Monthly Archives: November 2012

Movable Type 5.2 on Mac OS X

It’s been a while since my notes about local development copies of Movable Type and WordPress on XAMPP – a local LAMP stack that runs on Windows. I’m still using both blogging platforms and wanted to update the steps now that I’m doing most of my work on a Mac laptop.

The steps below walk through the installation of a local copy of Movable Type 5.2 on Mac OS X.

These instructions assume you already have MySQL, PHP, Perl, and Apache installed. I believe most of these are present in stock OS X installations, but in my case I’ve upgraded everything manually to more recent versions:

  • Mac OS X 10.6.8
  • PHP 5.3.15
  • Perl 5.10.0
  • Apache 2.2.22
  • MySQL 5.5.17

As an alternative, you could use MAMP which is a packaged, pre-configured compilation of Apache, MySQL, and PHP. You may still need to upgrade some Perl modules, however, as Perl is not included in MAMP.

Important Note: In the instructions below I’m using a lot of settings which should not be used in a production environment (like having a MySQL root user with no password). Since this is a local dev environment, we can take a few shortcuts, but don’t do the same on a live site.


First we’ll set up Apache for our local hosting of Movable Type.

I’m going to host everything under my home directory: mkdir -p /Users/brian/mt/cgi-bin; chmod 777 /Users/brian/mt. We’ll use this path in the examples below, so change it accordingly for your system.

Next, edit the Apache configuration which is based in /etc/apache2. Edit httpd.conf and make the following changes:

  • Find and comment-out the line that starts: ScriptAliasMatch ^/cgi-bin/... (if present)
  • Add a line somewhere to include our custom config: Include /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-mt.conf

Under the /etc/apache2/extra location, create a new file httpd-mt.conf with the directory and virtual host settings:

<Directory "/Users/brian/mt">
AddHandler cgi-script .cgi
AllowOverride None
Options FollowSymLinks +ExecCGI Indexes
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
<VirtualHost *:80>
DocumentRoot "/Users/brian/mt"
ErrorLog "/private/var/log/apache2/mt-error_log"
CustomLog "/private/var/log/apache2/mt-access_log" common
SetEnv DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH /usr/local/mysql/lib/

Next, restart Apache: sudo apachectl -k restart.

Add our virtual host “” to the /etc/hosts file:

To confirm that Apache is set up correctly, visit in a browser. Check /var/log/apache2/ to see content in both of the MT log files and confirm there are no errors.


Next we’ll set up the MySQL user (mt), password (password) and empty database (mt) for Movable Type.

$ mysql -u root
mysql> create user 'mt'@'localhost' identified by 'password';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.07 sec)
mysql> grant all on mt.* to 'mt'@'localhost';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.04 sec)
mysql> create database mt default character set = utf8;
mysql> show grants for 'mt'@'localhost';
| Grants for mt@localhost                                                                                   |
| GRANT USAGE ON *.* TO 'mt'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY PASSWORD '*2470C0C06DEE42FD1618BB99005ADCA2EC9D1E19' |
| GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON `mt`.* TO 'mt'@'localhost'                                                        |
mysql> exit;

Movable Type Download

In the instructions below we’ll download the latest open source Movable Type. (Similar steps could be followed for any of the commercial versions of Movable Type.)

The steps below use the Movable Type “Install via SSH” instructions if you want to follow on. The first step is to download and example the .zip file, then move and set up the directories:

$ wget
$ unzip
$ mv MTOS-5.2/* cgi-bin
$ cd cgi-bin
$ chmod 777 mt-static/support
$ chmod 777 themes
$ cd ..
$ ln -s cgi-bin/mt-static mt-static

Note: If your perl is in a location other than /usr/bin/perl, you will need to edit all of the .cgi files to change the first line.

Movable Type System Check

Now we run the Movable Type system checker script:

This script will check all the required Perl modules. Make sure your Perl configuration has all of the required modules and the database module you intend to use. (In this example I’m using MySQL.) Use Perl CPAN to install additional modules as required.

In my case the Perl modules were pretty straightforward except for DBD::mysql. I finally found the solution (including the SetEnv DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH in Apache config above) from this Stackoverflow answer about Perl CGI not working with MySQL.

Movable Type Configuration

Once we have all the required Perl modules in place, create a config file for MovableType. Copy mt-config.cgi-original to mt-config.cgi and set the appropriate values for the web paths and database settings:

ObjectDriver   DBI::mysql
Database       mt
DBUser         mt
DBPassword     password
DBHost         localhost

With the configuration in place we can login to Movable Type for the first time:

The first step will create the admin login account and password. I suggest using your real email address here to test any of the system messages.

Next is the “Create your first Website” dialog. Make sure to set the website URL and root correctly using the paths above. For example, above we have the Movable Type files in /Users/brian/mt/cgi-bin, and the website root will be /Users/brian/mt.

Finally you should be able to log in to the Movable Type interface. Create a blog and publish it, then confirm you can view it with the local path provided.

Happy hacking!

Understanding Email Security and Privacy

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a good summary of the laws governing email privacy protections in the context of the scandal that led to the resignation of General David Petraeus, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. At the heart of the protections afforded to email is the The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) from 1986. The EFF article explains how ECPA applies in this case, but is seriously outdated and doesn’t seem to offer much protection at all. Emails over 180 days considered “abandoned”? Read versus unread emails handled differently?. The EFF concluded:

Sound confusing? It is. ECPA is hopelessly out of date, and fails to provide the protections we need in a modern era. Your email privacy should be simple: it should receive the same protection the Fourth Amendment provides for your home.

This is clearly a high-profile case, so there may be some hope for the government clarifying these laws to catch up with today’s reliance on electronic communication. The EFF is part of a new campaign calling for reform: Vanishing Rights – Tell Congress Don’t Let Our Right To Privacy Expire. I think it’s a worthwhile effort, but I’m not optimistic for any privacy improvements soon. I don’t see the government voluntarily increasing privacy, especially in this case which could be considered a “success”.

To learn more about protecting your data and communications, I highly recommend reading the EFF guide to Surveillance Self-Defense. Many people may assume they have nothing to worry about because they aren’t expecting to be investigated by the government, but the guide points out a lot of data that’s available to private parties as well through subpoenas. You may think twice about keeping all your email with Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, etc.

Or, you could really go old-school like Janet Napolitano (U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security) and don’t use email at all.

NASCAR Race – Phoenix 2004

Eight years ago this week my wife and I spent the weekend in Phoenix Arizona for the NASCAR race. We had a great connection through my uncle and were able to get Sprint Cup garage passes. (We also had Nationwide garage passes through Yahoo, but our driver didn’t even qualify for the race…)

Here’s one of my favorite pictures from the weekend – Dale Earnhardt, Jr in the Budweiser Chevrolet #8 – the race winner.

Dale Earnhardt Jr

Dale Earnhardt Jr Budweiser #8 – Phoenix Arizona – November 2004

See my whole photo set on Flickr: NASCAR Phoenix 2004