Moodle does have an installer that makes use of the install.php script. The choice of which version to install really depends upon your own system variables. HOWEVER, at this time I would urge you to install the latest stable version of the 1.8 branch - which is, I believe, 1.8.3+. The 1.9 branch is still in beta testing, so is not for use on a production (live audience) server
. If you're just testing the system out yourself, and haven't done a Moodle install yet, I'd still go with the 1.8.3+ version, and follow the 1.9 forums to learn about its development and readiness - or build a test server for an install of 1.9 simultaneously to test out yourself (but don't go LIVE with it).
The real question is, are you hosting this on your own (local) machines or are you going through a commercial hosting provider
? If you're using a commercial host
that uses cPanel, email me back and I can point you to a video tutorial I created that can walk you through the steps if you need it. If you're doing this yourself, just check that you have the correct version of MySQL
and PHP on your system (also, check this out with the hosting service). PHP 4 support is going away soon, so you may want a host that can migrate you to PHP 5. When you download
the .zip or .tar file, unzip it and check out the readme file first.
Oh! It also depends if you're hosting on a Windows, Linux, or Mac server, really. Most commercial hosts use Linux servers (not all, but most).
Having done a MMAP (Mac install), I'd go with the Linux install - it's easier in my opinion, to customize. I don't know much about Windows installations, so I'm sorry I can't help you out there.
There's a lot of great people out here, though, that'd be able to help you with any more questions you may have.