Forum OpenACS Q&A: Re: Windows - OpenACS and AOL server - Help Getting started

Well, you probably should start by getting familiar with Linux, as thats the native environment. Its not harder than W*ndows, just different, but more of it happens on the command line (which is like the MSDOS app) and its best to be familiar with that.

To try Linux, one of the "LiveCD" 's (such as Knoppix, Gnoppix, Mandrake Move, or PCLinux) will boot from CD image on a Windows machine without affecting the HD, and allow you to play around. I like PCLinuxOS ( or google the others.

There was some talk of setting up an OpenACS LiveCD but I'm not sure about status/who/where. Try (, you may have to SaveLink As to get the download. This would be the easiest playground.

Alternatively, if you can find a spare box somewhere, load up a Linux distribution. No matter what anyone says, installing linux can be tough. so if everything doesn't seem straightforward, persist.

I've found Mandrake to be relatively easy, and usually successful, especially on newish hardware, but others will have their own views. Red Hat/Fedora, Debian, SUSE distributions should also work fine with OpenACS and have adherents here. Other nominations welcome.

Then follow the OpenACS intsall  instructions (rather daunting but comprehensive). (

If you don't want to do that, you could get a hosted OpenACS site to play with. I use and recommend Acornhosting for a low cost/ low volume site ( so I suggest contacting cathy -at-

There are other hosting company options try

Tutorial in the main documentation,( problem sets in Jade Rubick has numerous useful articles ( notably (

The basics are that content is in *.adp files, SQL in *.sql files (Oracle or Postgres) and functionality in *.tcl files.
If you're coming from MS Access, remember that Postgres is client/server, so you can access postgres databases from MS Access using an ODBC connection (with a few tweaks). But you shouldn't need to.

Hi Glenn,

much as I dislike Windows servers, there is no reason why you shouldn't use Windows. We've recently gone live with an OpenACS on Oracle on Windows site. Jamie Rasmussen has written up everything you need to know (including AOLserver exes) to get started at

I can't see any point in increasing your learning curve by tackling Linux at this point. It can be tricky enough to start developing for the web without having to wreck your head learning a new operating system. Use Windows until you know what you're doing, then consider moving to Linux. I love Linux and would love to see everybody using it over Windows, but I love OpenACS more, and don't want the OS to be a barrier for people.

best wishes,