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MediaWiki Setup Guide

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NOTICE - This guide is based off the setup process for MediaWiki 1.19-1.23. It was also written with a localhost wiki setup in mind on XAMPP. Anyone is encouraged to add additional setup instructions for other environments to this FAQ.

Also, for those who don't wish to worry about a change added to MW 1.23 requiring a database password, use these instructions to install MW 1.22 first, then upgrade to MW 1.23+.

  • Step 1: Make sure you can access MediaWiki Setup

MediaWiki needs a PHP and MySQL setup running in the background to turn on, so make sure they are on in XAMPP, installed on your server, and so on. Second, if you are installing on a localhost (your own private computer) make sure the MediaWiki folder is accessible by your web browser (in XAMPP, it should be in the htdocs folder, named something like "mediawiki")

If all this was done correctly, open your web browser, and type in: "localhost/mediawiki"

If you succeeded, you'll see the MediaWiki logo, the version number, and a message about how LocalSettings.php is not installed, with a blue link to setup the wiki.

  • Step 2: Basic setup options

The first screen will ask the language settings of your wiki and what you prefer (by default, both are English).

The next screen will check to see what "backend programs" (stuff that makes MediaWiki's features run better) are installed. Here's a brief breakdown of what it will check for:

  1. PHP Version
  2. Caching Software - Don't freak out if it has a warning message saying it detects none, this is normal, and they even provide links to several caching software packages if you want to install caching software (short version, keeps some information on commonly visited pages in memory all the time to speed up page loading, much like web browsers do already).
  3. ImageMagick - A software package that makes pretty thumbnails in MediaWiki, will be detected and installed if you have it. If not, it will default to its own internal thumbnailing software. ImageMagick is preferred though for better quality thumbnails.
  4. Upload/server directory: Mostly self explanatory. Again, don't freak out if you get a warning about your upload directory being vulnerable to "arbitrary scripts execution", since on a private wiki, this won't be a problem.
  5. Unicode normalization - Again, don't worry about this on a localhost. Having this enabled ony really helps if your wiki is public, and they provide links to remedy the situation if this bothers you.

After the above, you'll see a copyright notice, and a button to continue to the next screen.

The next screen has some database info, so let me make it simple: Just keep the default options. Don't mess with any of this unless you know what you are doing.

You might want to change the database name (default is "my_wiki"), so change to anything you want (name must be lowercase and have no spaces), but otherwise, don't mess with this page.

The next screen after this should be about more database stuff. Again, don't meddle with this stuff unless you know what you are doing.

The screen after this will ask for a few more pieces of info (type in whatever you want):

  1. Name of your wiki:Type in whatever you like, try not to make it overly long.
  2. Your name, password, and email address (and a checkbox to subscribe to the MW newsletter)

Finally, you can either stop here and pick "I'm bored already, just install the wiki" or "Ask me more questions".

Go onto the next step if you picked option two (we're assuming you did this by default).

  • Step 3: Further setup options

You have more options here:

  1. User rights profile - Read the info they provide, pick the option you prefer, though on a localhost, you can just leave it as is without hurting anything.
  2. Copyright and license - Pick what you want, though this is not required unless your wiki is public/on the internet, depending on the content.
  3. Email settings - You can turn this off, or just leave the default settings, though on a localhost wiki, these settings are usually pointless, so I opt to turn this feature off by unchecking "Enable outbound e-mail".
  4. Extensions - MediaWiki ships with some basic extensions by default (assuming you downloaded it from Unless you know what you are doing, leave everything checked.
  5. Images and file uploads - Check the option to enable file uploads if you want to post pictures. Enable "Instant Commons" if you want to be able to automatically upload pictures from Wikimedia Commons (useful if copying templates from Wikipedia).
  6. Advanced configuration - Leave this be, unless you know how to install caching. On a localhost wiki, you are unlikely to need this unless you have really large pages and a LOT of them.
  • Step 4: Final Preparations

The last set is to take the automatically generated LocalSettings.php file (created from everything you just punched in), save it to the same folder your mediawiki setup is in, then click on that link they provide to "start using your wiki".

If successful, you will see the front page of your wiki.

  • Step 5: Celebrate!
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