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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.