There is a new version of this tutorial available for Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver).

The Perfect Server - Ubuntu 15.04 (nginx, BIND, Dovecot and ISPConfig 3)

This tutorial shows the steps to install an Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet) server with Nginx, PHP, MariaDB, Postfix, pure-ftpd, BIND, Dovecot and ISPConfig 3. ISPConfig 3 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 with the IP address and the gateway 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 15.04 as explained in 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 su

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 15.04 _Vivid Vervet_ - Release amd64 (20150422)]/ vivid main restricted

#deb cdrom:[Ubuntu-Server 15.04 _Vivid Vervet_ - Release amd64 (20150422)]/ vivid main restricted

# See for how to upgrade to
# newer versions of the distribution.
deb vivid main restricted
deb-src vivid main restricted

## Major bug fix updates produced after the final release of the
## distribution.
deb vivid-updates main restricted
deb-src vivid-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 vivid universe
deb-src vivid universe
deb vivid-updates universe
deb-src vivid-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 vivid multiverse
deb-src vivid multiverse
deb vivid-updates multiverse
deb-src vivid-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 vivid-backports main restricted universe multiverse
deb-src vivid-backports main restricted universe multiverse

deb vivid-security main restricted
deb-src vivid-security main restricted
deb vivid-security universe
deb-src vivid-security universe
deb vivid-security 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 vivid partner
# deb-src vivid partner

Then run

apt-get update

to update the apt package database and

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 afterwards:



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. It is not installed by default from onwards 13.10. We will crosscheck if it is installed. 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 install ntp ntpdate

and your system time will always be in sync.


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

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

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

MariaDB is fork of the MySQL database server, developed by the original MySQL developer Monty Widenius. According to tests found on the internet, MariaDB is faster then 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:

Create a self-signed SSL certificate? <-- yes
Host name: <--
General type of mail configuration: <-- Internet Site
System mail name: <--

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

nano /etc/postfix/

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

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/mysqld.cnf (for MariaDB or /etc/mysql/my.cnf (for MySQL) and comment out the line bind-address =


nano /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/mysqld.cnf

Now we set a root password in MariaDB. Run:


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

Then run this command to disable the auth plugin:

echo "update user set plugin='' where User='root';flush privileges;" | mysql --defaults-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf mysql

To allow password based authentication from PHPMyAdmin.


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           =

Then we restart MariaDB / MySQL:

service mysql restart

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

Now check that networking is enabled. Run:

netstat -tap | grep mysql

The output should look like this:

[email protected]:~# netstat -tap | grep mysql
tcp        0      0 *:mysql                 *:*                     LISTEN      23785/mysqld    
[email protected]:~#


7. Install Amavisd-new, SpamAssassin, And Clamav

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

apt-get install amavisd-new spamassassin clamav clamav-daemon zoo 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

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 starte the Clamd service. The update process can take some time, don't interrupt it.

service clamav-daemon start
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By: madgyver

The part about MariaDB is lacking some configurations. As it is right now, you will not be able to login with phpmyadmin and it will throw error #1698 and wont connect to mysql. I suspect the reason is, that as it is, root will be configured with both an auth plugin and a password, therefore it will ignore password login.I fixed it like this:before calling


call mysql directly like  this:mysql -u root

Then run these commands:use mysql;

update user set plugin='' where User='root';

flush privileges;



now can call



By: till

I've added that step in the installation instructions.

By: Mike

Tutorials are always good. But...... i would never use a standard/interim version that's just supported for 9 months when it comes to setting up a server. Instead go with a LTS release of Ubuntu that's supported for 5 years.

By: till

Some users prefer the LTS versions, others prefer to have the latest software. So each user can decide on its own what he prefers. The LTS version of the tutorial is here:

By: Fischje

Hey till, where can i find the user/password for the .ova template ?

By: till

SSH User: administratorPassword: howtoforgeThe root password is "howtoforge" as well.The ISPConfig user and password is "admin".

By: CosmicDebri

I can't get MariaDB to install.

Setting up mariadb-server-10.0 (10.0.20-0ubuntu0.15.04.1) ...debconf: unable to initialize frontend: Dialogdebconf: (No usable dialog-like program is installed, so the dialog based frontend cannot be used. at /usr/share/perl5/Debconf/FrontEnd/ line 76.)debconf: falling back to frontend: Readline/var/lib/dpkg/info/mariadb-server-10.0.postinst: line 104: logger: command not found/var/lib/dpkg/info/mariadb-server-10.0.postinst: line 164: logger: command not founddpkg: error processing package mariadb-server-10.0 (--configure): subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 127dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of mariadb-server: mariadb-server depends on mariadb-server-10.0 (>= 10.0.20-0ubuntu0.15.04.1); however:  Package mariadb-server-10.0 is not configured yet.dpkg: error processing package mariadb-server (--configure): dependency problems - leaving unconfiguredErrors were encountered while processing: mariadb-server-10.0 mariadb-serverE: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

I've tried all the different versions of debconf with no difference. I'm trying to install on a vps that I have a minimal 15.04 Ubuntu installed on. Any solutions or do I need to use 14.04 and mysql?