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Sun, Apr 02, 2017 8:49 pm

Color & BgColor Clickable BBCode Bar Mod installation

When I attempted to install the Color & BgColor Clickable BBCode Bar mod on a Simple Machines Forum (SMF) 2.0.13 forum I saw an "Error in Packages" message:

Error in Package Installation
At least one error was encountered during a test installation of this package. It is strongly recommended that you do not continue with installation unless you know what you are doing, and have made a backup very recently. This error may be caused by a conflict between the package you're trying to install and another package you have already installed, an error in the package, a package which requires another package that you don't have installed yet, or a package designed for another version of SMF.

[ More Info ]

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Sun, Apr 17, 2016 10:28 pm

SELinux and CometChat

On a CentOS 7 server, I noticed that setroubleshootd seemed to be using an inordinate percentage of the CPU's time when I ran the top command. When I used the ausearch command to query the audit daemon logs for entries that might have been created by setroubleshootd, I saw references to the cometchat/.htaccess file in a user's directory beneath the directory where her Simple Machines Forum (SMF) software resided. I also found tens of thousands of references to that file in the /var/log/messages file. The server runs Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) and I found that I needed to update the SELinux context for the file to stop such entries being logged.

[ More Info ]

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Sun, Apr 10, 2016 9:03 pm

Upgrading CometChat

I needed to upgrade CometChat on a web site using Simple Machines Forum (SMF) where CometChat provides an online chat feature for users of the forum. The prior version of CometChat was very out-of-date at 4.4.0 - see Checking the version of CometChat installed on a forum for methods for checking the version - The SMF software was at the current version, 2.0.11. Before commencing the installation of the upgrade to the latest version of CometChat, I backed up the database for the SMF forum and all of its files. I was able to successfully install the file that was part of the upgrade package, but so far have not been able to install the file needed to complete the upgrade.

[ More Info ]

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Wed, Apr 06, 2016 10:51 pm

Checking the version of CometChat installed on a forum

If you are using CometChat with a Simple Machines Forum (SMF) to provide an online chat feature for users of the forum and wish to determine the version currently on a Linux system, make the current working directory the one in which CometChat is installed, e.g. cd ~/public_html/myforum/cometchat, if that is the directory where CometChat is installed; the ~ will be translated by the system to represent your "home" directory, i.e, the directory you are placed in when you log into the system. Then search for "currentversion" in the index.php file, which will be found in the admin subdirectory beneath the cometchat directory. In the example below, the version installed is 4.4.0.
$ grep "currentversion" admin/index.php
$currentversion = '4.4.0';

You can also find the version by viewing the contents of the CHANGELOG.txt file in the CometChat directory. The current version will be listed near the top of the file with the new features provided in that version.

$ more CHANGELOG.txt
 CometChat Change Log


+ Jabber/XMPP support
+ Inline popups for plugins/extensions
+ Desktop Messenger support
+ CometService/BeaconPush/APE enabled for chatrooms
+ Facebook chat login with your own Facebook application keys
+ Enhanced and simplified theming
+ Sleaker scroller

The CometChat website has a statement that "We provide support only for the latest stable version. No support is provided for beta or older releases."

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Mon, Feb 15, 2016 10:22 pm

SMF - The package you are trying to install cannot be located

When I attempted to update a Simple Machines Forum (SMF) site from version 2.0.8 to 2.0.9 by choosing SMF 2.0.8 to SMF 2.0.9 upgrade, for the "Package to Upload" under Upload a Package on the Package Manager page for the forum, whch is reachable from the Admin menu, I saw the error message below:

An Error Has Occurred!
Package upload failed due to the following error:
"The package you are trying to install cannot be located. You may want to manually upload the package to your Packages directory."

[ More Info ]

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Sat, Aug 29, 2015 10:44 pm

Install MOD Stop Spammer v2.3.9 in other themes

The Stop Spammer mod can be used on a Simple Machines Forum (SMF) site in conjuction with the httpBL mod to deny spammers access to a forum. The package uses the Stop Forum Spam site's database of spammers, which tracks IP addreses, email addresses and usernames used by forum spammers.

To use the package, you need to obtain an API key from the Stop Forum Spam site; you will provide that key at the settings page for the mod once you have installed the package. You can view your keys at the Stop Forum Spam API Keys page.

When you install the package, you can choose to install it for some or all of the themes installed on the site. During the installation, the following three files will be installed in the images/icons/ directory for the themes that you choose during the Stop Spammer mod installation:


E.g., if I chose to install the mod for the "Blue Moonlight" theme, the following would appear during the installation process:

Blue Moonlight
Extract File ./Themes/Blue_Moonlight_SMF2/images/icons/spammer.gif
Extract File ./Themes/Blue_Moonlight_SMF2/images/icons/suspect.gif
Extract File ./Themes/Blue_Moonlight_SMF2/images/icons/moreinfo.gif

You can get to the setings page for the package by putting index.php?action=admin;area=regcenter;sa=settings at the end of the URL for the forum.

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Thu, Aug 27, 2015 10:37 pm

httpBL Viewlog Error

Tonight I finally had time to locate and fix the cause of a viewlog error message I had been seeing when attempting to view the httBL logs for a Simple Machines Forum (SMF) site. The problem was caused by the httpBL.template.php file in the Themes/default directory being empty, i.e., a zero byte file. When I replaced it with the file by that name from the zip file I downloaded to use for the httpBL installation, the problem disappeared.

[ More Info ]

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Sun, Aug 23, 2015 9:31 pm

Problems encountered when installing httpBL

To combat forum spammers attempting to register on a Simple Machines Forum (SMF) site, I installed the httpBL package (also available from the SMF mods page on this site). The mod uses the http:BL API from Project Honey Pot to stop spammers from accesing your forum. Instructions for installing and using it are at Adding httpBL to Block Forum Spammers.

I encountered several problems while installing the package. The first one was when I attempted to install it for all themes on the site. I had installed 18 additional themes for the site. The install process indicated an issue with only one of the themes, the Excellent Love theme. An install test failed for that theme. When I investigated the cause of the problem I found it was due to a file in the theme having line endings appropriate for a text file on a Mac OS X system, but I was installing it on a Linux system. I resolved that problem by converting the line endings, i.e, the "newlines", in the file to the appropriate one for a Linux system as explained in Test failed for Excellent Love theme for httpBL install.

After resolving the problem with the theme, I encountered another problem installing the software. I saw a Database Error message stating that the log_httpBL table didn't exist for the forum, which took me a long time to track down and fix.

Then once I had the software installed and the mod's page indicated it was working ok, when I attempted to view the httpBL logs by going to the Administration Center then selecting Members, then MOD httpBL, and then selecting one of the logs, or from the MOD httBL page when I selected Spammers Log, Humans Log, or Errors Log, I saw the following error message:

An Error Has Occurred!
Unable to load the 'viewlog' template.

Checking for where the error mesage might be found, I saw the following:

$ grep -rwl "Unable to load" --include=*.php

The error message is coming from Themes/default/languages/index.english.php. In that file, I see the following:

$txt['theme_template_error'] = 'Unable to load the \'%1$s\' template.';

When I checked to see where theme_template_error occurred, I found the following:

$ grep -rwl "theme_template_error" --include=*.php

The Project Honey Pot site is unavailable at the moment. If I visit the website at, I see the following error message:

502 Bad Gateway

Since the httpBL mod logs contain information on IP addresses retrieved from the Project Honey Pot dabase, perhaps because the site is unavailable the logs can not be displayed at the moment.

Update: when the Project Honey Pot site became available again I still experienced the problem viewing the httpBL logs. I finally traced the cause of the problem to a zero byte httpBL.template.php file. Replacing that file fixed the problem.

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Sat, Aug 22, 2015 10:31 pm

Forum Spammers

After setting up a Simple Machines Forum (SMF) site, I found a spammer registered from a Ukrainian IP address before I even registered the administrator account for the forum. I changed the forum configuration so that new members must be approved by the administrator and then installed themes for the forum. When I had completed installing themes, I noticed an attempt to register on the forum by five other spammers.
IDusernameEmail AddressIP Address

When I searched the Stop Forum Spam site, I didn't find the username boersmaizc listed, but I did find the email address listed with many entries from the IP address listed. The IP address is assigned to OpaTelecom in Ukraine. There were many instances of the solarnicole email address being used by the spammer from the address, but also instances of that email address being associated with IP addresses in Argentina (, China (,,,,,, and, Finland (, France (, Hong Kong (, Kahzakhstan (, Russia (, Thailand (, and the United States ( - PDF. The IP address in France was marked as "Toxic IP address or "bad" email domain".

There was another Ukrainian IP address in the list,, in the same block of IP addresses, -

Another Ukrainian IP address on the list was A search at the Réseaux IP Européens website revealed that IP address was assigned to PE Radashevsky Sergiy Oleksandrovich (ISP ReedLan). RIPE is the regional internet registry for Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Another Ukrainian IP address,, from the same - block of addresses was in the list.

The remaining IP address was, which the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), a RIR, linked to Zhou Pizhong in North Kansas City, Missouri. A Stop Forum Spam search showed many entries for that IP address, which it associated with the United States, for August 22 with many prior entries as well.

All of the entries were awaiting membership approval; I deleted all of them. When I did so, I noticed another attempt to register from a Ukrainian IP address, I deleted that one as well.

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Sat, Aug 22, 2015 12:37 pm

Ukrainian forum spammer at

I set up a Simple Machines Forum (SMF) forum today using SMF 2.0.10, the latest supported release of the software. When I logged into the forum immediately after setting it up there was already one spam posting, which was a long block of text with many spam links within it.

When I viewed the member information for the spammer, I saw the following:


In the spam posting, I found a link to the website from "true religion jeans outlet" along with a lot of other links.

When I checked the spammer's profile information, I saw the following:

Posts:1 (N/A per day)

Date Registered:Today at 08:32:47 AM
Local Time:August 22, 2015, 09:44:49 AM
Last Active:Today at 08:32:52 AM

The signature the spammer had on his profile was "oakley glasses" which was a link to The registration time for the spammer was listed as 8:32:47 AM. When I checked the registration time for the administrator account I created when setting up the forum, it was 08:34:58 AM, so the spammer posted two minutes prior even to the registration of the administrator account.

The 2.1 version of SMF allows one to restrict registrations during the installation process to require admin approval, but that isn't part of the installation procedure for 2.0 versions. Instead, you need to log into the forum as an administrator after installing the software and change the registration option so that members can't register immediately. I did change the setting immediately after logging in as the administrator to Admin Approval by clicking on Admin, selecting Features and Options, then Members , then Registration, then Settings. The choices for registration are as follows:

With "Immediate Registration" as the default option when the forum software is installed, spammers can post spam if you don't act quickly to change the option. But even though I logged in as the administrator immediately after completing the installation and changed the option, I was still too late to prevent this particular spammer from posting spam.

On the profile page for the spammer, I selected Actions and then Ban this user. I then selected an expiration period of Never for a full ban for the spammer. For Triggers, I left "Ban on Email Address (e.g. *" selected with the email address he used and also left "Ban on Username" selected with his username, uwzedekzk. I also selected "Ban on IP (e.g., 192.168.10-20.*)" selected for his IP address, which was Then from his profile page, I again selected Actions and then chose "Delete this account".

When I performed a Stop Forum Spam site search, I didn't find the spammer's username nor email address listed, but I found a large number of entries for the IP address for August 22, 2015. The spammer used many usernames where the names were just random strings of characters and the email addresses likewise used random strings of characters, but all using "". The Stop Forum Spam Contry Check - Ukraine page currently shows "7775469 entries in our database from Ukraine (20.31 percent of total)", i.e., about 1/5 of forum spam is originating from Ukrainian spammers. The Spam sources by country page currently shows that their statistics for the last year show spam originating from Ukrainian IP address space in 51.7% of the spam reports (PDF).

Since the spammer uses random email addresses and usernames, I removed the email check from the SMF spammer check, leaving just the IP address check by selecting Members and then Ban list. The Stop Forum Spam site search reported "Found 1000 entries for "". I saw a prior incident with a Ukraninian forum spammer r little over 5 years ago, in July of 2010, when a Ukrainian spammer manged to post spam to one of my wife's forums.

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