Social Enterprise

Choosing a blog server

Want to build your very own blog server? David McAmis takes a look at the options available and key considerations before jumping into the task.

Want to know how to set up your very own blog server? In the first article in this series, David McAmis takes a look at the options available and key considerations before building your blog server.

Blogging has grown in popularity over the past few years with just about everyone publishing a blog these days, from software developers to politicians, angst-ridden teenagers and everyone in between. In this article, we are going to look at some of the options available for setting up your own blog server. In my next article in this series I'll walk through how to setup the server using an open source application written using PHP and PERL.

To start, there are a number of different scenarios to consider when selecting a blog server platform. The first question you need to ask is if you are going to want only a single blog or multiple blogs with multiple authors. Second, you need to look at what type of server environment you have available to deploy the blog server. Will you deploy it on your own server or use a commercial Web host? And if you are using a commercial Web host, what platforms/languages do they support? The majority of blog servers that we found are based on Linux/MySQL, but there are some alternatives for other platforms, including .NET.

Choosing a blog platform
If you only need to publish a single blog, there are a number of quick and easy solutions available that don't require you to setup your own blog server. These include Blogger, Radio, and so on. In general the way these services work is that you will need your own Web site or Web host that will host your blogââ,¬"these services provide the application front-end to post to your blog and then the blog files are uploaded to your Web server. This is often the simplest solution and where most people will start.

If you need more flexibility or want complete control over your blog and if you have your own Web server or hosting in place, you are probably ready to setup your own blog server. There are two different types of blog servers that are available, depending on whether you store the blog posts in a database or in files on the server.

A file-based blog server is the easiest to implement, as it doesn't require any additional setup to get up and running, other than read/write permissions on the directories where your data files are stored.

If you have a more complex hosting environment that includes access to a database like MySQL, you may want to consider implementing a blog server that uses a database on the back end to store blog entries. This type of implementation can be a bit more complex and requires a basic understanding of the database platform, as well as additional setup to get everything up and running. Remember also that the majority of blog servers we are going to look at in this article are open source or free software and sometimes the setup can be a bit tricky and documentation is often poor.

Once you have decided on whether to deploy a file-based or database solution, the next consideration is on the deployment platform. Blog servers are usually written using languages and technology that is available across a number of different platforms (PHP, Perl, etc.) but keep in mind that these servers may have been created on or specifically for a particular platform (usually Linux).

So if you choose to deploy the server on a Windows platform, for example, you may spend a little extra time working through a set of installation instructions that were written for the Linux platform. It doesn't mean that deploying these solutions on a Windows platform is impossible, it just means that it may take a little additional time and effort on your part.

The Blog Server contenders


Blosxom
Blosxom is a lightweight, multi-platform blog server that can be used to host multiple blogs without a lot of overhead.

Requirements: Web Server (Apache, IIS, etc.), Perl
Pros: Easy to setup and configure, doesn't require database server.
Cons: Small development team and developer base.

More information: http://www.blosxom.com/

 

Pivot
Easy to setup and use, Pivot is a Web-based blog server that can host multiple blogs and is a robust alternative to using a back-end database.

Requirements: Web Server (either Apache or IIS) and PHP
Pros: Robust feature set without a database back-end.
Cons: Rebuild process can be lengthy for large blogs.

More information: http://www.pivotlog.net/


.Text (Beta)
Blog server created using C# and ASP.NET for the .NET platform

Requirements: IIS, .NET Framework, SQL Server or MSDE
Pros: Runs on Microsoft framework.
Cons: Difficult to setup and configure lack of documentation.

More information: http://www.gotdotnet.com/workspaces/workspace.aspx?ID=E99FCCB3-1A8C-42B5-90EE-348F6B77C407


LiveJournal
Popular open source framework behind the blog site LiveJournal.com

Requirements: Perl, MySQL, Apache, mod_perl
Pros:Well-established user and developer base, flexible framework
Cons: Can be difficult to customise, large code base

More information: http://www.livejournal.com/developer/


Nucleus
Blogging and news site framework with a number of plug-ins to extend the functionality into other areas (chat, track-back, etc.)

Requirements: Web Server (Apache, IIS, etc.),PHP, MySQL
Pros: Broad feature set and easily customisable.
Cons:Plug-in's can be difficult to install and configure.

More Information: http://nucleuscms.org/


WordPress
WordPress is a free publishing system built on PHP and MySQL and licensed under the GPL.

Requirements: Web server, PHP, MySQL
Pros: Popular framework, strong developer community
Cons: Can be difficult to get up and running.

More information: http://wordpress.org/


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