Installing SPIP

SPIP’s installation is very simple indeed: of particular note, is that it does not involve editing obtuse variables in any configuration files "by hand". Two installation procedures are documented below:

Required configuration

No special configuration is required on your personal computer, as SPIP is managed entirely through the Internet. All you need is a Web browser (any fairly recent one will do) and FTP access to install the files to the web server directories, either with an on-line interface or a stand-alone FTP client software installed on your personal computer  [1].

To install a SPIP site, you will need an ordinary Web hosting account that includes an SQL database and which will run PHP. And don’t worry, because no specific PHP or SQL knowledge is necessary to administer a SPIP site! You only need to check that your ISP supports the product. Please refer to "ISPs offering SPIP".

As a way to start using SPIP immediately, you may also choose to install it on your own personal computer, without using a web server. To do so, please refer to the SPIP user guide for "Working with SPIP locally".

Advance preparation requires knowing your server access parameters, including your identifiers and passwords for FTP and SQL. These few items are essential: if you don’t have them available, contact your web host and ask for these details to be provided to you.

Before installing SPIP, you should also have an available SQL database. For many ISPs, it will be necessary to either request an SQL database from the administrator, or to follow an automatic on-line procedure to do so (in both cases, activating an SQL database has nothing to do with running SPIP: if you have problems, only your ISP can provide you with your personal identifiers and explain to you how to access your database).

You must know the data parameters for your SQL connection (supplied by the ISP):
-  the address of the SQL server: e.g., or localhost, or left empty;
-  your SQL login: often the same account name as your Web account;
-  your SQL password: often the same as for your Web account;

During the installation, once you have entered these data, you will also need to specify:
-  the name of the database, often this is the same login as your Web account - it is possible that the server will offer you the choice of creating this database yourself, or on the contrary, it may be that SPIP manages to discern the database name that the ISP has granted you access rights to, in which case it will not be necessary for you to enter its configuration details.

Software versions required on the server
-  Apache server or compatible (versions later than 1.2x)
-  A PHP environment (version 4 or higher)
-  SQL database server (depends on that chosen at installation):
— MySQL 4.1 and later versions (version 3 is adequate for SPIP 1.9)
— OR PostGreSQL 8.2 or later versions
— OR SQLite 2 or 3

Automatic installation ("spip_loader")

The easiest and faster method is to use the automatic installation offered with the "spip_loader" programme. This little file will download SPIP and install SPIP itself on your web server. Note: this procedure does not work with all servers. If it doesn’t work (you will find this out immediately), then switch to the other method immediately.

  1. Fetch the SPIP file from our server
  2. Install this file at your web host (using FTP or whatever on-line file manager utility is provided by your ISP)
  3. Use a web browser to visit your site and load the file that you just installed there, something like, and follow the instructions displayed on the screen.

Manual installation

Depending on how your web server is configured, it may be that the automatic installation routine will not work. You will then need to use the manual installation routine instead, which fortunately isn’t even that much more complicated.

  1. Fetch the file from our server and decompress it on your personal computer. You will have a "SPIP…" folder which contains all the files of the SPIP system.
  2. Install the content of this folder on your site (by FTP, as you usually do to install your site’s pages), in the directory or sub-domain where you want the public facing part of the site to be available from: this is usually in the root of your web site, but you can install SPIP to any other directory as you choose.
  3. From within your browser, visit your site and display the folder called "ecrire", where SPIP will provide you with a graphical interface allowing you to configure the system. Once you provide the configuration information, SPIP will be completely installed and you can start working on your site.

Completing the installation

From now on everything is performed on-line. You only need to "visit" the private zone of your site, which is simply your site name followed by the "/ecrire" directory: e.g.

At the first connection to this address, a step by step installation procedure starts. The interface is very simple, you only need to enter the details required (chiefly the information concerning the SQL database detailed above). Once this is done, the system will ask you to enter the identifiers that you just specified and you can start managing your site. On subsequent visits, you will always use this "/ecrire" folder with your identifiers to perform your administrative tasks, so you might like to bookmark it in your browser.

At every step of the installation procedure you will find a link to on-line help, which will open up an on-line web help page explaining each step of how to use SPIP. (The only task which is rather complicated may appear on some servers: you might need to modify the "permissions" on some of the SPIP folders; this operation is pretty straightforward and the on-line help provides you with all the necessary details.)

If everything went according to plan, the installation procedure will be over and you can start creating and managing your site without any further esoteric operations…

If a serious error appears (such as you forgetting your own access identifiers – which could be frequent at the beginning…), you will have to run this installation procedure again after connecting to your server by FTP and deleting the following files:

  • /config/connect.php
    (or /ecrire/inc-connect.php or .php3 in previous versions)
  • .htacces, if it exists
    (or /ecrire/.htaccess in previous versions)

The next connection to the "ecrire" directory will launch the configuration procedure again (in fact, it is the absence of the "connect.php" file which triggers the installation procedure).

The /config and /tmp directories should not be accessible from public web browsers, which is why SPIP creates a .htacces file with deny from all in it. If the confidentiality of your data is very important to you, check with your ISP that these files are correctly secured: at a minimum, read the article about Multi-site provisioning with a shared SPIP kernel, which will help you to relocate these directories so that they are not accessible to web browsers, i.e. move those files out of the DocumenRoot folder.

Migrating from a previous version of SPIP

Aside from all new users of SPIP, it might happen that you find yourself needing to migrate an "old" SPIP to the most recent version. Two scenarios might occur:

  • the old version might be version 1.9 or later: a simple update will do;
  • the old version predates 1.9: a full migration will be necessary

Your testimony

To help us improve the installation procedure, please tell us about your own experience in the French or English forums or write to us at (Important: in both cases, your comments will be published on our site, either in the forum or in our discussion list archives.) If you perform the installation yourself, please indicate:

-  your host’s name (this is important because it gives us an idea about which ISPs are compatible with SPIP, especially those that are free of charge);

-  any possible problems that you have come across (including interface problems and problems related to the understanding of the installation process, anything to help us improve the interface or the documentation);

-  even if your installation went smoothly, we thank you for letting us know (this may be both interesting and useful).


[1In Linux environments (Gnome or KDE) or from Mac OS X, an FTP client is included in the standard desktop software. For Windows, an easy option is to install the free software package called FileZilla.


Author George, Mark Published : Updated : 05/08/22

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