How to Install Drupal: The More Difficult Way
The installation requirements of Drupal are a web server, PHP and a database server. Apache is recommended for the web server. Drupal will work on Apache 1.3 or Apache 2.x hosted on Unix/Linux or Windows. Drupal will apparently work on Microsoft IIS5 or IIS6 if PHP is configured correctly, but I did not test this.
Drupal requires PHP, version 4.3.5 or higher is required for Drupal v6, and PHP 5.2 is recommended and will be required when Drupal 7 is released. Finally, Drupal requires the MySQL database server, and Drupal 6 supports MySQL 4.1 or higher.
The download is of a tar.gz compressed file. For the Windows user, this requires the use of the freeware 7-zip decompression utility or similar. This proceeded smoothly. In order to develop an application and learn more about the system, I tried to install Apache2triad on my Vista PC. This proved problematic, due to issues with Vista, but web research and some trial and error showed that opening a command line window and typing httpd at the C:\ prompt enabled Apache2triad to run successfully. Installation of Drupal from there proved straightforward.
Installation of Drupal to a web server depends crucially on the degree of control offered by your Internet Service Provider. It is essential to investigate this before embarking on a web installation. I use a shared server and have only limited control over the environment. I found that PHP5 made installation much smoother. My ISP does not facilitate the running of cron.php, which is necessary for the smooth running of Drupal. However, Drupal offers a module called poormanscron, which once installed appeared to be an effective workaround.
My ISP also does not support the Drupal clean URL facility, designed to improve search engine optimisation. As a result, my home page had a URL of http://www.alangillies.com/drupal-6.4/index.php?q=node. This can be addressed to a certain extent by specifying paths using the Drupal path and autopath module.
Overall for a web developer without experience of PHP and MySQL, this installation process takes some patience and research. However, the application is strongly supported by the open source community and this means that there is much useful information available on the web. The biggest barriers are the limits of your control over your environment imposed by your ISP, but workarounds appear to exist for many of the issues.