How to document your software and hardware with DokuWiki


Looking for a place to house your documentation, checklists, and other bits of information for your staff? Jack Wallen shows you how to install DokuWiki, which can serve this purpose well.

Row of network servers in data center

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Your in-house data center (or your cloud-based data center) is complicated. You might have numerous standard services running such as web servers, HRM tools, backup servers, data shares, and SaaS tools, etc. Or, you might have a cluster full of apps and services running.

Because of the amount of hardware and software you have up and running at any given time, you probably should be documenting how it was deployed, configured, and used. You might have numerous checklists and policies that need to be made available to staff, admins, and developers, but how do you do that? You could make use of a simple Wiki server. One such platform is the open source DokuWiki, which includes features like:

  • Easy to use interface and syntax

  • HTML embedding

  • Unlimited page revisions

  • Colored side-by-side diff support

  • Image uploading/embedding

  • Customizable Interwiki links

  • Section editing

  • Automatic table of contents generation

  • File locking

  • Customizable layout (through templates)

  • LDEP, MySQL, and Postgres support

I’m going to walk you through deploying DokuWiki on Ubuntu Server 20.04.

SEE: MSP best practices: Server deployment checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

What you’ll need

How to install Apache and PHP

The first thing we need to do is install the Apache web server and the necessary PHP components. Log in to your Ubuntu Server and install Apache with the command:

sudo apt-get install apache2 -y

Now we can install the necessary PHP components with the command:

sudo apt-get install php php-gd php-xml php-json -y

With those installations complete, start and enable Apache with the command:

sudo systemctl enable --now apache2

How to download, unpack, and move DokuWiki

In order to install DokuWiki, we need to download it, unpack it, and relocate it to the Apache document root. 

Download the latest version of DokuWiki with the command:

wget https://download.dokuwiki.org/src/dokuwiki/dokuwiki-stable.tgz

Unpack the compressed tar file with the command:

tar xvzf dokuwiki-stable.tgz

Move and rename the newly-created directory with the command:

sudo mv dokuwiki-XXX /var/www/html/dokuwiki

Where XXX is the release number.

Copy the sample .htaccess file with the command:

sudo cp /var/www/html/dokuwiki/.htaccess{.dist,}

Change the ownership of the DokuWiki folder with the command:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/dokuwiki

How to configure Apache

At the moment, Apache has no way of knowing about the new installation. To make it aware, we’ll create a configuration file for DokuWiki. Create the new file with the command:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/dokuwiki.conf

In that file, paste the following:

<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerName    dokuwiki.example.com      
        DocumentRoot  /var/www/html/dokuwiki

        <Directory ~ "/var/www/html/dokuwiki/(bin/|conf/|data/|inc/)">
            <IfModule mod_authz_core.c>
                AllowOverride All
                Require all denied
            </IfModule>
            <IfModule !mod_authz_core.c>
                Order allow,deny
                Deny from all
            </IfModule>
        </Directory>

        ErrorLog   /var/log/apache2/dokuwiki_error.log
        CustomLog  /var/log/apache2/dokuwiki_access.log combined
</VirtualHost>

If you’ll be using a domain, make sure to change the ServerName option you see above.

Save and close the file.

Enable the new site with the command:

sudo a2ensite dokuwiki

Reload the Apache configuration files with the command:

sudo systemctl reload apache2

How to finish up the installation

Open up a web browser and point it to http://SERVER/install.php (where SERVER is the IP address or domain of your hosting server). You should see the web-based DokuWiki installer (Figure A).

Figure A

dokuwikia.jpg

The DokuWiki web-based installer is ready to complete your installation.

Fill out the necessary information and click Save. The installation should complete immediately and present you with a link that will take you to the DokuWiki main page, which is at http://SERVER/doku.php?id=wiki:welcome (where SERVER is the IP address of the domain of your hosting server) (Figure B).

Figure B

dokuwikib.jpg

The DokuWiki web-based installer is ready to complete your installation.

That’s it. You’re now ready to start building a Wiki site to document your hardware, software, containers, and more. This is a great way to keep your developers and admins in the know about what’s going on with your deployments. You could even use this tool to house things like checklists for admins and developers. Just make sure you keep this Wiki safe from prying eyes–don’t ever use a tool like this as any sort of password manager. Always keep your passwords locked away in a proper password manager. DokuWiki (and similar tools) are great for documentation, but not so great at keeping secrets safe.

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