Upgrading phpBB SEO 3.0 to phpBB 3.3

With migrating my sites to a Cyberpanel VPS, I realized it was time to update my old phpBB SEO forums.  phpBB 3.0.x is not compatible with php 7 and up.  The cyberpanel install with Vultr is built on Ubuntu 20.04.  I think they got rid of php5 with Ubuntu 18.

I had a few choices:
1. Deploy a new server with centos 7 or 8, which apparently has php5 support.  Install cyberpanel and migrate my sites over.  While this may be a fun exercise (not), my bigger concern is trying to revive php5 to keep my old software functioning.

2. Find a way to install php5 on Ubuntu 20.04.  It seems there is a way to do this that doesn’t look too hard.  That still leaves the problem of using an outdated version of php.

3. Migrate my forum to either a new version of phpBB, or an alternative forum.  This was the most appealing option and I spent quite a bit of time exploring.  I’m very particular in SEO related functioning of a website, so I wanted to make sure I could keep all of the original URLs if possible.  In the end, I decided it made the most sense to migrate to phpBB 3.3.7 with an updated version of the SEO extension I had installed.  I did consider bbPress and WPForo.  That’s probably best to save for another day.

Migrating from a very old version of phpBB to the current version was not horrible, but I did run into a few issues.  Others before me had run into the same issues, so I benefitted from finding their solutions.

I followed the instructions here for migrating from phpBB 3.0.x to phpBB 3.3.x.

Aside from the SEO mod, I didn’t have many mods installed.  I was still a little concerned with cleaning the database, as it would remove a few of the custom URL’s that I had created in the past for some of the board threads.  I figured I could always find a way to import that table from the original database, but I’m still a relative beginner with using mysql.

I used the recommended support toolkit to clean the database, deleted all the old files, uploaded all the new files, and then ran the updater.  I did run into a few errors.  The first one was the “A module already exists” error.  and “the installed detected a timeout” error.  Fortunately, someone had posted the solution to those problems here.  I knew enough using my phpmyadmin to delete the problematic tables and then to clean the phpbb_migrations table to fix the timeout error.  I had to do it several times for each of the identified modules that gave errors.

Next, I got this error:

General Error:SQL ERROR [ mysqli ]Unknown column 'user_msnm' in 'field list' [1054]SQLSELECT user_id, user_msnm FROM phpbb_users WHERE user_msnm " ORDER BY user_id LIMIT 250 in file /home/site.com/public_html/phpbb/db/driver/driver.php on line 1023

One thread said this error is from having old files left over and that making sure to replace all of the required files with the 3.3.x files.  I was sure mine were updated, so that wasn’t the problem for me.  The solution that worked for me was in this thread.

DELETE FROM phpbb_migrations WHERE migration_name = "\\phpbb\\db\\migration\\data\\v310\\profilefield_wlm";

After that, it completed the database update.

Amazingly, almost everything worked.  I did run into a few specific issues.  I’ll post them separately.

If you had similar issues and found other solutions that worked, please share!

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