Installing cerberus on bluehost

We were impressed by the cerberus helpdesk software that bluehost was running, and since we needed something similar for our own site (not coincidentally hosted with bluehost), we decided to take a shot at installing it. It worked out, but had some tricky bits. So here are the steps that worked for us.

We began by downloading Cerberus (the free community edition) and following their instructions for unpacking it, setting permissions, and getting started on installation.

First problem: Cerberus complains when checking server requirements that a php extension called mailparse is missing. It really wants this extension, but it isn’t available on bluehost. Are we stuck? No! We can install the plugin ourselves. We worked from a helpful write-up someone had made for an imagemagick extension. We did the following from our bluehost shell:

pecl download mailparse
tar xvzf mailparse-*.tgz
cd mailparse-*
phpize
./configure
make

This gave us a “modules” directory with a mailparse.so file, which is what we need. We moved it into our home directory on bluehost, so we had the file /home/our_user_name/modules/mailparse.so

Then we need to tell PHP where to find this extension. To do this, we opened the php.ini file that bluehost created in our web directory, and modified the following entries:

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
; Paths and Directories ;
;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

extension_dir = “/home/our_user_name/modules”

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;
; Dynamic Extensions ;
;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

extension=”mailparse.so”

While editing this file, we also set the “upload_tmp_dir” away from the default, since cerberus didn’t like that.

At this point, we had a problem with the new information in the php.ini file not getting used. Probably it suffices to wait, but we gave php a “kick” from the bluehost control panel “Php Config” just for testing purposes. And indeed Cerberus at this point was happy with its new home and ready to start operations.

The only remaining problem was quick a nasty one. When setting up incoming mail, we could never get the mail test to pass, until finally one of us had a brainwave and replaced the “+” symbol that bluehost email usernames have with its url-encoded version “%2B”. This worked like a charm. But then when we tried the system for real, email logins were failing. So we put back the “+” and found that the real system worked with this while the test stopped working. Yuck, but no real problem. We suggest you get things working with the test first, using “%2B” instead of “+”, and then when that test is passing put back in the “+”.

Done!

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