Setup Drupal with Apache2 and Ubuntu 18.04 on Google Cloud

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Google Compute Engine (GCE) allows you to create customized VMs with your choice of operating systems. The VMs are created in Google Cloud in various regions of the world.

If you need a fast, powerful server to run your applications, you may want to consider Google Cloud VMs. and this tutorial is going to show you how to set it up.

Using GCE, you can create custom VMs with complete control over the VMs’ environment and runtime as you write or install programs — and they come with persistent disk storage, great performance and are adaptable.

This brief tutorial will show students and new user a step by step guide on how to setup Drupal websites on Ubuntu 16.04 | 18.04 using Google Compute Engine to help improve their website performance and protect their sites against malicious actors.

This tutorial will take the complexity of out running your website on GCE cloud.

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 Drupal. This setup should work on other CMSs and plain HTML sites out of the box.When you’re ready to setup Drupal on Ubuntu using GCE, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Sign up for Google Cloud Platform

The first step in this tutorial is to sign up for Google Cloud Platform (GCP). 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 GCP account.

After logging to your GCP account, there are things things to do right away.

  • Setup your billing account
  • Setup your project
  • Enable GCE API and configure Services Quotas

To enable the items above, navigate to the top left hamburger menu, then go Billing and setup your billing account. You’ll have to enter your credit or checking account info in the payment method section.

Once your payment method is validated, continue to the next page.

Google Compute Engine WordPress

After setting up your billing account, go and enable Google Compute API & Services.

Click on the hamburger menu again and go to APIs & Services ==> Library

Google Compute Engine WordPress

There, enable Compute Engine API. then click Manage to go to the Quota page.

Google Compute Engine WordPress

On the Quotas page, enable the required quotas. To save time for this tutorial, I chose ( 2,000 requests per second ) for many of these queries.

Google Compute Engine WordPress

More services and queries to configure.

Google Compute Engine WordPress

When you done with configuring your default quotas. It may take a few minutes to an hour for Google to approve your settings. Once your account and settings are approved. you should have access to GCE.

Your dashboard should look similar to the one below when you log back in.

Google Compute Engine WordPress

Step 2: Create GCE Instance with Ubuntu Image

Now that your GCE APIs and services are approved. navigate to the hamburger menu on the top left and scroll to Compute Engine ==> VM Instances.

Google Compute Engine WordPress

There, click the CREATE INSTANCE button to begin the creation process.

Google Compute Engine WordPress

On the template page. choose a name for the VM, then for the boot disk, click the Change button to select Ubuntu 16.04 or 18.04 Image. By default, Debian image is chosen when you create a new instance.

Google Compute Engine WordPress

Also make sure both HTTP and HTTPS traffic are allowed. when you’re done, click Create

Google Compute Engine WordPress

That should create a new VM with Ubuntu image on it and start the machine up.

To connect to Ubuntu OS, click SSH as shown in the image below. or  (Open in browser window).

Google Compute Engine WordPress

That should launch the browser SSH connection to the newly created VM with Ubuntu logon message. From here you can begin configuring your Ubuntu VM.

Google Compute Engine

If you’re going to be hosting a website or need a static IP address for the VM, you’ll have to create a new static IP request and reserve. To do that, click the VM name to go into its settings page.

Then click Edit

Google Compute Engine WordPress

Scroll down to Internal IP type and select Create IP address

Google Compute Engine WordPress

There, choose a new for the IP address and click RESERVE

Google Compute Engine WordPress

A new public IP address will be created and attached to the VM. This will be the static IP for the VM you just created. Now go to the domain provider and update the hostname to point to this public IP address for the VM to access it.

This setup assumes that your domain name is called and is pointing to your server with IP address

Don’t forget to also make sure www CNAME is pointing to the domain name. Should look like something below:        A       ==========>
www               CNAME    ==========>

You have now created a new VM with Ubuntu image on Google Compute Engine

Step 3: Install and Configure Drupal

Now that GCE is configure, logon to your server and configure Drupal. First install Apache2 HTTP server since we’re using Apache2 for this post. To install Apache2 server, run the commands below:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install apache2

After installing Apache2, the commands below can be used 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

Now that Apache2 is installed. to test whether the web server is working, open your browser and browse to the URL below.

Apache2 Test Page

If you see the page above, then Apache2 is successfully installed.

Step 4: Install MariaDB Database Server

Drupal 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 5: Install PHP 7.2 and Related Modules

Drupal CMS is a PHP based CMS and PHP is required. However, PHP 7.2 may not be available in Ubuntu default repositories. To run PHP 7.2 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

sudo apt update

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

sudo apt install php7.2 libapache2-mod-php7.2 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 Apache2.

sudo nano /etc/7.2/apache2/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
upload_max_filesize = 100M
max_execution_time = 360
date.timezone = America/Chicago

Everytime you make changes to PHP configuration file, you should also restart Apache2 web server. To do so, run the commands below:

sudo systemctl restart apache2.service

Now that PHP is installed, to test whether it’s functioning, create a test file called phpinfo.php in Apache2 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


You should see PHP default test page.

PHP Test Page

Step 6: Create Drupal Database

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

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

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called drupal


Create a database user called drupaluser with a 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 7: Download Drupal Latest Release

To get Drupal latest release you may want to use Github repository. Install Composer, Curl and other dependencies to get started.

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

After installing curl and Composer above, change into the Apache2 root directory and download Drupal packages from Github. Always replace the branch number with the latest branch.

cd /var/www/html
sudo git clone --branch 8.6.0
cd /var/www/html/drupal
sudo composer install

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

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

Step 8: Configure Apache2

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.conf

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/drupal.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/drupal

     <Directory /var/www/html/drupal/>
        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 9: Enable the Drupal and Rewrite Module

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

sudo a2ensite drupal.conf
sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo systemctl restart apache2.service

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

Then follow the on-screen instructions and select the installation language here.

Drupal install composer

Next, select the installation profile and continue

drupal ubuntu install

On the next screen, enter the database connection info you created above and continue.

Ubuntu install drupal

Then create an admin account and the Drupal site info and finish the instalation. after a brief moment, you should see your new site created.

Drupal ubuntu install

Congratulation! You have successfully installed Drupal on Ubuntu 16.04 | 18.04 and may work on upcoming 18.10.

Drupal Install Ubuntu

In the future when you want to upgrade to a new released version, simply run the commands below to upgrade.

sudo composer update /var/www/htmnl/drupal/core --with-dependencies
cd /var/www/html/drupal
sudo composer require drush/drush
cd /var/www/html/drupal/vendor/drush/drush
./drush updatedb
./drush cr

That’s it!

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