CiviCRM installation experience

This is not a request for help. It’s just a run-through of my experience installing and running CiviCRM for the first time, as a complete novice to this app.

1. What username to use to log in?

The first issue for me, right after installation, was that I didn’t know the username to use when trying to log into CiviCRM. I recalled that a password was requested, and I had it at hand, but I didn’t know the username. So I tried “admin”, “root” and a few others, and none worked.

To solve this, I actually logged into mysql and drilled down to find that the username was my usual one from Yunohost administration, but the password had to be this new one, which was a bit confusing. But it worked, so it got solved pretty fast.

2. Where in the world is CiviCRM?!

After finally logging in, I am presented with a sort of user details page. I now try to find the CiviCRM administration, and I am stumped. I spend fifteen+ minutes clicking through every link above, like “Structure”, “Appearance”, “People”, “Modules”, etc., but find only things related to Drupal, it seems, with only vague references to CiviCRM (e.g. the theme module for it, which I activated). I looked at other installation and use guides out there, and I had none of the menu structure they referenced. I was starting to think there was a bug in the installation when I decided to click the very last link I still hadn’t clicked on: the little house icon on the top left. Hallelujah! This produced a drab page, but containing a tiny link to CiviCRM.

Now I’m going through the configuration. If there’s any other gotcha that I think might be useful for others, I’ll post it as a reply.


3. Giving permissions for events

Then I went in and played with the configurations, of both Drupal and CiviCRM. Non-intuitive ones included that, in order to allow people to see and register to events, one has to give permissions from within Drupal (Modules → ‘Permissions’ link on the right of CiviCRM) to anonymous users, and unusual-sounding permissions at that: CiviCRM: profile listings and forms and CiviCRM: profile view (for the registration form in an event), plus the more intuitive-sounding CiviEvent: view event info, CiviEvent: register for events and CiviEvent: access CiviEvent.

4. Breaking the Drupal 7 admin

Then I went and downloaded and installed some new themes, because the default one is fugly (for me). Again, installation was non-intuitive (one has to paste the URL to the tar.gz file that can be found by clicking on the theme version number at the bottom of theme pages. Even explaining it sounds weird.), but even less intuitive was the possibility of breaking the Drupal administration by changing its theme :fearful: In effect, I chose a different theme for it, and the pages kept loading, but the overlay which appears for any section of the administration failed to appear any longer. Looking into devtools, I saw that the error had something to do with jqery versions. Now, as I later discovered, through another dollop of searching through forums, is that the administration wasn’t broken, and that it also had a version without overlays that still worked.

5. How to upgrade?

Now, my question is about upgrading CiviCRM: its installed version is years old. But the upgrade method they suggest is a bit convoluted and manual. Shall I just do that and hope for the best? (I’d first have to figure out where the Drupal files are located, something I have no clue about…) Or can one not upgrade at all?

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6 Uninstall, then install inside Wordpress

The rather old version of Drupal itself, plus the convoluted upgrade method that I wasn’t keen on made me opt for switching to CiviCRM under Wordpress (which I already had installed). This installation, under Wordpress, doesn’t go through Yunohost (which is why it wasn’t immediately obvious to me that I could even do it this way), but it wasn’t too complicated. CiviCRM was up and running in a short while, and I got right on to reconfiguring it.

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After a few days of trying to make CiviCRM on Drupal 7 work (because surely it couldn’t be that bad), I accepted defeat and applied step 6 of @albatrust’s walkthrough. Unfortunately it’s much much easier this way: CiviCRM is up-to-date, doesn’t have the Drupal sidebar completely breaking the UI, Wordpress stays in the background (if like me you don’t need a CMS but CiviCRM only).

Thanks @albatrust!

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