Host Your Own Gallery With Coppermine

We have a lot of apps to upload and manage images on the web. Web apps like Picasa, Flickr, Smugmug etc. offer free plans to upload images and share them with others but they aren’t without their limitations. Free accounts are always associated with a maximum file size limit, low quality of converted images and a feeling that your private moments reside in a third party server.

Got a webserver and some bandwidth to burn? Read on to learn how to set up and manage Coppermine Gallery, a self-hosted image management solution.

Overview

Overview

Overview

Coppermine Gallery is a multi-purpose fully featured and integrated web picture gallery script written in PHP using GD or ImageMagick as image library with a MySQL backend. Coppermine Gallery is free and open source with a very active development cycle and a vibrant community. Coppermine Gallery isn’t a run of the mill gallery app but is indeed a powerful image management system. Support for multiple languages, a comprehensive user management system and custom templates are some of the major attractions of Coppermine Gallery.

Requirements

Coppermine Photo Gallery is robust and is known to run on legacy systems as well as bleeding edge server configurations. For example Coppermine Gallery has been tested to work well on IIS, Apache 1.x onwards to the latest Apache 2. As for operating systems Linux, UNIX, OSX, and Win32 systems are all good. The following settings are required:

  • A Webserver (Apache recommended);
  • PHP (4.2.0 or better);
  • MySQL (3.23.23 or better; 4.x recommended);
  • either GD or ImageMagick (any version);

Getting Started

Installation

Even though there are ten steps to go through, Coppermine Gallery allows for painless installation with a simple point and click installation wizard. Extract the files to the domain root from where the script is supposed to run and point your browser to the installer eg. http://appstorm.net/install.php

Permissions Check Screen

Permissions Check Screen

Agree to the License terms and select a language of your choice. There’s hardly any input required from you in the second and third steps as they are for the script to check if the server settings are alright and the folders are writable. If you see an error message, use the FTP to change the folder permission to 777. In the fourth step choose between GD and ImageMagick (whichever is installed in the server). Coppermine Gallery will check if the one you selected work properly in the next step.

Database Information

Database Information

Sixth is the step that needs your undivided attention. Enter the database connection information and check if the connection is established before proceeding further. You can pretty much ignore the seventh step (which asks if you want to create and use a new database) if step six was successful.

Creating an Admin Account

Creating an Admin Account

The database is automatically populated with tables in the eighth step and in the pen ultimate step, create an admin account for you.

Creating Albums

First Launch

First Launch

After the ten steps, you will be taken to the Coppermine Gallery home page. It would be totally empty and let us go ahead and start adding some pictures. You will have to login to do anything useful with the app. Images cannot be uploaded without an album. So head over to the Album Manager to create one.

Creating an Album

Creating an Album

You can either create a standalone album or associate it with a category. Each album can have its own set of properties. There are three major features in Coppermine Gallery Album Properties. First is the Album Keyword. An Album Keyword is used to link images from other album into another. Using this method, files/images can be displayed in various albums while the file itself need only exists in one album on your webserver. You simply upload a file to one album as you would normally do, then assign one or more keywords to the file.

Updating Album Properties

Updating Album Properties

The next two features are user management and control related. You can password protect the album and allow only users from a only particular group (more on user groups later) to access the album.

Uploading Images

Adding Images to an Album

Adding Images to an Album

You can select multiple images in one go using the Ctrl button in the keyboard. All selected images will show up in the Upload Queue. Once the images are uploaded, they will show up as thumbnails at the bottom of the page.

Upload Queue

Upload Queue

Hit Continue to manipulate the Image Properties. Common actions like adding name, description and tags to the images can be done here.

Image Properties

Image Properties

Since all the images from the upload queue are displayed, there will be a lot of fields & check boxes and hence ensure that you update the details of the right image.

Creating & Managing Users

User Manager

User Manager

Coppermine Gallery has a user management system that rivals that of a full blown CMS. You can create multiple users and put them into multiple groups each with varying levels of access.

Creating a User Group

Creating a User Group

Creating a User Group is extremely simple as all the options involve toggling radio buttons. You can allot each user group an upload limit beyond which they can’t add anymore images. Alternatively, there are options to bar a usergroup from uploading or viewing images at all. You can allow users to create their own personal albums that won’t be visible in public. You have the ability to revoke user access to Rating, Comments and sending ecards.

Final Thoughts

I could go on singing the praises of Coppermine Gallery. It is the fruit of years of hardwork from a dedicated team of developers. I have personally used the app from time to time and am totally happy to see how far things have come in the past few years. While the features are added at the pace of a rocket, user interface refinements seems to have taken a bullock cart.

Yes, there is a significant improvement from what we had in the previous versions, but the interface still looks Web 1.25 ish. And a ten step installer, though simple, could intimidate a newbie. A lot of steps can be merged giving way for a leaner installer.

Share Your Thoughts!

How much do you like Coppermine Gallery? Will you be willing to forgo Flickr or Picasa for a self hosted solution?


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