I’m currently testing out some open source social networking web applications that compare to Myspace. The most promising at the moment seems to be Elgg (don’t ask me what it means). AroundMe looks good too, but I read a comment on their blog that it wasn’t quite ready yet.
Elgg is a little more difficult to install than other open source applications out there. That is, if you are installing it on a shared hosting account. There are two obstacles you will need to overcome. First of all .htaccess is probably not enabled for your account, and when the Elgg .htaccess starts trying to do things, your server will choke with a 500 Server Error. So you need to have your hosting support person enable .htaccess for the directories you will install Elgg in.
That’s not all though. My host (hostmysite.com) didn’t like the following in the Elgg .htaccess file:
These are mod_rewrite directives. They had me comment them out and added the statements to their own special configuration file. My current .htaccess just has the Rewrite rules listed.
I found a lot of posts from people looking for installation support for this issue, and what a lot of the well intentioned developers trying to help didn’t understand (or didn’t communicate) is that these seemingly simple settings can become complex on shared hosts. For security, processes can be disabled, or configuration can be more complex than if you own your own box.
Hopefully this helps anyone having 500 server errors when installing Elgg on a shared host.
Check out my Elgg installation at Fan Club Helper