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How to Install phpBB on Ubuntu 14.04

phpBB is a free forum or bulletin board software that can be used to discuss any topics with a group of people or it can even power the entre website.

phpBB has extensive features some of them are: registration, posting, attachments, user management, moderation, private messaging, search system and notification.

You can learn more about phpBB from phpBB website.

Objective

In this tutorial we'll learn how-to install phpBB on Ubuntu 14.04. We will also install and configure its prerequisites

Prerequisites

We will install phpBB in fresh installation of Ubuntu Server 14.04. We also need these application to be able to run phpBB:

  • Apache 2
  • MySQL 5
  • PHP > 5.3.1
  • phpBB also require the following php libraries
    • php5-gd

Update Base System

Before we install phpBB, let's update the system to the latest update.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get -y upgrade

Install Apache 2

After applying latest update to our base system, lets's start installing Apache 2 and required libraries.

$ sudo apt-get -y install apache2 apache2-bin apache2-data apache2-mpm-prefork libaio1 libapache2-mod-php5 libapr1 libaprutil1 libdbd-mysql-perl libdbi-perl libhtml-template-perl libmysqlclient18 libterm-readkey-perl libwrap0 ssl-cert tcpd

We can check the Apache 2 service status using command below:

sudo service apache2 status
 * apache2 is running

We can also check which port Apache 2 is listening on using the command below.

 sudo netstat -naptu | grep apache
tcp6       0      0 :::80                   :::*                    LISTEN      14873/apache2

Install MySQL 5.6

We will install and use MySQL 5.6 as database for phpBB.

We will use MySQL Server 5.6 since MySQL 5.6 is the most up to date version of MySQL shipped with Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr.

$ sudo apt-get -y install mysql-server-5.6

We need to setup a MySQL root password. Please input password for MySQL root user.

Verify your root password.

Securing the MySQL Installation

We will secure the MySQL installation by running mysql_secure_installation.

Enter the root password that we set on installation

$ mysql_secure_installation 
NOTE: RUNNING ALL PARTS OF THIS SCRIPT IS RECOMMENDED FOR ALL MySQL
      SERVERS IN PRODUCTION USE!  PLEASE READ EACH STEP CAREFULLY!

In order to log into MySQL to secure it, we'll need the current password for the root user. If you've just installed MySQL, and you haven't set the root password yet, the password will be blank, so you should just press enter here.

Enter current password for root (enter for none): OK, successfully used password, moving on...

Since we already have a root password set, answer this part with n

Setting the root password ensures that nobody can log into the MySQL
root user without the proper authorisation.

You already have a root password set, so you can safely answer 'n'.

Change the root password? [Y/n] n ... skipping.

Remove the anonymous user to improve security. This will make sure people or applications have the correct username and password to login to MySQL. Answer with Y

By default, a MySQL installation has an anonymous user, allowing anyone
to log into MySQL without having to have a user account created for
them.  This is intended only for testing, and to make the installation
go a bit smoother.  You should remove them before moving into a
production environment.

Remove anonymous users? [Y/n] Y ... Success!

We also want remove root login from remote machine. Answer with Y

Normally, root should only be allowed to connect from 'localhost'.  This
ensures that someone cannot guess at the root password from the network.

Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n] Y ... Success!

Previously the test database was created automatically by MySQL installation, but MySQL 5.6 does not create test database. We can still choose Y, it will throw error but that's fine.

By default, MySQL comes with a database named 'test' that anyone can
access.  This is also intended only for testing, and should be removed
before moving into a production environment.

Remove test database and access to it? [Y/n] Y - Dropping test database... ERROR 1008 (HY000) at line 1: Can't drop database 'test'; database doesn't exist ... Failed! Not critical, keep moving... - Removing privileges on test database... ... Success!

The last step is to reload the MySQL privilege table.

Reloading the privilege tables will ensure that all changes made so far
will take effect immediately.

Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n] Y ... Success!

All done! If you've completed all of the above steps, your MySQL installation should now be secure.

Thanks for using MySQL!

Cleaning up...

Create a Database for phpBB

Now we have a secure MySQL installation, time to create database and user for phpbb itself.

Login to MySQL using root credential.

$ mysql -u root -p
Enter password: 
Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 58
Server version: 5.6.30-0ubuntu0.14.04.1 (Ubuntu)

Copyright (c) 2000, 2016, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

mysql>

Create a new database named phpbb using command below

mysql> CREATE DATABASE phpbb;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)

Create a User for phpBB

The database for phpbb is ready, let's create username and password and grant privileges to phpbb database.

Don't forget to change the password phpbb123secret below with a better password.

mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON `phpbb`.* TO 'phpbb'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'phpbb123secret';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

We need to run the FLUSH PRIVILEGES command so that the privileges table will be reloaded by MySQL and we can use new credential.

mysql> FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

Exit from MySQL console by typing \q.

mysql> \q

Install PHP 5

The last component that we have to install before we can install phpbb is PHP 5. We will install PHP 5 and several common PHP libraries.

$ sudo apt-get -y install php5-cli php5-common php5-json php5-mysql php5-readline

Install additional php libraries:

$ sudo apt-get -y install php5-gd

Restart the Apache 2 process so the changes will be applied.

$ sudo service apache2 restart

Install phpbb

All prerequisites are already installed. We're ready to install phpbb. The latest stable version of phpbb is available phpBB download page.

At the time of this writing, the latest stable version is version 3.2.0, let's download phpbb compressed file using wget.

$ wget -c https://www.phpbb.com/files/release/phpBB-3.2.0.tar.bz2

Extract the phpbb archive file.

$ tar xjvf phpBB-3.2.0.tar.bz2

Move the phpBB3 directory to Apache directory as phpbb.

$ sudo mv phpBB3 /var/www/phpbb

Change the ownership of the phpbb directory to www-data user and group.

$ sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/phpbb

The phpbb files are now ready, let's create Apache Virtual Host configuration to serve phpbb.

Configure Apache Virtual Host for http Only

Create new apache configuration file on /etc/apache2/sites-available/phpbb.conf with contents below.

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName phpbb.exampleserver.xyz

DocumentRoot /var/www/phpbb

<Directory /var/www/phpbb> Options -Indexes +FollowSymLinks +MultiViews AllowOverride All Require all granted </Directory>

ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/phpbb.exampleserver.xyz-error.log CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/phpbb.exampleserver.xyz-access.log combined

</VirtualHost>

Don't forget to change the phpbb.exampleserver.xyz above with the domain name that you use for your phpbb installation.

Enable the site using a2ensite command.

$ sudo a2ensite phpbb

Reload the apache2 process so it reads the new virtualhost configuration:

$ sudo service apache2 reload

phpBB Installation Panel

Open the phpBB URL and we will be redirected to phpBB installation panel. The Overview panel contains an introduction to phpBB. Click the INSTALL tab.

The first page of install list alls phpBB requirements. We can just click Install.

Input administrator username, email and password. click Submit.

Input database name and database credentials that we created before for phpBB. for Database type choose MySQL with MYSQLi Extension. Click Submit.

Leave server configuration default for now. Click Submit

We'll also leave email configuration default. If you already have email account and smtp server to be used you can input the SMTP server settings here and click **Submit

Enter configuration for our forum, click Submit

Installation is in progress.

Installation finished.

phpBB Administrator panel

phpBB forum site is ready to be used.

Configure https only site for phpBB

A secure connection is now a requirement for web applications. The last step that we will do in this tutorial is changing the connection to only use https.

We assume that you already have an SSL certificate and private key.

Let's create new apache virtual host configuration on /etc/apache2/sites-available/phpbb-ssl.conf with contents below.

Don't forget to change:

  • ServerName
  • SSLCertificateFile
  • SSLCertificateChainFile
  • SSLCertificateKeyFile
<VirtualHost *:80>
   ServerName phpbb.exampleserver.xyz
   Redirect permanent / https://phpbb.exampleserver.xyz/
</VirtualHost>

<VirtualHost *:443>

ServerName phpbb.exampleserver.xyz

DocumentRoot /var/www/phpbb

<Directory /var/www/phpbb> Options -Indexes +FollowSymLinks +MultiViews AllowOverride All Require all granted </Directory>

ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/phpbb.exampleserver.xyz-error.log CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/phpbb.exampleserver.xyz-access.log combined

SSLEngine on SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl/phpbb.exampleserver.xyz.crt SSLCertificateChainFile /etc/apache2/ssl/phpbb.exampleserver.xyz.crt SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/ssl/phpbb.exampleserver.xyz.key

Header always set Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=15768000"

</VirtualHost>

# intermediate configuration, tweak to your needs SSLProtocol all -SSLv2 -SSLv3 SSLCipherSuite ECDHE-ECDSA-CHACHA20-POLY1305:ECDHE-RSA-CHACHA20-POLY1305:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:DHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-SHA:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-SHA:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:ECDHE-ECDSA-DES-CBC3-SHA:ECDHE-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA:EDH-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA:AES128-GCM-SHA256:AES256-GCM-SHA384:AES128-SHA256:AES256-SHA256:AES128-SHA:AES256-SHA:DES-CBC3-SHA:!DSS SSLHonorCipherOrder on

We will also disable phpbb http only virtual host and enable the new virtual host config.

$ sudo a2dissite phpbb
$ sudo a2ensite phpbb-ssl
```language-bash

The new virtual host configuration need ApacheĀ `mod_ssl` and `mod_headers` modules. We need to enable those modules.

```language-bash $ sudo a2enmod ssl $ sudo a2enmod headers ```language-bash

Now, restart Apache 2 service so it will reload its configuration. We need to restart instead of reload since we enable new module.

```language-bash $ sudo service apache2 restart

Summary

In this tutorial we learned how-to install phpbb on Ubuntu 14.04.

We installed all the prerequisites, create user and database on MySQL for phpBB and also configure Apache 2 virtual hosts to be able to serve phpbb.

We also configure https settings for phpbb so we can run phpBB securely. Running our forum on https only will increase safety and confidence of our forum members. Have a nice discussion!

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