Mediawiki and Visual Editor on Ubuntu

Mediawiki is a favorite of mine. It is simple to setup and everyone is familiar with the interface. Running a basic setup is reallt simple. However you may often want to customize the setup and this is when it starts to get complicated. At least for me.

I wanted to use the Visual Editorn in order for the users to get a more simple interface. Visual Editor is already used on many languages on Wikipedia. If you would like to change the editor in WordPress, Joomla or any other cms this is very easy. But not in Mediawiki. I searched everywhere but could not find a simple tutorial how to do this. The setup below worked for me. However there might be errors or other incorrect settings that I have missed. In general the official documentation is quite poor. So here it is.

Tutorial how to setup Mediawiki 1.25 with Visual Editor on Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty)

First of all you will need a fresh install of Ubuntu. Install with lamp and open ssh. I will not show this here. Make sure you can use ssh to connect. You will also need some kind of working dns. And some general Linux knowledge. Ok let´s start.

Connect to your server and install phpmyadmin

sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin

Download mediawiki and unpack. Move the files.

sudo wget
sudo tar -xvzf mediawiki-*.tar.gz
sudo mkdir /var/www/html/mediawiki
sudo mv mediawiki-*/* /var/www/html/mediawiki

Chown and Chmod

cd /var/www/html/
sudo chmod 755 -R mediawiki
sudo chown www-data:www-data -R mediawiki

Create a virtual host
You do not really have to do this but if you are using your server for many sites and want a nice dns name it might be a good idea.

Create a config file

sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-available/mediawiki.conf

It should look something like this

<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
        DocumentRoot /var/www/html/mediawiki
        ErrorLog "/var/log/mediawiki.log"
        CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined


Enable the site and restart apache. Also install phpmyadmin

sudo a2ensite mediawiki.conf
service apache2 reload
sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin

I had to reboot my server in order to get the new site in my browser.

Now open your browser and go to http://servername/phpmyadmin. Create a database called mediawiki.

Open your browser and go to Now install Mediawiki. I won´t show all the details here but you should be fine with most standard settings. You can add some extensions when asked as some of those might be needed. Download the LocalSettings.php and put it in the root folder of Mediawiki. There are many other settings and extensions you my want but I will focus on how to get the Visual editor working here. I named my “wiki”. This is the name you should use later in the parsoid setup.

Visual editor

Download and install extension.

sudo wget
sudo tar -xzf VisualEditor-REL1_25-c1ed854.tar.gz -C /var/www/html/mediawiki/extensions

Add this to LocalSettings.php. See the official documantation for detailed descriptions.

require_once "$IP/extensions/VisualEditor/VisualEditor.php";
$wgDefaultUserOptions['visualeditor-enable'] = 1;
$wgHiddenPrefs[] = 'visualeditor-enable';
$wgDefaultUserOptions['visualeditor-enable-experimental'] = 1;
$wgVisualEditorParsoidURL = '';
$wgVisualEditorParsoidPrefix = 'wiki';
$wgVisualEditorParsoidForwardCookies = true;


sudo wget
sudo tar -xzf UniversalLanguageSelector-REL1_25-7661826.tar.gz -C /var/www/html/mediawiki/extensions

Add the following code at the bottom of your LocalSettings.php:

require_once "$IP/extensions/UniversalLanguageSelector/UniversalLanguageSelector.php";


This is when it get complicated and this is where I have been stuck before. The secret is to make sure all settings are correct.

Import the repository gpg key:

gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 5C927F7C
gpg -a --export 5C927F7C | sudo apt-key add -

Add this to sources list

deb [arch=amd64] wmf-production main
sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list

And install

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install parsoid

Open the configfile

sudo vi /etc/mediawiki/parsoid/settings.js

And change the line like this. Use the name you used in the mediawiki setup

parsoidConfig.setInterwiki( 'wiki', 'http://mediawiki.white.local/api.php' );

Edit the settings below

sudo vi /usr/lib/parsoid/src/api/localsettings.js

And make sure it looks something like this:

parsoidConfig.setInterwiki( 'wiki', '', '' );
parsoidConfig.setInterwiki( 'foo', 'http://localhost/wikiarst/api.php' );

You can try now to see if it works… Not? Well I was quite frustrated until I found out you will need php5-curl. I could not find this documented anywhere. So install this.

sudo apt-get install php5-curl

Restart the parsoid service or reboot the server

service parsoid restart

If everything works it should look something like this when editing pages.


Links to the official documentation

I also installed node when troubleshooting but I don´t think this is necessary.