Install Simple Machine Forum on Ubuntu 17.04 | 17.10 with Apache2, MariaDB and PHP

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Simple Machine Forum (SMF)  is a lightweight and simple forum platform based on PHP that allows anyone to create and own their online forum community. It is designed for ease of use to allow webmasters create forum communities with all the features needed from a bulletin board with less resources.

If you’re looking for a simple and straightforward forum platform that’s free to use and easy to customize, you’ll find SMF to be useful. This brief tutorial is going to show students and new users how to install SMF on Ubuntu 17.04 | 17.10 with Apache2, MariaDB and PHP support.

This post covers installing the latest version of SMF, which at the time of writing is  2.0.15

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

Step 1: Install Apache2

SMF requires a webserver to function and the most popular webserver in use today is Apache2. So, go and install Apache2 on Ubuntu by running the commands below:

sudo apt install apache2

After installing Apache2, run the commands below to disable directory listing.

sudo sed -i "s/Options Indexes FollowSymLinks/Options FollowSymLinks/" /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

Next, run the commands below to stop, start and enable Apache2 service to always start up with the server boots.

sudo systemctl stop apache2.service
sudo systemctl start apache2.service
sudo systemctl enable apache2.service

Step 2: Install MariaDB

SMF also requires a database server to function. and MariaDB database server is a great place to start. To install it run the commands below.

sudo apt-get install mariadb-server mariadb-client

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

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

After that, run the commands below to secure MariaDB server.

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

Restart MariaDB server

sudo systemctl restart mariadb.service

Step 3: Install PHP and Related Modules

SMF is based on PHP. so you’ll need to install it. To install PHP and related modules run the commands below

sudo apt install php libapache2-mod-php libapache2-mod-php php-common php-mbstring php-xmlrpc php-soap php-gd php-xml php-intl php-mysql php-cli php-mcrypt php-ldap php-zip php-curl unzip

After install PHP, run the commands below to open Apache2 PHP default file.

sudo nano /etc/php/7.1/apache2/php.ini # Ubuntu 17.10
sudo nano /etc/php/7.0/apache2/php.ini # Ubuntu 17.04

Then make the change the following lines below in the file and save.

file_uploads = On
allow_url_fopen = On
memory_limit = 256M
upload_max_filesize = 64M
max_execution_time = 240
max_input_vars = 1500

Step 4: Create SMF Database

Now that you’ve install all the packages that are required, continue below to start configuring the servers. First run the commands below to create SMF database.

Run the commands below to logon to the database server. When prompted for a password, type the root password you created above.

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called smf


Create a database user called smfuser with new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON smf.* TO 'smfuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


Step 5: Download SMF Latest Release

Next, visit SMF site and download the latest version.

After downloading, run the commands below to extract the downloaded file into Apache2 root directory.

cd /tmp && wget
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/html/smf
sudo unzip -d /var/www/html/smf

Then run the commands below to set the correct permissions for SMFto function.

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/smf/
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/smf/

Step 7: Configure Apache2

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

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/smf.conf

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.

<VirtualHost *:80>
     DocumentRoot /var/www/html/smf

     <Directory /var/www/html/smf/>
        Options +FollowSymlinks
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted

     ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
     CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined


Save the file and exit.

Step 8: Enable the SMF and Rewrite Module

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

sudo a2ensite smf.conf
sudo a2enmod rewrite

Step 9 : Restart Apache2

To load all the settings above, restart Apache2 by running the commands below.

sudo systemctl restart apache2.service

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

Then follow the on-screen instructions until you’ve successfully installed SMF.

smf ubuntu

Type the database connection settings. You’ll need the database and username and password

smf ubuntu 1

Next, enter the forum community name and URL to access it and continue

smf ubuntu 2 1

Create and admin account for the forum and continue

smf ubuntu 3

Finally, complete the installation

smf ubuntu 4


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