How to Install Phorum with Nginx on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

Phorum is a PHP and MySQL based Open Source forum software. In this guide, we will guide you step-by-step through the Phorum installation process on the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS operating system using Nginx as the web server, MySQL as the database, and acme.sh and Let's Encrypt for HTTPS.

Requirements

Requirements for running Phorum are:

  • Nginx
  • PHP version 5.2 or greater
  • MySQL version 5.0 or greater

Prerequisites

  • An Ubuntu 18.04 LTS operating system.
  • A non-root user with sudo privileges.

Initial steps

Check your Ubuntu version:

lsb_release -ds
# Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS

Set up the timezone:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

Update your operating system packages (software). This is an important first step because it ensures you have the latest updates and security fixes for your operating system's default software packages:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

Install some essential packages that are necessary for basic administration of Ubuntu operating system:

sudo apt install -y curl wget vim git unzip socat bash-completion apt-transport-https build-essential

Step 1 - Install PHP

Install PHP, as well as the necessary PHP extensions:

sudo apt install -y php7.2 php7.2-cli php7.2-fpm php7.2-common php7.2-mysql

To show PHP compiled in modules, you can run:

php -m

ctype
curl
exif
fileinfo
. . .
. . .

Check the PHP version:

php --version

# PHP 7.2.10-0ubuntu0.18.04.1 (cli) (built: Sep 13 2018 13:45:02) ( NTS )
# Copyright (c) 1997-2018 The PHP Group
# Zend Engine v3.2.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2018 Zend Technologies
# with Zend OPcache v7.2.10-0ubuntu0.18.04.1, Copyright (c) 1999-2018, by Zend Technologies

PHP-FPM service is automatically started and enabled on reboot on Ubuntu 18.04 system, so there is no need to start and enable it manually. We can move on to the next step, which is the database installation and setup.

Step 2 - Install MySQL and create a database

Install MySQL database server:

sudo apt install -y mysql-server

Check MySQL version:

mysql --version
# mysql  Ver 14.14 Distrib 5.7.25, for Linux (x86_64) using  EditLine wrapper

Run mysql_secure installation script to improve MySQL security and set the password for MySQL root user:

sudo mysql_secure_installation

Answer each of the questions:

Would you like to setup VALIDATE PASSWORD plugin? N
New password: your_secure_password
Re-enter new password: your_secure_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

Connect to MySQL shell as the root user:

sudo mysql -u root -p
# Enter password

Create an empty MySQL database and user for Cachet and remember the credentials:

mysql> CREATE DATABASE dbname;
mysql> GRANT ALL ON dbname.* TO 'username' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
mysql> FLUSH PRIVILEGES;

Exit from MySQL:

mysql> exit

Replace dbname, username and password with your own names.

Step 3 - Install acme.sh client and obtain Let's Encrypt certificate (optional)

Securing your forum with HTTPS is not necessary, but it is a good practice to secure your site traffic. In order to obtain TLS certificate from Let's Encrypt we will use acme.sh client. Acme.sh is a pure UNIX shell software for obtaining TLS certificates from Let's Encrypt with zero dependencies. 

Download and install acme.sh:

sudo su - root
git clone https://github.com/Neilpang/acme.sh.git
cd acme.sh 
./acme.sh --install --accountemail [email protected]
source ~/.bashrc
cd ~

Check acme.sh version:

acme.sh --version
# v2.8.0

Obtain RSA and ECC/ECDSA certificates for your domain/hostname:

# RSA 2048
acme.sh --issue --standalone -d example.com --keylength 2048
# ECDSA
acme.sh --issue --standalone -d example.com --keylength ec-256

If you want fake certificates for testing you can add --staging flag to the above commands.

After running the above commands, your certificates and keys will be in:

  • For RSA: /home/username/example.com directory.
  • For ECC/ECDSA: /home/username/example.com_ecc directory.

To list your issued certs you can run:

acme.sh --list

Create a directory to store your certs. We will use /etc/letsencrypt directory.

mkdir -p /etc/letsecnrypt/example.com
sudo mkdir -p /etc/letsencrypt/example.com_ecc

Install/copy certificates to /etc/letsencrypt directory.

# RSA
acme.sh --install-cert -d example.com --cert-file /etc/letsencrypt/example.com/cert.pem --key-file /etc/letsencrypt/example.com/private.key --fullchain-file /etc/letsencrypt/example.com/fullchain.pem --reloadcmd "sudo systemctl reload nginx.service"
# ECC/ECDSA
acme.sh --install-cert -d example.com --ecc --cert-file /etc/letsencrypt/example.com_ecc/cert.pem --key-file /etc/letsencrypt/example.com_ecc/private.key --fullchain-file /etc/letsencrypt/example.com_ecc/fullchain.pem --reloadcmd "sudo systemctl reload nginx.service"

All the certificates will be automatically renewed every 60 days.

After obtaining certs exit from root user and return back to normal sudo user:

exit

Step 4 - Install and configure NGINX

Install NGINX:

sudo apt install -y nginx

Check the NGINX version:

sudo nginx -v
# nginx version: nginx/1.14.0 (Ubuntu)

Configure NGINX for Phorum. Run sudo vim /etc/nginx/sites-available/phorum.conf and add the following configuration.

server {
  listen 80;
  listen 443 ssl;
  server_name example.com;
  root /var/www/phorum;
ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/example.com/fullchain.pem;
ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/example.com/private.key;
ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/example.com_ecc/fullchain.pem;
ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/example.com_ecc/private.key;
index index.php index.html; 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; } }

Activate the new phorum.conf configuration by linking the file to the sites-enabled directory:

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

Check NGINX configuration for syntax errors:

sudo nginx -t

Reload NGINX service:

sudo systemctl reload nginx.service

Step 4 - Install Phorum

Create a document root directory for Phorum:

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/phorum

Change ownership of the /var/www/phorum directory to [jour_user]:

sudo chown -R [your_user]:[your_user] /var/www/phorum

Navigate to the document root directory:

cd /var/www/phorum

Download the latest stable Phorum distribution from the official website:

wget https://www.phorum.org/downloads/phorum-5.2.23.tar.gz

Unpack the downloaded archive and move files to the document root:

tar xvzf phorum-5.2.23.tar.gz
rm phorum-5.2.23.tar.gz
mv Core-phorum_5_2_23/* . && mv Core-phorum_5_2_23/.* .
rmdir Core-phorum_5_2_23

Configure the database access:

cp include/db/config.php.sample include/db/config.php

Configure database settings by editing include/db/config.php file:

vim include/db/config.php

Change the ownership of the /var/www/phorum directory to www-data:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/phorum

To finish the installation, run the web-based installer by visiting http://forum.example.com/admin.php in your web browser.

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