This short post shows students and new users how to install and use the Drupal content management system (CMS) on Ubuntu Linux with the Nginx HTTP web server. This post will also have a link to set up free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates to protect your Drupal websites and apps.

Drupal is a free and open source CMS based on PHP and MySQL that also has many features and thousands of plugins and templates or themes. If you want to create a website or online store, Drupal might be the easiest way to do it, especially if you will need user support to manage and maintain the site.

This tutorial is based on Ubuntu Linux. We will install the Nginx web server, the MariaDB database server and the PHP modules. We will also link to another post that will show you how to protect your Drupal website using free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates.

For more information on Drupal, see their Homepage

To start installing Drupal on Ubuntu Linux, follow the steps below:

How to install Nginx on Ubuntu Linux

As mentioned above, we will use the Nginx web server to run Drupal. Drupal requires a web server to function, and Nginx is one of the most popular open source web servers available today.

To install Nginx on Ubuntu, run the following commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nginx

After installing Nginx, the following commands can be used to stop, start and enable Nginx services always start every time your server starts.

sudo systemctl stop nginx.service
sudo systemctl start nginx.service
sudo systemctl enable nginx.service

To test if Nginx is installed and working, open your web browser and look for the IP address or hostname of the server.

http: // localhost

test the default nginx home page

If you see the above page in the browser, then Nginx is working as expected.

How to install MariaDB on Ubuntu Linux

A database server is required for Drupal to work. Drupal stores its content in a database and MariaDB is probably the best database server available to run Drupal.

MariaDB is fast, secure, and the default server for almost all Linux servers. To install MariaDB, run the following commands:

sudo apt install mariadb-server
sudo apt install mariadb-client

After installing MariaDB, the following commands can be used to stop, start and enable MariaDB services always start when the server starts.

sudo systemctl stop mariadb.service
sudo systemctl start mariadb.service
sudo systemctl enable mariadb.service

Then run the following commands to protect the database server with a root password if you were not prompted to do so during installation.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

When prompted, use the guide below to respond:

If you've just installed MariaDB, and haven't set the root password yet, you should just press enter here.

Enter current password for root (enter for none): PRESS ENTER

Switch to unix_socket authentication [Y/n] n

Change the root password? [Y/n] n

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

All done!

To verify and validate that MariaDB is installed and working, log into the database console using the following commands:

sudo mysql -u root -p

It should automatically log into the database server as we started the login request as root. Only root can login without password and only from server console.

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mariadb welcome

If you see a screen similar to the one shown above, then the server installed successfully.

How to install PHP-FPM on Ubuntu Linux

As we also mentioned above, we are installing PHP on Ubuntu as Drupal requires it. The PHP packages are added to the Ubuntu repositories. Repository versions may not be the latest. If you need to install the latest versions, you will need to add a third-party PPA repository.

In a third-party repository with the latest versions of PHP, run the following commands.

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php

At the time of writing, the latest version of PHP 8.0.

sudo apt update

Then run the following commands to install PHP 8.0 and related modules.

sudo apt install php8.0-fpm php8.0-common php8.0-mysql php8.0-gmp php8.0-curl php8.0-intl php8.0-mbstring php8.0-xmlrpc php8.0-gd php8.0-xml php8.0-cli php8.0-zip

Once PHP is installed, the following commands can be used to start, stop, and allow the PHP-FPM services to start automatically when the server starts.

sudo systemctl stop php8.0-fpm
sudo systemctl start php8.0-fpm
sudo systemctl enable php8.0-fpm

Next, you’ll want to change some PHP configuration settings that work great with Drupal. Run the following commands to open the default PHP configuration file.

sudo nano /etc/php/8.0/fpm/php.ini

Then change the line settings to be somewhat aligned with the lines below. Save your changes and exit.

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

How to create a Drupal database in Ubuntu

At this point, we are ready to create a Drupal database. As mentioned above, Drupal uses databases to store its content.

To create a database for Drupal, run the following commands:

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called drupaldb

CREATE DATABASE drupaldb;

Next, create a database user named drupaldbuser and set password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON drupaldb.* TO 'drupaldbuser'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.

FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
EXIT;

How to download Drupal

We are ready to download Drupal and start configuring it. First, run the following commands to download the latest version of Drupal from its repository.

To get the latest version of Drupal, you may want to use the GitHub repository. Install Composer, Curl, and other dependencies to get started …

sudo apt install curl git
curl -sS https://getcomposer.org/installer | sudo php -- --install-dir=/usr/local/bin --filename=composer

After installing curl and Composer above, change to the root directory of Nginx and download the Drupal packages from GitHub. Always replace the branch number with the last branch.

To see the Drupal versions, see this page.

cd /var/www/
sudo git clone --branch 9.2.5 https://git.drupal.org/project/drupal.git
cd /var/www/drupal
sudo composer install

Then run the command below to allow www-data user own the Drupal directory.

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

How to configure Nginx for Drupal

We have downloaded the Drupal content into a new folder that we call Drupal. Now, let’s configure Nginx to create a new server block to use with our Drupal website. You can create so many server blocks with Nginx.

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To do that, run the following commands to create a new configuration file called drupal.conf at / etc / nginx / sites-available / directory to host our Drupal server block.

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

In the archive, copy and paste the content below in the archive and save it.

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;
    root /var/www/drupal;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;
    server_name  example.com www.example.com;

    client_max_body_size 100M;
    autoindex off;

    location ~ ..*/.*.php$ {
        return 403;
    }

    location ~ ^/sites/.*/private/ {
        return 403;
    }

    # Block access to scripts in site files directory
    location ~ ^/sites/[^/]+/files/.*.php$ {
        deny all;
    }

    # Block access to "hidden" files and directories whose names begin with a
    # period. This includes directories used by version control systems such
    # as Subversion or Git to store control files.
    location ~ (^|/). {
        return 403;
    }

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

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

    # Don't allow direct access to PHP files in the vendor directory.
    location ~ /vendor/.*.php$ {
        deny all;
        return 404;
    }


    location ~ '.php$|^/update.php' {
        include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
        fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php8.0-fpm.sock;
        fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
        include fastcgi_params;
    }

    # Fighting with Styles? This little gem is amazing.
    # location ~ ^/sites/.*/files/imagecache/ { # For Drupal <= 6
    location ~ ^/sites/.*/files/styles/ { # For Drupal >= 7
        try_files $uri @rewrite;
    }

    # Handle private files through Drupal. Private file's path can come
    # with a language prefix.
    location ~ ^(/[a-z-]+)?/system/files/ { # For Drupal >= 7
        try_files $uri /index.php?$query_string;
    }
}

Save the file and close.

After saving the above file, run the following commands to enable the new file that contains our Drupal server block. Restart Nginx after that.

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

At this stage, Drupal is ready and can be started by going to the server’s IP or hostname.

http://localhost

However, we want to make sure our server is protected with free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. So, continue below to learn how to generate Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for websites.

How to set up Let’s Encrypt for Drupal

We have written a great post on how to generate and manage Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for Nginx web server. You can use that post to apply here for your Drupal website.

To read the post on how to generate Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for the website, click the link below:

How to set up Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu Linux with Nginx

If you managed to generate a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, you need to reopen the server block for our Drupal website by running the following commands.

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

The new Drupal server block settings should look similar to the following line. Take notes on the highlighted lines.

  • The first server block listens on port 80. It contains a 301 redirect to redirect HTTP to HTTPS.
  • The second server block listens on port 443. It contains a 301 redirect to redirect www to a domain other than www.
server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;
    root /var/www/drupal;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;
    server_name  example.com www.example.com;

    include snippets/well-known.conf;

    return 301 https://$host$request_uri;
}

server {
    listen 443 ssl http2;
    listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
    root /var/www/drupal;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;
    server_name www.example.com;
   
    ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/fullchain.pem;
    ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/privkey.pem;
    ssl_trusted_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/chain.pem;

    ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2 TLSv1.3;
    ssl_ciphers ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-CHACHA20-POLY1305:ECDHE-RSA-CHACHA20-POLY1305:DHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384;

    add_header Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=31536000;  includeSubDomains";
    
    include snippets/well-known.conf;

    return 301 https://example.com$request_uri;
}

server {
    listen 443 ssl http2;
    listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
    root /var/www/drupal;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;
    server_name example.com;

    ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/fullchain.pem;
    ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/privkey.pem;
    ssl_trusted_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/example.com/chain.pem;

    ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2 TLSv1.3;
    ssl_ciphers ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-CHACHA20-POLY1305:ECDHE-RSA-CHACHA20-POLY1305:DHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384;

    ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;
    ssl_session_cache shared:SSL:50m;
    ssl_session_timeout 1d;
    ssl_session_tickets off;

    ssl_stapling on;
    ssl_stapling_verify on;
    resolver 8.8.8.8 8.8.4.4 valid=300s;
    resolver_timeout 30s;

    ssl_dhparam /etc/ssl/certs/dhparam.pem;

    add_header Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=31536000;  includeSubDomains";
    add_header X-Frame-Options SAMEORIGIN;
    add_header X-Content-Type-Options nosniff;
    
    include snippets/well-known.conf;

    client_max_body_size 100M;

    location ~ ..*/.*.php$ {
        return 403;
    }

    location ~ ^/sites/.*/private/ {
        return 403;
    }

    # Block access to scripts in site files directory
    location ~ ^/sites/[^/]+/files/.*.php$ {
        deny all;
    }

    # Block access to "hidden" files and directories whose names begin with a
    # period. This includes directories used by version control systems such
    # as Subversion or Git to store control files.
    location ~ (^|/). {
        return 403;
    }

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

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

    # Don't allow direct access to PHP files in the vendor directory.
    location ~ /vendor/.*.php$ {
        deny all;
        return 404;
    }


    location ~ '.php$|^/update.php' {
        include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
        fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php8.0-fpm.sock;
        fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
        include fastcgi_params;
    }

    # Fighting with Styles? This little gem is amazing.
    # location ~ ^/sites/.*/files/imagecache/ { # For Drupal <= 6
    location ~ ^/sites/.*/files/styles/ { # For Drupal >= 7
        try_files $uri @rewrite;
    }

    # Handle private files through Drupal. Private file's path can come
    # with a language prefix.
    location ~ ^(/[a-z-]+)?/system/files/ { # For Drupal >= 7
        try_files $uri /index.php?$query_string;
    }
}

Save the file above, then restart Nginx and PHP using the commands below.

sudo systemctl reload nginx
sudo systemctl reload php8.0-fpm

Finally, if everything went according to plan, you should be able to start the Drupal setup wizard by navigating to the server’s hostname or IP address via HTTPS.

https://example.com/

A Drupal setup wizard should appear. Follow the wizard to complete the setup.

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Select the installation language and then click Save and continue.

Drupal install composer

On the next screen, choose the standard installation option to include commonly used features that are preconfigured.

These are the most popular options for most websites running Drupal CMS.

install drupal ubuntu

Then enter your database connection information and click Save and continue.

Drupal ubuntu configuration

After that, enter the site information, including site name, site administrator email address, username and password, and continue.

Installing drupal ubuntu

When you’re done, Drupal should be installed and ready to go. Log in as an administrator and start setting up your site.

Install Ubuntu in Drupal

In the future, when you want to upgrade to a new released version, just run the following commands to upgrade …

sudo composer update /var/www/drupal/core --with-dependencies
cd /var/www/drupal
sudo composer require drush/drush
cd /var/www/drupal/vendor/drush/drush
./drush updatedb
./drush cr
sudo chown www-data:www-data /var/www/drupal
sudo chmod 755 /var/www/drupal

That is all!

Conclusion:

In this tutorial we have seen how to install Drupal on Ubuntu Linux with a link to configure Let’s Encrypt. If you find any errors above or have something to add, please use the comment form below.

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