Cheetah is a large cat of the subfamily Felinae and a web-software platform that you can download and use to build your own niche social network, community site, online club or an interest-based social website. Cheetah is designed to be simple, easy to use and customize. One doesn't have to be a programmer or web-designer to operate a Cheetah-powered website. Some understanding of web-servers, web-development, site administration, etc, would be beneficial, however.
Cheetah is an independent, self-hosted solution. This means that once you setup your site - you own it, you take care of it, you reap what you sow. This is a huge benefit, especially if you ever plan to turn your site into a profitable business, but this may imply certain level of involvement on your part. You need to update the software periodically, moderate content of your site regularly and pay for web-hosting.
Cheetah comes packed with lots of modules and thousands of features. It is always a good idea to "activate" only those features that are absolutely needed for implementation of your idea. Turning everything on may result in a cluttered interface, increased server load and diluted focus of your site visitors. You can extend Cheetah functionality even further by using modules, plugins, templates and language packs from Cheetah Market.
Cheetah is an "open source" platform, which means that you can modify it to suit your specific needs. Any modification, however, may complicate future version upgrades, so think ahead.
Cheetah Market is a community of independent developers, designers and other professionals offering Cheetah extensions for sale or for free download. Extensions include full modules, plugins, modifications, design templates, language packs, graphics packs, etc. Providers of products and services on Cheetah Market are called Vendors. Vendors are not affiliated with Cheetah and accept payments directly.
Cheetah Forums is the singe best place to learn more about Cheetah, connect with fellow web-masters and get inspired. As a "community venue" forums may have opinionated, incorrect or misleading material - so read more, ask more and make your own judgements. Forums is also also the best place to ask for technical and general support.
I am primarily focused on development, so i leave support up to the community. I expect web-masters to read documentation, ask questions at Forums, find tech-savvy partners, hire developers, make their own mistakes and learn from them. We participate in Forums, and maintain an open development repository where your can track development and bug fixing progress.
Once you have decided that you are ready to run your own Cheetah-based community site and decided on which web-hosting to use, you may proceed to the fun part - choosing a name for your site. It's a good idea to think about it before site installation, because you would need to have a registered domain name to register a license, order a hosting account and install Cheetah. (Advanced users may get away with an IP, but that's too much hassle). So, pick a name and register your own domain name (use namecheap.com or "domain registrar" of your choice). With domain name you can proceed to license registration, hosting account ordering and, finally, Cheetah installation.
Cheetah can be used free of charge as a "trial" for unlimited period of time. Trial version is not feature-limited, but it requires display of Cheetah references, that are already built-in into Cheetah. You can buy a paid license to remove those links and present the site as 100% yours. Read more at Cheetah Licenses.
Cheetah is a web software, which means that it is meant to be installed on a web-server (a computer connected to Internet and serving web-site pages to remote visitors). It is possible to install Cheetah on your local computer and run your site "from home", but this is highly ineffective. In most cases, you would need to find a hosting provider.
Not any hosting is OK. Make sure that the Hosting Requirements are met by your hosting. Just copy and send these to the hosting pre-sale support before paying. We offer a list of Recommended Hosting Providers for Cheetah.
There are a few ways to get Cheetah-based site "up and running". Perhaps the easiest way is to order hosting from one of our Recommended Hosting Providers - they all know Cheetah very well and offer an easy "Cheetah auto-installation". In most cases you can get Cheetah pre-installed on your new hosting account or you can "auto-install" it in a matter of seconds. Hosting providers offer instructions and support for installing Cheetah. Note, that you still need to buy a license to remove Cheetah links.
Alternatively, your may Download Trial Version and install it yourself. This way you can use any "compatible" hosting provider or setup your own server. This is a bit more complicated, but may be a great learning experience! Once you have downloaded Cheetah, you can proceed to Installation.
Installation, per se, is not complicated, and only takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. It is, however, very important to install Cheetah correctly and on the right hosting environment. Over 80% of all technical problems arise due to incorrect installation, so make sure to get it right and save yourself a lot of time. Follow Cheetah Installation Guide carefully and attentively - this is the best investment you can make in your Cheetah web-master career!
Once the installation is complete, you can login as a site admin and start playing! This is only the beginning - ahead you have customization, localization, modification and administration fun. Cheetah Admin Panel will meet you with a "Getting Started" guide to navigate you to what needs to be done first. Enjoy!