How to setup a wiki outside of webserver DocumentRoot

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This guide is based on Apache and MediaWiki.


Check the requirements and follow the Official Installation Guide, and this section in particular.

We assume that the installation is under a directory named w under /home/www-data/, depending on your VirtualHost config you may need a line like the following in order to access the installation page.

Alias /w "/home/www-data/"

NOTE: after the installation remember to set 600 permissions to LocalSettings.php

Clean URLs

In order to have Clean URLs follow the Official Guide. We use the recommended setup.

However, in our case there are some little differences, we do want indeed the wiki to be accessible via /wiki, but the installation directory /w will be outside our VirtualHost DocumentRoot, since the latter is used by the main site which is a Drupal installation and we don't want to put MediaWiki files inside the Drupal installation.

In our case the DocumentRoot for server is /home/www-data/, we need to tell explicitly where the wiki installation files are, here's the interesting snippet of the VirtualHost config:

  Alias /wiki "/home/www-data/"
  # Needed because our mediawiki installation is outside of DocumentRoot
  Alias /w "/home/www-data/"
  <Directory /home/www-data/>
    Options -Indexes +FollowSymLinks MultiViews
    AllowOverride All
    Order allow,deny
    allow from all

Now only paths which have /w and /wiki prefixes are handled by MediaWiki, everything else is left to Drupal.


  • the MediaWiki installation can be everywhere on the filesystem, provided that its files are readable by the web server.
  • the robots.txt file have still to be in the DocumentRoot


  • Edit LocalSettings.php to add custom logo (135x135):
    $wgLogo = "$wgScriptPath/logo.png";

    and a favicon:

    $wgFavicon = "$wgScriptPath/favicon.ico";

    Obviously these statements must be after the declaration of $wgScriptPath

  • Optionally you can restrict editing pages to logged users (I won't do that for now here, let's see how much spammers like me first):
    $wgGroupPermissions['*']['edit'] = false;
    $wgShowIPinHeader = false;

    Other tips can be found here.

  • If you use the default Monobook theme, you can add some custom CSS code go to this page: Mediawiki:Monobook.css as suggested here and append your rules. NOTE: you need to log in with the SysOp user or equivalent.
  • Create content for the Privacy policy, About and Disclaimers pages, you find the links of the bottom of every page.
  • Multilingual support? Described here, we don't do that here, let's keep it simple.

Updating MediaWiki

The full guide can be found here, briefly we need to:

  • Configure the AdminSetting script:
    cd /home/www-data/
    cp AdminSettings.sample AdminSettings.php
    $EDITOR AdminSettings.php
  • Now that we have set up $wgDBadminuser and $wgDBadminpassword, we can run the upgrade script:
    cd maintenance/
    php update.php --aconf ../AdminSettings.php


You can add extensions in the extensions/ dir, some useful ones:

Anti-spam measures

If you want to prevent page editing from well known spammers you can use the method described in the Combating Spam page on the MediaWiki site.

I use a variation of the suggested script because I like sed more in this case:

wget -N $IP_LIST
unzip -u
echo "<?php" > bannedips.php
echo \$"wgProxyList = array(" >> bannedips.php
echo -n "'" >> bannedips.php
cat bannedips.csv | sed -e "s/,/',\n'/g" >> bannedips.php
echo "');" >> bannedips.php
echo "?>" >> bannedips.php
rm bannedips.csv

and I update it daily via cron, here's the crontab entry:

@daily cd /home/www-data/ && ./

You can also use DNSBL filtering adding these lines to LocalSettings.php:

$wgEnableSorbs = true;
$wgSorbsURL =   '';