Phorum – how to install and customize it

Phorum – how to install and customize it

When I first asked about a discussion forum package, everyone seemed to
mention phorum.  And with good reason.  I’m quite pleased with it.  It
seems very configurable.  And it seems well put together.  And when I added the Reader Forum, I made sure I documented the process so you
could use it.

The home page for phorum is

The phorum mailing list archive is at

You need this first

Please note that phorum requires php3.  You should do that first.  There is
an apache13-php3 port.  I used a soon-to-be-released port of apache13-php3-fp-modssl.

phorum also requires mySQL, which you should install before you install php3.

Downloading and installing

The tarball I used was from but you
should check the phorum home page and get the latest

I moved this tarball into a subdirectory of an existing website.  
Actually, I did this:

cd /path/to/website
mkdir forum
tar xvfz phorum308.tar.gz
cd phorum308

The first thing you need to read is readme.txt and then security.txt.


I think you should stop and read security.txt now.

I mean
NOW.  You’re not going to take my word and just do what I did are you?  Imagine
the security holes I could create in your system if you did that.

I created a .htaccess file in my forum directory and added the following to

<FILES admin.php3>
    require group admin

<Files forums.inf>
    Order Deny,Allow
    Deny From All

<Files forums.inf.bak>
     Order Deny,Allow
     Deny From All

Just follow the directions in security.txt titled IV) Securing the Admin

You might want to read Protected Apache directories for a
bit of detail.

See also, Additional security options.

Database configuration

The first thing you need to do is create a database.  I called mine forum.
  I also created a database user, phorum.

# mysql -u root -p
Enter password:
Welcome to the MySQL monitor. Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 8 to server version: 3.22.22

Type 'help' for help.

mysql> create database forum;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.13 sec)

mysql> GRANT
-> select, insert, update,
-> create, alter, delete, drop
-> ON
-> forum.*
-> TO
-> phorum@localhost
-> 'password';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)

Then I modified  Here is what I changed:

$inf_path="./myconfigstuff";  // no ending slash
$include_path="./myincludes";  // no ending slash

These are to be used as a guideline and a basis for deciding where to put what.
  You could always leave them in the default locations.  I chose not to.

How to customize

This example shows you how to track down a particular field if you wish to
customize your phorum.  I removed the host name from the message output.  This
is a personal preference.  Your choice.

If you want to customize a particular
aspect of phorum, the first step is to figure this out which file to look in.  The
URL for any messages contains something like this:


The other point is to locate something contanst in the message which is near to what
you actually want to change.  In this case, the domain name appears just to the right
of the author.  I chose that as my target.  The correct way to do this is to
look at your language module.  In my case, that is english.lang.  I
searched for "Author" and found this line:

$lAuthor = "Author";

$lAuthor is what you want to look for within read.php3.  In
that file, I found this line:

<?PHP echo $lAuthor;?>:&nbsp;<?PHP echo $author; ?>&nbsp;(<?PHP echo $host; ?>)<br>

See $host?  Remove that section of the code and the line becomes:

<?PHP echo $lAuthor;?>:&nbsp;<?PHP echo $author; ?><br>

That’s it.  The host is now gone from all messages but is still stored in the
database if you need to find it.

phorum configuration

Follow the instructions in .  For the lazy and hopeless amongst us
(that’s me), here’s what I did:

  • I didn’t changed $inf_path in because it was already
    correct for my setup.

You should now follow the rest of the directions in readme.txt.  For
the most part, it involves browsing to admin.php3 and using that to set up your
database and forums.

Removing the <html></html> tags

Phorum allows people to post messages with embedded SQL.  As phorum
is primarly designed to work with websites, embedded SQL that is a good thing.  
Another good thing about phorum is that you can optionally choose to have email replies to
a thread sent to your address if you have contributed to a thread.  This mail will
contains the message which was just posted to the phorum.  The body of the message
will be surrounded by <html> </html> tags.  This is something I didn’t
want.  So I modified post.php3 to remove them.  Here’s the patch I create to do

--- post.php3.original  Fri Jan 21 16:34:31 2000
+++ post.php3   Fri Jan 21 16:44:38 2000
@@ -175,13 +175,13 @@
     $author = "<b>$author</b>";
     $subject = "<b>$subject</b>";
-    $body="<HTML>$body</HTML>";
+    $body="$body";
     $body=eregi_replace("</*HTML>", "", $body);
-      $body="<HTML>$body</HTML>";
+      $body="$body";

This patch is also available from

Problems and solutions

These are the problems I’ve encountered and how I solved them.

  • Warning: Access denied for user: ‘testuser@localhost’ (Using password: YES) in
    ./abstract.php3 on line 63

If you browse to admin.php3 and you get the above message, you have a database issue.
  Perhaps, tou haven’t specified the correct password, your database name is wrong,

  • Warning: fopen("./forums.inf","w") – Permission denied in
    /www/freebsddiary/phorum/admin.php3 on line 159

Ensure forums.inf is writable by your webserver.  In my case, I made sure
forums.inf was writeable by group www.

Additional security options

There are some security issues associated with phorum, but I feel they can
be adequately handled if you exercise care.  The two files which we secured in the Security section can also be renamed.  This will prevent people
from trying to guess the password and gives you an extra layer of security. 

you are going to rename admin.php3, remember that the file contains
self-references which must also be changed.  By my count, there are 10 instances
which need to be changed.

If you are going to rename forums.inf, remember to also modify the
references within:

  • code.php3 (both forums.inf and forums.bak.inf)

And of course, remember to change the .htaccess file to refer to the new
file names.  See the Security for detail.

If I’ve missed anything, please add your comments.

4 thoughts on “Phorum – how to install and customize it”

  1. hi
    how to make it run.
    i tray to compile kernel with opl driver but some erors
    ocured . if someone know what to must be done plwease help
    PS: i’m with 4.4 freeBSD

  2. a. What is the reason for config Suffix, while creating a new forum.
    b. How do I delete a particular forum. I have a,b,c, forum and I want to delete only b.(or) edit it.
    c. I am not receiving mail on forgot password.
    d. How do I check wether my DBase is working fine.

    Iam a newbie to this. Can some one help:?



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