How to Install Forma (LMS) with Apache on Ubuntu Linux

computer no table with keyboard
computer no table with keyboard

Forma Learning Management System (LMS) is a complete learning management platform. Its community edition is built on the LAMP / LEMP stack and allows users and educators to manage and deliver online training courses and share them across many devices.

Forma LMS ensures consistent compliance and competency management for highly regulated industries. In addition, many businesses use the Forma LMS platform for employee training sessions.

Some of its features include allowing students easy integration with any intranet software, which extends its functions with a wide range of plugins.

For more about Forma LMS, please check its Homepage

To get started with installing Forma, follow the steps below:

Install Apache2 HTTP Server

Forma CMS requires a web server, and Apache2 HTTP is the most popular open-source web server available today. To install the Apache2 server, run the commands below:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install apache2

After installing Apache2, the commands below can be used 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

Now that Apache2 is installed browse your browser to the URL below to test whether the web server works.

Apache2 Test Page

If you see the page above, then Apache2 is successfully installed.

Install MariaDB Database Server

Forma also requires a database server to store its content. MariaDB is a great place to start if you want a genuinely open-source database server. 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 18.10 and 18.04 LTS

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, 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

Once MariaDB is installed, run the commands below to test whether the database server was successfully installed.

sudo mysql -u root -p

Type the root password when prompted.

mariadb welcome

The server was successfully installed if you see a similar screen.

Install PHP 7.0 and Related Modules

Forma LMS is a PHP-based LMS, and PHP is required. However, PHP 7.0 may not be available in Ubuntu’s default repositories. To run PHP 7.0 on Ubuntu 16.04 and previous, you may need to run the commands below:

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

Then update and upgrade to PHP 7.0

sudo apt update

Next, run the commands below to install PHP 7.2 and related modules.

sudo apt install php7.0 libapache2-mod-php7.0 php7.0-common php7.0-mysql php7.0-gmp php7.0-ldap php7.0-curl php7.0-intl php7.0-mbstring php7.0-xmlrpc php7.0-gd php7.0-bcmath php7.0-xml php7.0-cli php7.0-zip

After installing PHP 7.0, run the commands below to open the PHP default configuration file for Apache2.

sudo nano /etc/php/7.0/apache2/php.ini

The lines below are a good setting for most PHP-based LMS. Update the configuration file with these and save.

file_uploads = On
allow_url_fopen = On
short_open_tag = On
memory_limit = 256M
upload_max_filesize = 100M
max_execution_time = 360
date.timezone = America/Chicago

Every time you change the PHP configuration file, you should restart the Apache2 web server. To do so, run the commands below:

sudo systemctl restart apache2.service

Once PHP is installed, create a test file called phpinfo.php in the Apache2 default root directory to test whether it’s functioning. ( /var/www/html/)

sudo nano /var/www/html/phpinfo.php

Then type the content below and save the file.

<?php phpinfo( ); ?>

Next, open your browser and browse to the server’s hostname or IP address, followed by phpinfo.php


You should see the PHP default test page.

PHP Test Page

Create Forma Database

Once you’ve installed all the packages required for Forma to function, continue below to start configuring the servers. First, run the commands below to create a blank Forma database.

To log on to the MariaDB database server, run the commands below.

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called forma


Create a database user called for a user with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON forma.* TO 'formauser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


Download Forma Latest Release

To get Forma’s latest release, you may want to get it from its download page below

Extract the downloaded content and copy it to the Apache2 root directory.

cd /tmp
wget -c "" -O 
sudo unzip -d /var/www/html/forma /tmp/

Then run the commands below to set the correct permissions for the Forma root directory and give Apache2 control.

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

Configure Apache2

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

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/forma.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/forma/formalms

     <Directory /var/www/html/forma/formalms/>
          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 Forma and Rewrite Module

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

sudo a2ensite forma.conf
sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo systemctl restart apache2.service

Then open your browser and browse to the server domain name. You should see the Forma setup wizard complete. Please follow the wizard carefully.

Then follow the on-screen instructions. Finally, select the installation language and continue.

Forma LMS Ubuntu Install

Verify all the requirements are met, then continue.

Forma LMS Ubuntu Install

Type in the database connection info you created above and continue.

Forma LMS Ubuntu Install

Next, create an admin account and continue.

Forma LMS Ubuntu Install

After that, Forma LMS should be installed and ready to use.

Forma LMS

You will be prompted to download the config.php file and save it in the Forma root directory.

sudo cp ~/Download/config.php /var/www/html/forma/formalms/

Finally, delete the install folder.

sudo rm -rf /var/www/html/forma/formalms/install


That’s it!

Congratulation! You have successfully installed Forma LMS on Ubuntu 16.04 | 18.04 and 18.10.

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  1. I try to install this, but in step7 i got an php error and the database isn´t imported, how can i fix this?

    1. I had the same issue. It is the database name. In step 4 of this guide, when creating the database in mysql the database name is ‘forma’, but in the setup phase the database name is ‘formalms’. If you type ‘forma’ in the web setup page it will be okay.

      Hope I could help!

  2. Has anyone else come across HTTP ERROR 500 after deleting the install folder then trying to access the Forma URL?

    There is nothing in the Apache Log to explain what may have happened.

  3. Have you solved this problem?

  4. Hello thank you, my installation has been stuck on stage 6 for days now. what do i do?

  5. Hi, I am using latest version of formalms downloaded from
    sudo wget -c “” -O and I followed all the above steps but not able to proceed beyond page 2 of 8 please the url

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