How to Setup BookStack with Nginx on Ubuntu Linux

computer screen with dashboard
computer screen with dashboard

BookStack is an open-source platform for creating documentation and wikis content for your users. It’s built on the LAMP or LEMP stack and is excellent for creating professional documentation for any project.

This brief tutorial will show students and new users how to install BookStack on Ubuntu 16.04 / 17.10 and 18.04.

If you currently use an antiquated documentation creator or platform, you may want to try BookStack. It’s a great alternative to other documentation software and platform. If you need help installing BookStack, this post is a great place to start.

BookStack interface is straightforward. The page editor has a simple WYSIWYG interface, and all content is broken into three simple real-world groups:

For more on BookStack, please visit its home page

When you’re ready to get BookStack working on Ubuntu, please continue with the steps below:

Install Nginx HTTP Server on Ubuntu

Nginx HTTP Server is the second most popular web server, so install it since BookStack needs it.

To install Nginx HTTP on the 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 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

To test the Nginx setup, open your browser and browse to the server hostname or IP address, and you should see the Nginx default test page as shown below. When you see that, then Nginx is working as expected.

nginx default home page test

Install MariaDB Database Server

MariaDB database server is a great place to start when looking at open-source database servers for Magento. 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 17.10 and 18.04 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 the password
  • Re-enter new password: Repeat password
  • Remove anonymous users? [Y/n]: Y
  • Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n]: Y
  • Remove the test database and access to it? [Y/n]:  Y
  • Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n]:  Y

Restart MariaDB server

Type the commands below to log on to the MariaDB server to test if MariaDB is installed.

sudo mysql -u root -p

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

mariadb welcome

Install PHP 7.1-FPM and Related Modules

PHP 7.1 may not be available in Ubuntu default repositories. 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 7.1-FPM

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

Then update and upgrade to PHP 7.1-FPM

sudo apt update

Next, run the commands below to install PHP 7.1-FPM and related modules.

sudo apt install php7.1-fpm php7.1-common php7.1-sqlite php7.1-curl php7.1-intl php7.1-mbstring php7.1-xmlrpc php7.1-mysql php7.1-gd php7.1-xml php7.1-cli php7.1-mcrypt php7.1-tidy php7.1-zip

After installing PHP 7.1, run the commands below to open Nginx’s PHP default config file.

sudo nano /etc/php/7.1/fpm/php.ini

Then save the changes on the following lines below in the file. The value below is an ideal setting to apply in your environment.

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

After making the change above, save the file and closeout.

After installing PHP and related modules, you must restart Nginx to reload PHP configurations.

To restart Nginx, run the commands below

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

Create Magento Database

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

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

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called bookstack


Create a database user called bookstackuser with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON bookstack.* TO 'bookstackuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


Download and Install BookStack

Run the commands below to install Composer and use it to download BookStack content.

sudo curl -sS | sudo php -- --install-dir=/usr/bin --filename=composer
cd /var/www/html/
sudo apt install git
sudo git clone --branch release --single-branch
cd BookStack
sudo composer install

Next, create the environment configuration file from the example file. and configure the database connection info

sudo mv .env.example .env
sudo nano .evn

and enter the database connection info you made above

# Database details

Save and exit.

After that, run the commands below in the BookStack directory to create the application’s unique key and migrate the database.

sudo php artisan key:generate
sudo php artisan migrate

Next, run the commands below to change the root folder permissions.

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

Configure the Nginx BookStack Site

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

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

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/BookStack/public;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;

    client_max_body_size 100M;

    location / {
        try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$query_string;

    location ~ \.php$ {
    include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
    fastcgi_pass             unix:/var/run/php/php7.1-fpm.sock;
    fastcgi_param   SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;

Save the file and exit.

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

Enable the BookStack Site

After configuring the VirtualHost above, please enable it by running the commands below, then restart the Nginx server.

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

Next, open your browser, go to the URL., and continue with the installation….

Restart Nginx

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

Now open your browser and browse to the server URL or hostname…

Type default admin user ‘‘ with password ‘password,’ then press the ‘Login’ button.

BookStack ubuntu install

Log in and begin using BookStack.


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1 Comment

  1. The problem with the directions is that the instructions are not reproducible: You use the git version but that is a moving target with changing requirements, regarding the PHP version and possibly other dependencies or versions of them. I am forced to use PHP 7.2 due to Mail-in-a-Box but the git version of BookStack requires php 7.4 now. Please specify what version of BookStack you used that works with 7.1 (I can at least test whether will work on PHP 7.2).

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