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Easy discussions with Simple Machines Forums

By Ben McGrath on January 17, 2007 (8:00:00 AM)

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Many Web sites host discussion boards to bring together people with common interests, to help diagnose problems, or to gain a following for a project. Popular discussion board software includes phpBB, Invision Power Board, and, on the low end, PunBB. One system that is growing in popularity is Simple Machines Forum (SMF), which offers extended features while keeping to a minimalistic approach.

SMF forked from a project called YaBB SE to add advanced templating to the original software. It is free (as in beer) and distributed under its own license. It claims to have minimal server impact while providing the features and abilities that larger forum systems carry around. The software itself is written in PHP, and uses MySQL databases to store user profiles, post counts, and so on. Its use of server-side includes also allows the forum system to be easily integrated into Web sites.

SMF is lightweight, easy to use, but still full of features. Besides basic community features, such as private messaging, user icons, and individual profiles, SMF has a unique package management system that allows board administrators to update or install modifications with a few clicks. With many other forum systems, the process involves manually editing key files and reuploading. Security issues are not prevalent, but when they pop up, the developers are quick to nip the issues in the bud.

The software logs most major functions, such as an administrator changing a template piece or reordering a page, with the time and the IP address under which they were done. Administration may be "time locked," wherein the action is restricted to only so many tries within a certain time period. Login attempts to regular user accounts from any one IP address can be time locked and limited too.

Click to enlarge
Simple Machines offers administrators several different courses of action for dealing with troublesome users. The system allows for three different types of bans: a full ban, in which the user is kicked off the board; a "no-post ban," which allows the user to view the board and read topics, but not to post replies; or a timed ban, where a user can be banned for anywhere from an hour to days, or longer.

Simple Machines boards support Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) as well. When someone accesses a page using a WAP, WAP2, or I-mode protocol, the software detects that and displays a page that's reduced in size, without unnecessary elements such as borders, larger graphics, or other media. You can view replies, make replies, and browse; however, in my experience, posting new messages and the log in/out functions don't always function properly in a WAP setting. They work fine in WAP2/I-mode, though, which are both essentially equivalent to the WAP environment.

All in all, Simple Machines Forums works well. The system can cater to a large or small community. It's versatile, secure, and easy to set up. If you need help, you can read a list of Frequently Asked Questions at the software's Web site, and communicate with an entire community of other Simple Machines users that can help and answer questions. An online manual gives an overview of almost every function you could need. With helpful developers, a secure system, and tons of possibilities, Simple Machines Forums is a good choice for a community setup.

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on Easy discussions with Simple Machines Forums

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Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 18, 2007 12:21 AM
"One system that is growing in popularity is Simple Machines Forum (SMF)"
No, its not growing in popularity. Nobody really uses SMF.

SMF is licensed under its own restrictive license which is not an Open Source Initiative (OSI) compatible license.

"Any Distribution of this Package, whether as a Modified Package or not, requires express written consent from Simple Machines LLC."

If you want to write about a forum software, then there are a dozen of good forum software that are actually free software / open source.

PunBB is a secure, fast, free, light-weight forum.

<a href="" title=""><nobr>e<wbr></nobr> t_forum_software</a>


Advertise proprietary software

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 18, 2007 12:29 AM
1. This article is about a forum software, it has nothing todo with Linux.
2. This is proprietary software.

Stop advertise proprietary software on

I am starting to believe that the editors over here are worse than the Slashdot editors which lets pretty much anything through and occasionally dupes old articles.


no kidding

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 18, 2007 11:09 AM
To many ads...

Their website does not even work with Firefox correctly. That was as far as I went looking at that junk.


Great software

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on January 19, 2007 02:45 AM
I wanted to thank the editors for informing us about the availability and features of this forum software. The free software zealotrism present in some of the above comments shouldn't act as an obstacle for creating articles about this kind of software.

The guys behind SMF offer us a gratis solution for online forums, with code you can read, learn from, modify for your own needs and tell other people how you modified the code (patches?). You can get in contact with the development team and suggest new features, send them patches, inform them of security problems, etc.

The only drawback is not being able to redistribute the software without prior written permission. And you probably can if you ask. Are you a distribution maintainer? Explain them how you are going to distribute their package and they'll probably give you permission.

Granted, this is not free software, and may or may not be open source software by the OSI definition (probably not), but this is truly related to Linux in the sense that most people who use SMF will do it on Linux. It's like rejecting to have an article about The Gimp because it can also be run on other platforms. The availability of the source code, the free cost and freedom to modify it for your own needs is very acceptable for many of us. Remember many people are using qmail under similar licensing conditions.


Re:SMF Rocks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on May 16, 2007 08:03 PM
Linux stopped being the naughty boyz for several years now. It's corporate world and no new kids on the block are allowed in.
But still from the consumer point of view, Linux evolved nicely.

<a href="" title="">online multiplayer trivia</a>


SMF 2.0

Posted by: Anonymous [ip:] on February 16, 2008 10:25 AM
* [ smf 2.0beta2.1]
* [ smf 2.0beta2.1]
* [ smf 2.0beta2.1]
* [ traduction fr partielle de smf 2.0]
* [ traduction fr partielle de smf 2.0]
* [ traduction fr partielle de smf 2.0]
* [ traduction fr partielle de smf 2.0]


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