How to Install MODX with Nginx on Ubuntu Linux

MODX is an open-source, lightweight, secure, fast content management system based on PHP. It is designed for ease of use to allow webmasters and owners to create powerful and dynamic content websites.

MODX with Nginx and Ubuntu can be a powerful combination.

If you’re looking for a simple content management platform to manage your websites or blogs and 100% free, you’ll find MODX to be helpful.

This brief tutorial will show students and new users how to install MODX CMS on Ubuntu 17.04 | 17.10 with Nginx, MariaDB, and PHP support.

This post covers installing the latest version of MODX, which at the time of writing was  2.6.1

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

Install Nginx

MODX requires a webserver to function, and the second most popular web server in use today is Nginx. So, go and install Nginx on Ubuntu by running the commands below:

sudo apt install nginx

Next, run the commands below to stop, start and enable the 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

Install MariaDB

MODX also requires a database server to function. And MariaDB database server is a great place to start. To install it, run the commands below.

sudo apt-get install mariadb-server mariadb-client

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

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

sudo systemctl restart mariadb.service

Install PHP-FPM and Related Modules

MODX is based on PHP., so you’ll need to install it. To install PHP-FPM and related modules, run the commands below.

sudo apt install php-fpm php-common php-mbstring php-xmlrpc php-soap php-gd php-xml php-intl php-mysql php-cli php-mcrypt php-ldap php-zip php-curl php-sqlite3

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

sudo nano /etc/php/7.1/fpm/php.ini                 # Ubuntu 17.10
sudo nano /etc/php/7.0/fpm/php.ini                 # Ubuntu 17.04

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

file_uploads = On
allow_url_fopen = On
memory_limit = 256M
upload_max_filesize = 64M
max_execution_time = 240
max_input_vars = 1500

Create MODX 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 MODX 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 modx


Create a database user called modxuser with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON modx.* TO 'modxuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


Download MODX Latest Release

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

After downloading, run the commands below to extract the downloaded file into the Nginx root directory.

cd /tmp && wget
unzip direct?
sudo mv modx-2.6.1-pl /var/www/html/modx

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

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

Configure Nginx

Finally, configure the Nginx site configuration file for MODX. This file will control how users access MODX content. Run the commands below to create a new configuration file called modx

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/modx

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.

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;
    root /var/www/html/modx;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;

    client_max_body_size 30M;
    location / {
                root /var/www/html/modx;
                if (!-e $request_filename) {
                        rewrite ^/(.*)$ /index.php?q=$1 last;

    location ~ \.php$ {
         try_files $uri =404;
         fastcgi_split_path_info  ^(.+\.php)(/.+)$;
         fastcgi_index            index.php;
 #       fastcgi_pass             unix:/var/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock;        # for Ubuntu 17.04
         fastcgi_pass             unix:/var/run/php/php7.1-fpm.sock;        # for Ubuntu 17.10
         include                  fastcgi_params;
         fastcgi_param   PATH_INFO       $fastcgi_path_info;
         fastcgi_param   SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;


Save the file and exit.

Enable the MODX and Rewrite Module

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

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/modx /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

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

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

Then open your browser and browse to the server domain name. You should see the MODX setup wizard complete.

Please follow the wizard carefully.

Then follow the on-screen instructions until you’ve successfully installed MODX.

modx ubuntu install

Select your language and continue

modx ubuntu wizard

Then choose new install and continue

modx ubuntu setup

Next, enter the database information you created above and continue

ubuntu modx

Then click the link to create or test the selection of your database. this will allow you to create the site admin account

ubuntu modx

Finally, install MODX

modx ubuntu install


install modx ubuntu

Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed MODX CMS on Ubuntu with Nginx, MariaDB, and PHP.

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