The Perfect Server - Ubuntu 18.04 (Nginx, MySQL, PHP, Postfix, BIND, Dovecot, Pure-FTPD and ISPConfig 3.1)

This tutorial shows the steps to install an Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver) server with Nginx, PHP, MariaDB, Postfix, pure-ftpd, BIND, Dovecot and ISPConfig 3.1. ISPConfig is a web hosting control panel that allows you to configure the installed services through a web browser. This setup provides a full hosting server with web, email (inc. spam and antivirus filter), Database, FTP and DNS services.

1. Preliminary Note

In this tutorial, I will use the hostname server1.example.com with the IP address 192.168.1.100 and the gateway 192.168.1.1 for the network configuration. These settings might differ for you, so you have to replace them where appropriate.  Before proceeding further, you need to have a basic minimal installation of Ubuntu 18.04 as explained in this tutorial.

The steps in this tutorial have to be executed as root user, so I will not prepend "sudo" in front of the commands. Either Login as root user to your server before you proceed or run:

sudo -s

to become root when you are logged in as a different user on the shell.

The commands to edit files will use the editor "nano", you can replace it with an editor of your choice. Nano is an easy to use file editor for the shell. If you like to use nano and haven't installed it yet, run:

apt-get install nano

2. Update Your Linux Installation

Edit /etc/apt/sources.list. Comment out or remove the installation CD from the file and make sure that the universe and multiverse repositories are enabled. It should look like this:

nano /etc/apt/sources.list

#

# deb cdrom:[Ubuntu-Server 18.04 LTS _Bionic Beaver_ - Release amd64 (20180425.1)]/ bionic main restricted

#deb cdrom:[Ubuntu-Server 18.04 LTS _Bionic Beaver_ - Release amd64 (20180425.1)]/ bionic main restricted

# See http://help.ubuntu.com/community/UpgradeNotes for how to upgrade to
# newer versions of the distribution.
deb http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic main restricted
# deb-src http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic main restricted

## Major bug fix updates produced after the final release of the
## distribution.
deb http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates main restricted
# deb-src http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates main restricted

## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu
## team. Also, please note that software in universe WILL NOT receive any
## review or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
deb http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic universe
# deb-src http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic universe
deb http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates universe
# deb-src http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates universe

## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu
## team, and may not be under a free licence. Please satisfy yourself as to
## your rights to use the software. Also, please note that software in
## multiverse WILL NOT receive any review or updates from the Ubuntu
## security team.
deb http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic multiverse
# deb-src http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic multiverse
deb http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates multiverse
# deb-src http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates multiverse

## N.B. software from this repository may not have been tested as
## extensively as that contained in the main release, although it includes
## newer versions of some applications which may provide useful features.
## Also, please note that software in backports WILL NOT receive any review
## or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
deb http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-backports main restricted universe multiverse
# deb-src http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-backports main restricted universe multiverse

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from Canonical's
## 'partner' repository.
## This software is not part of Ubuntu, but is offered by Canonical and the
## respective vendors as a service to Ubuntu users.
# deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu bionic partner
# deb-src http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu bionic partner

deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security main restricted
# deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security main restricted
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security universe
# deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security universe
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security multiverse
# deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security multiverse

Then run:

apt-get update

To update the apt package database and then:

apt-get upgrade

to install the latest updates (if there are any). If you see that a new kernel gets installed as part of the updates, you should reboot the system afterward:

reboot

3. Change the Default Shell

/bin/sh is a symlink to /bin/dash, however we need /bin/bash, not /bin/dash. Therefore we do this:

dpkg-reconfigure dash

Use dash as the default system shell (/bin/sh)? <-- No

If you don't do this, the ISPConfig installation will fail.

4. Disable AppArmor

AppArmor is a security extension (similar to SELinux) that should provide extended security. We will cross check if it is installed and remove it if necessary. In my opinion you don't need it to configure a secure system, and it usually causes more problems than advantages (think of it after you have done a week of trouble-shooting because some service wasn't working as expected, and then you find out that everything was ok, only AppArmor was causing the problem). Therefore, I disable it (this is a must if you want to install ISPConfig later on).

We can disable it like this:

service apparmor stop
update-rc.d -f apparmor remove
apt-get remove apparmor apparmor-utils

5. Synchronize the System Clock

It is a good idea to synchronize the system clock with an NTP (network time protocol) server over the Internet. Simply run

apt-get -y install ntp ntpdate

and your system time will always be in sync.

6. Install Postfix, Dovecot, MariaDB, phpMyAdmin, rkhunter, Binutils

For installing postfix, we need to ensure that sendmail is not installed and running. To stop and remove sendmail run this command:

service sendmail stop; update-rc.d -f sendmail remove

The error message:

Failed to stop sendmail.service: Unit sendmail.service not loaded.

Is ok, it just means that sendmail was not installed, so there was nothing to be removed.

We can install Postfix, Dovecot, MariaDB (as MySQL replacement), rkhunter, and binutils with a single command:

apt-get -y install postfix postfix-mysql postfix-doc mariadb-client mariadb-server openssl getmail4 rkhunter binutils dovecot-imapd dovecot-pop3d dovecot-mysql dovecot-sieve dovecot-lmtpd sudo

MariaDB is a fork of the MySQL database server, developed by the original MySQL developer Monty Widenius. According to tests found on the internet, MariaDB is faster than MySQL and it's development is going on with more pace, therefore, most Linux Distributions replaced MySQL with MariaDB as default "MySQL alike" database server. In case that you prefer MySQL over MariaDB, replace "mariadb-client mariadb-server" in the above command with "mysql-client mysql-server".

You will be asked the following questions:

General type of mail configuration: <-- Internet Site
System mail name: <-- server1.example.com

Next open the TLS/SSL and submission ports in Postfix:

nano /etc/postfix/master.cf

Uncomment the submission and smtps sections as follows - add the line -o smtpd_client_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject to both sections and leave everything thereafter commented:

[...]
submission inet n       -       -       -       -       smtpd
  -o syslog_name=postfix/submission
  -o smtpd_tls_security_level=encrypt
  -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes
  -o smtpd_client_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject
#  -o smtpd_reject_unlisted_recipient=no
#  -o smtpd_client_restrictions=$mua_client_restrictions
#  -o smtpd_helo_restrictions=$mua_helo_restrictions
#  -o smtpd_sender_restrictions=$mua_sender_restrictions
#  -o smtpd_recipient_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject
#  -o milter_macro_daemon_name=ORIGINATING
smtps     inet  n       -       -       -       -       smtpd
  -o syslog_name=postfix/smtps
  -o smtpd_tls_wrappermode=yes
  -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes
  -o smtpd_client_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject
#  -o smtpd_reject_unlisted_recipient=no
#  -o smtpd_client_restrictions=$mua_client_restrictions
#  -o smtpd_helo_restrictions=$mua_helo_restrictions
#  -o smtpd_sender_restrictions=$mua_sender_restrictions
#  -o smtpd_recipient_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject
#  -o milter_macro_daemon_name=ORIGINATING
[...]

NOTE: The whitespaces in front of the "-o .... " lines are important!

Restart Postfix afterward:

service postfix restart

We want MariaDB/MySQL to listen on all interfaces, not just localhost. Therefore we edit /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf (for MariaDB or /etc/mysql/my.cnf (for MySQL) and comment out the line bind-address = 127.0.0.1:

MariaDB

nano /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf

[...]
# Instead of skip-networking the default is now to listen only on
# localhost which is more compatible and is not less secure.
#bind-address           = 127.0.0.1
[...]

Now we set a root password in MariaDB. Run:

mysql_secure_installation

You will be asked these questions:

Enter current password for root (enter for none): <-- press enter
Set root password? [Y/n] <-- y
New password: <-- Enter the new MariaDB root password here
Re-enter new password: <-- Repeat the password
Remove anonymous users? [Y/n] <-- y
Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n] <-- y
Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n] <-- y

Set the password authentication method in MariaDB to native so we can use PHPMyAdmin later to connect as root user:

echo "update mysql.user set plugin = 'mysql_native_password' where user='root';" | mysql -u root

Edit the file /etc/mysql/debian.cnf and set the MYSQL / MariaDB root password there twice in the rows that start with password.

nano /etc/mysql/debian.cnf

The MySQL root password that needs to be added is shown in read, in this example the password is "howtoforge".

# Automatically generated for Debian scripts. DO NOT TOUCH!
[client]
host = localhost
user = root
password = howtoforge
socket = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
[mysql_upgrade]
host = localhost
user = root
password = howtoforge
socket = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
basedir = /usr

Then we restart MariaDB:

service mysql restart

The systemd service name for MariaDB and MySQL is "mysql", so the restart command is the same for both database servers.

MySQL

nano /etc/mysql/my.cnf

[...]
# Instead of skip-networking the default is now to listen only on
# localhost which is more compatible and is not less secure.
#bind-address           = 127.0.0.1
[...]

Then we restart MySQL:

service mysql restart

The systemd service name for MariaDB and MySQL is "mysql", so the restart command is the same for both database servers.

For MySQL and MariaDB:

Now check that networking is enabled. Run:

netstat -tap | grep mysql

The output should look like this:

[email protected]:~# netstat -tap | grep mysql
tcp6 0 0 [::]:mysql [::]:* LISTEN 12210/mysqld

7. Install Amavisd-new, SpamAssassin, And ClamAV

To install amavisd-new, SpamAssassin, and ClamAV, we run

apt-get -y install amavisd-new spamassassin clamav clamav-daemon unzip bzip2 arj nomarch lzop cabextract apt-listchanges libnet-ldap-perl libauthen-sasl-perl clamav-docs daemon libio-string-perl libio-socket-ssl-perl libnet-ident-perl zip libnet-dns-perl postgrey

The ISPConfig 3 setup uses amavisd-new which loads the SpamAssassin filter library internally, so we can stop SpamAssassin to free up RAM:

service spamassassin stop
update-rc.d -f spamassassin remove

 To update the ClamAV antivirus signatures and start the Clamd service. The update process can take some time, don't interrupt it.

freshclam
service clamav-daemon start

The following error can be ignored on the first run of freshclam.

ERROR: /var/log/clamav/freshclam.log is locked by another process
ERROR: Problem with internal logger (UpdateLogFile = /var/log/clamav/freshclam.log).

The amavisd-new program has currently a bug in Ubuntu 18.04 which prevents that emails get signed with Dkim correctly. Run the following commands to patch amavisd-new.

cd /tmp
wget https://git.ispconfig.org/ispconfig/ispconfig3/raw/stable-3.1/helper_scripts/ubuntu-amavisd-new-2.11.patch
cd /usr/sbin
cp -pf amavisd-new amavisd-new_bak
patch < /tmp/ubuntu-amavisd-new-2.11.patch

In case you get an error for thelast 'patch' command, then Ubuntu has probably fixed the issue in the meantime, so it should be safe to ignore that error then.

7.1 Install Metronome XMPP Server (optional)

The Metronome XMPP Server provides an XMPP chat server. This step is optional, if you do not need a chat server, then you can skip this step. No other ISPConfig functions depend on this software.

Install the following packages with apt.

apt-get -y install git lua5.1 liblua5.1-0-dev lua-filesystem libidn11-dev libssl-dev lua-zlib lua-expat lua-event lua-bitop lua-socket lua-sec luarocks luarocks

luarocks install lpc

Add a shell user for Metronome.

adduser --no-create-home --disabled-login --gecos 'Metronome' metronome

Download Metronome to the /opt directory and compile it.

cd /opt; git clone https://github.com/maranda/metronome.git metronome
cd ./metronome; ./configure --ostype=debian --prefix=/usr
make
make install

Metronome has now be installed to /opt/metronome.

Till Brehm

About Till Brehm

Over 20 years experience as Software Developer and Linux System Administrator. Till Brehm is the founder and lead developer of the ISPConfig Hosting Control Panel software (since 2000) and he founded HowtoForge in 2005 as a place to share Linux knowledge with other Linux enthusiasts.

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18 Comment(s)

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Comments

By: steve at: 2018-07-17 08:34:35

hi,

thanks for that!

wanna do the setup with debian 9.4 instead of ubuntu.

any differences except the entries in /etc/apt/sources.list?

 

cheers

By: till at: 2018-07-17 08:37:28

Use the Debian tutorial instead of the Ubuntu tutorial to install ISPConfig on Debian: https://www.howtoforge.com/tutorial/perfect-server-debian-9-nginx-bind-dovecot-ispconfig-3.1

By: gardo at: 2018-07-18 09:34:37

phpmyadmin does not work, i can access the url :8081/phpmyadmin but it does not allow to login.

same with roundcube, it says cant connect to database.

 

Mysql is up and nothing in the logs.

By: JamesB at: 2018-07-19 16:25:25

Works fine here in my server. There must be a general problem with MySQL on your server when two completely independent applications are not able to connect to MySQL on your system.

By: Jacques at: 2018-07-20 00:37:59

What would be recommended system requirements for The Perfect Server as above?

4 vCPU, 8GB RAM ???

In addition, what would be the recommended partitioning scheme and sizes to keep things sensible?/boot - 512MB/swap - 1GB/var - 4GB/var/log - 2GB/ - 8GB???

By: till at: 2018-07-20 06:31:53

The requirements depend largely on how much mail and web traffic you expect. I would say that 1GB RAM is the absolute minimum and 2GB+ recommended. The number of vCPU's depends only on the workload. In regard to partitioning, emails are in /var/vmail and websites in /var/www, so you should have a large /var partition as basically all website and email data will reside in that partition.

By: hacker at: 2018-08-05 22:19:58

First thank you very mutch for the great how to!

In my case had error for roundcube an phpmyadmin sites:

ERROR 502 - Bad Gateway! The following error occurred:

This server received an invalid response from an upstream server it accessed to fulfill the request.

If you get this message repeatedly please contact the webmaster.

My Solution:

Replace in

/etc/php/7.2/fpm/pool.d/www.conf

listen = /var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock

->

listen = /var/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock

and do

 /etc/init.d/php7.2-fpm restart

and Bad Gateway is away and roundcube works:)

without warranty, I believe it is a hack:)

 

By: Lyudmil at: 2018-08-11 16:44:27

The lesson is great. How to set permissions to upload the FTP site folder?

By: IceManXS at: 2018-08-22 14:15:15

Hello,

thank you for your tutorials, everythink worked fine for me. Except one mistake I found.

In this tutorial you use PHP 7.2 so we have to use fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock; instead of fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock; at the nginx Directives field for the aliasing of phpMyAdmin and roundcube. Otherwise you will get a error 502. Maybe you can fix this!

Kind Regards

By: Emmanuel Mnzava at: 2018-08-29 20:34:10

After successful installation and configuration. Now i cant access site with friendly URL's.

Can you share nginx Directives  that will allow site to be accessed with friendly URL's like modrewrite in Apache.

Regards,

By: Glen at: 2018-08-30 11:21:11

You reference installing PHP5 modules in the body of your text even though this version uses php 7.2. Also, you reference a php7.0 socket instead of the php7.2 socket. 

By: Cane at: 2018-09-05 10:07:04

Thanks for your Tutorial

 

I have one problem though, if I want to loggin to isp with admin admin it tells me wrong password

By: till at: 2018-09-05 13:29:27

The default password is not admin anymore, the installer sets a custom password for each install and shows that password on the screen during install. If you don't remember which password was shown by the installer, then you can reset the password like this: https://www.faqforge.com/linux/controlpanels/ispconfig3/how-to-reset-the-administrator-password-in-ispconfig-3/

By: Manuel Hernandez at: 2018-09-08 23:24:41

I accidentally pressed Ctrl+C when installing ISPConfig, specifically when it was on this line:

Configuring Fail2banConfiguring Apps vhostInstalling ISPConfigISPConfig Port [8080]: 

How do I resume installation?

By: Pat at: 2018-09-20 02:12:26

in my case the apache2 running instead of nginx and can't stop it :-(

By: till at: 2018-09-20 06:48:31

This tutorial did not installed apache, so it must have been installed before. You probably did not start from a clean minimal system then.If you don't remember the start script of the apache instance that you installed, then use the killall command to stop it.

By: Pat at: 2018-09-20 02:18:06

 and open the admin site results a blank page with the message:

Possible attack detected. This action has been logged. 

By: till at: 2018-09-20 06:57:11

Probably you used a password for the admin that looks like a script attack so that it triggers the script filter. You can change the admin password like this: https://www.faqforge.com/linux/controlpanels/ispconfig3/how-to-reset-the-administrator-password-in-ispconfig-3/ or you switch off the IDS in /usr/local/ispconfig/security/security_settings.ini