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What is required
Server-sided minimum requirements
There are certain minimum requirements that need to be met in order to be able to install Coppermine:
A web server
Coppermine can run on any webserver - there are reports about successfull installs on Apache, Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), Roxen WebServer, Abyss, JanaServer, Zeus. The Coppermine dev team recommends Apache.
The webserver must come with support for PHP (version 4.3.0 or better), either compiled with the support for the GD library or permission to use the exec() function for the ImageMagick "convert" utility in order to make thumbnails and reduced size images. Mysql support needs to be compiled into PHP as well. Yes: PHP 5 falls into the category "version 4.3.0 or better"; Coppermine runs fine with PHP5. In fact, the Coppermine dev team even recommends using PHP5.
A MySQL database
You will need MySQL version 3.23.23 or better. MySQL 4.1 is recommended, MySQL 5 is supported. The MySQL user needs the following permissions on the database: SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, CREATE, DROP, INDEX, ALTER . Most users have these permissions when webhosted. If you don't have them, you will not be able to use this or any other pre-made scripts at all. If you are uncertain about your permissions, please check with your webhost. Most hosting services can probably tell you whether coppermine can or cannot be run on their servers.
A database needs to be set up that Coppermine can use - the install script will not create a database for you, but it will automatically create the tables and data structure in your database during install. In most webhosted environments, you will already have at least one database set up for you by your webhost. If not, you will need to create one. If you do need to create a database, check with your webhost on the proper procedures for doing so. Write down your database name, userID and password. You will require all three to successfully install Coppermine.
An image library
Coppermine relies on the presence of an image library to create resized copies of the images that you upload. Currently, Coppermine can use either GD version 1.x or 2.x (PHP has to be compiled to support it) or ImageMagick.
(see What's ImageMagick and What is GD)
Self-Hosting & Webserver Setup
In fact, some of the Coppermine developers are webserver admins by profession, so we can judge this pretty good. We are convinced that running a webserver that is publicly accessible on the internet is a 24/7 task that should only performed by pros who have the needed skills, manpower and budget to do so. It is OK to run a locally available webserver as a testbed, but we can not recommend self-hosting, especially with unsecure setups like webservers on desktop operating systems.
When asking for support on the coppermine support board on issues related to webserver setup, you will usually get the stereotype answer that webserver setup is beyond the scope of the coppermine support board; we can not teach you webserver setup and administration because of the complexity. There is no such thing as the one server setup that will work for anybody.
Coppermine is aimed at webmasters who have at least basic HTML know-how and some experience in setting up pre-made scripts. The Coppermine dev team is aware that there are Coppermine users who set up their gallery using auto-installers who have little or no experience in setting up similar scripts, which is fine as well. We just ask you to read the documentation thoroughly before asking questions on the Coppermine support board, as this should answer most newbie questions. You can use coppermine just fine using the pre-made themes that come with the coppermine package. However, if you want to modify existing themes or come up with a theme of your own (that matches the look of the rest of your site), you should have basic to intermediate HTML and CSS skills. You don't necessarilly need PHP coding skills to run or maintain a Coppermine-driven gallery.
Some questions that are related to the minimum requirements are being covered on the install FAQ pages: