Manual:Upgrading

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Basic overview[edit | edit source]

File transfer[edit | edit source]

Choose a method for transferring files:

Preliminary[edit | edit source]

Read the UPGRADE text file included in MediaWiki.

  1. Check the requirements
  2. Read the release notes
  3. Back up existing files and the database
  4. Unpack the new files
  5. Upgrade extensions
  6. Run the update script to check the database
  7. Test the update

Check requirements[edit | edit source]

MediaWiki 1.24 requires:

  • PHP 5.3.2 or later
  • Either MySQL 5.0.2 or later, PostgreSQL 8.3 or later, SQLite 3.3.7 or later or Oracle 9.0.1 or later

If you are using PostgreSQL, please also read Upgrading Postgres.

For more information, please read the system requirements and compatibility.

Read the release notes[edit | edit source]

Within the distribution tarball, or within the files checked out/exported from Git, there are a number of files with capitalised filenames, one of which contains the RELEASE-NOTES (wiki). Now's the time to open it up and find out what's been changed in this release.

Back up existing files and the database[edit | edit source]

Full instructions: Manual:Backing up a wiki

While the upgrade scripts are well-maintained and robust, things could still go awry. Before proceeding to update the database schema, make a full backup of the wiki, including both the database and the files:

  • the wiki's content, from the database, (make sure you get the character set specified correctly, first check LocalSettings.php). It may be a good idea to create an XML dump in addition to the SQL database dump.
  • MySQL, both SQL dump and XML dump are for use with the mysql command:
mysqldump --user=wikidb_user --password=wikidb_userpassword wikidb > file.sql
mysqldump --user=wikidb_user --password=wikidb_userpassword wikidb --xml > file.xml
  • PostgreSQL, database dump for use with pg_restore command:
pg_dump --create -Fc wikidb > file.db.dump
  • SQLite, you use a MediaWiki script for making a backup:
php wikifolder/maintenance/sqlite.php --backup-to file
  • images and other media files (the contents of the images directory, custom logo /skins/common/images/wiki.png)
  • configuration files, e.g. LocalSettings.php and AdminSettings.php (if present)
  • MediaWiki's program files, including all skins and extensions, especially if you modified them.

Unpack the new files[edit | edit source]

Using a tarball package[edit | edit source]

You can put the new files into place using FTP or the command line. Use the command line, if you have access to it! Using the command line will be much faster than having to upload each single one of the thousands of files via FTP.

You should put the decompressed tarball in a new and empty folder on your server. If you instead extract the new version directly on top of your old version, rather than in a new directory, you should follow #Back up existing files and the database: otherwise, if you've made any customizations you may erase them in a way that leaves you with no reference to re-apply them from. Extracting a tarball over top of your live copy of MediaWiki can also leave behind files from the old version of MediaWiki which may interfere with the upgraded code. It's recommended that you unpack the new files into a new directory, and then apply customizations to the new directory (restoring LocalSettings.php, images folder, extensions, and other customizations like custom skins)

FTP or graphical[edit | edit source]

If you cannot access the command line on your server, download the MediaWiki tarball to your local computer and use 7zip to extract the tarball on your local PC.

After you extracted the files locally, use FTP to upload directories and files to the server with your favorite FTP software.

Command line[edit | edit source]

You may need to run the command as sudo if you don't have full write permissions to the wiki install directories under your current user. When untarring a tarball package normally a new directory for the new wiki version will be created and you will have to copy the old configuration files and images directory from your old installation directory:

$ cd /path/to/your/new/installation/  
$ wget http://releases.wikimedia.org/mediawiki/1.24/mediawiki-1.24.0.tar.gz
$ tar -xvzf mediawiki-1.24.0.tar.gz 
$ rm mediawiki-1.24.0.tar.gz 

(Open)Solaris users should use gtar, or:

$ gzip -dc mediawiki-1.24.0.tar.gz | tar xf -

Other files[edit | edit source]

After extracting the tarball, you should copy or move some files and folders from the old installation directory to the new one:

  • LocalSettings.php, which contains your old configuration settings.
  • The images (or uploads in older versions) directory, which contains all the uploaded files to the wiki, unless you have chosen a different upload directory, and change the ownership and permissions. chmod -R 755 images and chgrp -R apache images (e.g. if your web user is apache).
  • Some extensions in the extensions directory. You should always get updated extensions, old extensions aren't guaranteed to work with a newer version of MediaWiki.
  • In case you use a custom logo this file also needs to be restored from backup (usually placed in /skins/common/images/).
  • Custom skins from within the skins directory.
  • Any modifications made to the old installation files.
  • Any .htaccess file (if you're using Apache and you've defined any rules in them).

Once done, make this new folder the published folder on the web server, or rename the old installation directory and then rename the new one to match the old name.

Using Git[edit | edit source]

If using Git, export the files into a clean location, and then copy the old customized files into the new location as described in the previous section.

Using patch[edit | edit source]

A small patch file is usually made available for a minor version upgrade. Manually download and extract the patch file from the dumps site or follow the directions with wget below. Patches are incremental, you can not skip a version.

  1. cd to your main MediaWiki directory (the one with LocalSettings.php).
  2. Download the patch file and gunzip it.
  3. Use patch -p 1 --dry-run to check what will be changed (e.g., patch -p 1 --dry-run < mediawiki-MW stable release number.patch )
  4. If all is well, run patch again without --dry-run.
  5. Check your Special:Version and you should see the new version number in place.

Files remaining that may cause errors[edit | edit source]

If you unpacked over the old installation directory, some old files can cause problems with the new version.


MediaWiki version: 1.18

If you are not using profiling, but have a StartProfiler.php file in the MediaWiki root folder, you may receive errors referring to /includes/Profiler.php. Deleting, or renaming, the StartProfiler.php file will resolve this error. The StartProfiler.sample file, also in the MediaWiki root folder, can serve as a template should you enable profiling in the future.


MediaWiki version: 1.23

MediaWiki 1.23 deprecates the skin autodiscovery mechanism of core skin files. After upgrading to this version, you should ensure that the old files Chick.php, Nostalgia.php, Simple.php and Standard.php directly in the skins/ directory as well as the according subfolders inside the skins/ directory got removed. MediaWiki will log warnings if any of them are still found to help you remember. (You will also need to adjust any custom skins to follow a similar convention.) See Manual:Skin autodiscovery for details.


MediaWiki version: 1.24

MediaWiki 1.24 will change the paths of core skin files. After upgrading to this version, you should ensure that the old files CologneBlue.php, Modern.php, MonoBook.php and Vector.php directly in the skins/ directory are no longer present. See Manual:Skin autodiscovery for details.

Upgrade extensions[edit | edit source]

Certain extensions have been updated in order to work with the new version of MediaWiki. Be sure to upgrade to the latest versions of such extensions. You might need to perform manual updates to custom extensions.

Different tarballs include some subsets of extensions and have versioning which helps you upgrade choosing the right one for your MediaWiki core release.

Extension Distributor works well for most people who want a snapshot of extensions that will work with their supported versions of MediaWiki.

If you want a lot of extensions then downloading from Git is probably best.

Run the update script[edit | edit source]

You can upgrade the MediaWiki database in two ways: Either from the command line or from the web browser. If you have shell access to your server, upgrading from the command line is recommended, since this reduces the risk of the upgrade process being interrupted by a timeout or connection reset.

Command line[edit | edit source]

Access the command line of your server or an SSH shell or similar. You can access the command line by connecting to your server via SSH. If the local PC you are working on runs Microsoft Windows, you will need a tool like PuTTY to use SSH. From the command line or the Shell, change to the maintenance directory and execute the update script:

$ php maintenance/update.php

On Linux if you get an error try performing same command as root (sudo php maintenance/update.php). Note for simple installations on Windows (e.g. with XAMPP): First make sure that your web server (such as Apache) and your database (such as MySQL) are running. Then run update.php: right-click it, select Open With, and browse to PHP.exe. The resulting command prompt window will likely autoclose when the schema upgrade completes.

You might see a message that your PHP version is too old and that MediaWiki needs a newer version. After that message the update aborts. Reason for this error is that the commandline can use another PHP version than that one which you have when you execute MediaWiki from the webserver. When you get this message you should check, if you can execute a newer PHP version on the shell by using a different command: That might e.g. be php5 or php53. If another version is available and - if so - under which name, depends on the setup of your server. If it does not work, ask your hoster; he will surely know.

MediaWiki will inspect the existing schema and update it to work with the new code, adding tables and columns as needed.

If you use a Shared database, you should pass the --doshared parameter if you want the shared tables to be updated. Otherwise they won't be touched by the update script.

What to do in case of "No superuser credentials" error[edit | edit source]

In case the scripts abort with a message:

No superuser credentials could be found. Please provide the details of a user with appropriate
permissions to update the database. See AdminSettings.sample for more details"

This means that you should check that you have defined $wgDBadminuser and $wgDBadminpassword in your LocalSettings.php file (in the main directory). These are the user and password needed by this script in order to access to the database. (Note: Prior to MediaWiki 1.16, these variables were located in AdminSettings.php. This file was removed in 1.16 and the variables were moved to LocalSettings.php.)

What to do in case of "unexpected T_STRING" error[edit | edit source]

Individuals running update.php from the command line may encounter the following error:

syntax error, unexpected T_STRING, expecting T_OLD_FUNCTION or T_FUNCTION or T_VAR or '}' \
in ~/maintenance/commandLine.inc on line 13

This error occurs when update.php is run from php4.

Individuals who have their site hosted by providers who provide both php4 and php5 should take the following steps:

  1. from the command line, enter the command 'whereis php5'
  2. once you have discerned the location of the php5 path, list the contents of php5/bin directory
  3. once you've determined the name of the php executable (either php or php5), type in the entire path to execute update.php

Below is an example:

$ whereis php5
$ ls -la /usr/local/php5/bin
$ /usr/local/php5/bin/php update.php

What to do in case of 'register_argc_argv is set to false' error[edit | edit source]

You may encounter the error:

Cannot get command line arguments, register_argc_argv is set to false
  1. Go to ~/maintenance. Either edit an existing 'php.ini' file, or create one.
  2. Add a line as follows:
register_argc_argv=true
  1. Re-run php update.php

Web browser[edit | edit source]

MediaWiki version: 1.17
See also update.php

If your database is already big and in high production usage, then you should not be using the Web updater, e.g. because the update process will time out when the maximum_execution_time is reached. In that case you should use update.php from the command-line interface (not from the web). What exactly is "too big" depends on your server (e.g. on its performance, the load and on how long the maximum execution time of PHP allows the script to run). If your wiki is too big for the web updater and your hosting provider does not allow command-line access, then you need to migrate your wiki to another hosting account, preferably to one that does have shell access.

  1. Always backup before performing database maintenance.
  2. Navigate your webbrowser to /mw-config/. For example, if your wiki is at http://example.org/w/index.php, then navigate to http://example.org/w/mw-config/.
  3. Select your language and click continue.
  4. The existing installation should be detected. Follow the instructions on the screen to upgrade it.
    If asked for the "upgrade key", open your LocalSettings.php file and look for the key assigned to $wgUpgradeKey.

It might happen that the web-updater does not seem to work: Instead of seeing the initial language selection screen, you might see an empty wiki page, possibly with some error message. In this case it is most likely that your webserver uses Rewrite Rules (most likely for short URLs), which do not show you the updater at mw-config/, but a wiki page at Mw-config/, with capital "M". In this case, rename the .htaccess file for the time of the update. Then you should be able to access the web-updater.

Warning Warning: If you use this method, make sure to change the name of the .htaccess file back after running the upgrade script! Otherwise short URLs and possibly other stuff will be broken!

Test the update[edit | edit source]

Once the upgrade has been completed, browse to the wiki and check that the following operations work as expected:

  • Viewing pages
  • Editing pages
  • Uploading a file
  • Visit Special:Version and check that the version shown is correct and that the extensions are present.

Frequently asked questions[edit | edit source]

How hard is it to upgrade?[edit | edit source]

If the only file you have modified is LocalSettings.php, and you are upgrading from 1.5 or later, the process is very simple. The amount of human work involved is only a few minutes. The database schema changes will take an amount of time proportional to the size of your database — potentially hours for wikis with millions of pages, but for a more typical size of a few thousand pages, it is usually done in seconds.

Minor upgrades, within the same major version, say from 1.13.0 to 1.13.1, do not require any schema changes at all. You can just update the files. The database needs no update, hence it is not necessary to run the installer script.

Upgrading from 1.4 or earlier is potentially complicated because support for character sets other than UTF-8 was dropped, and the schema for storing bulk text changed. Please read the relevant section in the UPGRADE file.

Upgrading becomes difficult if you have modified our source code, and you don't want your changes to be overwritten. Tools such as diff, patch, Meld or WinMerge may be useful. There is also potential for trouble if you are using unmaintained extensions. Upgrade your extensions at the same time as you upgrade MediaWiki.

If you have modified the skin or use a custom skin you very likely will have to adjust it to work again with the new version of MediaWiki.

Tip: instead of patching your "global" css and js (javascript) files everytime you can simply add the code to your MediaWiki:Common.js and MediaWiki:Common.css pages. As these are part of the database which will be reused when you upgrade, you will not have to patch the MediaWiki core files any more.

How do I upgrade from a really old version? In one step, or in several steps?[edit | edit source]

It depends: If you are upgrading from MediaWiki 1.4 or older, you should upgrade to MediaWiki 1.5 first. If you are upgrading from a Latin-1 wiki, use upgrade1_5.php (found in MediaWiki 1.5) to convert the relevant parts of the database to UTF-8 ($wgUseLatin1 needs to be set to true in your LocalSettings.php for this to work). Next, run update.php, and then set the $wgLegacyEncoding option in LocalSettings.php to the encoding previously used by the wiki (e.g. windows-1252). This is basically how Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation sites were upgraded from MediaWiki 1.4 to 1.5 – see the relevant settings file (warning: huge page!) and some related notes at Wikitech. You may need to upgrade to MediaWiki 1.4 before running the upgrade1.5 script.

If you are upgrading from MediaWiki 1.5 or newer, you can upgrade in one step, from your old version to the latest stable version. The vast majority of reports, as well as automated testing, indicate that doing it in one step works just fine. If you have trouble believing this, read this mailing list post. However, please note that when you update from old versions, chances that you will encounter PHP errors are bigger than when you upgrade from the version directly previous to the new version. You would have received these errors anyway, also if you had not skipped versions, but if you had each time done each single update. Only will you - when you skipped versions - get them all at the same time. This will make the upgrade more difficult, but do not forget that you did not have the trouble updating to the intermediate versions, which you skipped!

If upgrading from a MediaWiki version below 1.19, you may need to add the sha1 field to the revision table manually before running the update script (see bug 48820 and a relevant support desk thread).

Should I back up first?[edit | edit source]

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: It depends on a) how much you value your data, b) how hard it is to create a backup and c) how confident you are with MySQL maintenance and administration.

An upgrade failure may leave your database in an inconsistent state, in between two versions. A PHP or MySQL error might happen during upgrade leaving your database partly upgraded. In such situations it may be possible to somehow fix this problem with much manual work. However, it will be way easier to just put a database backup from before running update.php in place and to continue with that. Otherwise you might have hours of - needless - work.

Recovery is often complex. Volunteers on the support forums are unlikely to be impressed if you neglect to make a backup and then need help to recover from upgrade-related corruption. A better outcome is if you can revert to your backup, and then report the bug against the corresponding MediaWiki project in the upgrade process which caused the corruption.

Can I keep my LocalSettings.php?[edit | edit source]

Yes, but you may have to make some minor changes. The format of LocalSettings.php is largely backwards compatible. Changes which break LocalSettings.php compatibility will be documented in the "configuration changes" section of the release notes.

Can my wiki stay online while it is upgrading?[edit | edit source]

Generally yes, however Git may temporarily (for a few seconds) break it.

If you are upgrading between minor releases of MediaWiki, all you need to do is update the source files.

Note: the following assumes you have command line access. If you are upgrading between major releases of MediaWiki, the preferred procedure is as follows:

  1. Unpack the new version of MediaWiki into a new directory
  2. Prepare that new directory: copy your current LocalSettings.php from the old directory, copy any installed extensions and custom skins (if any).
  3. In the release notes for the new version, see if any changes need to be made to LocalSettings.php.
  4. Place the database in read-only mode by inserting the following variable into LocalSettings.php in the old directory - users will see this message if they attempt an edit during the upgrade process:
    $wgReadOnly = 'Upgrading to MediaWiki 1.24.0';
  5. Run the update script or the web updater in the new directory.
  6. Copy the images from the images sub-directory from the old directory to the new directory.
  7. Swap the old directory and the new directory.

Why upgrade?[edit | edit source]

Subscribe to mediawiki-announce to be notified of new releases.

Because it's usually easy enough, a single step from your version to latest and also via web.

Recent releases receive security fixes to keep your wiki and your host safe from vandals, while old releases don't (see Version lifecycle). That makes dozens good reasons to upgrade! (And only counting up to 2014.)

New major releases come with new features, which you might want to use: see the release notes for details. In case you need additional arguments to convince your bosses to let you upgrade from a pretty old version, here is a summary:

See also the list of the most voted fixed issues on Bugzilla up to 2014.

Also, in MediaWiki 1.18 we started bundling some vital extensions, like a better editor and anti-vandalism tools ConfirmEdit and Nuke; more have been added in later releases.


See also[edit | edit source]

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