Forum OpenACS Q&A: Re: Unable to install openacs-5.9.0b2
The reason, why i am coming back to the encoding issue is that i have seen many OpenACS installations (100+) on different operating systems, but i have not seen these errors. i am just trying to help you, since when you work on with wrong encodings, you will run sooner or later into troubles. Most of the Web sites are today in UTF-8, Tcl supports UTF-8 natively, etc. In general, it should be possible to change the encoding at some later time , but i have not tried this.
installing OpenACS means: perform all necessary steps to run an OpenACS based web site. OpenACS consists of the so-called core-packages  and the application packages. about 90 of the packages are maintained.
In order to run OpenACS, one needs the following software components:
- a web server (NaviServer, AOLserver)
- a database (PostgreSQL, Oracle)
- a few extra components (TDom, tcllib, XOTcl)
Then, one should get OpenACS either via tar or via source code repository. The recent tar files
contain just the oacs-core packages. Once, acs-core is installed (the step, where you saw in your
first attempt the error), one can install other OpenACS packages, either directly from the OpenACS repository,
of from the local file system (checkout from a source code repository). The latter is typical for developer,
developing their own packages, tailoring the system, etc.
The documentation of OpenACS needs much work, esp. for beginners. Once you have installed OpenACS,
you should also install the developer support, which provides the API browser. The developer support
is quite convenient to learn about the system, to see what templates are used in what situation, or
what SQL queries are executed for some URLs.
Does this help?
The question is, at which level of detail you want to know, what the installer does. To make this answer short: In order to start over, there is no need to touch anything in the file system (under "serverroot").
From the point of view of OpenACS, it is sufficient to drop and recreate the database (commands "dropdb" and "createdb"), you are using.
if you want to setup the full postgres installation new (which i would recommend to get the usual template0 blueprint), you can use "initdb".
I will try to answer to your question about what OpenACS is: it is a framework for building web applications, that is, a collection of software tools that make "easy" (to a programmer skilled in web technologies) the construction of community based websites. Its runs on a webserver called Aolserver or Naviserver (different branches of what used to be the same software) and uses PostgreSQL as DBMS.
OpenACS has a long tradition, dating back to 1995 when it was born as a company driven project in the United States. Its market share changed during the years and currently it is quite of a niche platform, but with solid poles of activity. To my knowledge, the most active ones are in Austria, South America and Italy. Its most common fields of applications are e-learning and ERP systems, but some (including myself) also develop some personal websites.
The reason why you found a bit difficult to start using OpenACS is that it doesn't show very much "out of the box". One should start developing something using the many commodities it offers, or install a package. Unfortunately, not many wizards exist to help you do so. Also, documentation intended for beginners, the one that usually "takes you by the hand" in your first steps in other projects, sometimes is lacking or outdated. OpenACS has a very clever built-in documentation system, but it supposes at least basic familiarity with the platform.
The best place to look for support is this forum, where response is usually very solicit. If you were looking for a software like this for a specific need, you could share it with us and people could give you more targeted advices.
I hope to have answered to your question
All the best