sidetracked or a road less travelled?

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. [1]

I’m still not sure. Today was going to be spent pouring content into Herbie, our newly installed internal company wiki. Instead, I learnt how to reset a password in MediaWiki in two different ways.

This involved:

  • Finding the information. Fortunately, this was relatively easy as it is in the MediaWiki Frequently Asked Questions, under the heading How do I reset a password?.
  • Tried the script first. Minor obstacle in that the FAQ referred to the name as changepassword.php, whereas on my server it is called changePassword.php. Made mental note to come back to FAQ to see if I would be allowed to edit the page, or submit a documentation bug.
  • Running the script in the Maintenance directory displays the error:

“A copy of your installation’s LocalSettings.php
must exist in the source directory.”

  • So I tried running changePassword.php in the source directory. Some progress was made, as a new error was displayed:

“Could not open input file: maintenance/changePassword.php”

  • Permissions or ownership issue? I then searched the [MediaWiki-l] archives,, and Googled but did not find information about the ownership and permissions of the files and directories in the source directory.
  • I decided to try the SQL query method of resetting the password. Apart from a hiccup of not remembering that usernames have an initial capital letter – it worked – first time.
  • Went back to looking at the changePassword.php script realising that if I could not run this script, I was unlikely to be able to run any of the other useful looking scripts in the Maintenance directory.
  • In our installation, the files and directories are all owned by user and group ‘501’, except for LocalSettings.php, which is ‘www-data’. I changed all (except LocalSettings.php) file and directory ownership to root. I was then able to run the script successfully.
  • So now I know how to reset the password two different ways. But what I don’t know, is whether it is appropriate to change the ownership of the files and directories in my source directory. Note: The actual source directory was still owned by user and group ‘501’.
  • Decided that I will take a deep breath and ask. But first, I thought I would ‘fix’ the name of the script on the MediaWiki page or see if the bug had been reported.
  • Lots of reading later, I discovered I was able to edit the MediaWiki wiki page. But then was the dilemma of doing it anonymously or creating a user. The advantage of creating an account, is that if tweaking the wiki page was not the way to do things, then it was a way for people to let me know. Reporting a documentation bug in the bug-tracking tool, seemed overkill, and also while I have used Bugzilla in other Open Source projects, I am not familiar with the components of MediaWiki.
  • So lots more reading later about creating wiki user accounts, I established an account and made the change.
  • Back to the script. I decided to document what I had tried in my machine log, and then see if I can describe it succinctly in an email to send to the [MediaWiki-l] list.

Perhaps I know more than two ways of resetting the password:

  • I know my way around,
  • found a lot more documentation that may be handy at some later date, and
  • discovered the project mailing lists.

Perhaps tomorrow will be a wiki content day.

[1] The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost


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