Common Issues & Error Handling

We are generally holding off on compiling this section until the final release of Joomla! 1.5 is made. We will add obvious repetitive issues that have a common thread in the forums as they arise, or are identified by the Developer  Work Group.

configuration.php file not writable

This is the most common when first installing Joomla! This does not mean the installation cannot proceed but does mean there will at least be an extra step at the end of the installation process. There are 4 ways of rectifying the situation:

  • Do a manual installation
  • Create a completely empty file, name it as configuration.php and upload it to your joomla_root/ directory before commencing the installation. Joomla! will then enter the details as the installation proceeds as normal.
  • Wait until the end of the installation when at Step 7 the Finished Screen is displayed a list of the variables and settings for the configuration.php file will be displayed. These should then be copied and pasted into a new text document and saved as configuration.php
  • As with the last suggestion wait until the end and using the information provided in Step7 manually alter the content of the configuration.php-dist file (this is simply an example file and not a part of the functioning installation) included with all Joomla! installations. There is clearly a greater chance with this method of making mistakes so greater care should be taken. Once the variables have been correctly edited, change the name of this file and save it as configuration.php

Whenever creating a new file for the Joomla! installation you must avoid using certain text editors such as Notepad, WordPad, Word, for example as they unfortunately have a tendency to add unwanted and unnecessary code that may cause problems later on.

Register Globals is set to on – Shared Hosting Problem

In Step 2 the Pre-installation Check screen Joomla! has identified that your Host has register_globals set to On or 1 (this is the number one)

Before trying any of the following check your Host's web site for FAQ's or Help on this issue. If nothing is found, ask the Host if they support the use of PHP variables in local .htaccess and/or local php.ini files.

There are a number of ways of effecting the necessary change if these are supported by your Host provider.


In an .htaccess file add one of the following lines of code:

php_flag register_globals 0 (this is a zero numeral)

or enter

php_flag register_globals Off

The file is placed in the joomla_root/ directory of your Web server. Alternatively, if appropriate, the line can be added to the top of an existing .htaccess file already created for SEF/SEO purposes from the htaccess.txt file included in every Joomla! installation.

The file is recursive which means it will work for all directories beneath the parent directory in this case the joomla_root/ in which it is placed.

If one version of the code does not work, try the other.

If neither work then try the code and file defined in the next section.


An alternative is to try to use a php.ini file method instead. Again, this is an option that must be available with your Web server Host. Create a new file and save it as php.ini and include one of the following lines of code. The choice of which one depends on how the server has been configured.

register_globals= 0  (this is a zero numeral)

or enter

register_globals= Off

or enter

register_globals= "Off"

Place a copy of the php.ini file in both the joomla_root/ and the joomla_root/administrator/ directories.

If the message is resolved (check the System Information screens in the Help Menu) then it is necessary, as this file is not recursive, to place a copy in every directory that has a .php file in it.

If you want to avoid the message during installation add the copies ahead of uploading the files to your Web server. It may be easier and quicker to do this in your HTML/WYSIWYG editor rather than trying to do it on the Web server.

FTP Layer 

  • The FTP Layer is not required on Windows based servers as the User permission and access controls are completely difference to those on a Linux server.
  • If you have entered any details in the FTP Layer fields and these have been saved to the configuration.php file (either during the installation or subsequently within the Global Configuration) but you cannot delete the entries using the Global Configuration. If the FTP Layer is not required for any reason it may well be necessary to manually edit the configuration.php file in your joomla_root/ directory to remove the entries.
  • If you have entered the FTP Layer details in error and are not using using it there is an issue that Joomla! continues to try to use the FTP Layer even after it has been disabled. Again it is necessary to clear the fields in the configuration.php file.

Error Finding

There is a way of doing extra error checking by adding the following lines to an .htaccess file.

php_flag display_errors on
php_value error_reporting 7


Last Updated ( Monday, 26 November 2007 )