Setup Joomla with Apache2 and Ubuntu 18.04 on Google Cloud

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Google Cloud or Google Compute Engine lets you create custom VMs in its cloud data center around the world with complete control of their environment and runtime as you write or install programs — and they come with persistent disk storage, great performance and are adaptable.

If you need a reliable and powerful company like Google running your servers in its cloud data centers, then you should consider renting a cloud VMs from them.

This brief tutorial will show students and new user a step by step guide on how to setup Joomla 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 Joomla. This setup should work on other CMSs and plain HTML sites out of the box.When you’re ready to setup Joomla 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 Joomla

Now that GCE is configure, logon to your server and configure Joomla. 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

Joomla 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

Joomla 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 Joomla Database

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

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

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called joomla


Create a database user called joomlauser with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON joomla.* TO 'joomlauser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


Step 7: Download Joomla Latest Release

To get Joomla latest release you will need to go to its official download page and get it from there… The link below is where to find Joomla latest archive versions…

At the time of this writing, the latest version is 3.9.1… Future version will have different links to download from….

Run the commands below to download and extract Joomla version 3.9.1

cd /tmp
sudo unzip -d /var/www/html/joomla /tmp/joomla_3-9-1-stable-full_package-zip

Then run the commands below to set the correct permissions for Joomla root directory and give Apache2 control….

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

Step 8: Configure Apache2

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

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

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

     ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
     CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined
     <Directory /var/www/html/joomla/>
            RewriteEngine on
            RewriteBase /
            RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
            RewriteRule ^(.*) index.php [PT,L]

Save the file and exit.

Step 9: Enable the Joomla and Rewrite Module

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

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

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

Then follow the on-screen instructions… Select the installation language and main site configuration and the backend admin account, then click Next to continue….

Joomla installation on Ubuntu

Next, type in the database info you created above and click Next to continue…

Joomla installation on Ubuntu

Confirm that the site info is correct and make sure that recommended settings are all marked as green… Then click Install to begin the installation…

Joomla installation on Ubuntu

After a brief moment, you site should be installed and ready to use…. Click the Remove installation folder to secure your site…

Joomla installation on Ubuntu

Next, logon to the backend dashboard with the super admin  account you created above….

Joomla installation on Ubuntu


Joomla Ubuntu install

Don’t forget the delete the installer directory if you didn’t do it above…

sudo rm -rf /var/www/html/joomla/installation

Congratulations! You have successfully installed Joomla CMS with Cloudflare support on Ubuntu 16.04 | 18.04

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