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Start Page Script v1.1.0.0008

Manual Install Instructions

Last modified on Wednesday, December 11, 2002.

This product has been designed for fast and easy installation. Follow these simple steps to get the script up and running in just a few minutes.

  1. Download

    Download the product appropriate to your platform:

    On Unix, the archive can be decompressed with the command:

    tar -fxz start.

    On Windows, it can be decompressed with Winzip from

    If you install a version other than, follow the install file included with it, rather than this one.

  2. Build Directory Structure

    The script uses a specific directory structure to organize its libraries and data files. When the downloaded archives are expanded, they will automatically expand into the desired structure. You must retain that structure when transferring files between computers.

    For your reference, Appendix II contains a detailed list of all files and folders, describing what they do and where they belong.

    Note: this script uses relative paths extensively, and so its very demanding about its directory structure. It does not use absolute paths at all, however. That means you don't need to enter the absolute path into the script configuration files (if it needs to know its absolute path, it will auto-detect it).

  3. Customize Script

    In this step, you customize the CGI script files. Some library and data files also use the ".pl" extension, but those files must not be renamed or edited. The only files that you should edit are:

    • start/

    99% of this script is configured after the install is complete, using the admin control panel. Only two things need to be configured during installation:

    1. Path to Perl

      In 99% of cases, the default path to Perl of "/usr/bin/perl" will work and you won't need to edit the source code at all. In the remaining cases, you must edit the first line of each script file to point the appropriate path. Common alternate locations include "/usr/local/bin/perl" and "/usr/bin/perl5".

      How do you know if you will need a custom path? Your web hosting provider should tell you. Or if you have existing Perl CGI scripts that work, you can copy the first line from them. Or if, after following all the instructions here, the script returns "Internal Server Error" when you visit it with a browser, the problem may be the path to Perl, and you may want to experiment with the alternate locations. Internal Server Error can mean a lot of things and the path to Perl is only one of them.

      When you open the script file to edit the path to Perl, use the most hardcore text editor you have. Like, Wordpad on Windows, Simple Text on Mac, vi on Unix. Do not use high-level editors like Microsoft Word or HTML editors like FrontPage. There is a risk that these high-level editors will damage the code.

    2. Perl CGI File Extension

      In 99% of cases, the default CGI file extension of ".pl" will work and you won't need to change it. In the remaining cases, you must rename the CGI script files to use the appropriate file extension for your system. Some require ".cgi", and others require weird extensions like ".plx".

      How do you know what extension is needed? Your web hosting provider should tell you. Or, if you have existing Perl CGI scripts that work, you can copy whatever extension they use. Or if, after following all other instructions listed here, your script returns its own source code when you visit it with a browser, or returns some other error, then the problem may be the extension. You may want to experiment with both ".pl" and ".cgi".

    There are loose standards for these values - /usr/bin/perl and .pl - but not all web hosts adhere to them. This is not our fault. If your web host requires you to use /usr/foo/perl and the .cgi extension, please take this into account while reading program documentation that continues to make reference to /usr/bin/perl and "". Our docs are centralized and are not aware of what kind of strange values you've been forced to use. When our docs say "", and on your system you've been forced to use "script.cgi", then you need to treat "" as "script.cgi" while reading the document.

  4. Transfer Files

    Unless you're doing all of your work on the web server itself, you must transfer the files and folders over to your web server. When transferring script files or data files in FTP, always use ASCII mode.

    If your web server requires that CGI scripts be installed into a special folder, like "cgi-bin" or "cgi", then install all of the files to that folder.

  5. Set Permissions

    The easiest way to set permissions is to run the "setperms" script appropriate for your platform. Run "setperms.bat" on Windows and either "" or "/bin/sh" on Unix.

    If you have only FTP access to a Unix server, then you can set the permissions with FTP while you're transferring. Use the permissions guide in Appendix II below.

    If you have a Windows web server without shell access, then typically you won't be able to run "setperms.bat" from the command line nor set permissions via FTP. In this case, the best approach is to try an install anyway (the server file system is often read/write/exec by default). If this doesn't work then contact the tech support people and ask them to run setperms.bat for you. If tech support can't help, you can use the Auto Installer process. It will attempt a few work-arounds to remotely set Windows file permissions. The methods don't always work so keep your tech support people as a backup.


    CGI processes are usually executed under a user context different than your login account. Your login account owns the files and folders that store data. Because CGI processes are only allowed to write to files and folders which they own, or for which they've been given special permission, we take the extra step to make all data files and folders world-writable (any and all processes are allowed to write to them). That way, data can be saved by any user/process, and thus the script will work no matter how your CGI privileges have been configured.

    Obviously, if your web server runs CGI processes under your login account context and not a separate context, then you may apply more restrictive permissions. Data folders can have permission 755 instead of 777; data files can have permission 744 instead of 766. If you are using CGI Wrap, or if you are installing to or, then this applies to you and you may use the more restrictive permissions.

  6. Test

    Visit the URL "start/" to get started.

    (In this example we use the ".pl" file extension for Perl CGI scripts. As mentioned earlier, some web servers require the ".cgi" extension or some other. Use whatever file name you decided upon earlier in section 3 part 2.)

Manual Install Complete!

Appendix I: Error Handling

If you run into trouble, consider an automated install. The automatic install can self-heal from most common error conditions.

Free custom installs are available from the script author (as of Wednesday, December 11, 2002). To take advantage of this service, first attempt an automatic install. If it fails, you will have the option to forward an install request. Installs are usually finished within 24 hours.

You can also visit the Discussion Forum with a description of your problem. It stays very busy and there are many helpful people there.

The Auto-Installer is here:

Appendix II: Directory Structure and File Descriptions

This file manifest applies to version If you are installing a different version, use the install.html file included with it.

The file permissions are modeled on the default Apache or Microsoft IIS permissions system, where a user account owns the files and a separate, unprivileged account, executes the CGI scripts. This is not the most secure configuration in the world, but it is the default that has been established, and so these file permissions follow it. If you have a system where your CGI scripts are executed under your user account context (as when using CGIWrap, when using setuid Perl, using or many other free web hosts, etc.) then you can and should replace all permissions with 755/rwxr-xr-x.

script file
data file
optional file
Required file or folder
Optional file or folder
755 / rwx r-x r-x read and execute
766 / rwx rw- rw- read and write
777 / rwx rwx rwx read, write, and execute

Is Required Object

Permissions File / Folder Description
755 / r-x start Product folder, containing everything
755 / r-x     install.html Manual install instructions
755 / r-x     license.html License agreement
755 / r-x     setperms.bat Batch file for setting permissions on Windows
755 / r-x Batch file for setting permissions on Unix
755 / r-x Start page CGI script file
777 / rwx start/data Write-able folder containing data files
755 / r-x        .htaccess File to prevent access on Apache web servers
766 / rw-        addr.txt Data file storing address book data
755 / r-x        default.htm Null default document to prevent directory browsing
755 / r-x        index.html Null default document to prevent directory browsing
766 / rw-        link.txt Data file storing hyperlinks
766 / rw-        list.txt Data file storing list of things-to-do
766 / rw-        msgs.txt Data file storing messages
766 / rw-        template.html All the HTML output of the script
766 / rw-        time.txt Data file storing work log

Permissions File / Folder Description
Is Required Object

Appendix III: Upgrade

To upgrade over a previous installation, without losing data, replace only these files:

start/ Start page CGI script file

Appendix IV: Uninstall

To remove the product, simply delete the folder that contains all the scripts and data files. The script does not effect anything outside of its folder.

Appendix V: Additional Resources

© 1997-2002 by Zoltan Milosevic