How to Install Drupal on Windows WSL

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to install Drupal on Windows 10 WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) 2 with Nginx HTTP server on Ubuntu 20.04 | 18.04.

Drupal may not be the most popular content management system in use today, but its not very far behind WordPress. It’s an open source platform and works great in Linux systems, including Ubuntu.

If you’re running Windows and want to use Drupal, using Windows with WSL 2 might be your best option and the steps below will show you how to do that.

With WSL, you can install full Linux operating system inside Windows. So get Windows, enable WSL, install a Linux OS and run Drupal.

Back in 2017, Windows released the original WSL version. WSL 2 is an improvement over version 1 and comes with performance boost, full system call compatibility, and built with a new architecture and that delivers features that make WSL an amazing way to run a Linux environment in Windows.

If you have a machine that meets the requirements above to run WSL 2, then continue below.

To get started with running Drupal on Windows with WSL, follow the steps below:

Enable WSL in Windows

To enable WSL in Windows, you will want to open PowerShell terminal as administrator. Click on Start then begin typing PowerShell.

Next, right-click Windows PowerShell app and choose to run as administrator.

When the console opens, run the commands below:

dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux /all /norestart

After installing, you should get a success message similar to the lines below:

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
Version: 10.0.19041.844

Image Version: 10.0.19042.844

Enabling feature(s)
[==========================100.0%==========================]
The operation completed successfully.

Enable Virtual Machine Platform

WSL 2 requires Windows 10 Virtual Machine Platform to be enabled. This is not Hyper-V. To enable the VM platform feature in Windows, run the commands below from the same PowerShell administrator’s console.

dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:VirtualMachinePlatform /all /norestart

If you’re using Windows 10 version lower than 2004, then use the commands below:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName VirtualMachinePlatform -NoRestart

When you’re done running the commands above, restart your computer for all the configuration changes to apply. If you don’t restart, the below command might not be recognized.

After restarting your computer, login back in and launch PowerShell as administrator. Then run the commands below to configure WSL 2 as the default version of WSL.

wsl --set-default-version 2

Install Ubuntu in Windows 10

Now that WSL 2 is installed and ready to be used, open the link below to download and install a copy of Ubuntu 20.04 from Windows store.

Get Ubuntu 20.04 LTS – Microsoft Store

Ubuntu 20.04 LTS on Windows allows you to use Ubuntu Terminal and run Ubuntu command line utilities including bash, ssh, git, apt and many more.

Click the Get button and install. After installing Ubuntu, you’ll want the option to launch Ubuntu from Windows WSL environment.

After launching Ubuntu, it should install and prompt to create your account.

Installing, this may take a few minutes.
Please create a default UNIX user account. The username does not need to match your Windows username.
For more information visit: https://aka.ms/wslusers
Enter new UNIX username: richard
New password:
Retype new password:
passwd: password updated successfully
Installation successful!
To run a command as administrator (user "root"), use "sudo <command>".
See "man sudo_root" for details.

Welcome to Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS (GNU/Linux 4.4.0-19041-Microsoft x86_64)

 * Documentation:  https://help.ubuntu.com
 * Management:     https://landscape.canonical.com
 * Support:        https://ubuntu.com/advantage

  System information as of Mon Apr 12 17:57:37 CDT 2021

  System load:    0.52      Processes:             7
  Usage of /home: unknown   Users logged in:       0
  Memory usage:   26%       IPv4 address for eth0: 10.0.2.15
  Swap usage:     0%

1 update can be installed immediately.
0 of these updates are security updates.
To see these additional updates run: apt list --upgradable

That should do it!

Some troubleshooting commands to run when you run into issues above. These run below and try to launch Ubuntu image again.

wsl --set-default-version 1
bcdedit /set hypervisorlaunchtype auto start

Now that Windows 10 WSL environment is ready, continue below to install Nginx, MariaDB, PHP and configure Drupal to run.

Install Nginx HTTP Server

Drupal requires a web server to function, and Nginx is one of the most popular opensource web server available today.

To install Nginx on Ubuntu, run the commands below:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nginx

After installing Nginx, the commands below can be used to stop and start Nginx services.

sudo service nginx stop
sudo service nginx start

To test whether Nginx is installed and functioning, open your web browser and browse to the server’s IP address or hostname.

http://localhost

If you see the above page in your browser, then Nginx is working as expected.

Install MariaDB Server

You’ll also need a database server to run Drupal. A database server is where Drupal content get stored.

A true open source database server that you can use with Drupal is MariaDB database server. It is fast, secure and the default server for almost all Linux servers.

To install MariaDB, run the commands below:

sudo apt install mariadb-server mariadb-client

After installing MariaDB, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable MariaDB service to always start up when the server boots.

sudo service mysql stop
sudo service mysql start

Next, run the commands below to secure the database server with a root password if you were not prompted to do so during the installation.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

When prompted, answer the questions below by following the guide.

  • Enter current password for root (enter for none): Just press the Enter
  • Set root password? [Y/n]: Y
  • New password: Enter password
  • Re-enter new password: Repeat password
  • Remove anonymous users? [Y/n]: Y
  • Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n]: Y
  • Remove test database and access to it? [Y/n]:  Y
  • Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n]:  Y

To verify and validate that MariaDB is installed and working, login to the database console using the commands below:

sudo mysql -u root -p

type the root password when prompted.

mariadb welcome

If you see a similar screen as shown above, then the server was successfully installed.

Install PHP and Related Modules

Drupal is a PHP based application, and PHP is required to run it. Run the commands below to install PHP and related modules to support Drupal.

sudo apt install php-fpm php-common php-mysql php-gmp php-curl php-intl php-mbstring php-xmlrpc php-gd php-xml php-cli php-zip

After installing PHP, go and configure some basic settings that may be required for Drupal to function properly.

For this tutorial, PHP 7.4 was installed. Based on your environment, another version of PHP might be installed. So verify that.

sudo nano /etc/php/7.4/fpm/php.ini

Below are good settings to configure for most Drupal websites.

file_uploads = On
allow_url_fopen = On
short_open_tag = On
memory_limit = 256M
cgi.fix_pathinfo = 0
upload_max_filesize = 100M
max_execution_time = 360
date.timezone = America/Chicago

That should get PHP 7.4 installed with some basic settings to allow Drupal to function.

After setting up PHP, the command below can be used to stop and start PHP7.4 services.

sudo service php7.4-fpm stop
sudo service php7.4-fpm start

Create Drupal Database

When all the servers installed above, it’s now time to begin setting up Drupal environment. First, run the steps below to create a blank database for Drupal to use.

Logon to MariaDB database console using the commands below:

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called drupaldb

CREATE DATABASE drupaldb;

Next, create a database user called drupaldbuser and set password

CREATE USER 'drupaldbuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'new_password_here';

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON drupaldb.* TO 'drupaldbuser'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.

FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
EXIT;

Download Drupal

At this point, Drupal is ready to be downloaded and installed. Use the commands below to download the latest version of Drupal.

To get Drupal latest release you may want to use GitHub repository… Install Composer, Curl and other dependencies to get started…

sudo apt install curl git
curl -sS https://getcomposer.org/installer | sudo php -- --install-dir=/usr/local/bin --filename=composer

After installing curl and Composer above, change into the Nginx root directory and download Drupal packages from Github… Always replace the branch number with the latest branch.

To view Drupal releases, see this page.

cd /var/www/
sudo git clone --branch 9.1.9 https://git.drupal.org/project/drupal.git
cd /var/www/drupal
sudo composer install

Then run command below to allow www-data user to own the Drupal directory.

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/drupal/
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/drupal/

Configure Nginx VirtualHost

Below is where you configure Nginx VirtualHost file for the Drupal site you’re creating. This file defines how client requests are handled and processed.

Run the commands below to create a new VirtualHost file called Drupal in the /etc/nginx/sites-available/ directory.

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/drupal

A very good configuration settings for most Drupal site on Nginx server is below. This configuration should work great.

Copy the content below and save into the file created above.

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;
    root /var/www/drupal;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;
    server_name  example.com www.example.com;

    client_max_body_size 100M;
    autoindex off;

    location ~ \.*/.*\.php$ {
        return 403;
    }

    location ~ ^/sites/.*/private/ {
        return 403;
    }

    # Block access to scripts in site files directory
    location ~ ^/sites/[^/]+/files/.*\.php$ {
        deny all;
    }

    # Block access to "hidden" files and directories whose names begin with a
    # period. This includes directories used by version control systems such
    # as Subversion or Git to store control files.
    location ~ (^|/)\. {
        return 403;
    }

    location / {
        try_files $uri /index.php?$query_string;
    }

    location @rewrite {
        rewrite ^/(.*)$ /index.php?q=$1;
    }

    # Don't allow direct access to PHP files in the vendor directory.
    location ~ /vendor/.*\.php$ {
        deny all;
        return 404;
    }


    location ~ '\.php$|^/update.php' {
        include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
        fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock;
        fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
        include fastcgi_params;
    }

    # Fighting with Styles? This little gem is amazing.
    # location ~ ^/sites/.*/files/imagecache/ { # For Drupal <= 6
    location ~ ^/sites/.*/files/styles/ { # For Drupal >= 7
        try_files $uri @rewrite;
    }

    # Handle private files through Drupal. Private file's path can come
    # with a language prefix.
    location ~ ^(/[a-z\-]+)?/system/files/ { # For Drupal >= 7
        try_files $uri /index.php?$query_string;
    }
}

Save the file and exit.

After saving the file above, run the commands below to enable the new site, then restart Nginx server.

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/drupal /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/
sudo service nginx restart

At this stage, Drupal is ready and can be launched by going to the server’s IP or hostname.

http://example.com

That should bring up Drupal setup wizard.

Type in the database connection and continue

Create Drupal admin account and password, save and continue.

Login with account above and you’re done.

That’s it!

Conclusion:

This post showed you how to install Drupal on Windows 10 with Ubuntu. If you find any error above, please use the comment form below to report.

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