How to Setup Cerb Workflow Tool on Ubuntu 18.04 | 16.04 with Nginx

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This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to install Cerb Workflow Automation Tool on Ubuntu 18.04 | 16.04 with Nginx HTTP server.

Our previous tutorial showed you how to run Cerb on Ubuntu with Apache2. This one shows you how to do it with Nginx instead.

Cerb is a commercial open-source, web-based, teamwork and workflow automation tool that helps teams become more productive and efficient.

With Cerb, businesses can triage and distribute work across teams in different departments based on email, calls, orders, projects, tasks, reminders, calendar events, and more.

Whether you’re a small or large enterprise, Cerb can help your team communicate and collaborate. and these conversations will be available on the desktop, mobile devices and everywhere you have Cerb installed.

This Tool designed for ease of use to allow businesses to collaborate and automate engaging experiences with users across multiple devices, including mobile.

For more about Cerb, please check their Homepage

To get started with installing Cerb, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Install Nginx HTTP Server

Cerb works a web server and Nginx HTTP server is the most popular open source web server available today. To install and use Nginx with Cerb, run the commands below:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nginx

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

sudo systemctl stop nginx.service
sudo systemctl start nginx.service
sudo systemctl enable nginx.service

Now that Nginx is installed. to test whether the web server is working, open your browser and browse to the URL below.

nginx default home page test

If you see the page above, then Nginx is successfully installed.

Step 2: Install MariaDB Database Server

Cerb also requires a database server to store its content. If you’re looking for a truly open source database server, then MariaDB is a great place to start.

To install MariaDB run the commands below:

sudo apt-get 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.

Run these on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

sudo systemctl stop mysql.service
sudo systemctl start mysql.service
sudo systemctl enable mysql.service

Run these on Ubuntu 18.10 and 18.04 LTS

sudo systemctl stop mariadb.service
sudo systemctl start mariadb.service
sudo systemctl enable mariadb.service

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

Now that MariaDB is installed, to test whether the database server was successfully installed, run 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.

Step 3: Install PHP 7.2-FPM and Related Modules

Cerb is a PHP based app and PHP is required. However, PHP 7.2-FPM may not be available in Ubuntu default repositories. To run PHP 7.2-FPM on Ubuntu 16.04 and previous, you may need to run the commands below:

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php

Then update and upgrade to PHP 7.2-FPM

sudo apt update

Next, run the commands below to install PHP 7.2 and related modules.

sudo apt install php7.2-fpm php7.2-common php7.2-mailparse php7.2-mysql php7.2-gmp php7.2-curl php7.2-mbstring php7.2-imap php7.2-ldap php7.2-gd php7.2-xml php7.2-cli php7.2-zip php7.2-yaml php7.2-dev php-pear

After installing PHP 7.2-FPM, run the commands below to open PHP default configuration file for Nginx.

sudo nano /etc/php/7.2/fpm/php.ini

The lines below is a good settings for most PHP based CMS. Update the configuration file with these and save.

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

Everytime you make changes to PHP configuration file, you should also restart Nginx web server. To do so, run the commands below:

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

Step 4: Create Cerb Database

Now that you’ve installed all the packages that are required for Cerb to function, continue below to start configuring the servers. First run the commands below to create a blank Cerb database.

To logon to MariaDB database server, run the commands below.

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called cerb

CREATE DATABASE cerb character set utf8;

Create a database user called cerbuser with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON cerb.* TO 'cerbuser'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


Step 5: Download Cerb Latest Release

To get Cerb latest release you may want to use Composer. Composer allows you to download and manage packages and their dependencies easily.

To install Composer on Ubuntu, run the commands below:

sudo apt install curl git
curl -sS | sudo php -- --install-dir=/usr/local/bin --filename=composer

After installing Composer above, change Nginx home directory and download Cerb packages into a new project folder called cerb.

cd /var/www/
sudo git clone cerb

Since you just ran the web server as root, you should make sure any newly created files are owned by the www-data user and group. To do that run the commands below:

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

Step 6: Configure Nginx Virtual Host

Finally, configure Apahce2 virtual host configuration file for Cerb. This file will control how users access Cerb content. Run the commands below to create a new configuration file called cerb

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

Then copy and paste the content below into the file and save it. Replace the highlighted line with your own domain name and directory root location.

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;

    root   /var/www/cerb;
    index  index.php;
    access_log /var/log/nginx/;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/;

    client_max_body_size 100M;
    autoindex off;

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

    location ~ /(index|ajax)\.php$ {
         include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
         fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock;
         include fastcgi_params;
         fastcgi_intercept_errors on;

Save the file and exit.

Step 7: Enable the Cerb

After configuring the VirtualHost above, enable it by running the commands below

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/cerb /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/
sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

Then open your browser and browse to the server domain name or server IP address of the host. Setup wizard.

The first step of the installer checks if your server meets the requirements for installing Cerb. Correct any problems before proceeding, and then click the Continue button.
Cerb Ubuntu Install

Next, type in the database name, username and password created above and continue

Cerb Ubuntu Setup

After that, choose to setup a SMTP account or ignore and continue

Cerb Ubuntu Install

In this step you’ll create the administrator account that you use to log in. After a few seconds, your application should be installed and ready to use.

Cerb Ubuntu setup

That’s it! You’re ready to start using Cerb. Login and begin setting up your environment.

Cerb Ubuntu setup

If this is a production installation, you need to delete the /install directory since it is no longer necessary and it provides access to some sensitive information about your environment.


This post shows you how to install Cerb Team and Workflow Automation tool on Ubuntu 18.04 | 16.04. If you find any error above, please use the comment form below to report it.

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