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      How To Install Linux, Apache, MariaDB, PHP (LAMP) stack on Debian 9


      A “LAMP” stack is a group of open source software that is typically installed together to enable a server to host dynamic websites and web apps. This term is actually an acronym which represents the Linux operating system, with the Apache web server. The site data is stored in a MariaDB database, and dynamic content is processed by PHP.

      In this guide, we will install a LAMP stack on a Debian 9 server.


      In order to complete this tutorial, you will need to have a Debian 9 server with a non-root sudo-enabled user account and a basic firewall. This can be configured using our initial server setup guide for Debian 9.

      Step 1 — Installing Apache and Updating the Firewall

      The Apache web server is among the most popular web servers in the world. It’s well-documented and has been in wide use for much of the history of the web, which makes it a great default choice for hosting a website.

      Install Apache using Debian’s package manager, apt:

      • sudo apt update
      • sudo apt install apache2

      Since this is a sudo command, these operations are executed with root privileges. It will ask you for your regular user’s password to verify your intentions.

      Once you’ve entered your password, apt will tell you which packages it plans to install and how much extra disk space they’ll take up. Press Y and hit ENTER to continue, and the installation will proceed.

      Next, assuming that you have followed the initial server setup instructions by installing and enabling the UFW firewall, make sure that your firewall allows HTTP and HTTPS traffic.

      When installed on Debian 9, UFW comes loaded with app profiles which you can use to tweak your firewall settings. View the full list of application profiles by running:

      The WWW profiles are used to manage ports used by web servers:


      Available applications: . . . WWW WWW Cache WWW Full WWW Secure . . .

      If you inspect the WWW Full profile, it shows that it enables traffic to ports 80 and 443:

      • sudo ufw app info "WWW Full"


      Profile: WWW Full Title: Web Server (HTTP,HTTPS) Description: Web Server (HTTP,HTTPS) Ports: 80,443/tcp

      Allow incoming HTTP and HTTPS traffic for this profile:

      • sudo ufw allow in “WWW Full”

      You can do a spot check right away to verify that everything went as planned by visiting your server's public IP address in your web browser:


      You will see the default Debian 9 Apache web page, which is there for informational and testing purposes. It should look something like this:

      Debian 9 Apache default

      If you see this page, then your web server is now correctly installed and accessible through your firewall.

      If you do not know what your server's public IP address is, there are a number of ways you can find it. Usually, this is the address you use to connect to your server through SSH.

      There are a few different ways to do this from the command line. First, you could use the iproute2 tools to get your IP address by typing this:

      • ip addr show eth0 | grep inet | awk '{ print $2; }' | sed 's//.*$//'

      This will give you two or three lines back. They are all correct addresses, but your computer may only be able to use one of them, so feel free to try each one.

      An alternative method is to use the curl utility to contact an outside party to tell you how it sees your server. This is done by asking a specific server what your IP address is:

      • sudo apt install curl
      • curl

      Regardless of the method you use to get your IP address, type it into your web browser's address bar to view the default Apache page.

      Step 2 — Installing MariaDB

      Now that you have your web server up and running, it is time to install MariaDB. MariaDB is a database management system. Basically, it will organize and provide access to databases where your site can store information.

      MariaDB is a community-built fork of MySQL. In Debian 9, the default MySQL server is MariaDB 10.1, and the mysql-server package, which is normally used to install MySQL, is a transitional package that will actually install MariaDB. However, it’s recommended that you install MariaDB using the program’s actual package, mariadb-server.

      Again, use apt to acquire and install this software:

      • sudo apt install mariadb-server

      Note: In this case, you do not have to run sudo apt update prior to the command. This is because you recently ran it in the commands above to install Apache, and the package index on your computer should already be up-to-date.

      This command, too, will show you a list of the packages that will be installed, along with the amount of disk space they'll take up. Enter Y to continue.

      When the installation is complete, run a simple security script that comes pre-installed with MariaDB which will remove some insecure default settings and lock down access to your database system. Start the interactive script by running:

      • sudo mysql_secure_installation

      This will take you through a series of prompts where you can make some changes to your MariaDB installation’s security options. The first prompt will ask you to enter the current database root password. This is an administrative account in MariaDB that has increased privileges. Think of it as being similar to the root account for the server itself (although the one you are configuring now is a MariaDB-specific account). Because you just installed MariaDB and haven’t made any configuration changes yet, this password will be blank, so just press ENTER at the prompt.

      The next prompt asks you whether you'd like to set up a database root password. Type N and then press ENTER. In Debian, the root account for MariaDB is tied closely to automated system maintenance, so we should not change the configured authentication methods for that account. Doing so would make it possible for a package update to break the database system by removing access to the administrative account. Later, we will cover how to optionally set up an additional administrative account for password access if socket authentication is not appropriate for your use case.

      From there, you can press Y and then ENTER to accept the defaults for all the subsequent questions. This will remove some anonymous users and the test database, disable remote root logins, and load these new rules so that MariaDB immediately respects the changes you have made.

      In new installs on Debian systems, the root MariaDB user is set to authenticate using the unix_socket plugin by default rather than with a password. This allows for some greater security and usability in many cases, but it can also complicate things when you need to allow an external program (e.g., phpMyAdmin) administrative rights.

      Because the server uses the root account for tasks like log rotation and starting and stopping the server, it is best not to change the root account's authentication details. Changing the account credentials in the /etc/mysql/debian.cnf may work initially, but package updates could potentially overwrite those changes. Instead of modifying the root account, the package maintainers recommend creating a separate administrative account if you need to set up password-based access.

      To do so, we will be creating a new account called admin with the same capabilities as the root account, but configured for password authentication. To do this, open up the MariaDB prompt from your terminal:

      Now, we can create a new user with root privileges and password-based access. Change the username and password to match your preferences:

      • GRANT ALL ON *.* TO 'admin'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password' WITH GRANT OPTION;

      Flush the privileges to ensure that they are saved and available in the current session:

      Following this, exit the MariaDB shell:

      Now, any time you want to access your database as your new administrative user, you’ll need to authenticate as that user with the password you just set using the following command:

      At this point, your database system is set up and you can move on to installing PHP, the final component of the LAMP stack.

      Step 3 — Installing PHP

      PHP is the component of your setup that will process code to display dynamic content. It can run scripts, connect to your MariaDB databases to get information, and hand the processed content over to your web server to display.

      Once again, leverage the apt system to install PHP. In addition, include some helper packages this time so that PHP code can run under the Apache server and talk to your MariaDB database:

      • sudo apt install php libapache2-mod-php php-mysql

      This should install PHP without any problems. We'll test this in a moment.

      In most cases, you will want to modify the way that Apache serves files when a directory is requested. Currently, if a user requests a directory from the server, Apache will first look for a file called index.html. We want to tell the web server to prefer PHP files over others, so make Apache look for an index.php file first.

      To do this, type this command to open the dir.conf file in a text editor with root privileges:

      • sudo nano /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/dir.conf

      It will look like this:


      <IfModule mod_dir.c>
          DirectoryIndex index.html index.cgi index.php index.xhtml index.htm

      Move the PHP index file (highlighted above) to the first position after the DirectoryIndex specification, like this:


      <IfModule mod_dir.c>
          DirectoryIndex index.php index.html index.cgi index.xhtml index.htm

      When you are finished, save and close the file by pressing CTRL+X. Confirm the save by typing Y and then hit ENTER to verify the file save location.

      After this, restart the Apache web server in order for your changes to be recognized. Do this by typing this:

      • sudo systemctl restart apache2

      You can also check on the status of the apache2 service using systemctl:

      • sudo systemctl status apache2

      Sample Output

      ● apache2.service - The Apache HTTP Server Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/apache2.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled) Active: active (running) since Tue 2018-09-04 18:23:03 UTC; 9s ago Process: 22209 ExecStop=/usr/sbin/apachectl stop (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS) Process: 22216 ExecStart=/usr/sbin/apachectl start (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS) Main PID: 22221 (apache2) Tasks: 6 (limit: 4915) CGroup: /system.slice/apache2.service ├─22221 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start ├─22222 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start ├─22223 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start ├─22224 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start ├─22225 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start └─22226 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start

      To enhance the functionality of PHP, you have the option to install some additional modules. To see the available options for PHP modules and libraries, pipe the results of apt search into less, a pager which lets you scroll through the output of other commands:

      Use the arrow keys to scroll up and down, and press Q to quit.

      The results are all optional components that you can install. It will give you a short description for each:


      Sorting... Full Text Search... bandwidthd-pgsql/stable 2.0.1+cvs20090917-10 amd64 Tracks usage of TCP/IP and builds html files with graphs bluefish/stable 2.2.9-1+b1 amd64 advanced Gtk+ text editor for web and software development cacti/stable 0.8.8h+ds1-10 all web interface for graphing of monitoring systems cakephp-scripts/stable 2.8.5-1 all rapid application development framework for PHP (scripts) ganglia-webfrontend/stable 3.6.1-3 all cluster monitoring toolkit - web front-end haserl/stable 0.9.35-2+b1 amd64 CGI scripting program for embedded environments kdevelop-php-docs/stable 5.0.3-1 all transitional package for kdevelop-php kdevelop-php-docs-l10n/stable 5.0.3-1 all transitional package for kdevelop-php-l10n … :

      To learn more about what each module does, you could search the internet for more information about them. Alternatively, look at the long description of the package by typing:

      There will be a lot of output, with one field called Description which will have a longer explanation of the functionality that the module provides.

      For example, to find out what the php-cli module does, you could type this:

      Along with a large amount of other information, you'll find something that looks like this:


      … Description: command-line interpreter for the PHP scripting language (default) This package provides the /usr/bin/php command interpreter, useful for testing PHP scripts from a shell or performing general shell scripting tasks. . PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML. . This package is a dependency package, which depends on Debian's default PHP version (currently 7.0). …

      If, after researching, you decide you would like to install a package, you can do so by using the apt install command like you have been doing for the other software.

      If you decided that php-cli is something that you need, you could type:

      If you want to install more than one module, you can do that by listing each one, separated by a space, following the apt install command, like this:

      • sudo apt install package1 package2 ...

      At this point, your LAMP stack is installed and configured. Before making any more changes or deploying an application, though, it would be helpful to proactively test out your PHP configuration in case there are any issues that should be addressed.

      Step 4 — Testing PHP Processing on your Web Server

      In order to test that your system is configured properly for PHP, create a very basic PHP script called info.php. In order for Apache to find this file and serve it correctly, it must be saved to a very specific directory called the web root.

      In Debian 9, this directory is located at /var/www/html/. Create the file at that location by running:

      • sudo nano /var/www/html/info.php

      This will open a blank file. Add the following text, which is valid PHP code, inside the file:



      When you are finished, save and close the file.

      Now you can test whether your web server is able to correctly display content generated by this PHP script. To try this out, visit this page in your web browser. You'll need your server's public IP address again.

      The address you will want to visit is:


      The page that you come to should look something like this:

      Debian 9 default PHP info

      This page provides some basic information about your server from the perspective of PHP. It is useful for debugging and to ensure that your settings are being applied correctly.

      If you can see this page in your browser, then your PHP is working as expected.

      You probably want to remove this file after this test because it could actually give information about your server to unauthorized users. To do this, run the following command:

      • sudo rm /var/www/html/info.php

      You can always recreate this page if you need to access the information again later.


      Now that you have a LAMP stack installed, you have many choices for what to do next. Basically, you've installed a platform that will allow you to install most kinds of websites and web software on your server.

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      How To Install WordPress with LAMP on Debian 9


      WordPress is the most popular CMS (content management system) on the internet. It allows you to easily set up flexible blogs and websites on top of a MariaDB backend with PHP processing. WordPress has seen incredible adoption and is a great choice for getting a website up and running quickly. After setup, almost all administration can be done through the web frontend.

      In this guide, we’ll focus on getting a WordPress instance set up on a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MariaDB, and PHP) on a Debian 9 server.


      In order to complete this tutorial, you will need access to a Debian 9 server.

      You will need to perform the following tasks before you can start this guide:

      • Create a sudo user on your server: We will be completing the steps in this guide using a non-root user with sudo privileges. You can create a user with sudo privileges by following our Debian 9 initial server setup guide.
      • Install a LAMP stack: WordPress will need a web server, a database, and PHP in order to correctly function. Setting up a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MariaDB, and PHP) fulfills all of these requirements. Follow this guide to install and configure this software.
      • Secure your site with SSL: WordPress serves dynamic content and handles user authentication and authorization. TLS/SSL is the technology that allows you to encrypt the traffic from your site so that your connection is secure. The way you set up SSL will depend on whether you have a domain name for your site.
        • If you have a domain name… the easiest way to secure your site is with Let’s Encrypt, which provides free, trusted certificates. Follow our Let’s Encrypt guide for Apache to set this up.
        • If you do not have a domain… and you are just using this configuration for testing or personal use, you can use a self-signed certificate instead. This provides the same type of encryption, but without the domain validation. Follow our self-signed SSL guide for Apache to get set up.

      When you are finished with the setup steps, log in to your server as your sudo user and continue below.

      Step 1 — Creating a MariaDB Database and User for WordPress

      The first step that we will take is a preparatory one. WordPress uses MySQL to manage and store site and user information. We have MariaDB — a drop-in replacement for MySQL — installed already, but we need to make a database and a user for WordPress to use.

      To get started, open up the MariaDB prompt as the root account:

      Note: If you set up another account with administrative privileges when you installed and set up MariaDB, you can also log in as that user. You’ll need to do so with the following command:

      After issuing this command, MariaDB will prompt you for the password you set for that account.

      Begin by creating a new database that WordPress will control. You can call this whatever you would like but, to keep it simple for this guide, we will name it wordpress.

      Create the database for WordPress by typing:

      • CREATE DATABASE wordpress DEFAULT CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_unicode_ci;

      Note that every MySQL statement must end in a semi-colon (;). Check to make sure this is present if you are running into any issues.

      Next, create a separate MySQL user account that we will use exclusively to operate on our new database. Creating single-function databases and accounts is a good idea from a management and security standpoint. We will use the name wordpressuser in this guide, but feel free to change this if you'd like.

      Create this account, set a password, and grant the user access to the database you just created with the following command. Remember to choose a strong password for your database user:

      • GRANT ALL ON wordpress.* TO 'wordpressuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';

      You now have a database and user account, each made specifically for WordPress. Run the following command to reload the grant tables so that the current instance of MariaDB knows about the changes you've made:

      Exit out of MariaDB by typing:

      Now that you’ve configured the database and user that will be used by WordPress, you can move on to installing some PHP-related packages used by the CMS.

      Step 2 — Installing Additional PHP Extensions

      When setting up our LAMP stack, we only required a very minimal set of extensions in order to get PHP to communicate with MariaDB. WordPress and many of its plugins leverage additional PHP extensions.

      Download and install some of the most popular PHP extensions for use with WordPress by typing:

      • sudo apt update
      • sudo apt install php-curl php-gd php-mbstring php-xml php-xmlrpc php-soap php-intl php-zip

      Note: Each WordPress plugin has its own set of requirements. Some may require additional PHP packages to be installed. Check your plugin documentation to find its PHP requirements. If they are available, they can be installed with apt as demonstrated above.

      We will restart Apache to load these new extensions in the next section. If you are returning here to install additional plugins, you can restart Apache now by typing:

      • sudo systemctl restart apache2

      At this point, all that’s left to do before installing WordPress is to make some changes to your Apache configuration in order to allow the CMS to function smoothly.

      Step 3 — Adjusting Apache's Configuration to Allow for .htaccess Overrides and Rewrites

      With the additional PHP extensions installed and ready for use, the next thing to do is to make a few changes to your Apache configuration. Based on the prerequisite tutorials, you should have a configuration file for your site in the /etc/apache2/sites-available/ directory. We'll use /etc/apache2/sites-available/wordpress.conf as an example here, but you should substitute the path to your configuration file where appropriate.

      Additionally, we will use /var/www/wordpress as the root directory of our WordPress install. You should use the web root specified in your own configuration.

      Note: It's possible you are using the 000-default.conf default configuration (with /var/www/html as your web root). This is fine to use if you're only going to host one website on this server. If not, it's best to split the necessary configuration into logical chunks, one file per site.

      Currently, the use of .htaccess files is disabled. WordPress and many WordPress plugins use these files extensively for in-directory tweaks to the web server's behavior.

      Open the Apache configuration file for your website. Note that if you have an existing Apache configuration file for your website, this file’s name will be different:

      • sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/wordpress.conf

      To allow .htaccess files, you’ll need to add a Directory block pointing to your document root with an AllowOverride directive within it. Add the following block of text inside the VirtualHost block in your configuration file, being sure to use the correct web root directory:


      <Directory /var/www/wordpress/>
          AllowOverride All

      When you are finished, save and close the file.

      Next, enable the rewrite module in order to utilize the WordPress permalink feature:

      Before implementing the changes you've made, check to make sure that you haven't made any syntax errors:

      • sudo apache2ctl configtest

      If your configuration file’s syntax is correct, you’ll see the following in your output:


      Syntax OK

      If this command reports any errors, go back and check that you haven’t made any syntax errors in your configuration file. Otherwise, restart Apache to implement the changes:

      • sudo systemctl restart apache2

      Next, we will download and set up WordPress itself.

      Step 4 — Downloading WordPress

      Now that your server software is configured, you can download and set up WordPress. For security reasons in particular, it is always recommended to get the latest version of WordPress directly from their site.

      Note: We will use curl to download WordPress, but this program may not be installed by default on your Debian server. To install it, run:

      Change into a writable directory and then download the compressed release by typing:

      • cd /tmp
      • curl -O

      Extract the compressed file to create the WordPress directory structure:

      We will move these files into our document root momentarily. Before we do, though, add a dummy .htaccess file so that this will be available for WordPress to use later.

      Create the file by typing:

      • touch /tmp/wordpress/.htaccess

      Then copy over the sample configuration file to the filename that WordPress actually reads:

      • cp /tmp/wordpress/wp-config-sample.php /tmp/wordpress/wp-config.php

      Additionally, create the upgrade directory so that WordPress won't run into permissions issues when trying to do this on its own following an update to its software:

      • mkdir /tmp/wordpress/wp-content/upgrade

      Then, copy the entire contents of the directory into your document root. Notice that the following command includes a dot at the end of the source directory to indicate that everything within the directory should be copied, including hidden files (like the .htaccess file you created):

      • sudo cp -a /tmp/wordpress/. /var/www/wordpress

      With that, you’ve successfully installed WordPress onto your web server and performed some of the initial configuration steps. Next, we’ll discuss some further configuration changes that will give WordPress the privileges it needs to function as well as access to the MariaDB database and user account you created previously.

      Step 5 — Configuring the WordPress Directory

      Before we can go through the web-based setup process for WordPress, we need to adjust some items in our WordPress directory.

      Start by giving ownership of all the files to the www-data user and group. This is the user that the Apache web server runs as, and Apache will need to be able to read and write WordPress files in order to serve the website and perform automatic updates.

      Update the ownership with chown:

      • sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/wordpress

      Next we will run two find commands to set the correct permissions on the WordPress directories and files:

      • sudo find /var/www/wordpress/ -type d -exec chmod 750 {} ;
      • sudo find /var/www/wordpress/ -type f -exec chmod 640 {} ;

      These should be a reasonable permissions set to start with, although some plugins and procedures might require additional tweaks.

      Following this, you will need to make some changes to the main WordPress configuration file.

      When you open the file, your first objective will be to adjust some secret keys to provide some security for your installation. WordPress provides a secure generator for these values so that you do not have to try to come up with good values on your own. These are only used internally, so it won't hurt usability to have complex, secure values here.

      To grab secure values from the WordPress secret key generator, type:

      • curl -s

      You will get back unique values that look something like this:

      Warning! It is important that you request unique values each time. Do NOT copy the values shown below!


      define('AUTH_KEY', '1jl/vqfs<XhdXoAPz9 DO NOT COPY THESE VALUES c_j{iwqD^<+c9.k<J@4H'); define('SECURE_AUTH_KEY', 'E2N-h2]Dcvp+aS/p7X DO NOT COPY THESE VALUES {Ka(f;rv?Pxf})CgLi-3'); define('LOGGED_IN_KEY', 'W(50,{W^,OPB%PB<JF DO NOT COPY THESE VALUES 2;y&,2m%3]R6DUth[;88'); define('NONCE_KEY', 'll,4UC)7ua+8<!4VM+ DO NOT COPY THESE VALUES #`DXF+[$atzM7 o^-C7g'); define('AUTH_SALT', 'koMrurzOA+|L_lG}kf DO NOT COPY THESE VALUES 07VC*Lj*lD&?3w!BT#-'); define('SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 'p32*p,]z%LZ+pAu:VY DO NOT COPY THESE VALUES C-?y+K0DK_+F|0h{!_xY'); define('LOGGED_IN_SALT', 'i^/G2W7!-1H2OQ+t$3 DO NOT COPY THESE VALUES t6**bRVFSD[Hi])-qS`|'); define('NONCE_SALT', 'Q6]U:K?j4L%Z]}h^q7 DO NOT COPY THESE VALUES 1% ^qUswWgn+6&xqHN&%');

      These are configuration lines that you will paste directly into your configuration file to set secure keys. Copy the output you received to your clipboard, and then open the WordPress configuration file located in your document root:

      • sudo nano /var/www/wordpress/wp-config.php

      Find the section that contains the dummy values for those settings. It will look something like this:


      . . .
      define('AUTH_KEY',         'put your unique phrase here');
      define('SECURE_AUTH_KEY',  'put your unique phrase here');
      define('LOGGED_IN_KEY',    'put your unique phrase here');
      define('NONCE_KEY',        'put your unique phrase here');
      define('AUTH_SALT',        'put your unique phrase here');
      define('SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 'put your unique phrase here');
      define('LOGGED_IN_SALT',   'put your unique phrase here');
      define('NONCE_SALT',       'put your unique phrase here');
      . . .

      Delete these lines and paste in the values you copied from the command line:


      . . .
      . . .

      Next, modify the database connection settings at the top of the file. You need to adjust the database name, the database user, and the associated password that you’ve configured within MariaDB.

      The other change you must make is to set the method that WordPress should use to write to the filesystem. Since we've given the web server permission to write where it needs to, we can explicitly set the filesystem method to "direct". Failure to set this with our current settings would result in WordPress prompting for FTP credentials when you perform certain actions.

      This setting can be added below the database connection settings, or anywhere else in the file:


      . . .
      define('DB_NAME', 'wordpress');
      /** MySQL database username */
      define('DB_USER', 'wordpressuser');
      /** MySQL database password */
      define('DB_PASSWORD', 'password');
      . . .
      define('FS_METHOD', 'direct');

      Save and close the file when you are finished. Finally, you can finish installing and configuring WordPress by accessing it through your web browser.

      Step 6 — Completing the Installation Through the Web Interface

      Now that the server configuration is complete, we can complete the installation through the web interface.

      In your web browser, navigate to your server's domain name or public IP address:


      Select the language you would like to use:

      WordPress language selection

      Next, you will come to the main setup page. Select a name for your WordPress site and choose a username (it is recommended not to choose something like "admin" for security purposes). A strong password is generated automatically. Save this password or select an alternative strong password.

      Enter your email address and select whether you want to discourage search engines from indexing your site:

      WordPress setup installation

      When ready, click the Install WordPress button. You’ll be taken to a page that prompts you to log in:

      WordPress login prompt

      Once you log in, you will be taken to the WordPress administration dashboard:

      WordPress login prompt

      From the dashboard, you can begin making changes to your site’s theme and publishing content.


      WordPress should be installed and ready to use! Some common next steps are to choose the permalinks setting for your posts (which can be found in Settings > Permalinks) or to select a new theme (in Appearance > Themes). If this is your first time using WordPress, explore the interface a bit to get acquainted with your new CMS.

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