How to Setup Perch CMS with Nginx on Ubuntu Linux

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to install Perch CMS on Ubuntu 18.04 | 16.04 with the Nginx HTTP server.

Our previous tutorial showed you how to run Perch CMS on Ubuntu with Apache2. This one describes how to run it with Nginx instead.

Perch is paid (free on localhost) content management system (CMS) that is simple, flexible, and user-friendly. It is designed to make building and editing small sites a breeze.

Perch is HTML 5 compatible and offers you a choice of Markdown, Textile, or HTML – with or without an editor plugin. It is easy to install and manage and will help you simplify the process of building and maintaining a website for businesses or individuals.

For more about Perch, please check its homepage

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

Install Nginx HTTP

Nginx HTTP Server is the most popular web server in use. Install it since Perch 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 validate whether the Nginx web server is installed and functioning, go to the server’s local hostname or IP address. If you see a similar page below, then Nginx is functioning as expected.

nginx default home page test

Install MariaDB Database Server

Perch 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 Perch.

To install MariaDB run the commands below.

sudo apt 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 and Related Modules

PHP 7.2 may not be available in Ubuntu default repositories. to install it, you will have to 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

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

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

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

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

Then make the changes on the following lines below in the file and save. The value below is a great setting to apply in your environment.

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
max_input_vars = 1500
date.timezone = America/Chicago

After making the change above, save the file and close it.

Create Perch Database

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


Create a database user called perchuser with a new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the perch database.

GRANT ALL ON perch.* TO 'perchuser'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


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

Download Perch’s Latest Release

To download and install Perch, visit its download page here.

Or use the commands below to download and install via the command line. At the time of this writing, the latest version is 3.1.5.

cd ~/Downloads
sudo mv perch_v3.1.5/perch /var/www/perch

Since you just ran the web server as root, you should make sure any newly created files are owned by the www-data user and group.

To do that, run the commands below:

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

Configure Nginx

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

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

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

    client_max_body_size 100M;
    autoindex off;

    location / {
    try_files $uri /index.php?$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 Perch

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

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

Then open your browser and browse to the server domain name or hostname. This is often localhost but can be a hostname or IP address. Your server admin or hosting company will have this information available.

Type in the database name, username, and password. Then click the Test Settings button.

Perch Ubuntu Install

You can set the software up fully licensed and ready to go live if you have a license key. If you’d like to test things out locally first, you can do that without a license. You’ll need to get a license before your site goes live.

Perch Ubuntu Setup

Next, create an admin account to use to manage Perch.

Perch Ubuntu install

After installing, log in and start building your site

perch ubuntu setup


You have learned how to install Perch CMS on Ubuntu with the Nginx HTTP server. If you find any errors above, please leave a comment below


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