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How to Start Your Own Community Site Using Oxwall On Ubuntu 14.04

Oxwall is a flexible and easy to use social networking platform built using PHP and MyQL as database.

It has several core features including Facebook-style friend system, messaging, and privacy. Users also can skip tedious form filling task using facebook connect and import contact from Gmail and Facebook.

To make a user engage with the site features like newsfeeds, photo sharing, forums, embedding videos, social media sharing, chat, events and user blogs are also available.

It doesn't stop there, if you plan to monetize your community site, Oxwall also supports user credit, membership level, and also payment integration including Stripe, Paypal and 2checkout.

Even though Oxwall only supports the English language, it has already been translated to 11 languages.

Oxwall also supporst plugins to extend its functionality and also themes to change the design of the site.

You can read Oxwall complete feature list on Oxwall site.

Objective

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

Prerequisites

We need to install these applications before we can install Oxwall:

  • Fresh install of Ubuntu Server 14.04.
  • Apache 2
  • MySQL 5.6
  • PHP 5

Update the Base System

Before we install Oxwall and its prerequisites 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 Apache 2 service status using command below:

sudo service apache2 status
 * apache2 is running

We can also check whether Apache 2 is listening and on which port using 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 Oxwall.

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 MySQL root password. Please input password for MySQL root user.

Verify root password.

Securing MySQL Installation.

We will secure MySQL installation by running mysql_secure_installation.

Enter 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 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 anonymous user to improve security. This will make sure people or application have 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 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 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 Oxwall

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

Login to MySQL using the 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 oxwall using command below:

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

Create a User for Oxwall

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

Don't forget to change the password oxwall123secret below with a better password.

mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON `oxwall`.* TO 'oxwall'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'oxwall123secret';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

We need to run 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 Oxwall is PHP 5. We will install PHP 5 and several common PHP libraries. Oxwall also requires php5-gd library so we will also install this library.

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

Install Oxwall

All prerequisites are now installed. We're now ready to install Oxwall. The latest stable version of Oxwall is available from Oxwall download page.

At the time of this writing, the latest stable version is version 1.8.4, let's download Oxwall compressed file using wget.

$ wget -c http://ow.download.s3.amazonaws.com/oxwall-1.8.4.1.zip

Extract the downloaded file using unzip. If your system don't have unzip yet, you can install unzip using command below:

$ sudo apt-get -y install unzip

Extract Oxwall using unzip

$ unzip oxwall-1.8.4.1.zip -d oxwall

Move oxwall folder to Apache directory

$ sudo mv oxwall /var/www

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

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

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

Configure Apache Virtual Host for http Only

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

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

DocumentRoot /var/www/oxwall

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

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

</VirtualHost>

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

Enable the site using a2ensite command:

$ sudo a2ensite oxwall

Reload apache2 process so it read the new virtualhost configuration:

$ sudo service apache2 reload

We need to enable mod_rewrite since oxwall .htaccess is using this module.

$ sudo a2enmod rewrite

We need to restart Apache 2 process to make mod_rewrite that we just enabled loaded by Apache 2.

$ sudo service apache2 restart

Oxwall Setup Wizard

Now point tour browser to your Oxwall URL. It will redirect to Oxwall setup wizard.

On the first page we can define site info and administrator info.

The next step is database configuration. Input database credential and database name we created previously.

After configuring the database, we need to create cron job for Oxwall. There are multiple ways to setup cron for Oxwall explained in Oxwall cron documentation but the recommended one is to run cron using http request.

Type cron -e and input cron job similar to below

* * * * * wget -q -O /dev/null http://oxwall.exampleserver.xyz/ow_cron/run.php

Don't forget to change the URL to match oxwall site url and click continue.

Installation is complete, we can go to main page or admin area.

You can start using Oxwall admin panel to learn how-to administer and Oxwall site.

The site is ready to be used.

Configure https only site for Oxwall

Secure connection is now a requirement for web application. Last step that we will do in this tutorial is changing the connection to only use https. We assume that you already have SSL certificate and private key.

Let's create new apache virtual host configuration on /etc/apache2/sites-available/oxwall-ssl.conf with contents below. Don't forget to change:

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

<VirtualHost *:443>

ServerName oxwall.exampleserver.xyz

DocumentRoot /var/www/oxwall

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

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

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

# Uncomment the following directive when using client certificate authentication #SSLCACertificateFile /path/to/ca_certs_for_client_authentication

# HSTS (mod_headers is required) (15768000 seconds = 6 months) 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 oxwall http only virtual host and enable the new virtual host config.

$ sudo a2dissite oxwall
$ sudo a2ensite oxwall-ssl

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

$ sudo a2enmod ssl
$ sudo a2enmod headers

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

$ sudo service apache2 restart

We need to change one more setting for Oxwall when using https. Open /var/www/oxwall/ow_includes/config.php

define('OW_URL_HOME', 'http://oxwall.exampleserver.xyz/');

replace http:// with https://

define('OW_URL_HOME', 'https://oxwall.exampleserver.xyz/');

Now when we open our Oxwall site it will be redirected to https and use https by default.

Summary

In this tutorial we learned how-to install Oxwall on Ubuntu 14.04 to create our own community site. We installed all the prerequisites, created a user and database on MySQL for Oxwall and also configure Apache 2 virtual hosts to be able to serve Oxwall.



Comments

  • BMD

    Wow, Oxwall actually looks nice. Not bad for using with a site when you want more of a communitive feeling. Looks like it won’t be that tedious to install and configure either. Love your step by steps with the screenshots.