Migrate a phpBB3 forum to Discourse

I had this same error. I believe it happens when one gets a stale shared/standalone/import/mysql/imported file. Deleting that file cleared the error.


Migrating passwords apparently didn’t work for me.

I set passwords: true in shared/standalone/import/settings.yml before importing from a phpbb 3.0 dump. I have this in containers/app.yml

    - exec:
        cd: $home/plugins
          - git clone https://github.com/discourse/docker_manager.git
          - git clone https://github.com/discoursehosting/discourse-migratepassword.git

and I ran ./launcher rebuild app after the import. The import seems to have worked entirely, except that I cannot log in with my password from phpbb. There weren’t any relevant error messages that I spotted from the import, and the password is 20 characters long, so should clear the minimum length limit.

What should I be looking for to troubleshoot this?

A bit more information: I see import_pass entries in the user_custom_fields table of the database that match password hashes that were in the phpbb database, so that part seems to have worked?

Edit: Oh ho, I figured out what happened. I had completely forgotten that we had switched to LDAP authentication for phpbb… The passwords I imported were totally fine, just 15 years old! So now I need to knock something together to extract the password hashes from LDAP instead… :slight_smile:

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Hi everyone,

Did someone made an import with attachment recently?

The users, posts work perfectly but the attachment don’t get added to the posts

I still have the bbcode in some posts


The weird thinh is that the content of the files folder get transferred in the discourse’s uploads folder

First, I though it was because the 3.0.12 phpbb’s version was too old but I upgraded phpBB to 3.0.14, cleaned Discourse and uploads folder, and tried the import again. No luck.

I upgraded the phpbb version to 3.2.0 (after running their support toolkit to clean the database of the mods) on a test server, still no luck.

Before investigating further on my database, I wanted to be sure that the script works for everyone

I don’t think I’ve made a mistake on my settings file, but maybe a fresh look on this might help

# This is an example settings file for the phpBB3 importer.

  type: MySQL # currently only MySQL is supported
  host: localhost
  port: 3306
  username: root
  schema: phpbb
  table_prefix: phpbb_ # Change this, if your forum is using a different prefix. Usually all table names start with phpbb_
  batch_size: 1000 # Don't change this unless you know what you're doing. The default (1000) should work just fine.

  # Set this if you import multiple phpBB forums into a single Discourse forum.
  # For example, when importing multiple sites, prefix all imported IDs
  # with 'first' to avoid conflicts. Subsequent import runs must have a
  # different 'site_name'.
  # site_name: first

  # Create new categories
  # For example, to create a parent category and a subcategory.
  # new_categories:
  # - forum_id: foo
  #   name: Foo Category
  # - forum_id: bar
  #   name: Bar Category
  #   parent_id: foo
  new_categories: []

  # Category mappings
  # For example, topics from phpBB category 1 and 2 will be imported
  # in the new "Foo Category" category, topics from phpBB category 3
  # will be imported in subcategory "Bar category", topics from phpBB
  # category 4 will be merged into category 5 and category 6 will be
  # skipped.
  # category_mappings:
  #   1: foo
  #   2: foo
  #   3: bar
  #   4: 5
  #   6: SKIP
  category_mappings: {}

  # Tag mappings
  # For example, imported topics from phpBB category 1 will be tagged
  # with 'first-category', etc.
  # tag_mappings:
  #   1:
  #   - first-category
  #   2:
  #   - second-category
  #   3:
  #   - third-category

  # Rank to trust level mapping
  # Map phpBB 3.x rank levels to trust level
  # Users with rank at least 3000 will have TL3, etc.
  # rank_mapping:
  #   trust_level_1: 200
  #   trust_level_2: 1000
  #   trust_level_3: 3000

  # WARNING: Do not activate this option unless you know what you are doing.
  # It will probably break the BBCode to Markdown conversion and slows down your import.
  use_bbcode_to_md: false

  # This is the path to the root directory of your current phpBB installation (or a copy of it).
  # The importer expects to find the /files and /images directories within the base directory.
  # You need to change this to something like /var/www/phpbb if you are not using the Docker based importer.
  # This is only needed if you want to import avatars, attachments or custom smilies.
  phpbb_base_dir: /shared/import/data

    # this is needed for rewriting internal links in posts
    original: ***.com   # without http(s)://
    new: https://****.org       # with http:// or https://

  # Enable this, if you want to redirect old forum links to the the new locations.
    categories: true  # redirects   /viewforum.php?f=1            to  /c/category-name
    topics: true      # redirects   /viewtopic.php?f=6&t=43       to  /t/topic-name/81
    posts: false      # redirects   /viewtopic.php?p=2455#p2455   to  /t/topic-name/81/4
    # Append a prefix to each type of link, e.g. 'forum' to redirect /forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=43 to /t/topic-name/81
    # Leave it empty if your forum wasn't installed in a subfolder.

    uploaded: true  # import uploaded avatars
    gallery: false   # import the predefined avatars phpBB offers
    remote: false   # WARNING: This can considerably slow down your import. It will try to download remote avatars.

  # When true: Anonymous users are imported as suspended users. They can't login and have no email address.
  # When false: The system user will be used for all anonymous users.
  anonymous_users: true

  # Enable this, if you want import password hashes in order to use the "migratepassword" plugin.
  # This will allow users to login with their current password.
  # The plugin is available at: https://github.com/discoursehosting/discourse-migratepassword
  passwords: false

  # By default all the following things get imported. You can disable them by setting them to false.
  bookmarks: true
  attachments: true
  private_messages: false
  polls: false

  # When true: each imported user will have the original username from phpBB as its name
  # When false: the name of each imported user will be blank unless the username was changed during import
  username_as_name: false

  # Map Emojis to smilies used in phpBB. Most of the default smilies already have a mapping, but you can override
  # the mappings here, if you don't like some of them.
  # The mapping syntax is: emoji_name: 'smiley_in_phpbb'
  # Or map multiple smilies to one Emoji: emoji_name: ['smiley1', 'smiley2']
    # here are two example mappings...
    smiley: [':D', ':-D', ':grin:']
    heart: ':love:'
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This specifically happens if import_phpbb3.sh doesn’t find the phpbb_mysql.sql file in the correct path.

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I presume this applies to phpBB too, as I’m trying to import dumps ranging from v3.2.x to v3.3.3 but missing parent posts are in the thousands. Even with multiple runs and multiple sequential version backups. For debug simplicity the script could output the url for the message ID to the old forum for reference checking. (… viewtopic.php?p=57912)

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Actually since we’re at this, why not log all failed import rows with their error messages in a dump file to share for analysis… just a thought…

At least one occasion is where there is a topic viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1472 but the first post viewtopic.php?p=145185 has been deleted/removed/etc and now the first post for the topic is viewtopic.php?p=145186 which is “a reply”

Maybe for clarity actually state whether the parent topic is literally not found in the dump or just haven’t been imported to the reconstruction.

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I’d still take a little feedback to know if everyone managed to do a full import with attachments recently. I can’t make this work.

Right now, I just don’t know if it comes from the script or the database from the phpbb forum :pray:

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Did you download the images and put them in the right place?

I’ve not don’t it lately, but I’d be surprised if it doesn’t work.

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Yes I double checked the folders and the settings file, the weird thing is that they are getting imported in the default/original folders, but not integrated in the posts.

It was a really old phpbb, with some plugins. I did a little cleanup and successfully upgraded from phpbb 3.0.12 to the latest 3.1 or 3.2, tested an import for each version, but it didn’t work. It may be an issue with the database. That’s why, if you manage to succeed in a full import next time, that would be helpful to hear from you. If it’s the database from phpbb, I’ll do some heavy digging with some help, if it’s the script, I can wait. Thanks for your message!

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I don’t remember the last time I did a phpBB3 import, I suspect (but have no way of knowing) because the script works so well.

Since they are getting uploaded to discourse the issue is likely how they are referred to in the posts in phpbb. Do you see any errors when it runs? They could offer hints. Or maybe the plugins changed how they are in the posts and /or database. You’ll probably have to do some digging.


I had a few “missing files”, “bad post time”, I had these during my previous imports so I don’t think it’s a big issue. I also have a lot of “Parent post doesn’t exist” on the first run, but it was mentionned earlier in this thread, and a second run of the script fix this.

Other than that, the script ran pretty good, without any major issue.

There was a plugin (mostly a htaccess file apparently, I didn’t run this forum) to arrange the files in subfolders (per months and year), but I organized it on the same folder and the upgrades on a clean version of phpbb worked fine. All the imported files were active on a phpbb 3.1, 3.2.

I’ll dig a little bit deeper on the database, I might have a sql file from an old import. I’ll compare the attachments and posts tables on my test server. Maybe there’s a thing I missed.


You’re correct, there has been a bug in TextProcessor::process_attachments that causes attachments to not get embedded in the post Markdown. I’ve filed a PR.


Great job, after the two passes, the import looks great. Thanks!


Hi, I just imported about 35k posts; during import I noticed a lot of “Parent post XXXXXX doesn’t exist. Skipping”, and when process ended, in the Discourse forum I had all (I think) the “topics”, but with no answer at all. Practically, it imported just the topic, not the posts (except for the first one with the text of the topic itself).
Also, no avatar was imported, event though I put them in the correct tree under “import” folder.

The original forum was in phpBB2, regularly imported and visible with all its posts in phpBB3, but I deleted many old messages previously; however, all seems ok in phpBB3.

Any suggestion? Is there some import script I can check?

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It’s been like that since a few weeks/months, but don’t worry, the import will be completed after running the import_phpbb3.sh command again


Thanks a lot! It worked for the posts, not for avatars. I continue looking for a fix.

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I read the topic multiple times and did a few migrations, but each time I’ve been confused with this plugin and have encountered similar bugs. I’m on my third migration and it drove me crazy. I think how this plugin work can confuse users that do migrations.

It should be specified somewhere that the plugin should be activated on Discourse after the migration process. If it’s already written somewhere, I may have missed it and maybe this information should be emphasized.

Please correct me if I’m wrong. :slight_smile:

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I’m reporting a fix for the smiley conversion for the import from phpBB 3.0.7.

  • Some smilies weren’t properly converted to Discourse:

    (but not always, for some reason; some identical emojis were sometimes displayed, sometimes not. It seemed random at first)

  • Also, some emojis simply vanished:

The issue came from the regex used in replace_smilies(text) from

Faulty regex:

<!-- s(\S+) --><img src="\{SMILIES_PATH\}\/.+?" alt=".*?" title=".*?" \/><!-- s?:\S+ -->

Notice how the beginning of the regex doesn’t assume there’s a : character after:
<!-- s
But it does assume there is one at the end of the regex:
<!-- s?:
(Also I wonder why there is a ? matching 0 or 1 of the s character at the end of the regex, where there isn’t at the beginning of the regex)

I removed this : from the regex and my two smilis issues seemed completely resolved.

On my phpbb forum, a lot of smilies indeed started by a : like :mrgreen: or :evil:, but some didn’t, like 8-) or ;)
The old regex led to faulty smiley captures. For example, multiple smilies next to each other were captured as a single one.

Fixed regex:

<!-- s(\S+) --><img src="\{SMILIES_PATH\}\/.+?" alt=".*?" title=".*?" \/><!-- s?\S+ -->

I’m not fixing the code directly in the Discourse repo because I’m not used to using git, and also I’m not sure it would impact imports from other phpBB versions. I don’t want to mess up anything.

Anyway, if people come across the same issues as me, here’s the solution.


Another issue fixed that could help people in my case during a phpBB 3.0.7 migration.

For some reason, my phpBB forum post contents sometimes had multiple following spaces at the beginning of lines. I suspect some users “like” to frantically press the space key without paying attention when writing their message, and it had no importance since the rendered page ignored these multiple spaces:

Raw phpBB text content:

Salut tous  <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Sourire" /><!-- s:) --> 
     Alors voilà, le combi n'a pas roulé beaucoup ces derniers temps cause CT pas OK  <!-- s:evil: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_evil.gif" alt=":evil:" title="Diable" /><!-- s:evil: --> mais il a fait ces 2000 kms sans broncher  <!-- s;) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_wink.gif" alt=";)" title="Clin d\'oeil" /><!-- s;) -->  
Maintenant le CT est OK . Merci L'Atelier Du Raz  8-')

    Je dois donc changer le joint-spi au bout de 40 000 kms en 10 ans  <!-- s:roll: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_rolleyes.gif" alt=":roll:" title="Yeux tournants" /><!-- s:roll: --> 
C'est un silicone et j'ai vu qu'il y avait des &quot;doubles lèvres &quot; !? 
What's About ?

             Je trouve ça un peu limte  <!-- s:evil: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_evil.gif" alt=":evil:" title="Diable" /><!-- s:evil: --> 
Merci tous, fred

Rendered page in the browser:

But during the import phpBB → Discourse, these existing spaces were converted to code blocks:

This is how it should be displayed:

I fixed it by adding a regex that removes spaces at the beginning of each line

 text.gsub!(/^[^\S\r\n]+/, "\n")

I added this just before process_smilies(text) in this file:

Another issue I encountered.
In this code (still in text_processor.rb):

    def clean_bbcodes(text)
      # Many phpbb bbcode tags have a hash attached to them. Examples:
      #   [url=https&#58;//google&#46;com:1qh1i7ky]click here[/url:1qh1i7ky]
      #   [quote=&quot;cybereality&quot;:b0wtlzex]Some text.[/quote:b0wtlzex]
      text.gsub!(/:(?:\w{8})\]/, ']')

In my database, these hashes lengths are between 5 and 8 characters, but the regex only removes hashes that are exactly 8 characters. So, my import kept shorter hashes instead of removing them.
I fixed this by changing the regex to:

text.gsub!(/:(?:\w{5,8})\]/, ']')

I add one minor issue, still in the same file. The regex that removes [color] BBCode tags expects a hexadecimal value prepended by a mandatory #. But [color] also accept strings such as “red”, “blue”, etc, as value. So I modified the original regex:

      # remove color tags
      text.gsub!(/\[\/?color(=#[a-z0-9]*)?\]/i, "")

By adding a ? after the # to make the # optional.
Fixed code:

      # remove color tags
      text.gsub!(/\[\/?color(=#?[a-z0-9]*)?\]/i, "")

I don’t know if my issues are common in phpBB imports, or if they are very specific to my case. If the latter, I hope my explanations here aren’t unwelcomed or superfluous. Just let me know if this is the case so it won’t be awkward. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Edit: Is it possible to make it that after a migration, all the existing topics are set as “read” for every existing user?

The goal is to prevent that after the migration, existing users clicking on existing (and sometimes old) topics would lead them to the first message on these topics they’ve already read prior to the migration.

Ideally, existing users clicking on existing topics would open not the first, but the last message (since the end of the migration, of course).

It’s a small quality of life issue though (and it will naturally vanish after a few weeks as the users use the forum and read topics), but I was asked about this suggestion.


Thank you for sharing these fixes!

I’ve had to do similar adjustments to regexes for past migrations, so these will be helpful for future phpbb imports.

This topic may be helpful How to mark imported posts as read - #2 by stuwest