Setup ChurchCRM on Ubuntu 18.04 | 16.04 with Nginx

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This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to install and configure ChurchCRM platform on Ubuntu 18.04 | 16.04 with Nginx HTTP servers.

Our previous tutorial showed you how to install ChurchCRM on Ubuntu with Apache2 (LAMP ). You can find that tutorial here.

For the uninitiated, ChurchCRM is an open source CRM software built for churches that can serve as a strong alternative to the popular CRM systems in use today.

If you own a church and you want a CRM platform, then ChurchCRM might just be what you want. It comes with an intuitive dashboard the provides quick view your members, Sunday school activities, financial modules and more.

This free CRM is built on the LAMP / LEMP stack, and offers features that will help you run your business and collaborate with your customers, employees and church members…

For more about ChurchCRM, please check its homepage.

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

Step 1: Install Nginx HTTP Server

ChurchCRM requires a web server and Nginx HTTP server is the most popular open source web server available today.

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.

nginx default home page test

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

Step 2: Install MariaDB Database Server

ChurchCRM 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

ChurchCRM is a PHP based platform.  PHP 7.2-FPM may not be available in Ubuntu default repositories. To run PHP 7.2-FPM on Ubuntu 14.04, 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-bcmath php7.2-imap php7.2-xml php7.2-cli php7.2-zip

After installing PHP 7.1, 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 ChurchCRM Database

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

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

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called churchcrm


Create a database user called churchcrmuser with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON churchcrm.* TO 'churchcrmuser'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


Step 5: Download ChurchCRM Latest Release

ChurchCRM community edition can be downloaded from its download page here.

On Ubuntu terminal, run the commands below to download, then extract to its root directory.

cd /tmp
sudo mv churchcrm /var/www/churchcrm

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

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

Step 6: Configure Nginx

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

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

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/churchcrm;
    index  index.php;
    access_log /var/log/nginx/;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/;

    client_max_body_size 100M;
    autoindex off;

    location / {
    try_files $uri /index.php$is_args$args;

    location ~ \.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 ChurchCRM

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

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

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

Then follow the on-screen instruction. Validate that all requirements are met and continue

ChurchCRM Ubuntu Install

During the setup, you’ll be prompted to enter a Root Path

For tutorial, we’re going to be accessing the portal from our main domain ( ).  Leave blank.

Next, type in the database name, username and password, then complete the setup

ChurchCRM Ubuntu setup

After that, you should be able to login with the credentials below:

Username: Admin
Password: changeme

ChurchCRM Setup


You have successfully learned how to install ChurchCRM platform on Ubuntu. You may need to configure additional settings, but the steps above give you a basic starting point.

If you find errors with the steps above, please comment below:

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  1. Hi, thank you for the detail steps for installing ChurchCRM. However, I was able to go step by step to the end and ended up getting error 500 on the web page after the last step.
    I want to believe I might have made a mistake on the “Welcome to ChurchCRM setup wizard” page(s).
    I set it up on Amazon AWS EC2 with Ubuntu 18.04 and ChurchCRM 4.0.2.
    2 questions: (i.) What file can I reconfigure/edit or delete that will make me come back to the “Welcome to ChurchCRM setup wizard” page so I don’t have to start all over.
    Or (ii.) How can I resolve the error 500 issue. Thanks.
    Pls Note – Softwares used: – Amazon AWS EC2, Ubuntu 18.04, Apache latest version, MariaDB, PHP latest version

  2. Seems a AWS Issue.

  3. i have no idea this software ONLY works for you who make the tutorials BUT DOESNT WORK for us who follow the same step-by-step over and over. the dev teams themselves dont even test their tutorials to know that it doesnt work. I have been trying this thing a about 3 months….going from 5 different version and still getting error…redirecting too many errors. session/begin is added to url when i finish with setup and click on update database….none of you mention about which where the issue is. there is setup and session folders in the root of the churchcrm zip file….and they both contain the same files. NGINX doesnt have rewrite nor support .htacess. very strange that all of you just put up a NONE WORKING tutorials and dont realize it. somebody made a comment and told the dev in the churchcrm forum to try and use his own tutorial and see if it works at all….everybody has same damn issue….too many redirect….i have debian 9 server with nginx, NO APACHE. php7.3-fpm etc. i am not that stupid to not be able to set this up it documentations were written correctly

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