The Perfect Server - Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver) with Apache, PHP, MySQL, PureFTPD, BIND, Postfix, Dovecot and ISPConfig 3.1

This tutorial shows the installation of an Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver) web hosting server with Apache 2.4, 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 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).

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 18.04 as explained in the tutorial.

The commands in this tutorial have to be run with root permissions. To avoid adding sudo in front of each command, you'll have to become root user by running:

sudo -s

before you proceed.

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

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

deb bionic-security main restricted
# deb-src bionic-security main restricted
deb bionic-security universe
# deb-src bionic-security universe
deb bionic-security multiverse
# deb-src bionic-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       -       y       -       -       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=$mua_sender_restrictions
#  -o smtpd_recipient_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject
#  -o milter_macro_daemon_name=ORIGINATING
smtps     inet  n       -       y       -       -       smtpd
  -o syslog_name=postfix/smtps
  -o smtpd_tls_wrappermode=yes
  -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes
  -o smtpd_client_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject
#  -o smtpd_reject_unlisted_recipient=no
#  -o smtpd_client_restrictions=$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 =

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 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).

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

Metronome has now be installed to /opt/metronome.

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28 Comment(s)

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From: lnxgs at: 2018-05-28 17:26:59


I installed fail2ban, but on ispconfig control panel on show fail2ban-log I get this error:

fail2ban is not installed on this server.See more (for debian) here...

O.s: Ubuntu 18.04 and last ispconfig.



From: John at: 2018-05-29 10:31:06

Can we additional PHP version in this instalation? Like PHP 5.6 and PHP 7.1 ?

From: Danny at: 2018-06-04 12:55:09

I cant seem to use phpmyadmin.

The username password are correct because if i use a username with wrong password it will tell me its wrong.

cant seem to find a correct answer...

From: Raysv at: 2018-06-08 08:55:17


Followed this to the letter, but when trying to send outgoing mails from the webmail client just results in "Authentication faied", roundcube logs also shows that, but with no more info. 

Any suggestion?

From: till at: 2018-06-08 09:08:33

 Or you configured roundcube to connect to a different host than lokalhost. Compare your postfix with the one from this tutorial.common mistakes are that you might have not removed the # in front of the submission and smtps lines. If you need further help, then please post here:

From: djesys at: 2018-06-11 11:36:06

Thank you !

How do we get mailman to work though ?

journalctl -xe:


-- Unit mailman.service has begun starting up.

Jun 11 14:31:22 b0x mailmanctl[1748]: Site list is missing: mailman

Jun 11 14:31:22 b0x systemd[1]: mailman.service: Control process exited, code=exited status=1

Jun 11 14:31:22 b0x systemd[1]: mailman.service: Failed with result 'exit-code'.

Jun 11 14:31:22 b0x systemd[1]: Failed to start Mailman Master Queue Runner.

-- Subject: Unit mailman.service has failed

-- Defined-By: systemd

-- Support:


-- Unit mailman.service has failed.


-- The result is RESULT.

From: till at: 2018-06-11 11:45:39

Ensure that you created the 'mailman' mailinglist as described in chapter 10 by using the command 'newlist mailman'.

From: djesys at: 2018-06-12 09:59:13

How can I access phpmyadmin ? I tried http://ip.ip.ip.ip:8081/phpmyadmin as in was in a previous tutorial.


From: till at: 2018-06-12 11:56:58

You mix up apache and nginx servers here. On a nginx server, phpmyadmin is on port 8081, on an apache server, phpmyadmin is on port 80.

From: vincent1890 at: 2018-06-27 21:20:44

No link for download ovf/ova

From: till at: 2018-06-28 06:05:55

The download link is in the menu on the right side of the page, directly below the big red download icon. If you don't see a menu on the right side, then turn off your ad blocker in case you have one installed. Some ad blockers are buggy remove whole web page columns and menus here on howtoforge.

From: Julian at: 2018-06-27 21:58:25

Uncommenting the #bind-address line in the MariaDB config has no effect, it's documented in the comment above that the default is already to bind to localhost ( You would only uncomment that line if you wanted to change the bind address to another interface.

From: till at: 2018-06-28 06:05:08

> You would only uncomment that line if you wanted to change the bind address to another interface.

And that's exactly why you shall uncomment it in this tutorial. Please follow the tutorial closely, otherwise, the setup will not be fully working and you would not be able to configure access to MySQL databases in ISPConfig.

From: Corey at: 2018-06-28 16:08:35

Do you have a tutorial coming for clustering that works with this tutorial? I see the Debian 8.4 one on the site but not sure if that would work well with the Perfect Server tutorial?

From: helios842000 at: 2018-06-30 14:28:23

Hi, I have a vbulletin forum that only runs under php 5.6, it is possible to add this version as it was proposed for version 16.04? thanks

From: Bjoern at: 2018-07-06 23:09:15

Let's encrypt only worked after the instructions in the manual, that means after the manual installation of the script. Since it is not allowed to publish parts of the script, I ask the author of the manual to do so.

From: till at: 2018-07-09 08:24:30

Let's encrypt works fine when installed according to this tutorial, the steps from ISPConfig manual were not required on any of my servers that I run with Ubuntu 18.04. So there must have done something else wrong the first time you installed Let's encrypt.-

From: Kazuto at: 2018-07-08 15:27:41

I can't access phpmyadmin. ip:80 nor ip:8081 works.

From: till at: 2018-07-09 08:28:28

PHPMyAdmin is on port 80 on Apache servers like used in this setup. If you can't reach it, then you missed enabling it for apache during installation as shown in this tutorial. You can fix that by running:


dpkg-reconfigure phpmyadmin

From: bill at: 2018-07-11 19:25:06

First, Thanks for the great software and the hours of tech support you have given over many years.

If not too much trouble, please post somewhere how to properly setup composer and git such that the ISPConfig user works. I have found bits a pieces in the forum and thru google but nothing consice. So much is going to a composer only install, it would be a real benefit.


From: heero at: 2018-07-12 05:27:36


I followed the guide step by step but I cannot access my domain. The domain that I created was through VirtualBox. I don't know if that could affect anything?

From: ggmanugg at: 2018-07-17 15:08:45

Perfekte Anleitung. Detailliert und funktioniert fehlerfrei :) Weiter so!

From: keith at: 2018-07-18 17:45:57

I followed the tutorial on 18.04 as I have done countless times on older versions of ubuntu. I get a white screen on .php files, but normal .html loads just fine./var/logs shows nothing that help?

From: till at: 2018-07-19 16:27:04

Check the apache error.log of the website to find out why PHP fails in your server. If you need more help, post in the forum.

From: Evelyn at: 2018-07-21 00:36:09

Just a couple of tips for others...

if the server is NATed and you want to specify to specify a passive port range for FTPd.

40110-40210 in this example:

echo "40110 40210" > /etc/pure-ftpd/conf/PassivePortRange

And/Or Force FTPd to announce an external ip address:

echo "[server_ip_here]" > /etc/pure-ftpd/conf/ForcePassiveIP

And do a restart

/etc/init.d/pure-ftpd-mysql restart


To adjust the phpmysql upload size, 10 megs in this example:

nano /etc/php/7.2/apache2/php.ini

max_upload_size = 10M

save and do a

service apache2 restart


From: Darko at: 2018-07-23 08:02:05

Thank you! Can you do a updated Debian one ? The one here is OLD now.

From: Mario at: 2018-07-30 21:24:27

I made all the tutorial, but i like how to see a website that i add in ispconfig

From: till at: 2018-07-31 06:53:30

Open a web browser and enter the domain name of the site that you added in ISPConfig. The domain name must exist in DNS and point to the IP address of your server.