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What is PHP-Nuke?

Usually, when you hear the word "nuke" associated with a website or anything Internet-related, it's not a good thing. Someone hacked your site? It got nuked. Server crashed? Nuked. But in the case of PHP-Nuke, it can be a really good thing for your site, depending on what kind of site you're building.

PHP-Nuke was designed to be used on both intranets and the Internet. It's an automated system for news publishing (or blogging) and content management, all of which is controlled via a Web-based user interface. It's a more complex content management system than some, probably better suited for management by a developer or other IT professional. While PHP-Nuke is controlled by an administrator, site users can also post news items and other content as long as they're registered with the site.

Much of PHP-Nuke's functionality comes from modules, which are also maintained by the administrator. Similar to plugins that may be used on WordPress sites, PHP-Nuke modules provide numerous functions and features such as forums, FAQs, instant and private messaging, site search, member lists, surveys, and much more.

PHP-Nuke runs on several operating systems, including but not limited to Linux, Windows, and MacOS. It requires a SQL database, PHP version 4.2 or higher, and an Apache Web server, all of which are available on most servers.

PHP-Nuke will run just fine on shared hosting, but a dedicated or virtual private server account will open up additional options as PHP-Nuke allows for server customization, and the ability to run on the operating system of your choice.

What is unique about PHP-Nuke?

PHP-Nuke is a modular framework. It is provided with a long list of standard modules that provide a great deal of functionality and can be activated or deactivated according to the needs of your website. We’ll discuss the most noteworthy modules here, but for a complete listing of all PHP-Nuke modules check out their website.

If you’re using PHP-Nuke for the most common uses you’ll make heavy use of the Content module which allows you create pages and place content (text, images, multimedia) on the pages. You’ll also make use of the News module which allows you to create and post categorically organized articles. One cool feature in PHP-Nuke is the Submit News module which allows registered users to submit articles to the website. Of course, as admin you’ll have the chance to moderate these submissions before they go live.

PHP-Nuke has built in community-building features through the Forums module and the Private Messages module which allow website users to interact with each other. Users will also appreciate access to the Search module to help them find relevant content quickly.

As the website Admin you’ll appreciate the Statistics module which provides detailed site statistics. You can also get feedback from website users by using the Surveys module. If your aim is to earn income from advertising, the Advertising module will come in handy for placing ads on your site with support for images, links, JavaScript, HTML, and Flash.

While PHP-Nuke is not completely responsive the Design module provides mobile versions of the 10 most recent news articles. Access to popular articles is made easy by the Top module which displays the most-visited content. Access to articles on the same topic is also possible using the Topics module.

The look and feel of your PHP-Nuke powered site can be customized using the Themes system. However, keep in mind that major changes to the appearance of the site will require knowledge of PHP, HTML, and CSS.

What does PHP-Nuke cost?

PHP-Nuke is free to download, install, and use. Keep in mind that part of PHP-Nuke’s license requires that all PHP-Nuke copyright information remain intact and inview on your site.

What are some alternatives to PHP-Nuke?

If you’re looking for a content management system written PHP you should consider the big three:

  • Wordpress: An open-source CMS written in PHP. One of the easiest CMSs to get the hang of quickly. An excellent platform for beginners, blogs, and small businesses (though some heavy-hitters use Wordpress as well).
  • Drupal: An open-source CMS written in PHP. Drupal is a more-secure solution, but is not as easy to get the hang of as Wordpress. Drupal is probably the most powerful and flexible of the most popular CMS options today.
  • Joomla: An open-source CMS written in PHP. Joomla’s strength is in creating websites with lots of content and in creating forums and social networks.

If you aren’t interested in a mainstream solution such as Wordpress, Drupal, or Joomla, and if PHP-Nuke is close but not quite what you’re looking for then maybe you should consider some PHP-Nuke forks. The following content management systems have all be developed as forks of previous versions of PHP-Nuke:

  • Dragonfly CMS: A fork of PHP-Nuke version 6.5 with integration of Coppermine Photo Gallery.
  • Nuke-Evolution Xtreme: A security-focused fork of PHP-Nuke with additional custom modifications.
  • RavenNuke CMS: A fork of PHP-Nuke version 7.6 with security fixes, several custom modifications, and transitional compliance with XHTML 1.0.
  • phpWebSite: A PHP-Nuke forked CMS developed by Appalachian State University.
  • Zukula: A CMS born out of the death of Postnuke which was a fork of PHP-Nuke.
  • PNC: A PHP-Nuke fork with vWar and SQuery included and customized for the gaming community.

How do I install PHP-Nuke?

Some hosting providers support a one-click installation of PHP-Nuke through cPanel. If your hosting provider offers one-click installation that will be the easiest way to get PHP-Nuke up and running.

If one-click installation isn’t an option with your hosting provider then you do have the option of downloading the files and installing them manually. The files can be downloaded from the PHP-Nuke website, and an Install.txt file is included with detailed instructions.

Manual installation is pretty straightforward but you will need to know how to use FTP to upload the files to the web server, manually set up a database, and run the installation script. If you would like more control over the config.php file a more complex installation process is also described in the Install.txt file to manually enter settings during installation.

Server Requirements & Security

PHP-Nuke should run on just about any up-to-date server. PHP-Nuke needs PHP version 4.2 or newer and an SQL database. Both Windows and Linux servers support both PHP and SQL, so as long as your hosting provider keeps their servers up-to-date, supports FTP, and will let you create an SQL database you should be in good shape.

Is PHP-Nuke a secure application?

Every application has security vulnerabilities. That’s one of the primary reasons the operating system on your phone and computer get updates on a regular basis: developers patching identified security vulnerabilities. PHP-Nuke is no exception. Software vulnerability specialists, Secunia, issued 5 advisories for PHP-Nuke version 8.x.x between 2006 and 2007.

Several updates to PHP-Nuke have been released since then, but Secunia has not updated their listing for PHP-Nuke stating that the advisories have been addressed. So proceed with caution. We aren’t software vulnerability experts, but if we were considering PHP-Nuke for a sensitive application we would want someone who was an expert on our team to address the vulnerabilities identified by Secunia.

What is SQL injection and should I worry about it?

One of the vulnerabilities identified by Secunia in PHP-Nuke was a vulnerability to SQL injection (SQLI). SQLI is a method hackers can use to cause a website’s SQL database to dump all of it’s contents to the hacker. Basically it lets a knowledgeable hacker download everything in a database. SQLI has been recognized as one of the top ten web application vulnerabilities in 2007, 2010, and 2013. In other words, lots of applications are affected and PHP-Nuke is not alone in having this vulnerability.

It is possible that recent versions of PHP-Nuke have addressed this issue, but we couldn’t find anything stating that was the case. SQLI represents a major threat to websites storing sensitive information such as credit card numbers, personal user data (think: healthcare information), and the like. We’d think twice about using an application with known SQLI vulnerability to create a website that will store sensitive information.

PHP-Nuke Frequently Asked Questions

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