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"Murphy was an optimist!"

The Magento Headache December 10, 2009 11:37 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life
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I’ve had 3 people ask if I could support Magento, the open source e-commerce application that is the current rage. It is good for midsized businesses. According to today’s reading, small sized operations are better off with a different application as the complexity of customizations and updates on Magento are more costly than a small operation should consider. I can attest that Magento is a pain to configure. What seemed like should have been a quick infusion of data into a database and a simple installation process including a config file or two and this thing should be running. No, never that simple. I allotted two hours today to install and evaluate Magento. Instead, I reached the end of the day with my head throbbing; eyes tired, red and watery; and nerves on edge resulting in an undeserved burst of anger on Noah. I’ve read dozens of tech articles, forums, and blogs, and tried installing Magento on my dev server as well as my shared hosting server. Both simply return a "500 Internal Server Error." I have not exhausted my efforts and still feel I need to know Magento. I will get it installed!

Update: I ran the Magento server check script and found my hosted server at 1and1 meets the requirements for Magento and my development server is lacking one component. Coincidentally, the magento-check.php file produced a 500 Internal Server Error on both the dev server and the hosted server until I renamed the .htaccess to something else. It would appear there is a problem in the .htaccess. This should be easy to troubleshoot now.
Update 2: My error logs indicate "DirectoryIndex not allowed here" The Magento forums suggest altering httpd.conf to have "AllowOverride All"
Update 3: This barebones guide to installing Magento at 1and1 helped.
Update 4: Success! I now have a demo installation of Magento running. This will lead to many good things.

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1. Unirgy - December 11, 2009

Some servers disallow index.php permissions to be laxer than 755 or 775.
Did you try chmod 755 both /index.php and /js/index.php ?
That’s the most common cause of 500 Internal Server Error from my experience.

2. Doug McCaughan - December 11, 2009

Thanks! I’ll check the permissions again. Spent a lot of time on those. I haven’t run magento-check yet as I discovered that late in the day. I’m hoping it shows me where I’ve gone wrong.

3. PBCookie - December 28, 2010

Any updates on how this is going for you? I really wanted to use Magento, especially when I saw their very impressive list of well-known companies that chose them. You’d think they’d choose the best there is right? HOWEVER, I got over the installation nightmare quickly enough. (I still get error 500s btw, but found refreshing the page 3-5 times does the trick) When I started adding products . . . that’s where the headache began. Ex.: to add say a shirt with multiple colors, you must first create an attribute, then an attribute set, then a “simple product” for every color variation, and THEN the final product and associate it with the attribute set and simple products. All so you can have a stupid dropdown box that says “Pick a color: Red, green, or blue”. That’s just for colors alone. Can you imagine doing this for a pair of jeans that come in a size 0-14?? Nightmare. This MUST be done individually, and unless you have another product with the exact same options, you must do all these steps for each product you create. Imagine having a store with 6 categories, and 54 products in each category! After adding the 9th product, I’m about ready to throw in the towel and look for another solution.

4. Doug McCaughan - December 30, 2010

Nope, I never beat it. I let the project go to another developer. I haven’t given up on my desire to use Magento but I’m going to have to ease into it.

5. Mitch - December 1, 2011

I condider myself pretty techie and have configured numerous ecommerce sites as well as Joomla and I have to say Magento sucks!

6. Doug McCaughan - December 4, 2011

I think Magento had great potential but I’ve lost interest in it.

7. PBCookie - December 4, 2011

You’re not alone. I got so frustrated with Magento, I gave up on ecommerce altogether (at least for now), and just decided to save up and open a small brick and mortar. I could go into details on all the headache that led up to this decision, but I grow tired just thinking about it. The rumors about it being terrible for SEO are completely true (even with their new hosted solution), how outdated it is… yawn – and so on. The only good thing about it is it’s front end customization abilities, but it’s not worth all the negatives.


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