Topic: PunBB - server edition

Not a feature request as such -- more an idea for consideration and hopefully discussion.

I use punBB on my own website, it's great, wouldn't dream of changing. I check by here now and then, and when I see a new release I get my site updated within a day or two.

I'm also a webserver administrator. Security vulnerabilities of dynamic web applications pose a serious concern for me and every web server admin. Software authors usually respond quickly to recognized security flaws and release new versions. But too often, existing installations of insecure versions are not updated. Inexperienced webmasters are sometimes simply not aware of the potential for security vulnerabilities, or they forget, or they install something to 'try it out' and later abandon it (without removing it). The onus for keeping web applications up-to-date is on the webmaster, but frequently the consequences of outdated, insecure web applications fall on the server admin (such as when the server is turned into a spam-machine by an insecure mail script). Often the only recourse is to search out insecure scripts across the server, and disable or update them -- a tedious and ongoing task.

My idea is to move away from account- or domain-based installations of web applications to server-based installations. Meaning, there is just a single installation of the application on the server and every hosted domain can access it -- one installation of scripts to be maintained and updated by the server admin. Each individual account/domain would store its own data and be able to make unique customizations via templates and CSS.

That's the punBB : Server Edition, the server administrator's dream smile No other forum has taken this kind of approach (or other web app, to my knowledge, with the exception of webmail apps). It could make punBB truly unique. It's all quite do-able, I'm sure, just needs a little re-thinking. (Actually I currently use this approach with a small CMS I've written. I have about 25 sites on one server -- all chugging away from a single set of core scripts, using domain-specific stylesheets & images, and reading/writing data to domain databases.)

Just a thought... love to hear your comments.

Re: PunBB - server edition

I think the problem in the past have been the features. Most PunBB forums are modded with customized features etc. So, creating such system with 1.2 means that the users won't be able to put in the features they want (see mypunbb.com). However, with 1.3, the extensions will be stored in the database so I guess it wouldn't be too much work for someone to do something like this and still keep it fairly flexible in terms of features.

3

Re: PunBB - server edition

Sounds like a prime candidate for a commercial licence.

4 (edited by Smartys 2006-05-30 12:37)

Re: PunBB - server edition

I don't know how unique it would be (well, except for the allowing custom styles/templates bit: that would be pretty unique). Most forum softwares have mods that allow one copy of the files to be used (and PunBB even has one here)
The issue, as has been said, is usually the mods (and as has also been said, extensions might be able to deal with that)

http://fluxbb.org

Free PunBB Hosting - lots of mods, easy to customize

Re: PunBB - server edition

Huh, should definitely check Multi-Forum Mod for PunBB

Re: PunBB - server edition

The demo is not available so I couldn't give it a try. From a look into the source code, it seems to only provide the ability to run multiple forums on the same domain. The idea is a single installation that is accessible from any domain hosted on a server.

7

Re: PunBB - server edition

If you are the server admin you can achieve this by working with  symlinks (httpd.conf -> FollowSymLinks).
The only original files that hav to exist on a per-user basis will be the templates (i.e. the layout) and the config file, all the rest is referenced from a central place.
This *should* work.
The drawback:
Of course this does not allow for mods on a per-user basis.

I tried it and it worked on my machine, I didn't follow the whole story to the end.
Currently all developments I planned are idling around... smile
I would hate to spend a lot  of time on something and then the next day 1.3 is coming out...

The German PunBB Site:
PunBB-forum.de

Re: PunBB - server edition

Paul wrote:

Sounds like a prime candidate for a commercial licence.

this would be useful for ISP that provide this kind of service "ready-to-use", not necesserly under commercial licence wink

@sleddog : i've already think of it before ; but never take the time to finish it and like said Tobi ; "I would hate to spend a lot  of time on something and then the next day 1.3 is coming out..." big_smile

Re: PunBB - server edition

I agree about waiting for 1.3. Regards to implementing, I'd use a server alias. Think about how a webmail app like Squirrelmail is implemented server-wide. It's not exactly the same, but a little bit similar. The ability to customize would depend on the separation of code from templates & CSS. There'd be a "master" config file and "local" (account-specific) config files. If for e.g. a local config file specified a customized stylesheet, it would be used. Otherwise the stylesheet specified in the master config would be used. Same for templates. The local config file could be 'found' by using the PHP $_SERVER[] variables for server name and path. So you could have local config files distinguished by domain and also by path (within the same domain). I'm rambling, sorry smile