit the Configuration Files

  • Edit the file /twiki/bin/setlib.cfg
    • Set $twikiLibPath to the absolute file path of your /twiki/lib as seen by the web server.
    • ALERT! Attention: Do not leave it as a relative "../lib" path or Plugins might fail to initialize properly
    • You can also edit $localPerlLibPath if you are not root and need to install additional CPAN modules, but can't update the main Perl installation files on the server. Just set this variable to the full pathname to your local lib directory, typically under your home directory.
    • ALERT! Attention: If you are running TWiki on Apache 2.0 on Unix you might experience cgi scripts to hang forever. This is a known Apache 2.0 bug. See details and woraround in the setlib.cfg file.
  • Edit the file twiki/lib/TWiki.cfg, setting the variables to your needs.
    • Set the file extension in the $scriptSuffix variable to cgi or pl if required.
    • RCS - revision control system to store revision of topics and attachments. You can use RCS executables or a version of RCS written in Perl, note that as the time of writing (Apr 2002) the Perl version has not been widely tested, so if you want to put up a live site the RCS executables are recommended.
      • Set $storeTopicImpl = "RcsWrap"; for the RCS executables and make sure RCS is installed. Set $rcsDir in twiki/lib/TWiki.cfg to match the location of your RCS binaries. You can check this by issuing the command rcs at the prompt, it should result in something like "rcs: no input file".
        • Check that you have GNU diff, by typing diff -v - an error indicates you have a non-GNU diff, so install the GNU diffutils package and make sure that diff is on the PATH used by TWiki (see $safeEnvPath in the TWiki.cfg file).
      • Set $storeTopicImpl = "RcsLite"; for the Perl based RCS
  • Security issue: Directories twiki/data , twiki/templates and all their subdirectories should be set so that they are not visible through URLs. (Alternatively, move the directories to a place where they are not visible, and change the variables in twiki/lib/TWiki.cfg accordingly)
  • Test your settings by running the testenv script from your browser: Check if your twiki/lib/TWiki.cfg configuration file settings are correct.

Step 4: Internationalisation Setup (Optional)

By default, TWiki is configured to support US ASCII letters (no accents) in WikiWords, and ISO-8859-1 (Western European) characters in page contents. If that's OK for you, skip this step.

If your Wiki wil