phpBB forum beta test

Since Christmas, we’ve been using the Simple:Press plugin for WordPress to run our forum. Recently however, the amount of traffic has increased to the point where we need to move to phpBB to keep our server load under control. I’ve ported a snapshot of the current forum across into a phpBB install here; please have a play and report any issues you find under this post. Note:

  • You should be able to use your Simple:Press user name and password to log in to phpBB. Luckily both systems use the same password hashing algorithm.
  • Posts on the new forum will be lost when we do the final migration. For now, please treat phpBB as a sandpit, and continue to use the Simple:Press forum for “real” posts.
  • We will not be migrating private messages to the new forum. Please take this opportunity to take a backup of any messages you wish to keep after the migration.

Bizarrely, there didn’t seem to be any good publicly-available migration scripts, so I had to roll my own. Once we’ve ironed out any bugs, I’ll post the Python source here.

111 comments

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“Bizarrely, there didn’t seem to be any good publicly-available migration scripts, so I had to roll my own. Once we’ve ironed out any bugs, I’ll post the Python source here.”

Thats because nobody uses BBPress :D

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Or Simple:Press as its now known.

eben

Yes yes, I know that now :(

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FluxBB and myUPB rocks!

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:lol!: I’m totally confused here…

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Looks awesome Eben :) – works really really quick. I think some of the sections are missing though.

eben

Hi Liam – let me know what’s missing, and I’ll try to fix it.

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In the sub forum index page, the OP’s are listed as ‘Guest’…..
in all forums but the ‘General Discussion’.

Texy

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Correction – the old worldpress posts have guest as the OP, but new posts on the phpBB forum are listed correctly.
Texy

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Great work Eben!

That’s surely the right direction. phpBB adds performance, features and scalability and oyu find lots of add-ons. Spam prevention may require more work, as phpBB’s popularity makes it a good target for spammers.

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Agreed – initial experience suggests that phpBB is much better for both regular users and moderators – many thanks for getting this up and running.

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I suggest that this beta phase be used to create a well structured and extensive subdivision of topics for the new forum. The fact that no posts on the beta site will be preserved offers an excellent opportunity for chopping and changing the categories as good topic names are proposed and poor ones withdrawn.

In contrast, doing this forum subdivision later on will be a total pain, and the need to preserve posts will act as inertia against useful change.

Morgaine.

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I think its only PM’s that will be lost – the current posts are being migrated. So I’m guessing the current structure will stay for the migration, then we will have the chance to modify it. It’s not that bad a job.

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That wasn’t the point though. The point was that once posts are migrated to the new forum, anything new posted to it will be preserved. So, creating a new subforum name will immediately accumulate posts under thew new heading which must be preserved, which makes it virtually impossible to change decisions subsequently. It creates a very high degree of inertia.

In contrast, if the new subforum names are chosen by the community now, before the migration, then no inertia exists since anything posted to the new forum during beta is not preserved, so the names can be changed freely and repeatedly throughout the beta period. That would give people the opportunity to get it right through iteration.

Morgaine.

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Spam is a huge problem with PHPBB but can be virtually eliminated with a Q&A question on signup and the timezone fix for bots.

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I would recommend that CAPTCHA is also used during registration. I found that I was getting hundreds of registrations a week on my testbest phpBB3 forum until I did that. It certainly reduced the noise…

I also found it useful to disable the posting of URLs until a predetermined number of valid posts were made. This makes it much less attractive to spammers.

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Q&A CAPTCHA does almost completely eliminate spam. The default CAPTCHA used with phpBB is one designed by phpBB and the 3rd best included. reCAPTCHA (the 2nd best including CAPTCHA Plugin) requires an API code so that cannot be enabled by default. Q&A also cannot be enabled by default as the questions used by your site should be unique to your site and googling the question should not result in an answer. Having a default question would protect you from less spam as all bots would be re-developed to include the question in their database. You can also download Anti-Spam tools from the phpBB.com Customisation Database here http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/modifications/anti-spam-9/ and http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=2122696 is also another helpful guide by phpBB to prevent spam. The most fail-safe ways of preventing spam from experience is putting the first post on moderation queue, admin activation and custom CAPTCHA plugin games or QA. The first two can require more work from the team but it does prevent almost all spam. Hope this helps.

Unknown Bliss
Offical phpBB Website Team Member

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Thanks – very helpful.

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Thank you – it certainly does!

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I also agree with denying URLS for the first one or two posts via the Newly Registered Users group feature and one of these two mods:

http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/mod/authorized_for_urls

http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/mod/disallow_links_before_x_posts

bonelifer
Offical phpBB Moderator Team Member

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Another one of you guys! We are totally not worthy. Thanks for the pointer – the help from both of you has been really, really useful.

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Is search supposed to be working in the new forum software? I can search successfully by author, but by haven’t been able to find anything by keyword. I’ve tried “Java”, “Gertboard”, “Lego”, etc.

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I suspect that there is an issue with the search index following the import.
Searching from the top (using search box on top right) or within a subforum seems to find only messages since 22nd April.
http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5110&p=67812&hilit=eben#p67812

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Gotta say, PHPBB3 is much better than Simple:Press…

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ME NO LIKE!!!!! :(

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Not a particularly helpful response. What is the problem, and what would you prefer ?(please post a link to a forum you think is better – a picture says a thousand words)

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I found that after a while browsing through it that actually it is quite well structured but on first looks I thought it was ugly

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Searching for “USB” now works!

Unfortunately only posts posted using phpBB is returned…

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phpbb does have scripts to regenerate search indexes, or it can be set to search via MySQL queries.

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There are two possible search configuration in phpBB
Fulltext native – this requires the search index to be built.
Fulltext mysq – with this the minimum string length is governed by the mysql configuration, which defaults to 4.

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At least it’s just let me upload an avatar. Disabled feature on the simple version and Gravatar wouldn’t let me log in. Probably not the most useful feedback you were looking for. :-)

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http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/mod/gravatar_integration/ is a phpBB MOD which adds gravatar intergration if your interested. However its designed for phpBB 3.0.5 and I’m not sure about how compatible with 3.0.10 it will be.

Unknown Bliss
phpBB Website Team Member

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RSS feed to follow all newly created threads in a subforum would be great.

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Ah! Yes! that would be great. I however have not seen this option on all bb systems I’ve been part of….

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This can be enabled in the ACP, just go to ACP –> Feed Settings in the board configuration settings and enable the feeds you wish.

Unknown Bliss
phpBB Website Team Member

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I’d also like to see RSS (or ATOM given that it is PHPBB) feed.
That is how I access the current WordPress forum – although the limit of 25 at a time is a pain because my reader (Google) updates only once every 3 hours so much is missed on busy days (I posted about this in the forum a few times but never had feedback).

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A couple of things regarding profiles:

* Would it be possible to migrate the profiles data – particularly user location, profile picture and signature from simple:press ?
* Can the number of links in a signature and the total number of characters in a signature be raised from the current limits of 5 links and 255 characters – at least for the moderators. 10 links and 512 characters would be sufficient. Or not count phpBB markup and urls as part of the limit. My simple:press signature doesn’t fit here.
* One of the few things simple:press seems to do better is the whole social media info in your profile and user box. Any chance of keeping some of that functionality (eg links to twitter from the user box to the left of a post)?

What are the plans regarding making sure links to posts[1] continue to work (as we all know, cool uris don’t change[2] ;))

[1] eg http://www.raspberrypi.org/forum/general-discussion/please-fix-the-links-on-forum?value=links&type=1&include=3&search=1&ret=all

[2] http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI

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“What are the plans regarding making sure links to posts continue to work”
Seconded. There’s already a whole bunch of links on the wiki to the old “mingleforum” posts (see e.g. http://elinux.org/RPi_Low-level_peripherals#References) which no longer work, so it would be a shame if switching the forum system again created even more broken links.

It wasn’t directly forum-related, but when I wrote a migration script a while ago to migrate a site to a different server, the strategy I adopted was to have the migration script also spit out a custom .htaccess file to redirect old URLS to the corresponding new ones.

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This can be changed in ACP->Signature Settings–>General Settings but only supports a global setting, not group specific.

Unknown Bliss
phpBB Website Team Member

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Also, there is a MOD in development for your third comment, you can find it at http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=2146633 which adds functionality for social networking buttons (next to PM, Jabber, WLM etc).

Unknown Bliss
phpBB Website Team Member

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Clicking the topic title takes one to the first page, rather than the page with the first unread post. Clicking the little icon to the left of the topic title takes one to the first unread post.

This is clearly the default behaviour of phpBB and differs from the behaviour of simple:press so not sure what to do about it – just document it as a difference when it comes time to change over, or modify phpBB so that clicking on the title takes one to the first unread post?

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The default behaviour of SimplePress seems to not allow going to the first unread post at all – only to the first or the very latest post.

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To the left of the pagination at the top of the page there is a link to the ‘First Unread Post’

Unknown Bliss
phpBB Website Team Member

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Maybe you should try embedding it in the main site, like the other forums.

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We will – what we’re doing at the moment is just a beta test for functionality.

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Hi, Looks nice and i could navigate around ok. Two queries, (1) is this proposed as a replacement for just the forum part, so will the rest be unchanged ? (2) Is there a proposal to have a ‘cookbook’ or equivalent knowledgebase e.g ‘ getting wifi started’ or ‘interfacing the GPIO to various sensors’ with example designs etc or is that going to be on the Wiki ? I previously used the ARM mbed.org which has an excellent cookbook resource for developers.

Cheers
Steve

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Awesome…response times are great…definitely the way forward. One point so far, the admins are all showing as Guest in the main forum list (General discussion at least)

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Logging into phpBB doesn’t currently log one into wordpress at the same time. Perhaps this is something that will be addressed during the embedding stage as Liz mentions above.

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Yes, It would be nice to have one (be that wordpress or phpBB) log you in to the other.

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http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=2133699 – This MOD in Development allows intergration betweena WP and phpBB users database but I’m not sure if it means it also shares sessions/cookies.

Unknown Bliss
phpBB Website Team Member

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How cool is it that phpBB team members are not only hanging out here, but actually giving up their free time to provide support and assistance? This is why I love the global Open Source community.

Thank you, Unknown Bliss.

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Please let it have a decent skin (preferably a custom one); it’s so silly to see a huge website like this one having “phpBB” at the top with the standard colour scheme!

You don’t even need to do this yourself; hold another competition asking for a raspberry pi-themed phpBB skin and your mailbox will be red hot with zips. You can even make it mandatory for it to load fast and good on an actual raspi :D

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It will – what we’re doing is just a functionality test, not a demonstration of the final look of the thing.

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It will have an appropriate skin and branding. The vanilla forum is a test.

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Why PHPBB? Every time I used it it was the most susceptible to spambots and always had HUGE security flaws getting hacked too many times to mention! Moved to MyBB and its all smooth best open source forum software out there.

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Disagree. I had all kind of forum software products running over the past 12 years and phpBB has proven to be reliable and secure. It’s installation base makes it a popular target for spammers and hackers but that also makes for additional effort on the security and anti-spam teams.

Security may be a problem if you chose to include modifications to your installation that are not that well reviewed, but speaking of the phpBB core it is rock-solid. Otherwise it would long have been gone, vanished and displaced by other systems.

Spam is always an issue, not matter what software you are using. The team will probably have to add some 3rd party spam prevention mechanisms or write their own flavor. Spam bots are usually dumb and try the same tricks over and over again. Using your own clever solution is often better than going with some well-known mods, as tehy are well known to spambot coders, too.

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This is a guess from my side; phpBB has gotten a bit of a bad name because it doesn’t have proper spam prevention out-of-the-box.

If you’re a random person wishing to have a forum, chances are you won’t be able to write a couple of lines of php for a creative solution for the number of spam. I have seen entire phpBB-based fora go to waste because of spam issues. It might take days to manually remove all spam messages, so unfortunately some webmasters choose to delete everything and start over using different forum software.

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I made sure that everything was in place to stop spam but never made any difference. I was continually getting patches from the dev team to sort out security hole in the base install and they made more than they solved. Never again. lol

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What’s very important is to keep the forum up to date all the time. Because there are way too much bots trying to find security flaws everywhere.

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Because if we’d migrated to MyBB I’d now be replying to a post asking “Why MyBB? phpBB is much better!” ;)

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phpBB is a good choice of forum, it has a huge user base and the community support is excellent. , I administrator a phpBB forum that has been running for over a decade 40,000 registered users. SPAM can be a problem, but following the guides on the phpBB support pages will solve most issues. The most effective measure I have found is requiring a users first port to be authorised. I have my forum bridged to Joomla, to give single-sign-in, but the are bridges to other CMSs.

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phpBB 3 actually has never had a major security vulnerability. You can view the security record here – http://secunia.com/advisories/product/17998/

phpBB 3 has several strict requirements for code. All code is extensively reviewed and audited by developers before being added to the core, even if the code is by a developer. We have also had an external security audit done.

phpBB 2 did have a bad security record but steps have been taken to prevent this (QA, code review process, security audits). phpBB3 is an almost complete re-write of phpBB 2 and it was written with security in mind.

Unknown Bliss
phpBB Website Team Member

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http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5123

I broke-it :)

I admin a high-traffic forum and i have seen all kinds of evil things done to forum software :)

I’ll add more stuff to that thread.

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Umm, no don’t, thanks. I have also been admin on large forums, I get the point. We know that no forum software is unbreakable, just like no computer is unhackable and no lock is unpickable. That’s why forums have moderators.

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Ok, but if possible, please set those image attachement limits – users *will* attach huge images straight out of their high-megapixel camera if allowed. And 1920×1080 screenshots. And obnoxious signatures.

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Will Subscriped and Watched Topics be merged?

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I have found a small issue with the new phpBB3 forum regarding security. To whom should I report this?

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Oh well… I tried…

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I would suggest irc://irc.freenode.net/phpbb in the first instance. Or if IRC is a problem for you, http://www.phpbb.com/security/

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I like the switch over!

Since this is supposed to be a sandbox, will changes made through the user control panel be lost or will only the post on phpBB forum be lost?
Can the “display name” feature be added (or can I shorten my login id)? Thx!

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They’ll probably all be lost. Sorry!

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http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/mod/separate_login_and_user_name/ is a MOD for 3.0.9 (As such I’m not sure on the compatibility for 3.0.10 but it should be fine) which allows separate login names and username.

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Thanks again, Unknown – this is really helpful stuff, and we massively appreciate your taking the time to let us know about it.

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I think it’s going to be less useful to me in this new form. I’ll learn to make it useful, though. What I’m looking for is a way to link to the raspberrypi.org URL and get a page or two of the latest posts, rather than a list of posts where I have to poke around to find the latest stuff.

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I agree completely.

I personally like the current *style* (if not the speed and interface for posting). The fact that stuff is listed on the frontpage in cronological order and that comments for posts are likewise listed in cronological order etc is something that I really enjoy.
The new style where I have to dig through topics to find the latest stuff is something that I find to be a real pain. I doubt I’ll be using it much :-(

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hi,
Even though the text for my username and password comes up on auto, its not letting me log in even after having to use the captcha (I have also tried input manually) !
Bas.

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Could not log in – excuse: wrong password.
Could not get password reminder – excuse: user name / email not known.
Could not register – excuse: User name in use.

I use randomly generated passwords, so sometimes sites get upset by the punctuation. I keep site login URLs, user names, email addresses and passwords in a gpg encrypted file so I do not forget them. I paste them into place so I do not mistype them. Username and password worked fine here.

Does phpBB get confused by passwords made from ASCII 32 to 126 inclusive, or should I look elsewhere from problems?

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-GB; rv:1.9.1.16) Gecko/20120315 Iceweasel/3.5.16 (like Firefox/3.5.16)

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My guess is: You’re right. Although the password hashing of both BB systems are the same, they handle odd characters differently. My password worked, but has nothing fancy.
(If you force people to use a number in their password, they choose one from the dictionary with a digit tacked on. About 1M possible passwords. 8 random lowercase letters gives you 208 billion possible passwords).

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Will you continue to use raspberrypi.org/forum or will you start using forum.raspberrypi.org. The latter would allow to switch servers more easily as/if demands on the servers keep growing.

Just a thought…

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Avatars are gone. Are they expected to come back?

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Looks nice !

You may also want to look info fluxbb http://fluxbb.org/ its runs fast looks clean ( unlike phpbb imo) and works quite well.

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Everyone has their favourite. I’d always use XenForo but it isn’t free.

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Just noted one exception to that issue: (after having loged in in the new forum) Liz avatar it’s showing, but no other does!! ;)

Oh, by the way, how this change will affect to the RSS feed. I seem to be unable to find it in the new board. Hopfully it will inherit the previous feed so nothing will change.

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Hi, try uploading your picture again. I couldn’t get it to work on the current system, no room left, but have managed on the new one.
Once logged in, “User Control Panel,” top left.
Then “Profile” tab.
Maximum dimensions; width: 90 pixels, height: 90 pixels, file size: 6.00 KiB.

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Whilst thinking about forum changes, what are your the idea of a Stack Exchange site? (details here: http://stackexchange.com/ )

Of course, I like the forum and it’s a good medium for all manner of discussions, but it doesn’t always “bubble up” the best solutions to specific questions… thus a specialist Q&A tool like Stack Exchange might fit into the ecosystem quite well without displacing other outlets that could co-exist…

Just an idea! :-)

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finally we can have three letter search terms !

(198 linux things; 6 to 7% of things on the linux path)

A=$(echo $PATH | perl -p -e ‘s/:/\n/g’ | xargs -I {} ls -1 “{}” 2>/dev/null | wc -l | perl -p -e ‘s/[^0-9]//g’);
B=$(echo $PATH | perl -p -e ‘s/:/\n/g’ | xargs -I {} ls -1 “{}” 2>/dev/null | grep …. | wc -l | perl -p -e ‘s/[^0-9]//g’);
echo “scale=6;(1-($B/$A))*100″|bc;
echo “$A-$B”|bc;

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The allowed avatar size is a bit snug at 6k – I’ve generally found the limit to be a bit bigger on most forums – eg

Note: The maximum size of your custom image is 80 by 80 pixels or 19.5 KB (whichever is smaller).

I got mine to fit eventually, but my 80 x 80 png was coming out at about 6.5k, and I thought it was quite compact!!

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Use JPG – should easily get inside 6KB.

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Use JPG (even high-quality should be a fair bit smaller than 6KB). And check you’re not saving the image with metadata – that can bump the size up quite a bit.

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http://www.steelbytes.com/?mid=30 <- jepg stripper I've used this to drop mine down from 16k to 6k – small enough to fit

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This phpBB looks great and fast! Thanks!
But, how do I set _nickname_ or _display name_ in phpBB ?
I cannot find the setting anywhere in this phpBB User Control Panel. (It was available in the Simple:Press _Edit Member Profile_ …)

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It was previously mentioned that languages other than English might be supported once the forum software was updated. Would it be possible to allow an “éducation français” section?

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Eben, install (it takes few clicks) some new theme. Whatever but the default that is there right now. My eyes bleed from the current theme.

pick from here for example:
http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/style/quasar/demo/

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Hi,

– BBCode for Youtube isn’t working (or I made a mistake see : http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5131).
– I don’t know if it is intended but notification e-mails are sent using an actual account (i.e. eben (at) raspberrypi.org).

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While phpBB is definitely better then existing wordpress plugin, it is a nightmare to maintain. For larger forums I doubt it’s speed too. If the decision and conversion tool is already done, then OK, but next time some experienced ones should be asked before.

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I know! No one has a bloomin’ clue round here.

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Have a look at the phpBB forum at tonymacx86.com. I like this theming and particularly the random, large avatars that are used.

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The problem with allowing huge avatars e.g. 150×150 plus a load of info underneath is that every single post – even if it is only a few words – takes up half the page (literally). It may look groovy, but quickly becomes annoying. Same with allowing big pictures in sigs (Adblock is you friend here ;)).

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Please enable RSS or ATOM feeds on the new forum when possible.

Using RSS readers (synchronized with Google Reader) has been so far the best way I found to follow the Raspi forum (among a lot of other stuff), and it would be a pity loosing it.

It was already an issue when the forum service changed last time, with the RSS feeds mixing poster and subject on the title text (which didn’t allow me to group the posts by topics)

As Liz said: another bullet on the “Great Big List of Stuff That Needs Doing.”

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Should it be possible to enable the forum to be read with tablet (like Ipad) apps such Tapatalk HD or ForumRunner ?

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Yes – all Eben needs to do is get it listed in the Tapatalk directory (free) and then anyone using Tapatalk will be able to access the forum via most phones/tablets.

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There are already two unofficial forums listed via Tapatalk but one throws up an error and the other has very few posts.

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Successfully logged in! Yeah!

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I personally use VanillaForums as they have a recent posts homepage and good interface, however PhpBB is very stable!

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one thing I did notice was that the number of posts per page was set lower than on our current forum making large topics like mpthompsons hardfloat for pi topic even harder to naviage.

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Hello Team RPI,

If you want, I’d be more than happy to host your entire forum phpBB forum for free. Please contact me if you want to discuss further.

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Currently on the phpBB install I also get an http auth popup from my password manager(KeeFox for Keepass) for http://raspi.guru.gg (image below):

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y267/bonelifer/phpBB/httpauthRPi.jpg

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That’s because we’re working on it at the moment – move along, nothing to see!

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The navbar at the top with “Community … Shop” really needs a non-transparent box around it so that the forum content passing under it isn’t visible. I find it annoying to be scrolling down the page and see that. For me it’s a distracting phenomenon.

eben

We know – it’ll be non-transparent when it goes live. At the moment we’re working on integrating it.

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