Website

This website is powered by WordPress, using the free Minimatica theme, and is hosted by NearlyFreeSpeech.net.  In this post, I outline some notes which may be helpful for someone working on a similar website.

Hosting

This site is hosted on nearlyfreespeech.net.  I chose them because they

  • have extremely transparent pay-what-you-use pricing which is competitive if you are a large site, but costs you basically nothing if you are a small site
  • get out of your way and let you have direct access to the space and processes they host for you, with no helpers, wizards, redirects, or templates (this may not be a feature for everyone)
  • have very good documentation written, and maintained, by engineers, instead of marketing people
  • are very strong proponents of civil liberties and intellectual properties rights, and are unlikely to take down your website on the basis of a spurious DMCA violation claim.

I would like to see more people choose them, to encourage this kind of business model (which is why I put this section on my website).

Installing WordPress

I followed my host’s instructions for installing WordPress.  They were quite well-written and worked perfectly, but are behind a login wall, so I can’t share them. Your host probably has similar instructions available.

In brief, they were to:

  1. SSH into my server, and download and unpack WordPress via SVN.
  2. Set file groups and permissions so that WordPress could modify the wp-content directory, and the wp-admin/media-upload.php file.
  3. Create a new MySQL process and database, and an associate user, running on my host.
  4. Use the web-based WordPress installation.

Installing (and modifying) Minimatica

From within the WordPress web interface, I searched for and installed Minimatica.  The theme as default is close to what I want, but I did make some changes to the theme files.

It is possible to modify your theme files through the WordPress web interface (instead of through an SSH terminal, or downloading, modifying, and uploading the files).  To do so, you’ll have to change the permissions on your wp-content/themes/minimatica directory so that it is writable by WordPress (similarly to step 2 in the section above).  This leaves your site in a fairly vulnerable state from a security point of view, so change the permissions back when you’re done.

To remove the “Posted by Admin” text on each entry on a category page, I edited loop.php.  I commented out the php_e statements for ‘By’ and ‘on’ (near the top of the file) but left the statement which produces the date, which I wanted to see.

I discovered that the featured image of each post is what shows up on the slider on the main page.  However, I often wanted to use a specific crop of an image in the slider, and a different, full version inside the post itself.  Unfortunately, the featured image is automatically shown in the top of each post.  To remove the featured image from the top of a standard post, I modified content.php by commenting out the first href and the php it contains (there are two references to “thumbnail”, which is how Minimatica names the featured image.

I wanted to globally disable comments, and remove even the “Comments Closed” statement on each post.  I read a suggestion to simply comment out the entire contents of comment.php, but that still left horizontal lines above and below the comments space.  Instead, I modified content.php to comment out the comments call near the end.  Peculiarly, when I closed my comment tag, the close tag was rendered on the page where the removed comment box formerly was; when I left my comment tag unclosed, everything worked fine.  This is untidy but works.  (Additionally untidy: this only removes comments for standard posts, not image posts, and unless you turn off comments for each post, the formatting in the post becomes malformed.)  Clearly a better solution is needed.

To shorten the meta information block on each post (since I already was removing ‘by admin’ statements everywhere else) I modified content.php by commenting out the entries in the unordered list (tag ‘ul’) in the class=”entry-meta” near the middle of the file.

To remove the search box on every page, I simply modified the widgets page to remove it from the footer, through the web interface; no file changes needed.

To create the “next” and “previous” links on each post, I modified loop-single based on this post.

References

The forums on Minimatica are active and the author responds to questions.

Greg Aitkenhead has posted a detailed guide on setting up a different kind of site using Minimatica.

Always consult the Codex.

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