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HowTo: Build Your Own Wiki on a Stick

MediaWiki on a stick with WOS (Webserver on Stick)

By Eric Hartwell - last updated April 7, 2006

You can configure a Windows Wiki on a stick using WOS Portable from CH Software instead of Uniform Server. WOS Portable does not need an extra drive letter and it is ready to run instantly after unzipping; just plug a USB stick in any Windows computer and the wiki webserver starts up in your browser.

WOS packages a complete Apache/PHP/MySQL webserver with a wrapper that automatically configures and starts the servers; the Small Edition takes only 20 Mb. It is published under the GNU GPL.

The complete package with MediaWiki 1.6.1, WOS Portable SE 1.1.1, Apache 2.0.5, PHP 5.1.2 (and 4.4.1), and MySQL 4.1.18-nt - all free, open source software - occupies less than 60Mb with an empty wiki.


For best results you should always install and run WOS from the root directory of a drive. The first time it's run, WOS configures the paths for the servers based on the current directory. Each time it's started after that, it changes the drive only, so it's a pain to change directories later.

  1. Start by downloading the latest versions of MediaWiki and WOS Portable or WOS Portable Small Edition.
  2. Select the drive for installation. If you'd like to install to your hard disk, you can create a virtual disk using the subst command: subst W: "C:\Temp\MyWikiOnAStick"
  3. Switch to your target drive and unzip the distribution files. Unzip WOS into the root directory, and MediaWiki into a subdirectory of www. It's convenient to rename the subdirectory to "wiki". The configuration I'm working with looks like this:
  4. The default for the apache web server is to listen on port 80 of the host machine. This is likely to cause problems if there's an existing server on your target machine. To change the port number, open the file apache2\conf\httpd.conf in a text editor like notepad.
    1. Search for the line that says Listen 80 and change it to Listen
    2. Search for the line that says ServerName localhost:80 and change it to ServerName
    • IANA Port Numbers:
      • 80: World Wide Web (HTTP)
      • 8080: HTTP Alternate
      • 443: HTTP protocol over TLS/SSL (HTTPS)
      • 49152 through 65535: Dynamic and/or Private Ports
      • 1024 through 49151 should not be used on the Internet without IANA registration.
  5. Run "start.exe" from the root directory.
    1. Choose your language, then click through the Terms of Use (which is actually small enough to fit on a dialog box without scrolling!)
    2. WOS starts up and displays the WOS Portable - Status dialog. You should see:
      Apache is running
      MySQL is running
    3. WOS will open the welcome page in your web browser.
      If you changed the port number as recommended above, you'll get a 404: Not Found error. Don't worry.
      • Open the WOS Portable Options tab and change the value for "Use the following URL in the browser" from http://localhost/start/ to http://localhost:8080/start/ (or whatever port you assigned above).
      • You can either shut down and restart WOS or just copy the address to your browser.
      • You should now see the WOS startup page.
        Apache 2.0.55 is running
        PHP 5.1.2 works
        MySql 4.1.18-nt is running
        Document Root is: W:/www
  6. Review the other WOS options; most of the defaults work fine for MediaWiki, except:
    • You must clear the Delete InnoDB log and tempfiles after stopping WOS checkbox, or put CleanInnoDB=false in wos.ini.
  7. Shut down and restart WOS:
    • Click End, then wait until it closes.
    • Run "start.exe" and verify that it starts up properly.
  8. Run MediaWiki web configuration. Using the directory and port settings above, the address is http://localhost:8080/wiki/config.
    1. If you want to use a Creative Commons license, you should select it first. Scroll down to the Copyright/license section, click on Creative Commons license - choose, and select your license.
    2. Fill in the site config information
      • Name your wiki
      • Assign a WikiSysop password
      • You can disable all the email options for a tiny wiki
      • Assign a wikiuser password for the Database config
      • By default, WOS runs with the superuser account root with no password. If you've changed the root password, enter it here; otherwise, clear the Superuser password.
    3. Click Install MediaWiki! After a short delay you should see the MediaWiki 1.6.1 Installation success screen.
    4. Move the W:\www\wiki\config\LocalSettings.php file to W:\www\wiki
    5. Click on "then follow this link to your wiki" and after a short delay you should see the MediaWiki home page.
      • Open the WOS Portable Options tab and change the value for "Use the following URL in the browser" from http://localhost:8080/start/ to http://localhost:8080/wiki/ (or whatever port and directory you assigned above).
  9. You're not quite done yet. If there's any problem with any of the configuration files (especially if you moved the WOS directory), MediaWiki will behave normally, but the data may be lost when you shut the server down.
    1. Shut down WOS - click End, then wait until it closes.
    2. Run "start.exe" from the root directory.
    3. If you see the MediaWiki home page, you're done.


WOS Portable is freeware, and there is no official support.

Here's how to deal with some of the ways I've messed up the installation:

  • Verify the paths in the configuration files apache2\conf\httpd.conf and mysql\my.ini. If you changed the WOS directory, then some of the paths may be pointing to the old directory. Changing the drive only is OK.
  • If you see an error message like A database error has occurred ... Can't open file: 'user.ibd',
    make sure you have cleared the WOS Portable Options Delete InnoDB log and tempfiles after stopping WOS checkbox. If it isn't cleared, you'll need to rebuild the MediaWiki database:
    1. Shut down WOS
    2. Delete the W:\mysql\data\wikidb directory and contents
    3. Delete or rename W:\www\wiki\LocalSettings.php
    4. Start WOS again, go to http://localhost:8080/wiki/config, and reinstall the wiki.
  • MediWiki should work with both PHP4 and PHP5. Any custom extensions you have may not.

If you still have a problem, try the troubleshooting hints on the WOS Wiki.


A complete WOS installation with an empty MediaWiki takes about 55Mb. If you're really tight for space, you can delete some files:

  • Make a backup of the complete installation first!
  • PHP4 is about 4.3Mb and PHP5 is about 3.6Mb. You can delete the one you're not using.
  • The MediaWiki languages subdirectory is about 4.25Mb. You can get it down to 150Kb by deleting all of the Language??.php and Messages??.php files you're not using (but don't delete LanguageUtf8.php).

You can (and should!) back up your installation by making a complete copy of the WOS directory tree.




Creative Commons License

Unless otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License


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