1. Ensure access to a web host or local development environment with the following:
a. A web server, such as Apache (http://httpd.apache.org), which handles serving up Drupal's pages to the browser. Having access to Apache's mod rewrite extension also allows you to use Drupal's "Clean URLs" feature, which transforms URLs like http://www.example.com/index.php?q=contact to http://www .example.com/contact.
b. PHP (http://php.net), the dynamic scripting language that powers Drupal. Drupal 6 requires at least PHP version 4.3.5, although PHP 5.2 or higher is recommended. The requirements page at Drupal.org has more information on required and recommended PHP extensions, most of which are enabled in PHP by default.
c. A database server, such as MySQL (http://mysql.com), where Drupal will store all of the content, data, and settings that it needs in order to function.
This book assumes that you are using Apache and MySQL. For additional help and support with other web and database servers, see http://drupal.org/getting-started/6/install.
2. Write down the following information from your web host:
a. Your (S)FTP or SSH username and password, so you can put Drupal's files into place.
b. Your database server's details, including username, password, and database name, so that Drupal can connect to the database. Some web hosts also require additional information to access the database, such as specifying a remote hostname or a specific database port.
3. Before you start installing Drupal, you also need a database to which it can be installed; Drupal doesn't create the database for you, as this normally requires "elevated" permissions on a server. Drupal can be installed either in its own separate database, or alongside other applications in a single database using table prefixes, but it's generally better if it has its own dedicated database. Check with your hosting provider or system administrator if you need information on how to create a new database, and jot down its name for later. Also, make sure you have the database username and password handy too.
For development purposes, you may find it easier to have your web environment installed locally to make your changes prior to uploading them to their final locations. There are several free programs that are more or less a "drop in and go" solution, including XAMPP (http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html) on Windows and Linux, WampServer (http://www.wampserver.com) on Windows, or MAMP (http://mamp.info/en/download.html) on Macintosh.
Once you have checked to make sure you have everything, you're ready to begin.
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