How to Setup ILIAS LMS with Nginx on Ubuntu Linux

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to install and configure ILIAS Learning Management System (LMS) on Ubuntu 18.04 | 16.04 LTS servers.

Our previous tutorial showed you how to install ILIAS LMS on Ubuntu with Apache2 HTTP support. This one shows students and new users how to run it with the Nginx server instead.

ILIAS is an open-source, next-generation learning management system (LMS) packed with powerful modules to build and manage online courses for students, teachers, and anyone who wants to build their online courses.

ILIAS comes with support for collaboration, communication, evaluation, and assessment and is built with popular web tools like PHP, MySQL, JQuery, Bootstrap, and more.

For more about ILIAS, please check their Homepage

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

Install Nginx HTTP Server

You will need a web server to run ILIAS and Nginx HTTP server is the most popular open-source web server available today. So go and get it for ILIAS.

To install the Nginx server, run the commands below:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nginx

After installing the Nginx web server, 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

Now that Nginx is installed, open your browser and browse to the URL below to test whether the web server is working.


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

Install MariaDB Database Server

ILIAS 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 ILIAS.

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

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

Restart MariaDB server

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

Install PHP 7.2-FPM and Related Modules

ILIAS is a PHP-based CMS and PHP is required. However, PHP 7.2-FPM may not be available in Ubuntu default repositories. To run PHP 7.2-FPM 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 7.2-FPM

sudo apt update

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

sudo apt install php7.2-fpm php7.2-common php7.2-sqlite3 php7.2-mysql php7.2-gmp php7.2-curl php7.2-intl php7.2-mbstring php7.2-xmlrpc php7.2-gd php7.2-bcmath php7.2-xml php7.2-cli php7.2-zip

After installing PHP 7.2, run the commands below to open Nginx’s PHP default configuration file.

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

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

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

You should restart the Nginx web server whenever you make changes to the PHP configuration file. To do so, run the commands below:

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

ILIAS Database

Now that you’ve installed all the packages that are required, continue below to start configuring the servers. First, create an ILIAS database.

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

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called ilias


Create a database user called iliasuser with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the alias database.

GRANT ALL ON ilias.* TO 'iliasuser'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


Download ILIAS Latest Release

After installing the server and packages above, get the latest copy of ILIAS from its download site.

After downloading, use the commands below to extract the archived content into the Nginx root directory.

cd /var/www/
sudo apt install git
sudo git clone ilias

Create an extra directory outside of the ilias root directory.

sudo mkdir /var/www/extras
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/extras/

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

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/ilias/
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/ilias/

Configure Nginx

Finally, configure the Apahce2 site configuration file for ILIAS. This file will control how users access ILIAS

content. Run the commands below to create a new configuration file called ilias

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

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/ilias;
    index  index.php;
    access_log /var/log/nginx/;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/;

    client_max_body_size 100M;
    autoindex off;

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

    location ~ \.php$ {
         include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
         fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock;
         include fastcgi_params;
         fastcgi_intercept_errors on;

Save the file and exit.

Enable the ILIAS and Rewrite Module

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

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

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

ILIAS should begin its installation wizard. Validate that all requirements are met, then continue

ILIAS supports multiple clients with different databases. Below you enter the base data directory, log file location, and the paths to third-party tools. These settings are valid for all clients you create later on.

Data Directory: /var/www/extras
Path to Log File: /var/www/extras/logs

Please choose a client ID. Any letter (except umlauts) or number is allowed. The client ID must be in one word.
Next, you enter your database connection data. The Setup establishes a test connection to verify your settings and if the database exists. If the database does not yet exist, you may prompt Setup in the next installation step to create the database for you.

Choose a database type and continue

Please choose additional languages and/or remove selected languages. The default language specified the language for new user accounts or users who haven’t selected a preferred language yet.

Here you indicate additional client information and the contact data of the system administrator of this client. All information is stored in your database. You may optionally register your installation on the next screen at the ILIAS open-source project server.

Here you can skip registration

Your site should be up and ready to use when you’re done. Login with the admin account created above and begin setting up your environment.

That’s it! Log in and begin building your courses.


Congratulation! You have successfully installed ILIAS LMS on Ubuntu 16.04 | 18.04

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