How to Setup WordPress with Nginx and Cloudflare CDN / SSL on Ubuntu 16.04 | 18.04

Students and new users who want to setup a new WordPress website with Nginx HTTP server and use Cloudflare for CDN and SSL protection, the steps below should help them get there…

This brief tutorial will show students and new user a step by step guide on how to setup WordPress websites and use Cloudflare’s CDN, free SSL and security features to help improve their website performance and protect their sites against malicious actors..

This setup might take a while to complete and the process below should work on other websites as well… It doesn’t have to be WordPress… This setup should work on other CMSs and plain HTML sites out of the box…When you’re ready to setup WordPress and Cloudflare, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Sign up for Cloudflare Account…

The first step in this tutorial is to sign up for Cloudflare service… This assumes that you already have registered a domain name.. If you don’t, then go and get one before continuing further…

Once you have a domain name, click on the link below to sign up for Cloudflare…

https://dash.cloudflare.com/sign-up

Type in your email address and click Create Account..

Cloudflare WordPress setup

Once the account is created and you’ve verified your email address and logged back into Cloudflare account, click the button or link (Add a Site) to add a site to your account…

Cloudflare WordPress setup

Next, type in the domain name you have registered… Cloudflare service will help speed up and protect the site you add…

Cloudflare WordPress setup

Next, Cloudflare will begin to query your domain DNS provider for the records in the DNS table… If the domain is online, Cloudflare should find it and import the records into your Cloudflare account…

Cloudflare WordPress setup

After that, select the plan you want to use for the site… For this tutorial, we’re going to be using Cloudflare free plan…

Cloudflare WordPress setup

When you’re done, you should see two nameservers provided to you by Cloudflare… What you need to do is logon to your domain provider’s portal… where you have your domain… and replace the nameservers with the ones Cloudflare gives you…

For example, our example.com site is hosted with Google Domains.. so we’ll logon to our Google Domains account and use custom nameservers… Then we’ll use the nameservers provided by Cloudflare and save..

Cloudflare WordPress Setup

Once you’ve saved your custom nameservers changes,  go back to your Cloudflare account and wait for Cloudflare to see the changes…. Depending on your domain provider, it make take up to an hour for Cloudflare to be visible…

Once all is ready, you’ll see your site status as Active..

When everything is done, you should also see your Cloudflare account with DNS entries as shown below… Your DNS records might have more entries then the two below.. but these two are the most important for running your website….

Cloudflare WordPress Setup

After that, click on Crypto tab and choose to enable Full (strict) SSL.. This should turn on SSL for the site…

Cloudflare WordPress Setup

Still under Crypto tab, scroll down to Origin Certificates… Then click the button to create certificate…

Use the free TLS certificate signed by Cloudflare to install on your origin server… Origin Certificates are only valid for encryption between Cloudflare and your origin server…

Next, choose to Let Cloudflare generate a private key and a CSR for the domain… Click Next…

WordPress Cloudflare

Then copy a paste these into a text file on onto your server…

On Ubuntu, run the commands below to create the key, certificate and origin pull files… Copy and paste each content into the respective file.. and save..

For the key file… run this, then copy and paste the key into the file and save…

sudo nano /etc/ssl/private/cloudflare_example.com.pem

For the certificate file, run this and copy and paste the certificate content into the file and save…

sudo /etc/ssl/certs/cloudflare_example.com.pem

You’ll also want to download Cloudflare Origin Pull certificate… You can download that from the link below:

https://support.cloudflare.com/hc/en-us/articles/204899617-Authenticated-Origin-Pulls#section6

Run th commands below to download it..

cd /etc/ssl/certs/
sudo wget https://support.cloudflare.com/hc/en-us/article_attachments/201243967/origin-pull-ca.pem

After that, you should have three files.. The server key, server certificate and the origin-pull certificate..

We will use these file in Nginx config below

After saving the key, certificate and origin pull certificates files… continue below..

Still, under, Crypto enable Always use HTTPS and you may also change settings for HSTS but not necessary…

Next, turn on Authenticated Origin Pulls and Opportunistic Encryption, and continue..

Then, turn on Automatic HTTPS Rewrites and continue..

Next, move to the Speed tab, tune on Auto Minify for JavaScript, CSS and HTML.. and continue

Next, move to the Page Rules tab… then create a new rule for the site.. then type URL and choose Always Use HTTPS

http://* example.com/*

Alwyas Use HTTPS

Save your settings and you’re done with setting up Cloudflare..

Step 2: Install and Configure WordPress

Now that Cloudflare is configure, logon to your server and configure WordPress… First install Nginx HTTP server since we’re using Nginx for this post.. To install Nginx server, 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…

https://localhost

nginx default home page test

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

Step 3: Install MariaDB Database Server

WordPress 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 19.04 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 4: Install PHP 7.2-FPM and Related Modules

WordPress CMS is a PHP based CMS 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-FPM and related modules.

sudo apt install php7.2-fpm php7.2-common php7.2-mysql php7.2-gmp php7.2-curl php7.2-intl php7.2-mbstring php7.2-xmlrpc php7.2-gd php7.2-xml php7.2-cli php7.2-zip

After installing PHP 7.2, 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
memory_limit = 256M
cgi.fix_pathinfo = 0
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

Now that PHP is installed, to test whether it’s functioning, create a test file called phpinfo.php in Nginx default root directory…. ( /var/www/html/)

sudo nano /var/www/html/phpinfo.php

Then type the content below and save the file.

<?php phpinfo( ); ?>

Next, open your browser and browse to the server’s hostname or IP address followed by phpinfo.php

http://localhost/phpinfo.php

You should see PHP default test page…

PHP Test Page

Step 5: Create WordPress Database

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

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

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called wpdatabase

CREATE DATABASE wpdatabase;

Create a database user called wpuser with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON wpdatabase.* TO 'wpuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.

FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
EXIT;

Step 6: Download WordPress Latest Release

To get WordPress latest release you will need to go to its official download page and get it from there… The link below is where to find WordPress latest archive versions…

https://wordpress.org/download/

cd /tmp
wget https://wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz
tar -xvzf latest.tar.gz
sudo mv wordpress /var/www/html/example.com

Then run the commands below to set the correct permissions for WordPress root directory and give Nginx control….

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/example.com/
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/example.com/

Step 7: Configure Nginx

Finally, configure Apahce2 site configuration file for WordPress. This file will control how users access WordPress content. Run the commands below to create a new configuration file called example.com

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/example.com

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.

Also make sure to reference the certificate files created above during Cloudflare setup..

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;
    listen 443 ssl http2;
    listen [::]:443 ssl http2;

    server_name  example.com www.example.com;
    root   /var/www/html/example.com;
    index  index.php;

    ssl_certificate /etc/ssl/certs/cloudflare_example.com.pem;
    ssl_certificate_key /etc/ssl/private/cloudflare_example.com.pem;
    ssl_client_certificate /etc/ssl/certs/origin-pull-ca.pem;
    ssl_verify_client on;

    client_max_body_size 100M;
  
    autoindex off;

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

    location ~ \.php$ {
         include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
         fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock;
         fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
         include fastcgi_params;
    }
}

Save the file and exit.

Step 8: Enable the WordPress

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

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

Then open your browser and browse to the server domain name. You should see WordPress setup wizard to complete. Please follow the wizard carefully.

https://example.com/

Then follow the on-screen instructions… Select the installation language then click Continue

WordPress Ubuntu Installation

You will need to know the following items before proceeding…. Use the database connection info you created above….

  • Database name
  • Database username
  • Database password
  • Database host
  • Table prefix (if you want to run more than one WordPress in a single database)

The wizard will use the database information to create a wp-config.php file in WordPress root folder….

If for any reason this automatic file creation doesn’t work, don’t worry… All this does is fill in the database information to a configuration file. You may also simply open wp-config-sample.php in a text editor, fill in your information, and save it as wp-config.php.

WordPress Ubuntu Installation

Next, type in the database connection info and click Submit

WordPress Ubuntu Installation

After that, click Run the installation button to have WordPress complete the setup…

WordPress Ubuntu Installation

Next, create the WordPress site name and the backend admin account…. then click Install WordPress

WordPress installation on Ubuntu

When you’re done, WordPress should be installed and ready to use…

WordPress Ubuntu install

After setting up WordPress, go and install Cloudflare plugin and activate below:

Cloudflare

Activate, configure and use it! After that, your WordPress should be ready to use with Cloudflare support

Congratulation! You have successfully installed WordPress with Cloudflare CDN on Ubuntu 16.04 | 18.04….

You may also like the post below:

Setup FlatPress CMS on Ubuntu 16.04 / 18.04 with Nginx and PHP 7.2-FPM

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