A couple weeks back, I downloaded a PHP/MySQL-based online photo album package called Coppermine. At the time, I was looking for kind of a be-all-end-all-do-everything solution to managing all of our digital photos and publishing them on the web. I installed it and gave it a go last week. Installation was straightforward as soon as I got the MySQL tablespace properly configured. Once it was ready to go, I uploaded some pics to it.

The Coppermine documentation is very much geared towards users with web hosting services, as opposed to people like me who run their own servers. It took me a bit of sifting through directions like “use FTP to upload the pictures to your web hosting service”, before I figured out that all I need to do is place the photos in a directory that my Apache installation can read and write to. Once I did that, I fired up Coppermine’s import tool. And waited. And waited. And waited.

It appears that during the import process, Coppermine runs “convert” (from ImageMagick) on each file to create thumbnails and “intermediate” sized images. From running “top” on my server, it looks like it fires off four “convert” processes at a time (this may be configurable). This process is a bit slow on my crusty old 450mhz server box. So it looks like if I’m going to be importing hundreds of photos, I’m going to need to run this on a machine with a bit more juice. It probably doesn’t help that the web server is currently accessing the photos over an NFS mount.

However, once the import finishes and the photos are online, the viewer works pretty well. I think for now, I’ll scale back my ambitions and just use Coppermine to publish photos I want to share. I’ll move them to a local disk on the web server box, and then I’ll just pick and choose the photos I want to upload to it. I think it’ll do very nicely in that configuration.

More later..

Followup.. Desperately in need of a photo browser for my Linux box, I looked around and found xnview. The Motif interface is a little dated, but it works very nicely and it’s fast. It supposedly also works on Windows and Mac. I played around some more with Coppermine and found that it has a user-level upload tool, where I can upload pictures through the browser. Pretty cool.