Moodle/SLoodle Experiments – Issue 1

A couple of years back we rigged up a Moodle VLE server (http://moodle.org) and set up some “courses” to support collaborative meetings especially to allow for file resource interchange and sharing, and for questionnaire’s and feedback during meetings. We connected the web site to a meeting space in Second Life (http://secdondlife.com) using the Sloodle set (http://sloodle.org). The server still runs at http://openvce.net/moodle

I am interested again in Moodle 2 and recent work on a much richer in world linkup using the SLoodle kit which can now support rich shared media in Second Life, and important for the future, the open source OpenSimulator (http://opensimulator.org). We want to tie the questionnaire and shared resource handling more closely to intelligent systems for meeting room support – in our I-Room work (http://openvce.net/iroom).

I plan to use this blog to document progress, trials and tribulations as we go along in the hope others might find it useful.

The first thing was how messy all the information was on what the most recent versions of SLoodle were available and for which versions of Moodle. As a lot of people still use Moodle 1.9.x rather than the more recent Moodle 2.x. As usual a short e-mail to one of the core users in such a helpful community got me on the right path. But even then download links were stale, out of date copies had been archived and their link blogged rather than the original material, etc. So job number 1 was to start a web page with the up to date information as I found it… trying to show original URLs but also providing convenient URLs (in some cases to locally stored resources). That page is at http://openvce.net/sloodle and will evolve as things change or corrections are needed.

So to our main openvce.net web and database servers… the requirements for Moodle 2.1 means that a later version of PHP is needed than our computing support team are happy to have running due to security. This will be fixed, but not in an immediate time frame. So we use our usual backup experimental arrangement using one of the AIAI servers on which we have XAMPP to provide a convenient and simply managed Apache web server, MySQL database server, PHP and Perl scripting.

I am an optimist, so I unpack Moodle 2.x install it in the right place in the web server and just start the install script in a web browser. Ah well. Not so fast Austin. It complains the PHP version on XAMPP is JUST one sub release too old. Pity.

A close down of all services, an uninstall of the services, a reboot, a big safe backup of the web area, data base and some local files on the experimental machine, archive and an hour later I can try again. I put on the new version of XAMPP, reinstate the data base and web areas, put back the new Moodle area, etc. And kick it all back into life. A BIG PHP not running error in the browser stops me short. Half an hour of fiddling, no joy. Something in XAMPP upgrade has gone wrong.

Luckily I can roll back. ALWAYS CREATE A BACKUP BEFORE YOUR UPGRADE. Half an hour later and I am back to where I started with a slightly too old XAMPP and no Moodle 2.x. To be tried again another day. Watch for the next install meet.

Ah well, that’s where the weekend went. I did still manage to see the Italian Grand Prix run at Monza on TV though, and was pleased Jenson Button came through to 2nd.

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