How To Set up Movable Type on 1and1

In the last few weeks online communities in general, and the blog world in particular, have been splattered with reactions to the news that a host called 1and1 is giving away three years worth of premium hosting. 1and1 are a huge hosting service in Europe (they claim to be the world's largest) and this promotion is part of their strategy for moving into the American market. Netizens were understandably skeptical about the offer, after all, how good could a service that is totally free be?

Never one to pass up a bargain, I signed up and even finally got around to registering my own domain which cost a modest $6. I had been wanting to play around with movable type for some time, not to keep a "dear diary", but as a way to display some photographs and as a way to create a dynamic repository for anything I wished to publish (like this information). 1and1, unlike most other cheap or free hosts, seemed to provide all the resource I needed to be able to do this at no cost or risk. Too good to be true? It turns out you can still get something for nothing on the web and that the quality of the hosting is not always determined by the price you pay. The fact that you can read this missive is proof enough that 1and1's offer is straight up and can host movable type. If you too are looking to play with MT or just want 3 years of something for nothing too and you're a US resident I suggest you sign up for 1an1's offer before it ends at the year's end.

How do you set it up? I did not keep notes while I setup MT on 1and1 but I will try to lay down some pointers as to how I got it running:

First off you obviously need a 1and1 account. Sign up for the offer and you get back an email telling you how to activate your account. This involves giving 1and1 a US phone number where you can be reached in the next few minutes. An automated call is placed by 1and1 to that number giving you a pass code. You then enter this code into the authorization page and your account is ready to use.

Through 1and1 you can then get a domain you already own redirected to your new host. 1and1 can also be the host for more than one domain or for various sub-domains. As I didn't own a domain I wanted to use for this site I bought one through 1and1 which took about 24 hours to be registered and activated.

The next thing you need is the Movable Type program. I downloaded the latest full version with libraries from movabletype.org and started following their installation instructions. The instructions can be a little overwhelming if, like me, this is your first experience of installing movable type but, as long as you go through them carefully it is an easy install. Here are 1and1 specific instructions to augment MT's own instructions:
  • Finding Perl on your Server - don't worry about it, Perl is in its default location on 1and1 so you don't need to change your cgi scripts to point to a different perl location.
  • Installation Directories - The application - in 1and1 your whole directory is cgi enabled, not just a specific cgi-bin, so you don't need to worry about relocating your static files. As for the installation directory itself, I chose a sub-directory under my home directory, called "moveabletype". This was for my own sanity and to keep the MT files apart from and static pages I may want on my site.
     
  • The database - I used MySQL so there was no need to create external directories.
     
  • Configuration - Configure Movable Type URL - I used the subdirectory moveabletype again for this.
     
  • Configure Database options - before you set this you need to go to your 1and1 control panel and enable the MySQL database. Now go to the "webspace" menu on the control panel and select "MySQL Configuration" and note your database name, user name, password and host name. Use these values to set the mt.cfg values for ObjectDriver (DBI::mysql), Database, DBUser and DBHost.
     
  • You can now skip all steps to "Set your SQL database password". Open mt-db-pass.cgi and replace the password with the password you noted down from you control panel.
     
  • Uploading files and setting permissions is just as described in the MT instructions. Do remember to be specific about whether the transfer is ASCII or Binary. I used smartftp and it was very easy to transfer the files in two loads; one for each style of transfer.
     
  • Create your Movable Type database directory - skip this step.
     
  • Checking for Perl Modules - running the http://www.your-site.com/mt/mt-check.cgi url worked first time for me as it will, hopefully for you.
     
  • If all goes well you are now ready to start using movable type.

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