Changing permalink structure in WordPress

After installing a fresh installation of WordPress on LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) I decided to change the new site’s permalink structure. The default structure on WordPress is so boring and uninformative  – sitename/?p=(number). I prefer the blogger method – sitename/year/month/postname.

Changing the structure should be pretty straightforward; However, when I clicked that option and clicked save, every post greeted me with a wonderful 404 error page.

Screenshot from 2014-08-01 20:33:54

If you are running apache it turns out there are a few extra things you need to do that aren’t mentioned in WordPress’s 5 minute install guide. Detailed instructions are found here.

  1. Enable the mod-rewrite apache plugin
  2. Ensure the directory of your wordpress installation has a Directory entry and that AllowOverride All is enabled
  3. Restart apache

After this, everything worked. The reason behind needing this change is WordPress modifies the .htaccess file for its installation folder with a simple rule:

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>

All it does is transparently prepend index.php to any web request it receives. Index.php is smart enough to direct pages wherever it needs to after that. If you don’t want to mess with enabling mod_rewrite, you can simply change your site structure to have /index.php/ before everything else. It will accomplish the same thing, only now index.php will show up in all your site URLs.

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