There is a new version of this tutorial available for Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa).

The Perfect Server - Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) with Apache, PHP, MySQL, PureFTPD, BIND, Postfix, Dovecot and ISPConfig 3.1

This tutorial shows the installation of an Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) web hosting server with Apache2, Postfix, Dovecot, Bind and PureFTPD to prepare it for the installation of ISPConfig 3.1. The resulting system will provide a Web, Mail, Mailinglist, DNS and FTP Server.

ISPConfig 3 is a web hosting control panel that allows you to configure the following services through a web browser: Apache or nginx web server, Postfix mail server, Courier or Dovecot IMAP/POP3 server, MySQL, BIND or MyDNS nameserver, PureFTPd, SpamAssassin, ClamAV, and many more. This setup covers the installation of Apache (instead of Nginx), BIND (instead of MyDNS), and Dovecot (instead of Courier).

This tutorial is about Ubuntu 17.10, a non-LTS (Long Term Support) version. Most users prefer an LTS version as server which gets updates and security patches for a much longer time. The latest LTS release is Ubuntu 16.04, this tutorial exists in an Ubuntu 16.04 version as well. Consider carefully if you need latest packages (and don't have a problem with a short support period), then continue with this tutorial. If you need longtime support, then please use the Ubuntu 16.04 Perfect Server Tutorial instead.

1. Preliminary Note

In this tutorial, I use the hostname with the IP address and the gateway . 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 17.10 as explained in the tutorial.

2. Edit /etc/apt/sources.list And 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 afterwards:

nano /etc/apt/sources.list

# deb cdrom:[Ubuntu-Server 17.10 _Artful Aardvark_ - Release amd64 (20171017.1)]/ artful main restricted

#deb cdrom:[Ubuntu-Server 17.10 _Artful Aardvark_ - Release amd64 (20171017.1)]/ artful main restricted

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

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

deb artful-security main restricted
# deb-src artful-security main restricted
deb artful-security universe
# deb-src artful-security universe
deb artful-security multiverse
# deb-src artful-security multiverse

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. 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 when you run a physical server. In case you run a virtual server then you should skip this step. Just run

apt-get -y install ntp

and your system time will always be in sync.


6. Install Postfix, Dovecot, MariaDB, rkhunter and 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.

Now 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

You will be asked the following questions:

General type of mail configuration: <-- Internet Site
System mail name: <--

It is important that you use a subdomain as "system mail name" like or and not a domain that you want to use as email domain (e.g. yourdomain.tld) later.

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

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

Restart Postfix afterward:

service postfix restart

We want MySQL to listen on all interfaces, not just localhost. Therefore, we edit /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf and comment out the line bind-address = and add the line sql-mode="NO_ENGINE_SUBSTITUTION":

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           =



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

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!
host = localhost
user = root
password = howtoforge
socket = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
host = localhost
user = root
password = howtoforge
socket = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
basedir = /usr

Then we restart MariaDB:

service mysql restart

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 30591/mysqld
[email protected]:~#

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 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 postgrey

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

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

To start ClamAV use:

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).

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 metronome
cd ./metronome; ./configure --ostype=debian --prefix=/usr
make install

Metronome has now be installed to /opt/metronome.

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By: mantis

Could I upgrade a installation of ispconfig with ubuntu 17.04 with this tut?

By: hudbista

I tried to install clean ubuntu 17.10 also update from version 17.04. In both cases, apc did not work. It remains functional only apcu. I do not update this, maybe later  :)

By: till

The old APC is not used anymore and not even available for PHP 7.1, it has been replaced by Opcache plus APCu as described in the tutorial.

By: Agustin

ERROR 2002 (HY000): Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock' (2 "No such file or directory"

sudo /etc/init.d/mysql start



This error occurs due to multiple installations of mysql. Run the command:

ps -A|grep mysql

Kill the process by using:

sudo pkill mysql

and then run command:

ps -A|grep mysqld

Also Kill this process by running:

sudo pkill mysqld

Now you are fully set just run the following commands:

service mysql restart mysql -u root -p

Have very well working mysql again


please, where is the Virtual machine image download of this tutorial for this tutorial?

By: till

In the menu on the right side at the top. Right below the big red download icon. If you donÄt see that icon and the download link, then you probably use an ad blocker. There are some faulty ad blockers out there which remove the complete content of the right menu at Howtoforge and not just the ads.

By: aldo

Many thanks for your usefull tutorial

Two notes that I sugget to add in it:

1 if doing 


you get

Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/lib/mysql/mysql.sock'

then just reboot the PC and repeat the command.

2 if accessing

you get a blank page or phpmyadmin access denied for user 'root'@'localhost'

just clear the cache of your browser and retry.

Ciao Aldo

By: KillerAndo

I had to do this to make FTP work properly:

echo "29799 29899" > /etc/pure-ftpd/conf/PassivePortRange

am I the only one?

I also needed to reboot to continue installation for this reason :

Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/lib/mysql/mysql.sock'

Other than that, so far so good. Awesome tutorial. Respect to all who keep this going :)

By: Doc Higgins

following these instructions for 18.04 ... note that php7.1 needs to be changed to php7.2 and mycryp has to be replaced by sodium or openssl

By: Dan

Now Ubuntu 18.04 is out. Is there going to be a new version of the tutorial for the 18.04? If yes, when could we expect to see it? Thanks.

By: till

Of course there will be a new tutorial. It will get published when ISPConfig supports Ubuntu 18.04, which will be in ISPConfig version 3.1.12.

By: Dan

Thanks, Till, for your prompt and informative reply! I am looking forward to seeing your new tutorial.



***HELP ME ON DigitalOcean*** 


Creating/updating amavis user account...

Job for amavis.service failed because the control process exited with error code.

See "systemctl  status amavis.service" and "journalctl  -xe" for details.

invoke-rc.d: initscript amavis, action "start" failed.

? amavis.service - LSB: Starts amavisd-new mailfilter

   Loaded: loaded (/etc/init.d/amavis; generated; vendor preset: enabled)

   Active: failed (Result: exit-code) since Mon 2018-05-07 20:09:10 UTC; 10ms ago

     Docs: man:systemd-sysv-generator(8)

  Process: 7082 ExecStart=/etc/init.d/amavis start (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)

      CPU: 521ms


May 07 20:09:10 JAN amavis[7082]: Starting amavisd:   The value of variable $myhostname is "JAN", but should have been

May 07 20:09:10 JAN amavis[7082]:   a fully qualified domain name; perhaps uname(3) did not provide such.

May 07 20:09:10 JAN amavis[7082]:   You must explicitly assign a FQDN of this host to variable $myhostname

May 07 20:09:10 JAN amavis[7082]:   in /etc/amavis/conf.d/05-node_id, or fix what uname(3) provides as a host's

May 07 20:09:10 JAN amavis[7082]:   network name!

May 07 20:09:10 JAN amavis[7082]: (failed).

May 07 20:09:10 JAN systemd[1]: amavis.service: Control process exited, code=exited status=1

May 07 20:09:10 JAN systemd[1]: Failed to start LSB: Starts amavisd-new mailfilter.

May 07 20:09:10 JAN systemd[1]: amavis.service: Unit entered failed state.

May 07 20:09:10 JAN systemd[1]: amavis.service: Failed with result 'exit-code'.

dpkg: error processing package amavisd-new (--configure):

 subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 1

Errors were encountered while processing:


E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)


By: till

The server hostname is wrong. The hostname must be a fully qualified domain name, amavisd will not start othewise. Check /etc/hostname file and /etc/hosts file and correct the hostname there so that the command hostname -f returns a fully qualified domain as hostname.


Internal Server Error


After the apparently successful installation, I enter the server's ip (digitalocean) because I have not yet been approved for the change of the DNS of my domain, should I wait for the approval of the domain? or it is a bad installation  

By: Teo

This is a very well done tutorial. Every step worked perfectly, as described.

I had just a couple of small problems because in one case I didn't followed exactly one step and in another case because of a small difference in my distribution.

Your effort is very much appreciated.

By: mike

If you got an error "ERROR 2002 (HY000): Can't connect to local MySQL server throug........."

when try to mysql_secure_installation

activate mysql service

By: mike

same error with ubuntu 14, 16 and now 17. I can connect trough ftp:

TLS connection established.

Command: USER mihaigrecu

Response: 331 User mihaigrecu OK. Password required

Command: PASS ********

Response: 530 Login authentication failed

Error: Critical error: Could not connect to server


same error, i am desperate :(