Tag Archives: WordPress-MU

WordPress MU 2.8 Beginner’s Guide Reviews

The first set of reviews for my book, the WordPress MU 2.8 Beginner’s Guide, have started trickling in.

They’ve been mostly positive so far.  There’s been a couple of things pointed out (such as a plugin conflict that went un-noticed in testing) that I’ll raise with the publisher in case they decide to make a second edition.

I hope to work on another book for Packt in the future, so it’s great to learn what people liked, and what they didn’t.

Here’s a sampling of the reviews:



The Open Sourcerer


Thanks to all the reviewers for taking the time to read and write about the book!


Hiding the WordPress-MU Dashboard

This post is intended to accompany Chapter 4 of my book, the WordPress-MU 2.7 Beginner’s Guide.

If you have a WordPress or WordPress-MU powered blog, then you’ve probably noticed the dashboard.  It’s the default ‘landing page’ when you log in to your admin panel.  The dashboard provides some useful information, such as the number of posts you’ve made, the number of comments that have been approved and the number that are awaiting moderation, and even a traffic stats graph.

However, the dashboard can take a long time to load.  This isn’t a problem for everyone – if you’re blessed with a nice fast cable or DSL connection it probably isn’t an issue for you.  But not everyone has a good connection.  I’m making this post via mobile broadband because my usual connection has failed. HSDPA isn’t reliable in this area, so I’m on 3G, and even a page as clean as Google’s is taking an irritating length of time to load.

You can remove some of the clutter from the Dashboard by using the ‘Screen Options’, but you will still land on the Dashboard page when you log in to the admin panel.dashboardPersonally, I don’t mind the dashboard on my main blogs, but I have some niche blogs on various community sites, and my favourite sites are the ones that blur the line between ‘community’ and ‘blog’.  When you go to manage your blog, you are dumped straight on to the Write Post page – after all, the chances are that’s why you’re visiting the admin panel of your blog.

Sending your users straight to the ‘Write Post’ page will most likely be saving them a click or two.  If it turns out they wanted to do something else, then it hasn’t cost them much time.

If you want to hide the dashboard, then one way to do so is to use the ‘Hide Dashboard‘ Plugin created by Bavotasan.  This plugin will allow you to hide the dashboard for users with certain user levels.

The default version of the plugin hides the dashboard for users who are not admin.  If you would like to hide the dashboard for everyone, you can do that with a simple edit:

Just open the plugin file, and remove the following lines of code:

if (current_user_can(‘level_10’)) {


} else {

Also remove the closing ‘}’ above the ‘add_action’ line near the end of the plugin file.

For your convenience, you can download the edited version of the plugin here.

Editing UserThemes Revisited

This post is designed to accompany Chapter 4 of my book, the WordPress-MU 2.7 Beginner’s Guide.

Would you like to allow users to edit their themes on your WordPress-MU blog?  One of the most common requests from users on WordPress-MU sites is the ability to edit the themes that are offered.  Giving users the ability to edit the PHP files that make up a WordPress-MU theme is a little risky, but it is possible to allow users to edit CSS files, which will give them some freedom to customize their site, and is much less risky from the site owner’s point of view.

If you want to allow your users to customize their WordPress-MU themes, the first thing you need is UserThemes Revisited.  You can download the plugin here.

Before you install the plugin, I would recommend making a few changes.  In it’s unedited state, the plugin allows your users to access both PHP and CSS files.  Offering unrestricted access to PHP files means that you are risking the possibility of malicious code being ran on your server.  Let’s block PHP files from being edited:

Open up /wp-admin/theme-editor.php – under the line that begins with $parent_file,  insert the following code:

if((get_option(‘ut_use_user_theme’) != 1) || (get_option(‘ut_enabled’) != 1))


wp_die(‘Either you have not been granted permission from the site administrator to access the theme editor OR you do not have a usertheme as your active theme, theme editor will die while a system theme is active.’);



Look for this line:

$allowed_files = array_merge($themes[$theme][‘Stylesheet Files’], $themes[$theme][‘Template Files’]);

Comment it out, and insert this below:

array_merge($themes[$theme][‘Stylesheet Files’],$themes[$theme][‘Stylesheet Files’]);

Next, open the file /wp-admin/includes/mu.php and comment out this line:

unset( $submenu[‘themes.php’][10] );

Now it’s safe to upload and install the UserThemes Revisited Plugin.  Your users should see a screen like this one, which allows them to create their own copy of a theme they want to edit.6545_04_utruser1

Once they’ve made a copy of a theme, they can edit the CSS files using the theme editor.


For your convenience, you can download the edited versions of the core files here.

VPS Optimization for High Traffic Sites

I have a VPS with 384MB RAM available as standard, and the option to burst up to 1GB.

This is enough to run some fairly high traffic sites if you’re careful with the setup, but with the default setups and fancy control panels, you’ll exceed the memory limit quite quickly.

I use Citadel as the email client, but I’ve disabled Webcit.  I also removed Spam Assassin, and just use the Realtime Blackhole List to prevent spam.  Those simple changes have shaved over 100MB off my normal usage, but there’s still a lot to go.

top shows that memory usage is leaking up into the burst limit over time – even with some basic optimizations of httpd.conf and MySQL.  I’m considering trying lighttpd instead of Apache2 – I really don’t NEED Apache2, and it seems to be quiet a hog.

The other possible optimization would be to use something lightweight in place of named – which is currently sat at 180m memory usage!

If anyone has any favourite lightweight alternatives to named, I’d love to hear about them.

WordPress and WordPress-Mu to Merge

I recently learned that WordPress-MU and WordPress are going to be merging soon.  OK, I’m a few weeks late hearing the news, but I have a good excuse – it’s been a crazy month for me!  The announcement was made by Matt Mullenweg during his State of The Word speech at WordCamp.

The plan is to merge the multi-user parts of WordPress-MU into the normal WordPress setup, and the current MU project will be closed down – because it won’t be needed any more.

Is this a good thing?  Well, I think it’s good news in some ways – WordPress-MU has always lagged a little behind normal WordPress, and it will be nice to see more coders working on the multi-user features, and it will be nice to be able to go to the normal WordPress community for support.  Having two projects that were so similar was a bit of a waste of resources.

On the other hand – what will the move be like?  Even normal upgrades aren’t without hurdles.  Merging the two codebases sounds like a recipe for many hours of plugin and workaround wrangling.  How many plugins will break?  How many people will run into database issues?

Also – how many new users will see the ‘multi user’ option, turn it on for their simple WordPress install on an oversold shared hosting account, and bring the server to its knees when huge numbers of spam bots swarm it to create ‘splog’ accounts?  Right now, you have to make a concious decision to install MU, and a lot of ‘normal users’ don’t even know it exists.  Are most cheap web hosts ready for MU to become another option users can go “Oooh, what’s this button do?” with?

WordPress-MU 2.7.1 Released

WordPress-MU 2.7.1 was released last week.  The release included a number of tweaks to the back end – including the removal of the admin bar, and some changes to the Plugins system.

The ability to activate plugins on a sitewide basis is nice, but I won’t be getting rid of Plugin Commander just yet.

There are some other back-end tweaks to set the dashboard for users who don’t have blogs, and to make things easier for users who have multiple blogs.

I upgraded SlayerCafe using the upgrade link in the admin panel, and things went fairly smoothly, although I did have some problems with plugins in the mu-plugins folder.  I’m not sure if that’s something to do with my configuration, or with WordPress-MU itself, so if you’re thinking of updating, it’s a good idea to make a backup first!

Great BuddyPress Network Example

I’ve been doing some random surfing, looking for some inspiration for my book on WordPress-MU and Buddypress, and I found a very well designed social network for real estate people, WannaNetwork.

The site looks professional, is cleanly laid out, and manages to escape the ‘Just another WordPress site’ look which devalues so many other sites out there.  Not that there’s anything wrong with WordPress – it’s a great blogging solution, but I always cringe when it’s obvious that bigger sites are using it.  Seriously, it doesn’t take much to tweak the layout to make it your own, and you don’t have to sacrifice usability in the process.

If you’re after some ideas for what a BuddyPress network could look like, and some of the features it can offer, WannaNetwork is a very good starting point in my opinion.