What are the different ways to install ClassicPress CMS?

In this post, I will discuss the different ways you can install ClassicPress content management system (CMS). ClassicPress is a fork of WordPress, which happens to be the most widely used content management system. It originally began as a blogging platform, and has evolved into much more than complex over the years. ClassicPress is a relatively new CMS, and while it borrows heavily from WordPress, let us also try and understand the differences between the two.

How this post is organized

  1. Introduction: What is ClassicPress?
  2. What are the advantages of using ClassicPress or WordPress?
  3. What are the limitations of ClassicPress
  4. What are the different ways of installing ClassicPress
    4.1 Table: Different ways to install ClassicPress
    4.2 ClassicPress on Shared Hosting
    4.3 VPS or a virtual private server
    4.4 Replacing WordPress install with ClassicPress
    4.4.1 Using a plugin
    4.4.2 Replacing the stock WordPress folders
  5. Compatibility with Themes and Plugins
  6. Conclusion: is ClassicPress the right content management system for your needs?
  7. Resources

Introduction: What is ClassicPress?

ClassicPress is a fork of  WordPress. The development of this particular fork began because quite a few WordPress developers and members of WordPress community were dissatisfied with the direction in which WordPress was headed once Gutenberg was released. Gutenberg, of course, is the way one can create content within the WordPress menu.It comes with its own set of writing tools and styles, as well as makes it convenient to add media, embed content, and so on. Some people love it. Others absolutely loathe.

I was introduced to ClassicPress when I was looking for alternatives to WordPress around late 2019. Naturally curious, I decided to give this PHP based Content Management System a try. I did not find much difference between WordPress and ClassicPress. Around that time, Gutenberg was not the default in WordPress installs, and 4.9 was the then current version. By then, I had signed up for Gridpane, a WordPress management SAAS provider. Their TOS were very clear- they supported WordPress only, I decided to stick with that platform for this blog as well as my other sites including gaathastory​ In late 2020, I decided to give ClassicPress another try- this time to understand the different ways one could install this CMS.

What are the advantages of using ClassicPress over WordPress?

Dashboard for ClassicPress, a fork of WordPress. Blog of Amar Vyas
Dashboard or admin screen for ClassicPress

ClassicPress version 1 was released in March 2019, and it is compatible with version 4.9 of WordPress. Subsequent versions have tried to keep compatibility with majority of the further revisions to WP. There also is a very good compatibility between several themes and plugins meant for WP. Coming to specific advantages,
i. By elimination of Gutenberg, one major advantage of ClassicPress has lesser bloat compared to WordPress.
ii. Some of the default plugins like akismet and Hello Dolly that get installed with the stock WordPress installation are not found in ClassicPress.
iii. Last but not the least, when you install ClassicPress, you get an option of themes ranging from the standard 2015, 2016 and 2017 themes from Automattic. In addition, you get the child themes for these, developed by the ClassicPress community.

For those who like numbers: According to the results posted on forum or community site for CP, (to be taken with a grain of salt)

CP uses 13% less memory when editing a post.

And loads 29% faster when editing a post.

So you do have a known interface and a known toolset to begin with. There is practically not much difference between the two, even in the folder structure. So practically all the tricks of the trade that you may have learned to use while using WordPress- either as an advanced user or even developer, you would not feel much difference between the two.

Files and folder structure for ClassicPress. Blog of Amar Vyas
Folder structure for ClassicPress follows the same standard,, with wp-content,wp-themes, wp-admin and so on. Even the configuration file is called wp-config. Not all files shown in this picture.

3. What are the Limitations of ClassicPress?

ClassicPress is not without its limitations. First of all, not a lot of people are familiar with ClassicPress. Secondly, not every shared hosting provider may offer installers for this CMS. Thirdly, documentation customisation support, obviously is limited relative to WordPress. However, ClassicPress has a very active community, including developers who have created CP specific themes and plugins.

When it comes to compatibility with a lot of other tools or third party installations or customisations, there could be a limitation in terms of support from those providers. A user may not get the required degree of support from the SAAS provider and they may have to rely more on the community. We will cover compatibility with themes and plugins in a separate section below.

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4. What are the different ways of installing ClassicPress?

There are several ways in which one can install this fork of WordPress. The documentation page on ClassicPress site lists several ways to install this Content Management System. They define it in a simplistic way, as follows:

a. Fresh or clean install

b. Replacing an existing WordPress installation

Setting up a ClassicPress site on shared hosting manually
Different Ways to install ClassicPress

In the below section, we will take a step further and explore more ways of installing ClassicPress for your web hosting and blogging needs.

4.1 Table: Different ways to install ClassicPress

Type of InstallationFresh InstallAdvanced Method
Shared Hosting*Using Installers
(Softaculous, Instaltron)
Manual by uploading
files or via Composer
Virtual Private Server
or VPS
One Click Installers
(e.g. Digital Ocean)
Script based installers:
ols1click
Manual by uploading
files or via Composer
Replace Existing WP Installusing a PluginReplacing WP folders
in shared hosting or VPS
Install on Local Server
(for development or testing)
e.g. apps from
ServerPress or
Bitnami
Manually install
Database, PHP,
ClassicPress**
Atleast six different options from the above list were tested for this blog post

Notes:

  1. A few folks offer custom hosting for WordPress and ClassicPress, a member of CP community has started ClassicPress based hosting called classicpress.space.
  2. Refer to this tutorial for example to learn how you can install WordPress on local linux (or Mac) machine
  3. The github page for OpenLiteSpeed 1 click installer mentions that it is possible to install ClassicPress using the script. I have not been able to do so till now.

4.2 ClassicPress on Shared Hosting

Installing ClassicPress on Shared Hosting can be achieved in multiple ways:
i. New installer using installer like Softaculous

ii. New install by manually uploading the files

iii. Replacing an existing WordPress installation using a plugin

iv. Replacing an existing WordPress installation by replacing the folders

Let us take a quick look at each of these 4 options

i. Using Softaculous

Many hosting providers offer ClassicPress, through one click installers such as Installtron or Softaculous. For writing this post, I tested six different shared hosting providers, who all use Softaculous. Four of these providers use DirectAdmin control panel for shared hosting. Two use cPanel.These providers are:

DirectAdmin + Softaculous: SmallWeb, Nexusbytes, Myw.pt, and Gullo’s

cPanel: Hostmantis and iBrain

I prefer to use ClassicPress on shared hosting, largely because it has a lower resource footprint.You can get away with a smaller shared hosting plan. I would suggest a minimum of 1 gigabyte of SSD space, but do look for providers who offer NVMe. Lightspeed server+cache is recommended though not a requirement. You can always use either an Apache or Nginx based server with caching should handle the job pretty well. For media and largely images and video, you should use most certainly use a content delivery network.

Installing ClassicPress on Shared Hosting

The installation process is very similar to WordPress. In the below example, we will use Softaculous based install. You can select ClassicPress from the search menu, select the domain (or subdomain) and the path to the folder. Admin name and password, as well as email address. Advanced users can customize the database name and prefix. Click on install, and if all goes well, your shiny new ClassicPress installation will be ready in no time. We can also create a staging site for our shiny new site.

Installation of ClassicPress from cPanel. Blog of Amar Vyas
Shared hosting providers offer one click installers for ClassicPress. cPanel installer shown in the image on left. Image courtesy: Web242 Hosting

Setting up a ClassicPress site on shared hosting manually
Creating a Staging Site using Softaculous and ClassicPress

Manual Installation of ClassicPress

Setting up a ClassicPress site

Setting up a ClassicPress site on shared hosting manually

Screenshot from DirectAdmin Control panel at Hostslick shared hosting.

Setting up a ClassicPress site on shared hosting manually

How to migrate an existing WordPress installation to ClassicPress

There are two ways to achieve this. One is using the migration Plugin (steps in detail available at: https://www.classicpress.net/get-classicpress/)

– Download the migration plugin
– Add the plugin to your WordPress installation
– Run the migration

Migration to ClassicPress in Progress

Setting up a ClassicPress site on shared hosting manually

5. Compatibility with Themes, Scripts and Plugins

Plugins

There is very good compatibility between a lot of plugins. ClassciPress has a list of compatible, plugins, many of which I have personally tested. This includes plugins for SEO, for speeding up and caching, as well as embedding content. I have used shortpixel extensively for image optimization. Lightspeed cache works very well. Auto optimizer and others plugins which minimize JavaScript as well as CSS both work without any hiccups.

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Themes

Among the themes, some of the newer ones like Blocksy, Hello Elementor and GeneratePress work very well. So do Hestia and Neve. However, Kadence does not work. Though this list is a drop in the proverbial ocean. But when it comes to the WordPress universe, these are some of the most popular most widely used themes. So you would feel right at home. Unless of course, if you are going for something specific that is custom coded or something that you had tailored for your specific requirements.

Limitations for custom plugins or themes

Some third party installations or customization intended for WordPress may not work well with ClassicPress. Hypothetically speaking, I use StoryChief for some of my blogs. It is quite likely that in case of any compatibility issues or any technical issues. I may not get the required degree of support from the provider I may have to rely more on the community.

Wrapping it up: is ClassicPress the right CMS for you?

ClassicPress define themselves as a business focused CMS, and a lightweight alternative to WordPress. In many ways, I found this to be an accurate description.

Why ClassicPress might be suitable for your needs?
For a new blogger, or a new site for a NGO or a service where the website is for ‘window shopping’, ClassicPress might score over WordPress. When you look at some of the documentation or the notes from the discussion forums, you would notice the advantages of this CMS. Reddit, for example, has a good community on r/classicpress. DigitalOcean has a tutorial on how to use Vesta CP for installing. However, I would recommend using HestiaCP because of better security. Finally, you can install this fork of WordPress on a hosting shared platform of your choice using Installtron or Softaculous. If you are familiar with WordPress the learning curve happens to be minimal.

Why ClassicPress might not be the right CMS for you?
As of now, ClassicPress is not for you if you have a variety of custom scripts or plugins, and your developers are mostly using pagebuilders or hard coding the features. There is good compatibility with Brizy and Elementor, but the some of the other page builders may not work. I have not tried others like Divi or Beaver Builder or Oxygen. I leave that to you to try it out.

One click installers for ClassicPress

Setting up a ClassicPress site on shared hosting manually

The big question Will I use ClassicPress for my own sites? This site (amarvyas.in) runs on WordPress, and is hosted on a VPS that used Gridpane. In the months to come, I am considering moving to classic press. While Gridpane do not support ClassicPress, the near identical setup and configuration between the two content management systems, offers hope. If the results in terms of speed, stability and security are encouraging, I might switch.  For Apache based systems, the .htaccess rules are also similar for the two. Then there is the question of bloat.

I do prefer sites with lesser bloat. On that note, let me leave you with a word about stock theme for ClassicPress. Susty is very lightweight, at seven kilobytes. I will leave you with the link on their philosophy on using frugal resources.

Resources

Top questions asked about ClassicPress

Below is a short list of questions I found to be asked most commonly about ClassicPress. Rather than a FAQ, I thought of leaving them here as is, and let you discover the answers by reading this blog post. Maybe most of them have been answered already!

How to migrate from WordPress to ClassicPress?
How to install ClassicPress with Installatron? Or, How to install ClassicPress Using One-Click Installers?
– Should I use ClassicPress, or the Classic Editor on WordPress?
– Which plugins and themes will work with ClassicPress?
– How can I switch to ClassicPress from WordPress

Links of interest

1. WordPress Versus ClassicPress
2. Roundup of WordPress versus ClassicPress 
3. Reddit (Subreddit) on r/ClassicPress  
4. How To Setup ClassicPress on DigitalOcean using Ubuntu
5. How to configure ClassicPress using VestaCP Note: Please use HestiaCP for better security
7. Using Bedrock script installer for ClassicPress.
8. FAQ and Support – link to ClassicPress Documentation site
9. 10 Reasons to Switch to ClassicPress from WordPress 4.9: 
10. ClassicPress on Github 

How to Install ClassicPress Content Management System. Blog of Amar Vyas
How to Install ClassicPress Content Management System

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