Migrate a phpBB3 forum to Discourse

Hi, I have another idea.

I guess that import_id is equal to the phpbb post id?
Since I merged topics from category A and B in category C,

I could:

  1. Store all the phpbb topics id from topics that belong to my categories A and B in a json file, then
  2. Iterate the json, get the corresponding discourse topic on each iteration
  3. Update the discourse topic by changing their category from C to A or B (maybe via /topics/bulk) in each iteration

Would that do the trick on the paper?

edit : I post here since my message mentions a custom_field relative to the phpbb import, I hope I’m not too much off topic!

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That part is definitely correct!

Something like your idea could definitely work if you have a mapping of the PHPbb post ID with the category you want.

Yeah, this is pretty far afield from anything to do with phpBB. :slight_smile:
@codinghorror will probably want to split this off into its own topic.


Thank you, I’m going to work on this one.
And sorry about the off topic!

Edit : my script worked well, so here’s how I did, in case it would interest some people who’d like to “unmerge” a category after reorganizing their phpbb topics into Discourse:

  1. Installed Data Explorer Plugin
  2. Get the Discourse imported posts from the category of your choice with this query and download the result as a json:
topics.id as d_topic_id,
value as phpbb_topic_id
FROM topics
JOIN topic_custom_fields
ON topic_id = topics.id
AND name = 'import_topic_id'
AND category_id = 5

3.Get the phpbb topic list from the category(ies) of your choice from phpmyadmin and export the result as a json:

SELECT topic_id FROM phpbb_topics
JOIN phpbb_forums
ON phpbb_topics.forum_id = phpbb_forums.forum_id
AND phpbb_forums.forum_id = 20

Then you can loop iterate one of your json, and on each iteration if phpbb_topic_id is also present in the second array, then you can move it to a new category of your choice.
To do so I used https://github.com/communiteq/discourse-api-php and added a method to update the category of a topic.


Any update on phpbb 3.2 support? There are thousands of phpbb forums out there and we’d love to move to Discourse if we can save the community. We have 2000 users and tired of looking like it is 2002. PHPBB is a huge pile of old outdated forum principles, extensions that are obsolete and not supported, sprinkle it with a lot of pain in the UI, etc. Everytime we go into the admin control panel, God kills a cat. And the only thing that is stopping us from moving over to something better is exporting all the existing content.

I’d love to work on it but I have no experience in Ruby and database.


If you can at least partially sponsor the work we can take it on.


Have you got a budget? If not, is your community interested in chief sourcing?

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Hi, quick question.

After I’ve imported my phpbb topics, the messages containing a youtube link don’t embed the video.
It appears that they uses the following syntax:

How can I batch convert all these links to embed videos? The links which are not on a single line shouldn’t be embedded also, obviously.

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also wanting to convert from phpbb3.2 to discourse

had a look at my DB, post_text still has HTML format (with t, br, i … tags - no idea what t is ?). Also re-ran reparser:reparse multiple time, but nothing changed in the DB. Does somebody have an example of the xml format ?

also could the few devs here give an order of magnitude for the costs for developing a phpbb3.2 converter ? 1k? 5k ? Maybe we could try to get the money together through some kind of kickstarter ?

finally : should we continue (technical) discussion here or start a new thread ?


If you check out Discourse Migration – Literate Computing, LLC you can get some idea what a migration would cost.

Since Gerhard is apparently part-way through his work, it rather complicates giving you a good price since there are many unknowns (I dont’ know about your data or the code the Gerhard hasn’t produced).

If you contact me directly with answers the questions on my above link I could start to give you a ballpark figure if I knew more about your situation. Knowing what I know now, would say that somewhere between $1000 and $5K is probably right. :wink:

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@gerhard is there anything we can do to help? I have a 3.2 community that’s just aching to be moved to Discourse. I’d love to contribute if I can in any way.



Did the phpbb 3.2 importer ever get released ?


ho, I got this error at this step

/var/discourse/launcher enter import
import_phpbb3.sh # inside the Docker container

/var/www/discourse/vendor/bundle/ruby/2.5.0/gems/mysql2-0.5.2/lib/mysql2/client.rb:90:inconnect’: Access denied for user ‘phpbb’@‘localhost’ (using password: YES) ( Mysql2::Error::ConnectionError )`

my mysql server is running and accessible from the outside (I can connect from my desktop computer)
any idea ?

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localhost inside the Docker container is different from localhost on your desktop. You should configure the database host inside settings.yml accordingly if you want to use a remote database. Either use the MySQL server’s IP address or it’s hostname if it can be resolved via DNS.


The error is access denied. Have you set the username and password to what’s in the config?

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changing localhost to the server ip in import/settings.yml worked

also for some reason I couldn’t make the import work on test-passed discourse (I had to settle to stable discourse)


Hi There! I know this is an old reply, but I am having the exact same error.

Any idea how you fixed it ? Thanks

Edit: It seems that something goes wrong at the step:

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using passwords: true

any idea why the hash imported is not the same as the one in phpbb3 ?

phpBB3 :

on discourse : user.custom_fields[‘import_pass’]

I can’t login unless I put the phpbb3 one manually

Sorry, I don’t really remember how I fixed it. I know I struggled a little and then it worked, but I made changes until it worked.


No prob, thanks for your answer anyways :+1:

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UPDATE: It worked

I went through the same process and it worked this time :smiley:

The only thing I did differently is not to install cloudflare template.

And scp path/to/phpbb_mysql.sql root@[IP Address of your droplet]:/var/discourse/shared/standalone/import/data works fine!

Hi there,

Sorry me again but I’m really struggling to import phpBB. I am following the guide above, but somehow it breaks my installation of Discourse.

I not able to import the database, and I am getting the errors below:

When I try to run the importer

Loading database dump into MySQL...

ERROR 2002 (HY000): Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock' (2 "No such file or directory")

When I try to Rebuild



Pups::ExecError: socat /dev/null UNIX-CONNECT:/shared/postgres_run/.s.PGSQL.5432 || exit 0 && echo postgres already running stop container ; exit 1 failed with return #<Process::Status: pid 45 exit 1>

Location of failure: /pups/lib/pups/exec_command.rb:112:in `spawn'

exec failed with the params "socat /dev/null UNIX-CONNECT:/shared/postgres_run/.s.PGSQL.5432 || exit 0 && echo postgres already running stop container ; exit 1"


** FAILED TO BOOTSTRAP ** please scroll up and look for earlier error messages, there may be more than one

Fortunately it’s a fresh install of Discourse :rofl:

My server is: Ubuntu 16, Last Version of Discourse, failtoban installed
And I am trying to import phpBB version 3.1.6

Cloudflare template installed too ( not sure if this affect the whole process )

So I guess something goes wrong at step 1.2 :thinking:

Just to make sure:

1 - I create the import.yml like that:

cd /var/discourse
cp containers/app.yml containers/import.yml

Then add the template - “templates/import/phpbb3.template.yml” to it.

nano containers/import.yml

Then run :

/var/discourse/launcher stop app
/var/discourse/launcher rebuild import

That’s it ? Am I missing something ?
Should I remove the cloudflare template fro that file ?

Step 1.3

There is where I completely lost.

Question aside, can I run this command from localhost in order to upload the sql dump ?

scp path/to/phpbb_mysql.sql root@[IP Address of your droplet]:/var/discourse/shared/standalone/import/data

But it doesn’t seem to be working.

Let’s say I want to use the remote connection instead, and edit settings.yml

type: MySQL # currently only MySQL is supported
host: localhost ( to be changed with the ip ? )
port: 3306
username: root ( should I use the ssh login or database username ? )
password: ( same here, it is for the ssh access ) ?
schema: phpbb ( is this the database name ? )
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.

And after editing settings.yml, I only have to run ?

/var/discourse/launcher enter import
import_phpbb3.sh # inside the Docker container

Really sorry about all this questions, and thanks if you have the courage to read all this

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