Setup ExpressionEngine on Ubuntu 16.04 / 18.04 / 18.10 with Nginx, MariaDB and PHP 7.2-FPM

If you want to run ExpressionEngine with Nginx HTTP and PHP 7.2-FPM support on Ubuntu, the steps below should be a great place to start….

ExpressionEngine is an open source, flexible and extensible content management system (CMS) that can be used to create powerful and dynamic websites and blogs….

ExpressionEngine has a cloud hosting service… however, you can install it on your own servers and always own your content, and can take it with you wherever you go…

If you want a Content Management System (CMS) that is easy to use and manage, then ExpressionEngine CMS is a good place to start… ExpressionEngine CMS is built on an open source core with support for open standards, which might be very useful in helping you run your digital content…

This CMS platform is designed for ease of use to allow enterprises and business owners to collaborate and automate engaging experiences with users across multiple devices, including mobile…

For more about ExpressionEngine CMS, please check their Homepage

This brief tutorial is going to show students and new users how to install ExpressionEngine CMS on Ubuntu 16.04 / 18.10 and 18.04 LTS…

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

Step 1: Install Nginx HTTP Server

ExpressionEngine CMS requires a web server and Nginx HTTP server is probably the second 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…

http://localhost

nginx default home page test

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

Step 2: Install MariaDB Database Server

ExpressionEngine 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

ExpressionEngine 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-bcmath 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 4: Create ExpressionEngine Database

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

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

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called expressionengine

CREATE DATABASE expressionengine;

Create a database user called expressionengineuser with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON expressionengine.* TO 'expressionengineuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.

FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
EXIT;

Step 5: Download ExpressionEngine Latest Release

To get ExpressionEngine latest release you may want to get it from its download page below… At the time of this writing the current version is 5.0.1

https://expressionengine.com/

Extract the downloaded content and copy it to Nginx root directory…

cd ~/Downloads
sudo unzip -d /var/www/html/expressionengine ~/Downloads/ExpressionEngine5.0.1.zip

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

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

Step 6: Configure Nginx

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

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

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/expressionengine;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;
    server_name  example.com www.example.com;

     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;
         fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
         include fastcgi_params;
    }
}

Save the file and exit.

Step 7: Enable the ExpressionEngine and Rewrite Module

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

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

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

http://example.com/admin.php

Then follow the on-screen instruction… Enter the database connection into you created above as well as the backend admin account… When you’re done, click Install

ExpressionEngine

That’s it!

ExpressionEngine

You can logon to the backend using the admin email address and password created above…

Congratulation! You have successfully installed ExpressionEngine CMS on Ubuntu 16.04 / 18.04 and 18.10….

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