How to Install Drupal on Ubuntu Linux with Apache

This brief post shows students and new users how to install and use Drupal content management system (CMS) on Ubuntu Linux with Apache HTTP web server. This post will also have a link to setup free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates to secure your Drupal websites and applications.

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

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

For more about Drupal, please check its homepage

To get started with installing Drupal on Ubuntu Linux, follow the steps below:

How to install Apache on Ubuntu Linux

As mentioned above, we’re going to be using Apache web server to run Drupal. Drupal requires a web server to function, and Apache is one of the most popular open source web servers available today.

To install Apache on Ubuntu, run the commands below:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install apache2

After installing Apache, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable Apache services to always start up everytime your server starts up.

sudo systemctl stop apache2.service
sudo systemctl start apache2.service
sudo systemctl enable apache2.service

To test whether Apache is installed and functioning, open your web browser and browse to the server’s IP address or hostname.

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

How to install MariaDB on Ubuntu Linux

A database server is required for Drupal to function. 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 commands below:

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

After installing MariaDB, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable MariaDB services to always start up when the server boots.

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, use the guide below to answer:

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, login to the database console using the commands below:

sudo mysql -u root -p

You should automatically be logged in to the database server since we initiated the login request as root. Only the root can login without password, and only from the server console.

mariadb welcome

If you see a similar screen as shown above, then the server was successfully installed.

How to install PHP on Ubuntu Linux

As we also mentioned above, we’re installing PHP on Ubuntu since Drupal requires it. PHP packages are added to Ubuntu repositories. The versions the repositories might not be the latest. If you need to install the latest versions, you’ll need to add a third party PPA repository.

To a third party repository with the latest versions of PHP, run the commands below.

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

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

sudo apt update

Next, run the commands below to install PHP 8.0 and related modules.

sudo apt install php8.0 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

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

sudo nano /etc/php/8.0/apache2/php.ini

Then change the line settings to be something line 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 Drupal database on Ubuntu

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

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

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called drupaldb


Next, create a database user called 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.


How to download Drupal

We’re ready to download Drupal and begin configuring it. First, run the commands below to download the latest version of Drupal from its repository.

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

sudo apt install curl git
curl -sS  | sudo php -- --install-dir=/usr/local/bin --filename=composer

After installing curl and Composer above, change into the Apache root directory and download Drupal packages from GitHub. Always replace the branch number with the latest branch.

To view Drupal releases, see this page.

cd /var/www/
sudo git clone --branch 9.2.5 
cd /var/www/drupal
sudo composer install

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

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

How to configure Apache for Drupal

We have downloaded Drupal content into a new folder we called Drupal. Now, let’s configure Apache to create a new server block to use with our Drupal website. You can create as many server blocks with Apache.

To do that, run the commands below to create a new configuration file called drupal.conf in the /etc/apache2/sites-available/ directory to host our Drupal server block.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/drupal.conf

In the file, copy and paste the content below into the file and save.

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerAdmin [email protected]
  DocumentRoot /var/www/drupal
  <Directory /var/www/drupal/>
       Options FollowSymlinks
       AllowOverride All
       Require all granted

       ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
       CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

Save the file and exit.

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

sudo a2ensite drupal.conf
sudo systemctl reload apache2

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

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

How to setup Let’s Encrypt for Drupal

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

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

How to Setup Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu Linux with Apache – Website for Students

If you were successful in generating a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, you should then reopen the server block for our Drupal website by running the commands below.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/drupal.conf

The new Drupal server blocks configurations should look similar to the line below. Take notes of 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 non-www domain.
<VirtualHost *:80>

  Redirect permanent / 

<VirtualHost *:443>
  DocumentRoot /var/www/drupal

  Protocols h2 http:/1.1

  <If "%{HTTP_HOST} == ''">
    Redirect permanent / 
  ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/
  CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/ combined

  SSLEngine On
  SSLCertificateFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/
  SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/
  SSLOpenSSLConfCmd DHParameters "/etc/ssl/certs/dhparam.pem"

  SSLProtocol All -SSLv2 -SSLv3 -TLSv1 -TLSv1.1
  SSLCompression off
  SSLUseStapling on

  Header always set Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=63072000"

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

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

sudo systemctl reload apache2

Finally, if everything went as planned, you should be able to start Drupal setup wizard by browsing to the server hostname or IP address over HTTPS.

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

Select the installation language then click Save and Continue.

Drupal install composer

On the next screen, choose the Standard installation option to include commonly used features that are pre-configured.

This is the most popular options for most website running Drupal CMS.

drupal ubuntu install

Next, type in the database connection info and click Save and continue.

Drupal ubuntu setup

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

Drupal ubuntu install

When you’re done, Drupal should be installed and ready to use. Login as admin and begin configuring your site.

Drupal Install Ubuntu

In the future when you want to upgrade to a new released version, simply run the commands below 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’s it!


This post showed you how to install Drupal on Ubuntu Linux with link to setting up Let’s Encrypt. If you find any error above, or have something to add, please use the comment form below.