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What is Coppermine Hosting?

Websites with few images can be dull and difficult to follow. Images illustrate points and just add visual interest to your site. However, some websites need more than just the ability to add a photo here and there. So what happens when you need to display dozens, hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of photos and other images? You need a gallery system and that is where Coppermine Photo Gallery (CPG) comes in.

Coppermine is a widely used gallery software suite with multimedia capabilities. However, unlike a simple plugin such as you might find available for content management systems like WordPress or Joomla!, Coppermine has a number of specific requirements.

Coppermine requires PHP, MySQL and a library such as ImageMagick or the GD Graphics Library. Coppermine works with most server platforms and we will take a closer look at the exact requirements after we cover the basics. However, aside from the server side, Coppermine also requires some knowledge of HTML and basic CSS skills also come in handy.

So why choose Coppermine?

A number of gallery software solutions are available and undemanding developers can choose to use off the shelf solutions and plugins for popular content management systems. Basically if you want to create a few galleries in your company’s WordPress blog for the holidays, Coppermine is not for you.

Coppermine is ideal for users with developer skills. This doesn't mean you can't use it on your site if you're not a developer – it just means that you may need a bit of assistance to get it up and running. The types of interfaces that it must use, specifics that have to be taken into account when integrating Coppermine with other software packages and other issues that may arise along theway may require some developer skills or developer man-hours.

However, the upside is that Coppermine can be integrated with numerous popular platforms such as vBulletin, phpBB, Simple Machines Forum, PostNuke, Invision Power Board and Joomla or Mambo.

Coppermine is open-source and free to use. The software is published under the GNU General Public License, although the developers to require users to stick to certain guidelines. All relevant CPG v1.5.x and CPG v1.4.x is available online.

Coppermine server side requirements

Coppermine can be installed on just about any webserver, including Apache and Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS). The developer states that users have successfully installed CPG on Roxen, Abyss and Zeus servers, but Apache is the recommended platform.

In terms of PHP support, Coppermine requires PHP v4.3.0 or later and PHP5 is recommended for the current Coppermine releases.

Coppermine MySQL requirements are similar – MySQL 4.1 is recommended, MySQL 5 is supported, but Coppermine will run on MySQL version 3.23.23 or later.

Coppermine also requires ImageMagick or GD version 1.x and later.

Installing Coppermine or getting a Coppermine plan?

Coppermine hosting plans are widely available from nearly all major hosts. They usually come preloaded with the latest version of Coppermine and they tend to be configured. However, you still need to integrate Coppermine with your website, which is why some developer skills are usually necessary - namely knowledge of HTML and experience in setting up and tweaking pre-made scripts. Some CSS skills may be necessary as well.

Other hosts tend to offer pre-made scripts for one-click installation of Coppermine software, but experience with such solutions has been mixed and even the Coppermine developers state they had “bad experiences” with such solutions – they can include bugs that don’t exist in the official Coppermine package, they usually offer outdated versions of the software and official documentation and support may be lacking.

Therefore, the Coppermine team suggests you stay away from one-click install scripts offered by many hosts.

But what if you already have a plan and just need to install Coppermine on your existing server? There is no shortage of online guides and the process is relatively straightforward – you need FTP and SSH access, as well as MySQL database details. All these requirements are usually covered even by affordable shared and managed hosting plans and LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) servers should be easy to deal with.

Some additional tinkering may be required on IIS servers, especially when it comes to ImageMagick and GD.

Once it's installed, though, you can use Coppermine not only to display photos on your site, but to categorize and arrange photos, search, add captions, sort, and much more. Community members can also be given permissions to upload photos, and add their own captions and descriptions, as well as comment on the photos others have uploaded, if you allow it – this is a very useful feature for forums.

Coppermine supports roughly a couple dozen languages, including Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Italian, German, Greek, and many more. So if your site has an international audience, you can customize the photo gallery to accommodate users around the world.

Coppermine Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What sets Coppermine apart from more basic gallery software?

    Coppermine provides the traditional photo-gallery features, along with a number of perks that give you additional control and flexibility. Coppermine features full multimedia support, a mySQL database which can store picture information, the ability to arrange pictures into categories and albums, automatic thumbnail creation, user management which includes options for private galleries and groups, automatic detection of language preferences, slideshow, a template system to integrate Coppermine into the rest of your site, and even an eCard feature.

  • What type of support will I receive with Coppermine?

    That depends on whether or not your hosting server offers Coppermine as an optional installation, they may provide some support. Otherwise, Coppermine is provided “as is” and does not include any type of warranty or guaranteed support. However, there is plenty of documentation available on their website and a rich community of users and developers available to offers support as needed.

  • Can I edit what’s shown on my start page?

    Coppermine provides a number of options for your main page. You can display the latest images, most viewed, top rated, the last pictures to be commented on or viewed, or a random selection of photos. You can also select specific images to display, or use the main page to list categories or albums. There’s a bit of coding involved with this, so make sure to check out their support documentation to see the correct values that need to be entered for each option.

  • How does Coppermine manage photo locations? Are they placed in gallery specific folders, etc.?

    Coppermine places pictures into either a userpics folder, for images uploaded by html, or an albums folder, which is the suggested location for FTP uploads. It does not create additional folders for albums. Instead, it utilizes the database to determine which album and category each image should appear in.

  • How hard is it to create a backup of my Coppermine database?

    There are a number of tools available to backup your database, including phpMyAdmin, mySqlDumper, and mysqlhotcopy. Any tool for copying a SQL database should work fine; however, you need to make sure to do a full database copy that captures both the structure of the database and the table definitions. If you do not backup all of the Coppermine tables, you will receive an error message when you attempt to restore the backed up files.

  • Can I display the same image in multiple photo albums?

    Yes. You can select which albums an image appears in by updating the Album Keywords in Album Properties. Because albums are maintained through a database rather than folders, you can display an image in as many albums as you want, with no need to create additional copies of the image.

  • Can I adjust where users go when they log in?

    Yes. You can send users to your public gallery or send them directly to their private gallery. Doing so will require some edits to the login.php file, and specific instructions are available in the documentation files.

  • Is there any way to prevent users from downloading or saving the pictures in my galleries?

    Not completely. As with any web-based gallery, if the user is able to see your pictures, it means there’s already a copy of the picture on his or her hard drive. However, there are some steps you can take to make it more difficult for most users to save your images. You could add a watermark to your images prior to uploading them or use the built-in watermark features that come with Coppermine. If you prefer to let your visitors enjoy the full image without watermarks, you can disable the image toolbar that appears in Internet Explorer as a user hovers over your picture. All of these can be worked around by a skilled user, but they should provide at least some peace of mind.

  • What is ImageMagick?

    ImageMagick is a program for editing and converting graphical images. It is primarily used in web-based applications, as it does not include a graphical user interface, and all actions must be done using the command line. It is particularly useful for applying the same edits or conversion to a large number of images at one time, such as creating a thumbnail gallery for a library of images, as Coppermine uses it.

  • Can I edit the installation to maximize the amount of available storage I have available?

    Absolutely. You can remove a number of features during the installation, including additional language packs, unnecessary themes, unwanted documentation, and bridge files for implementing Coppermine with bulletin board programs. Once you’ve installed Coppermine, you can also remove the installation and upgrade files to clean up additional storage space.

  • Can I prevent other sites from linking directly to a picture in my gallery?

    If your host supports .htaccess files, you can add one to your album folder and edit the file to prevent other sites from linking directly to a single picture. Users who click on such a link would instead be brought to your gallery page.

  • Can I use plugins to add additional features?

    Yes. The latest versions of Coppermine added plugin capabilities and there are now dozens of plugins available, including tools to enable mass import, add Google analytics code, simplify the process of removing users, and more.

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