Setup Drupal on Ubuntu 17.04 | 17.10 with Nginx, MariaDB and PHP

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to easily install Drupal CMS on Ubuntu 17.04 | 17.10 with Nginx, MariaDB and PHP support. For those who don’t know Drupal is a content management system (CMS) that enables webmasters and website owners to build dynamic and powerful websites.

Drupal is free to use and easy to customize and many websites owners can use it to create great websites and web applications. If WordPress or Joomla is not meeting your needs, you may want to give Drupal a try. It may just be what you need to run your website content online.

This post covers installing the latest version of Drupal, which at the time of writing was at version 8.3.7.

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

Step 1: Install Nginx

Drupal requires a webserver to function and one of the most popular webserver is Nginx. So, go and install Nginx on Ubuntu by running the commands below:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nginx

Next, run the commands below 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

Step 2: Install MariaDB

Drupal 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

Drupal also requires PHP to function. To install PHP and related modules run the commands below

sudo apt-get install php-fpm php-common php-mbstring php-xmlrpc php-soap php-gd php-xml php-intl php-mysql php-cli php-mcrypt php-ldap php-tidy php-recode php-zip php-curl

Some of the PHP packages above depend on Apache2.. so installing them might also install Apache2 webserver. Since we’re using Nginx, run the commands below to disable Apache2.

sudo systemctl disable apache2.service

Step 4: Create Drupal 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 Drupal 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 drupal


Create a database user called drupaluser with new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON drupal.* TO 'drupaluser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


Step 5: Download Drupal Latest Release

Next, run the commands below to download Drupal latest release. The commands below to download Drupal archive package.

cd /tmp && wget

Then run the commands below to extract the download file and rename the folder drupal.

sudo tar -zxvf drupal*.gz -C /var/www/html
sudo mv /var/www/html/drupal-8.3.7/ /var/www/html/drupal/

Change modify the directory permission.

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

Step 6: Configure Nginx

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

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

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/html/drupal;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;

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

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

    location ~ [^/]\.php(/|$) {
    fastcgi_split_path_info  ^(.+?\.php)(|/.*)$;
    fastcgi_index            index.php;
  # fastcgi_pass             unix:/var/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock; # for Ubuntu 17.04
    fastcgi_pass             unix:/var/run/php/php7.1-fpm.sock; # for Ubuntu 17.10
    include                  fastcgi_params;
    fastcgi_param   PATH_INFO       $fastcgi_path_info;
    fastcgi_param   SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;

    location ~ ^/sites/.*/files/styles/ { # For Drupal >= 7
               try_files $uri @rewrite;

    location ~ ^(/[a-z\-]+)?/system/files/ { # For Drupal >= 7
        try_files $uri /index.php?$query_string;

Save the file and exit.

Step 7: Enable the Drupal site

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

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

Step 8 : Restart Nginx and PHP-FPM

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

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service
sudo systemctl restart php7.0-fpm.service
sudo systemctl restart php7.1-fpm.service

Then browse to the domain of the site and you should see Drupal site setup wizard.

drupal installation ubuntu

Enter the database confirmation and continue with the setup.

drupal installation ubuntu

Continue with the wizard until you’ve successfully configured Drupal.


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