How to Install WonderCMS on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

WonderCMS is a free and open source flat file CMS, aimed to be extremely small, light and simple. It's built with PHP, jQuery, HTML/CSS and developed since 2008. No initial configuration required. The installation process is pretty straightforward - unzip and upload 5 files. All files can be easily moved, backed up and restored by copy/pasting all files to another location. Moving them to another host does not require any re-configuration. WonderCMS also doesn't require a traditional/relational database like MySQL. The flat file technology enables WonderCMS to save all data to a text file (flat file) called database.js which is structured in JSON format. In this tutorial, we will go through the WonderCMS installation and setup on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS system by using Nginx as a web server, and optionally you can secure transport layer by using client and Let's Encrypt certificate authority to add SSL support.


Requirements for installing and running WonderCMS are:

  • PHP version 7.1 or greater with the curl, mbstring and zip extensions.
  • Web server (Apache with mod_rewrite module enabled, Nginx, IIS).


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

Initial steps

Check your Ubuntu version:

lsb_release -ds
# Ubuntu 18.04.2 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

Step 1 - Install PHP and necessary PHP extensions

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-curl php7.2-zip php7.2-mbstring

To show PHP compiled in modules, you can run:

php -m

. . .
. . .

Check the PHP version:

php --version

# PHP 7.2.17-0ubuntu0.18.04.1 (cli) (built: Apr 18 2019 14:12:38) ( 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 SSL setup.

Step 2 - Install 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 a TLS certificate from Let's Encrypt we will use client. is a pure UNIX shell software for obtaining TLS certificates from Let's Encrypt with zero dependencies.

Download and install

sudo su - root
git clone
./ --install --accountemail [email protected]
source ~/.bashrc
cd ~

Check version: --version
# v2.8.0

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

# RSA 2048 --issue --standalone -d --keylength 2048
# ECDSA --issue --standalone -d --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/ directory.
  • For ECC/ECDSA: /home/username/example.com_ecc directory.

To list your issued certs you can run: --list

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

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

Install/copy certificates to /etc/letsencrypt directory.

# RSA --install-cert -d --cert-file /etc/letsencrypt/ --key-file /etc/letsencrypt/ --fullchain-file /etc/letsencrypt/ --reloadcmd "sudo systemctl reload nginx.service"
# ECC/ECDSA --install-cert -d --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:


Step 3 - Install and configure NGINX

WonderCMS can work fine with many popular web server software. In this tutorial, we selected NGINX.

Install NGINX:

sudo apt install -y nginx

Check the NGINX version:

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

Next, configure NGINX for WonderCMS. Run sudo vim /etc/nginx/sites-available/wondercms.conf and add the following configuration:

server {
  listen 80;

  root /var/www/wondercms;

  index index.php;

  location / {
    if (!-e $request_filename) {
      rewrite ^/(.+)$ /index.php?page=$1 last;
  location ~ database.js {
    return 403;

  location ~ \.php(/|$) {
    include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
    fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock;


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

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/wondercms.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 WonderCMS

Create a document root directory for WonderCMS.

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/wondercms

Change ownership of the /var/www/wondercms directory to [jour_username]:

sudo chown -R [your_username]:[your_username] /var/www/wondercms

Navigate to the document root directory:

cd /var/www/wondercms

Download and unzip WonderCMS source:


Move WonderCMS files to document root directory.

mv wondercms/* . && mv wondercms/.*.
rmdir wondercms

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

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

Open your site in a web browser and log in with default password admin and change the default password afterward.

WonderCMS on Ubuntu


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1 Comment(s)

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By: Robert at: 2019-06-08 09:30:59

Hi HowtoFroge (and Blago).

I'm the founder of WonderCMS and would like to thank you for writing this awesome tutorial.

Cheers for making it really easy to install it on NGINX!