How to Install Firefly III on Ubuntu

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to install Firefly III, a personal finance manager on Ubuntu 20.04 | 18.04 with Nginx HTTP server.

Firefly III is a free, open source personal finance manager software written in PHP. It helps you keep track your expenses, income, budgets and others aspect of your finances from a self-hosted server in your own home and environment.

If you love tracking your finances, Firefly III should be right for you. You can track recurring transactions, create double-entry booking securely with 2-factor authentication.

Whether you’re managing a personal or business finances, Firefly III can help you build and manage your content on every device with its intuitive and powerful user and admin dashboard.

For more on Firefly III , please visit its home page

To get started with installing Firefly III, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Install Nginx

Nginx HTTP Server is probably the second most popular web server in use today, so install it since Firefly III needs it.

To install Nginx HTTP on Ubuntu server, run the commands below.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nginx

After installing Nginx, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable Nginx service to always start up with the server boots.

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

To find out if Nginx HTTP server is installed, simply open your web browser and type in the server’s IP or hostname.

When you see the page similar to the one below, then Nginx is installed and working.

nginx default home page test

Step 2: Install MariaDB

Firefly III also needs a database server to store its content, and MariaDB database server is a great place to start when looking at open source database servers to use with Firefly III.

To install MariaDB run the commands below.

sudo apt install mariadb-server mariadb-client

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

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

After that, run the commands below to secure MariaDB server by creating a root password and disallowing remote root access.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

When prompted, answer the questions below by following the guide.

  • Enter current password for root (enter for none): Just press the Enter
  • Set root password? [Y/n]: Y
  • New password: Enter password
  • Re-enter new password: Repeat password
  • 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

Restart MariaDB server

To test if MariaDB is installed, type the commands below to logon to MariaDB server

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then type the password you created above to sign on. If successful, you should see MariaDB welcome message

Step 3: Install PHP 7.4-FPM

PHP 7.4-FPM may not be available in Ubuntu default repositories. In order to install it, you will have to get it from third-party repositories.

Run the commands below to add the below third party repository to upgrade to PHP 7.4-FPM.

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

Then update and upgrade to PHP 7.4-FPM.

sudo apt update

Next, run the commands below to install PHP 7.4-FPM and related modules.

sudo apt install php7.4-fpm php7.4-common php7.4-gmp php7.4-curl php7.4-ldap php7.4-intl php7.4-mbstring php7.4-xmlrpc php7.4-mysql php7.4-gd php7.4-bcmath php7.4-xml php7.4-cli php7.4-zip

After installing PHP 7.4, run the commands below to open PHP default config file for Nginx.

sudo nano /etc/php/7.4/fpm/php.ini

Then make the changes on the following lines below in the file and save. The value below are great settings to apply in your environments.

file_uploads = On
allow_url_fopen = On
short_open_tag = On
cgi.fix_pathinfo = 0
memory_limit = 256M
upload_max_filesize = 100M
max_execution_time = 360
max_input_vars = 1500
date.timezone = America/Chicago

After making the change above, save the file and close out.

Step 4: Create Firefly III Database

Now that you’ve install all the packages that are required, continue below to start configuring the servers. First create a Firefly III database.

Run the commands below to logon to MariaDB. When prompted for a password, type the root password you created above.

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called firefly


Create a database user called fireflyuser with new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the firefly database.

GRANT ALL ON firefly.* TO 'fireflyuser'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


Step 5: Download Firefly III Latest

To get Firefly III 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 Nginx root directory and download Firefly III packages from Github.

cd /var/www/
sudo composer create-project grumpydictator/firefly-iii --no-dev --prefer-dist firefly-iii 5.2.8

After downloading, you should see a success message similar to the one below:

> @php artisan firefly:instructions install
|                                                                              |
| Thank you for installing Firefly III, v5.2.8!                                |
|                                                                              |
|                                                                              |
> @php artisan key:generate
Application key set successfully.

Next, edit the .env file create above and make the highlighted changes to suit your environment.

sudo nano /var/www/firefly-iii/.env

Make the highlighted changes.

Database credentials. Make sure the database exists. I recommend a dedicated user for Firefly III
 For other database types, please see the FAQ: 
 If you use Docker or similar, you can set these variables from a file by appending them with _FILE
 Use "mysql" for MySQL and MariaDB. Use "sqlite" for SQLite.

Save the file and exit.

Next, go back to Firefly III root directory and update all packages and requirements.

cd /var/www/firefly-iii
sudo php artisan migrate:refresh --seed
sudo php artisan firefly-iii:upgrade-database
sudo php artisan passport:install

Since you just ran the web server as root, you should make sure any newly created files are owned by the www-data user and group.

To do that, run the commands below:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/firefly-iii/
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/firefly-iii/

Step 6: Configure Nginx

Finally, configure Apahce2 site configuration file for Firefly III. This file will control how users access Firefly III content. Run the commands below to create a new configuration file called firefly.conf

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

Then copy and paste the content below into the file and save it. Replace the highlighted line with your own domain name and directory root location.

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;

    root   /var/www/firefly-iii/public;
    index  index.php;
    access_log /var/log/nginx/;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/;

    client_max_body_size 100M;
    autoindex off;

    location / {
    try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php$is_args$args;

    location ~ \.php$ {
         include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
         fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock;
         include fastcgi_params;
         fastcgi_intercept_errors on;

Save the file and exit.

After configuring the VirtualHost above, enable it by running the commands below

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

Then open your browser and browse to the server domain name or hostname. This is often localhost but can be a host name or IP address.

Your server admin or hosting company will have this information available.

Create an admin account and register.

Login and begin setting up your finances.


This post showed you how to install Firefly III on Ubuntu. If you find any errors above, please leave a comment below.