How to Install Contao CMS with Apache on Ubuntu Linux

screen with web apps
screen with web apps

The article outlines the process of installing Contao, an open-source enterprise content management system, on Ubuntu Linux with Apache support. It provides detailed step-by-step instructions, starting from installing Apache and MariaDB (open-source database servers), to installing PHP 7.2 and setting up Contao database. Additionally, it covers downloading the latest Contao release, configuring Apache, and guiding through the Contao set-up wizard.

This article describes the steps to install and use Contao CMS on Ubuntu Linux with Apache support.

Contao is an open-source enterprise content management system that relies on the LAMP or LEMP stack. It is designed to allow business owners and power users to create powerful and dynamic content websites.

If you’re looking for a true open-source enterprise content management system, Contao might be an excellent place to start. It’s built using PHP server scripting language and separates content, modules, and templates.

This post covers installing the latest version of Contao, which at the time of writing is version 4.5.4.

How to install Contao CMS on Ubuntu Linux with Apache support

As mentioned above, Contao is an open-source enterprise content management system that relies on the LAMP or LEMP stack.

Below is how to install it on Ubuntu Linux with Apache support.

Install Apache

Contao requires a web server; the most popular web server today is Apache2. So, go and install Apache2 on Ubuntu by running the commands below:

sudo apt update 
sudo apt install apache2

Next, run the commands below to stop, start and enable the Apache2 service to always start up with the server boots.

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

Install MariaDB

MariaDB database server is a great place to start when looking at open-source database servers to use with Contao.

To install MariaDB run the commands below.

sudo apt-get install mariadb-server mariadb-client

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

Run these on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

sudo systemctl stop mysql.service
sudo systemctl start mysql.service
sudo systemctl enable mysql.service

Run these on Ubuntu 18.04 and 18.10 LTS

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

After that, run the commands below to secure the 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

Install PHP 7.2 and Related Modules

PHP 7.2 may not be available on Ubuntu default repositories. Therefore, to install it, you must get it from third-party repositories.

Run the commands below to add the below third party repository to upgrade to PHP 7.2

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

Then update and upgrade to PHP 7.2

sudo apt update

Run the commands below to install PHP 7.2 and related modules.

sudo apt install php7.2 libapache2-mod-php7.2 php7.2-common php7.2-mbstring php7.2-xmlrpc php7.2-soap php7.2-gd php7.2-xml php7.2-intl php7.2-mysql php7.2-cli php7.2-zip php7.2-curl

After installing PHP, run the commands below to open the Apache2 PHP default file.

sudo nano /etc/php/7.2/apache2/php.ini

Then change to the following lines below in the file and save.

file_uploads = On
allow_url_fopen = On
max_execution_time = 180
memory_limit = 256M
post_max_size = 20M
upload_max_filesize = 100M

Create Contao Database

Now that you’ve installed all the required packages, continue below to start configuring the servers.

First, run the commands below to create the Contao database.

Run the commands below to log on to the database server. When prompted for a password, type the root password you created above.

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called contaodb.


Create a database user called container with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON contaodb.* TO 'contaouser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


After creating the Contao database, run the commands below to open the MariaDB configuration file.

sudo nano /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf

Then copy and paste the lines below into the file just below [mysqld]

innodb_large_prefix = 1
innodb_file_format = Barracuda
innodb_file_per_table = 1

Save and exit.

Restart MariaDB Server

sudo systemctl restart mysql.service

Download Contao Latest Release

Next, visit the Contao site and download the latest version.

After downloading, run the commands below to extract the download file into the Apache2 root directory.

cd /tmp && wget wget -O
sudo apt install unzip
sudo mv contao-4.5.4 /var/www/html/contao

Then run the commands below to set the correct permissions for Contao to function.

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/contao/
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/contao/

Configure Apache

Finally, configure the Apahce2 virtual host configuration file for Contao. This file will control how users access Contao content.

Run the commands below to create a configuration file called contao.conf.

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

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

<VirtualHost *:80>
     DocumentRoot /var/www/html/contao/web

     <Directory /var/www/html/contao/>
        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.

Enable the Contao and Rewrite Module

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

sudo a2ensite contao.conf
sudo a2enmod rewrite

Restart Apache2 by running the commands below to load all the settings above.

sudo systemctl restart apache2.service

Next, open your browser and browse to the server domain name, followed by install. Finally, you should see the Contao setup wizard complete. Please follow the wizard carefully.

You should now be presented with a Contao install screen. If, instead, you see a white screen, it probably means that your
the server is probably not configured correctly.

Type a new installation password for the installation.

contao install password

Next, type the database connection info and continue.

contao ubuntu install

Next, create a Contao admin user for the portal.

contao ubuntu install

That should create the admin account to logo to the backend. When done, log on and begin configuring Contao.

contao ubuntu setup

The installation assistant can then be used to guide you through the process of installing a new version of Contao.

To login to the backend, go to the URL below:

Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed Contao CMS on the Ubuntu server.

Remove the installation folder by running the commands below

sudo rm -rf /var/www/html/contao/contao/install.php

And you’re done.

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  1. Sorry but there is no install in /contao. I only see composer.json, composer.lock and is wrong!
    i can’t start with Contao install screen.

    Can you solve this problem?

    1. Please take a careful look at the steps… something might be missing in your config…


  2. Hi,

    I managed to install contao on my ubuntu 18.04, but in my setup the contao manager (contao-manager.phar.php) doesn’t work.
    The contao itself is working, indeed.
    Did you have such problems with the manager ? I’m on it since 3 days, but I just get a blank page.

  3. please check file permissions. This file should have execute permissions.

    also make sure this file is in contao-manager/ directory

    if you are doing fresh install then you should place the file into /web directory in your hosting. e.g /var/ww/html is the root then place it in /var/ww/html/web/

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