I have two hosting companies and both of them offer the "SiteBuilder" program (which I have never used).
When I install zen on any of my sites, it fails to function because the server intercepts any paths with a directory called "zen" and tries to route them to sitebuilder, which most of the time will result in "page not found". This is simply fixed by renaming the themes/zen directory to something such as themes/zen-blue.
I have no idea how many other people this might affect, but I thought it was worth posting here because if zen makes it into core (and I very much hope it does) then this simple problem might generate a lot of help requests. (It took me a lot of time to figure it out.) It happens on *both* my hosting companies, which both use cpanel as the administration front end (which I understand is very common).
If anyone would like to test this, I have set up a test site at http://s1te.org/test2
The log in/pw are test/test and you can try to change your personal theme to zen.
Actually you don't even need to log in. Just try experimenting with zen in different places in the path, such as http://s1te.org/test2/anything/zen and you will see the problem!


jjeff’s picture

Acknowledged. I'm hesitant to change the name of the project based on the bone-headed namespacing of that web app. And since Zen did NOT make it into core, people can simply change the name if they hit this problem.

I will leave this issue open though, so that others can find it if they are having this problem.

If we get several more people discovering this problem maybe we can figure out a better workaround.

vjordan’s picture

I too have experienced this problem. I initially assumed the problems related to the HEAD snapshot but find the same difficulty as andrewfn.

jjeff might be right: changing the name because cpanel hosting companies do something crazy is far from ideal. But this might be a significant issue for a lot of users.

Is there something that could make this conflict problem more prominent on the zen theme homepage to minimise the effort future cpanel users will expend to get tip to rename the theme?

jjeff’s picture

Okay, let's come up for a solution for this.

Do we have to rename the theme? Do we have to rename the project? What should we change the name to?

- Zzen (heh - note my username)
- ZenTheme
- Xen
- Pure
- UST (Ultimate Starter Theme)
- "The Theme Formerly Known As Zen"
- Prince

swordbreaker’s picture

I really like the name Zen (the theme) :(

rport’s picture

I like Zen but until now, I didn't really understand the significance of the name;

Zen (jargon)
To figure out something by meditation or by a sudden flash of enlightenment. Originally applied to bugs, but occasionally applied to problems of life in general. "How'd you figure out the buffer allocation problem?" "Oh, I zenned it."

But! if we had to have a name change, then I vote for Grok;

To understand, usually in a global sense. Connotes intimate and exhaustive knowledge.
i.e. When you claim to ‘grok’ some knowledge or technique, you are asserting that you have not merely learned it in a detached instrumental way but that it has become part of you, part of your identity.

I know its a bit cheezy but is consistent with the name Zen... At a minimum perhaps we could challenge ourselves to be Grok with Zen!


vjordan’s picture

Unfortunately I think something does have to be done about the directory name. I logged a ticket with my hosting service provider to see if they'd be able to do something more sensible with their apache redirects. By and large they provide good support but I got a long blank stare back on this one (zen-like I suppose) which concluded with "this is a design feature, can't you just rename the theme?".

I would be reluctant to endorse a theme name change though. Zen is starting to gain some recognition in the forums and a name change would confuse people for little or no benefit. Could the theme name continue to be "Zen", just the extraction directory change? Or even a big warning on the project page to change the directory name if there is a risk of conflict.

If the name has to change zzen or zentheme has a valuable thread of continuity.

BryanSD’s picture

Personally, I'd like to keep both the theme name and directory name as Zen. I really see this as an issue with server configuration that the host provider shouldn't have implemented in the first place. I have a reseller account for hosting and use CPanel for my VPS and everything works fine with Zen. This is not a Cpanel issue.

Having said that, if the name is to be changed I propose a directory change from "zen" to "openzen". The theme likely should still be called "Zen" but I could see the need to rename it also "openZen" to avoid confusion. Just my two cents...

webchick’s picture

Grok is _way_ more jargony a term than Zen... The name Zen is mostly in homage to the CSS Zen Garden, so is very appropriate.

I vote -1 for changing the name of the theme at all... and +1 for these hosting providers getting rid of that ridiculous "feature" that if the word 'zen' is found anywhere in the path it redirects to some stupid thing you didn't even install. ;P You might want to include a sentence in the README though about this oddball problem, to save people in the future from bashing their heads.

rport’s picture

I agree KEEP the name Zen!!! I added Grok for a bit of fun. I appreciate the relationship with the Zen Theme Garden.

The current issue facing Zen, is that it has a few outstanding bugs, mostly related to IE...

We need to get these issues fixed then develop our own Zen Theme Garden style sub themes.....

zirafa’s picture

I think the best way to resolve this issue is to note it somewhere in the documentation (maybe simply on the theme description page on drupal.org).

jjeff’s picture

I've added this to the project description. Did I describe the problem/solution correctly?

vjordan’s picture

Description and problem solution are both fine. I suggest you link to this issue so the curious or affected can find a few more details.

jjeff’s picture

Status: Active » Closed (won't fix)

Posted link back here. I'm going to close this one out marked as "won't fix"... because although we made some allocations, we didn't fix the problem. :-)

mfb’s picture

I think you could also change it to "Zen" (capitalized)?
at least, http://s1te.org/test2/anything/Zen seems to work better than http://s1te.org/test2/anything/zen

aaron’s picture

Version: 6.x-1.x-dev » 5.x-1.x-dev
Status: Closed (won't fix) » Active

Related to http://drupal.org/node/202476 -- I had this same issue. Renamed the folder to /zen-theme, but then got an error in my sub-theme (documented in that issue). Renamed the folder instead to /Zen, and everything worked, without an error.

At the very least, we need to change the documentation to rename the folder to /Zen rather than /zen-theme.

I also believe that changing the project folder to /Zen would be a relatively non-intrusive solution. And just before the launch of d6 might be an ideal time to make that change, if we're going to do it.

I believe there are a lot of hosts with this problem, which is going to raise the bar for new themers, who might decide it isn't worth the trouble when their new Zen theme doesn't work, and they didn't notice the warning on the project page.

Aaron Winborn

aaron’s picture

It might be good if andrewfn or someone using a host with SiteBuilder could verify that changing the folder to Zen fixes the problem. We don't use it at Advomatic, but I discovered this on a friend's personal site on another host, and I haven't confirmed with that host that it's using SiteBuilder, so it could be another issue. But the symptoms seemed to be the same.


JohnAlbin’s picture

Category: bug » support
Status: Active » Closed (won't fix)

The bug clearly lies with SiteBuilder and should be fixed by those developers or by the hosting companies that use it.

Their bug affects more than just the Zen theme.

For example, if you would like to write a webpage that talks about Zen Buddhism, you can't give it a url that includes zen/about or zen/whatever. SiteBuilder intercepts it and displays a SiteBuilder-custom "not found" page.

Also, I've tried testing the proposed solution by changing the theme directory from zen to Zen and the theme's template.php file fails to load, rendering the theme completely un-styled. I suspect you would also need to edit all the php files and change all occurrences of "zen" to "Zen".

Given the case (in)sensitivity issues in Windows, Mac OS X, MySQL and other pieces of software, changing the case of the project will likely cause problems for many more users than are affected by this issue.

zhahai’s picture

So the problem is that a common hosting environment zaps the theme because it captures all directories named "zen". Ugly.

Ideal solution is to have the sitebuilder folks fix it, or all hosting companies drop sitebuilder, or all drupal users migrate to hosting companies that don't use it. We can stand on the moral high ground and insist that the others fix it because it's their problem, not ours (confrontation over who is in the right).

These are beyond our control tho, just like fixing IE bugs or php limitations, or file system inconsistencies between Windows and *nix. I'd like to see MySQL become more SQL standard too, but...

So the second solution is to have users rename their zen directories to something of their own choice, once they figure out that this is the problem. However, that may be somewhat obscure. It might be simpler to just suggest that all new users change the directory name right away just in case, head it off at the pass.

If that's an ok solution done per individual, why not just rename it in the distribution (before migrating into core!). Something like zentheme would mean that everybody has the same name (rather than each user picking their own, so examples and help have to say "sites/all/themes/whatever_you_renamed_zen_to/"...). If the new standardized name doesn't depend on case, then there won't be any problem migrating files between *nix and Windows.

Seems like a simple solution that will transparently avoid the problems with few side effects, if done once for everybody. I don't think users would be very confused if the folder name for the Zen theme is "zentheme" rather than "zen"; a note about why can be given for the curious but it's not critical that people find that note. Nor would that lose the buzz or recognition that Zen is building.

Somehow such a simple ego-less non-confrontational solution seems not inconsistent with the concepts of Zen. Zen is not just about simplicity - but about non-attachment (and many other things of course).

JohnAlbin’s picture

Renaming the project to zentheme is non-trivial. Not only do you lose all revision information in CVS (as a developer this is a huge issue for me), but all the project-related URLS break. There are many, MANY web pages (not just in the *.drupal.org sphere) that point to the existing project URL.

And, as I said in #17, changing the name of the theme won't fix the breakage caused by sitebuild for any content with "zen" in its url.

zhahai’s picture

JohnAlbin, thanks for explaining that.

Does the name of the project have to be the same as the name of the directory (in a Drupal installation) containing the theme files? I was only talking about the latter. No urls are involved, it's not visible to users, it's just the directory searched by PHP to find the theme files.

Agreed, any website on those hosts about Zen (Drupal based or not) may have issues. But in the Drupal context, I suspect that far more people use the zen theme, than put up Zen related websites (with Path aliases enabled).

If changing the default directory name would inherently cause a big hassle with with CVS, then maybe it's down to adding the instruction "You can avoid problems on certain hosts by manually changing the directory name from 'zen' to 'zentheme' before using the module". It would still be good to have a standard suggested alternate directory name.

JohnAlbin’s picture

Does the name of the project have to be the same as the name of the directory (in a Drupal installation) containing the theme files?

Yep. The directory name /contributions/modules/zen in CVS is directly tied to the name of the "zen" directory in the release download package.

then maybe it's down to adding the instruction "You can avoid problems on certain hosts by manually changing the directory name from 'zen' to 'zentheme' before using the module".

Unfortunately, the fix is not that simple. See #17 above.

I have, however, added the "Note" about this problem from the project homepage to the installation instructions. http://drupal.org/node/201422

heather’s picture

just to clarify...

- i need to rename the folders called zen to Zen
- find and replace every instance of the word zen to Zen in all the code, for every upgrade of the zen theme in every site that i use it in.


- move to a new host... (this is a new host i am using and they are so great overall, i am not excited about leaving)

does anyone happen to know of any advice or information to give this host on how to fix this problem? for those who *do* have sitebuilder/cpanel on their hosting- with no zen conflict- i'd like to know how their hosting is set up, so i could tell these guys how to fix it? in case they just don't know? is there any documentation for hosting providers about this?

heather’s picture

my host just responded telling me "Hosting companies are not going to change their backends because one theme in one script has chosen a name that conflicts with their sitebuilding software... " i'm afraid he's probably right.

i see you've hashed this out quite a bit... but i vote for revisiting the topic of renaming this theme to save anyone else the trouble i have run into. "zentheme" +1

JohnAlbin’s picture

Title: Conflict between name "zen" and sitebuilder » SiteZen site builder conflicts with theme name "zen"
Status: Closed (won't fix) » Active

Over in #262804: SiteZen, catorghans found some juicy details about exactly how the site builder is screwing up websites with "zen" in their URLs.

SiteZen needs the next Directives in httpd.conf:

AliasMatch /zen$ /usr/local/sitezen/prd/html/initial.html
ScriptAlias /zeni /usr/local/sitezen/prd/zendst
ScriptAlias /zenadmin /usr/local/sitezen/prd/zendst/user_type=admin
AliasMatch /zen[0-9]*/(.*) /usr/local/sitezen/$1
AliasMatch /uatzen$ /usr/local/sitezen/uat/html/initial.html

AliasMatch /zen[0-9]*/(.*) is the one that seems to meddle with the drupal zen theme

Does anyone know if and how this can be overriden in .htaccess?
AliasMatch is not allowed in .htaccess, but can I override it with RewriteRule?

The problem is that the AliasMatch directives should start with a ^. Specifically, it should be AliasMatch ^/zen[0-9]*/(.*) /usr/local/sitezen/$1 That’s just a really dumb apache config error on their part.

Now that we have more info, maybe we can brainstorm to fix this from the Zen end. I really don't want to rename the project; that would just cause too many meta-issues.

catorghans’s picture

SiteZen does not want to have a ^ in the beginning, because it's zen directories will not always be in root but will appear in all kinds of subsites.

For now I did a huge find/replace from zen to zan (and renamed a few files). It does work, although I'm not looking forward to theme updates :)

One big patchfile per zen version to rename it, might be a (not so good) solution for people with SiteZen on their server.

JohnAlbin’s picture

Version: 5.x-1.x-dev » 6.x-1.x-dev

Hey, you know what? I think this is fixable in Drupal 6!

The current D6 directory structure for the zen download is:

zen/zen/ (the base zen theme)
zen/zen_classic/  (the Zen Classic sub-theme)

If we rename the base zen theme to "zen_core" or "base_zen" or "zen_base", we get:


Then the poor, suffering SiteZen users just need to rename the "zen" directory to "johnalbinrocks" or whatever and everything will work!

catorghans’s picture


The strange thing is that sitezen will execute the zen php files, but only crashes the images, the js files and the css files.
If most of those are in the "zen_core" dir it will all work.

It already is a smaller problem in d6 then in d5, because the subthemes often don't have /zen/ in their path, only the generic css/js/image files are corrupted.

As mentioned above, I also do think this is a SiteZen problem and not a drupal problem and everyone who uses anything with zen in their directories or url's is affected by it. SiteZen could easily solve this problem by adding a proper .htaccess to every site which is made by that system (in stead of the global httpd.conf), just like drupal does.

tmedlen’s picture

Renaming the folder uppercase Zen works for me - without touching any of the files. Using cPanel at siteground.com

cPanel Version 11.23.3-RELEASE
cPanel Build 25533
Apache version 1.3.37 (Unix)
PHP version 5.2.5

catorghans’s picture

I can confirm that on drupal 5.10, great!

JohnAlbin’s picture

Tim, that’s great to know! And, now that I know the actual apache directives (thanks again catorghans!), that makes sense. PHP function names are case insensitive. So Drupal sees the "Zen" folder and looks for functions (case insensitively) that start with "Zen_".

But did you test this on Drupal 6 or Drupal 5? I'm curious to know how if the "zen.info" file and "base theme = zen" stuff still works.

tmedlen’s picture

Am using Drupal 6 with this, have not tested with drupal 5.

JohnAlbin’s picture

Assigned: Unassigned » JohnAlbin
Status: Active » Reviewed & tested by the community

Sweet! I was hoping you had tested this in D6. :-) I'll update the docs shortly with your much simpler solution.

jimmyobomsawin’s picture

I was having difficulty with this as well (using SiteGround). Changing the folder names caused hundreds of PHP errors. After tinkering for a while I discovered that I needed to change my theme to another theme, rename the folders to Zen/Zen, then switch the theme back. Hope that helps someone else out there.

I agree in principle the hosts should not be reserving the foldername "zen" and that the name of this project should not be changed. However, in practice I think the best thing to do would be to change the name of this project, as getting several big hosts to change their setup is not going to happen. Programs should just work, without tinkering. If correcting this issue is as simple as changing the name of this project, I'm for it.

brianpkennedy’s picture

Another option you can take instead of renaming the theme dir (which ended up being troublesome for me using siteground.com) is to make a symbolic link of the theming directory you're looking for. I'm using drupal 5.11, and this is my setup.


I wanted to be able to use myzensubtheme, so i created a symbolic link in the sites/all/themes dir. (ln -s zen/myzensubtheme foobar). I uploaded this to my siteground and it worked. I guess this might not help much, since I dont think there's a way to create symbolic links through siteground's file manager.

robbieferrero’s picture

I am having the same issue. Renaming the folder to Zen does not help me. It will show the proper theme once, then upon refreshing it loses it again. I have tried renaming the theme to another name and it just generates a php error, which after fixing gives the same behavior as renaming to Zen. I am at a loss with this one. I am going to make my clients switch hosts as I'm already spending too much time on this. I hope somebody finds a solution (and asking Sitezen to fix it probably won't work, the fix will have to come from our end). Good luck everyone.

robbieferrero’s picture

Has anybody had any luck with renaming the zen folder to something else entirely?

I have not been able to do so successfully.

JohnAlbin’s picture

Status: Reviewed & tested by the community » Fixed

nymous, assuming you are using Zen 6.x, did you rename both “zen” folders?

zen/zen needs to be renamed to be Zen/Zen.

Marking this as “fixed” since I put the solution in the docs a while ago.

Status: Fixed » Closed (fixed)

Automatically closed -- issue fixed for two weeks with no activity.

manimejia’s picture

Version: 6.x-1.x-dev » 6.x-1.0-beta3

Editing folder names is NOT all that is needed for a fix, in Drupal 6

I had taken note of this issue when I first started using Zen in October. I'm on my second site on the same server, and have not noticed any issues using a Zen sub-team for each. (except that for some reason the "local task" tabs don't get "zen-i-fyied" ... more on this later) I thought I was in the clear....

Today, after editing a single node (adding float to a div in the node body), my theme disappeared (no theme files loaded from zen or any sub theme). Only on this single node page, though, was this problem manifested (WHY IS THAT?). Undoing the edit, and refreshing my browser did not fix. On the ONE node page, the HTML head tag has no LINK tags for my zen sub theme CSS files, and Firebug says that it cannot find the zen base theme CSS files. Even after a emptying the Drupal cache, nowhere else in the site displayed this quirk. So I was (am still) puzzled.

Going to the Zen base theme settings page at /admin/build/themes/settings/zen told me that I had better look into the issue described above (page not found). So the first thing I did was to change the "zen" folder names, as described above. I got my zen styled tabs back, but that was not a fix for my whole issue. Then I read more on this post and found comment #30, which asks:

But did you test this on Drupal 6 or Drupal 5? I'm curious to know how if the "zen.info" file and "base theme = zen" stuff still works.

Well, then I capitalized the "Z" in zen.info and zen.css file names in the zen base theme directory. I also capitalized the "Z" in base theme = zen in my own zen_subtheme.info file. That seem to be a fix. I'm not sure which ONE of those actions was THE fix, as I did them all at the same time. But at least we know more than we did ...


manimejia’s picture

Status: Closed (fixed) » Active
crutch’s picture

What would be cool is to rename the project to "1zen" or "azen" then it would solve this problem and also move the zen theme to the top of the theme list on drupal.

doublejosh’s picture

Component: Code » PHP Code

Please don't change the "name of the project," there is purpose, history and momentum. It's just the functional internal naming that may need the change (due to lame reasons.)
Yes, it would be nice to keep the folder-name/template-functions/etc concise, and in keeping with the mission, but not mission critical.
I think it would be better to borrow the recognition momentum and just make a simple folder name change.

My two cents.

JohnAlbin’s picture

Version: 6.x-1.0-beta3 » 6.x-1.x-dev
Component: PHP Code » Documentation
Status: Active » Fixed

Ok. I just discovered that you also need to visit the admin/build/themes page in order for Drupal 6 to re-build its cache of theme .info file data.

I'm hoping that was actually what fixed Manuel’s problem, although he didn't realize it.

I've added a new Troubleshooting guide to Zen's documentation and put the fix for this issue there: http://drupal.org/node/457390

JohnAlbin’s picture

Status: Fixed » Closed (fixed)
patcon’s picture

Hey all, first off, let me say that I've read through this complete thread, and from what I can gather, the solution for D6 is to simply rename zen/zen to Zen/Zen and flush the caches (by visiting the admin/build/themes page). I've tried this, and it gets the base theme and Zen Classic working, but custom themes or starterkit.

When I try to use my own sub-theme from STARTERKIT (Either the original in the "Zen" directory, or my own custom copy in the "themes" directory), everything goes to hell, and no css loads. The giveaway that something critical is wrong is that the navigation menu shows up below the content, unformatted.

So I don't think the problem has a fix quite yet... despite all the in-depth sleuthing that's been done :)

patcon’s picture

Grrrr... just went through and tried to rename everything with the zen_theme > zen_classic + zen_core idea, but it's not working... this is so frustrating. Boooo sitegrounds....

crutch’s picture

Wow this is a long thread.

I've followed the instructions for using Zen Starter Kit on D6 for my most recent project and everything works great.

I develop on WAMP localhost and there are no problems. Where I experience the issue is on a LAMP server with cPanel. You only need to change the primary folder name to caps because in a cPanel environment there is a Zen folder as part of cPanel which conflicts. At least that is my conclusion and seems to work fine for my last few D6 projects with 2 of them on LAMP/cPanel.

okwari’s picture

Did you check your .info file? Line 17? I don't even use SiteBuilder and I had to rename things. :(

killtheliterate’s picture

should rename this theme... the suggested fix, uppercase Zen, makes a lot of servers unhappy...

also... renaming the directory zen/zen didn't fix a thing for me... my child theme won't pull any images... but it's pulling css... any suggestions? i'm a first time drupal user, and i'm on a pretty strict deadline to be learning it... please?

manObject’s picture

How about having a word with the brains behind "Sitebuilder" with a view to getting them to make their redirecting gizmo a bit more selective? We could even drop a hint or two about not wanting to resorting to ninjas... that would be really zen!

WebbR’s picture

Status: Closed (fixed) » Active

Hello all, just started with drupal trying to use the zen theme. I allready renamed the folders from zen/zen to ZenTheme/ZenTheme and repalced "Zen" with "ZenTheme" in the .info file.

No css at all...
I really would like to start with Zen! Any hints how to get it working?

THX Frank

manObject’s picture

The Zen theme is so good that (like New York) they should have named it twice. I therefore vote for changing the name of the theme to Zenzen ...then. Or, how about calling it Zazen? After all, this would fit in with the Drupal ethos very well, Zazen being a reference to another long established tradition of rigorous, formalised practice...

gkarasiewicz’s picture

This issue happens on www.siteground.com accounts.

I've ticketed their help-desk to inform them.

I hope it's resolved, as I hate having to work around things that should work right in the first place.

gkarasiewicz’s picture

This issue doesn't just cause a problem to use, it also makes it impossible to use the other modules that rely on this theme. Which makes the pain a lot greater.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Zen 2.0?

And well lets be honest, with the popularity of this module, you could call it anything and everyone will follow.

gkarasiewicz’s picture

Title: SiteZen site builder conflicts with theme name "zen" » Name Change

I have gotten response from my www.siteground.com ticket, they will move to a different server but are not going to correct the problem.

crutch’s picture

ref: #47 - all my zens work with siteground with no problem

akalata’s picture

Title: Name Change » SiteZen site builder conflicts with theme name "zen"
Status: Active » Closed (won't fix)

reverting issue title, setting to won't fix since this isn't a Zen theme issue.

mdshields’s picture

Version: 6.x-1.x-dev » 7.x-5.x-dev

Hello, is there an end-to-end path to getting this Zen theme to work?

This Drupal is all skip here and there without taking the time to explain step-by-step. There should be a tutorial, that is step by step to do one thing and one thing only. Too much drupal documentation suggests it can do anything, but can't just do one thing right.

how about a tutorial on one thing: build a sub-theme to generate three columns and steps on creating pages and just show three columns with some navigation and content ONLY. leave out the other stuff for another tutorial. This whole drupal thing is just a whole bunch of promises but nobody is really slowing down here. One step at a time, I understand there are a million things that can be done here, but just one thing at a time.

areikiera’s picture

Version: 7.x-5.x-dev » 6.x-2.0

Hello! Was hoping for guidance on the implementation of http://drupal.org/node/457390 but for the new file structure. That page says to rename "zen/zen" to "Zen/Zen", however, the new file structure doesn't have the child "zen" folder, but instead "zen-internals".

  1. Should it be changed from "zen/zen-internals" to "Zen/Zen-internals"?
  2. Should the .info file be renamed?
  3. Should anything else be changed for this version to ensure that this solution works?

Would be great to update the documentation on http://drupal.org/node/457390 if people are still experiencing this issue.

JohnAlbin’s picture

FYI, an issue that is marked "closed" won't cause any emails be sent to the maintainers or to people who've commented.

@areikiera, mdshields: Please head over to #1233078: SiteZen site builder conflicts with theme name "zen" in Drupal 7 to discuss the D7 version of this problem. Thanks!