How to Install phpBB on Ubuntu Linux with Nginx

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This article describes steps one can take to install and use phpBB on Ubuntu Linux with Nginx support.

phpBB is a free flat-forum bulletin board software written in PHP. It enables individuals and webmasters to set up community bulletin boards in minutes to stay in touch with groups of people or ideas.

phpBB requires the LAMP or LEMP stack to function. It is free, and easy to set up and maintain. Many reputable online forum communities use this software to run their bulletin boards.

If you’re looking for feature-rich, efficient and free community bulletin board software, then you may want to consider phpBB.

How to install and use phpBB on Ubuntu Linux with Nginx

As described above, phpBB is a free flat-forum bulletin board software written in PHP. It enables individuals and webmasters to set up community bulletin boards in minutes to stay in touch with groups of people or ideas.

Install Nginx

phpBB is PHP-based and requires a webserver. For this article, we’re going to be using the Nginx HTTP server.

Run the commands below to install Nginx on Ubuntu Linux.

sudo apt update
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

phpBB also requires a database server to function. MariaDB database server is a great place to start when looking for an open-source database server to use.

To install it run the commands below.

sudo apt install mariadb-server mariadb-client

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

Install PHP-FPM and Related Modules

phpBB, a PHP-based software will require the below PHP. To install PHP 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

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

sudo nano /etc/php/7.1/fpm/php.ini
sudo nano /etc/php/7.0/fpm/php.ini

Then change the following lines below in the file and save. You may increase the value to suit your environment.

max_execution_time = 180
max_input_time = 60
memory_limit = 256M
upload_max_filesize = 64M

Create phpBB Database

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

First, create a phpBB 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 phpbb

CREATE DATABASE phpbb;

Create a database user called phpbbuser with new password

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

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON phpbb.* TO 'phpbbuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.

FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
EXIT;

Download phpBB Latest Release

Next, continue below to download phpBB package. To download, run the commands below.

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

cd /tmp && wget https://www.phpbb.com/files/release/phpBB-3.2.1.zip
unzip phpBB-3.2.1.zip
sudo mv phpBB3 /var/www/html/phpbb

Change or modify the directory permission to fit the Nginx configuration.

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

Configure Nginx

Finally, configure an Apache virtual host configuration file for phpBB. This file will control how users access phpBB content.

Run the commands below to create a new configuration file called phpbb.conf

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/phpbb.conf

Then copy and paste the content below into the file and save it. Replace the highlighted line with your own domain name and directory root location.

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;
    root /var/www/html/phpbb;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;
    server_name  example.com www.example.com;

    location / {
    try_files $uri $uri/ @rewriteapp;        
    }

    location /install/ {
     try_files $uri $uri/ @rewrite_installapp;
    }

    location ~ \.php(/|$) {
    fastcgi_split_path_info  ^(.+\.php)(/.+)$;
    fastcgi_index            index.php;
    fastcgi_pass             unix:/var/run/php/php7.1-fpm.sock;     #Ubuntu 17.10
 #  fastcgi_pass             unix:/var/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock;     #Ubuntu 17.04
    include                  fastcgi_params;
    fastcgi_param   PATH_INFO       $fastcgi_path_info;
    fastcgi_param   SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
    fastcgi_param DOCUMENT_ROOT $realpath_root;
    try_files $uri $uri/ /install/app.php$is_args$args;
    }

     location @rewrite_installapp {
      rewrite ^(.*)$ /install/app.php/$1 last;
     }

}

Save the file and exit.

Enable the phpBB and Rewrite Module

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

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/phpbb.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

To load all the settings above, restart Nginx by running the commands below.

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

Finally, open your browser and browse to the server domain name followed by install.

You should see the phpBB setup wizard complete.

Please follow the wizard carefully.

http://example.com/install

You should see the phpBB setup wizard

ubuntu phpbb install

Create an admin account by typing a username and password.

phpbb ubuntu install

Enter the database connection details and continue

phpbb ubuntu installation

Accept the server configuration settings and continue.

phpbb setup ubuntu

If you do have a mail server, configure it on this page. if not ignore and continue

Enjoy!

Run the commands below to delete the install directory

sudo rm -rf /var/www/html/phpbb/install

Congratulation! You have successfully installed the phpBB bulletin board.