How to Install WordPress using a Managed Database on Ubuntu 18.04

WordPress is a simple content management system based on PHP and MySQL. It is estimated that about one-third of the sites on the internet run on WordPress. WordPress has many features that simplify the setup and customization of a website or blog, which is part of what makes it so popular. In addition to its ease of use, there are many plugins that can add additional features. This guide will walk you through a quick and easy install of WordPress, but in this case, we’ll be using a remote database separate from our web server, to allow us to scale easily in the future.

• A Cloud Server Running Ubuntu 18.04
• SSH Access as root or equally privileged user


Create the database

Take note of the IP address provided, this is the IP address that we’ll direct the webserver to connect to the database. For this article, we’ll create a database called ‘wordpress’ and username ‘wpadmin’.

Configure Web Server

This article assumes that while you have SSH access as root to your Ubuntu 18.04 VM, you’ve not made any other changes. So we’ll be going through the process of creating a sudo user, setting up LAMP, installing and configuring WordPress, and adjusting our firewall rules.

Creating the sudo user

Sudo users are beneficial because they would allow normal users to operate within the server as if they were a root user. This section of the guide will take you through setting up a sudo user.

1) Log into your server as the root user over SSH and run the following command to create a new user. Replace ‘userbob’ with the username you want to be created.

# adduser userbob

2) Once you are returned to the command line, it’s time to add our new user to the group which has sudo privileges. In Ubuntu, there is always a ‘sudo’ group that provides sudo privileges to any users within it.

# usermod -aG sudo userbob

3) Now, you can use the su command to switch to our new user so that we can test their sudo access:

# su - userbob

You can try running a command now, but when using a sudo user, you will have to prepend all your commands with ‘sudo’. Example:

# sudo ls -lah

If this is the first time you’ve used sudo in a session, you’ll be required to enter your password for the account you’re sudo’ing as. Once you’ve entered the password the command should proceed and provide the output.

Setting up the LAMP stack

LAMP is an acronym for Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP. These are all requirements for a WordPress server, and this part of the guide will go through installing and making the necessary configurations.

1) Download all the software required for LAMP and PHP features that WordPress will require. The following command strings together a list of packages we’ll install.

# sudo apt install apache2 vim php-curl php-gd php-mbstring php-xml php-xmlrpc php-soap php-intl php-zip

You’ll be prompted a few times to enter Yes(y) or No(n) as the packages are installed. Press Y to install them.

2) We’ll also need apache, our web service, running in order to display our WordPress site and accept our connection. Use the following commands to start apache and set it to start on boot:

# sudo systemctl start apache2
# sudo systemctl enable apache2

Now our LAMP stack is all set up and ready to serve WordPress once we install it.

Installing and Configuring WordPress

1) To install WordPress, we first need to download the package that contains all the necessary files. It’s recommended that we move to our temporary directory to download the tar file. We’ll then use the wget command to download the package from the URL provided by WordPress:

# sudo cd /tmp
# sudo wget

2) Now that we’ve downloaded the package, we will want to extract it and place it in our apache web directory:

# sudo tar -xvzf latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/html

3) Now that we’ve created a WordPress folder at /var/www/html/wordpress, we will want to allow apache ownership of that folder. We’ll use this command to make that change:

# chown -R apache /var/www/html/wordpress

4) While configuring a vhost to serve WordPress is not required, it will it easier to add more sites in the future if necessary. To set up our vhost, we’ll create a new Apache conf file with the same name as your site. 

# sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/

Once the file is opened, add the following code to the end of your file, but be sure to change the fields to match your own site’s hostname and name log files. In our case, we’ll be using as an example.

  DocumentRoot /var/www/html/wordpress
  ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/wordpressdomain-error-log
  CustomLog /var/log/apache2/wordpressdomain-acces-log common

Be sure to save the file upon exit.

5) Now open port 80 for apache so that it can listen for requests over the web:

# sudo ufw allow 80/tcp

Configuring the WordPress Install

Our final task is to configure our WordPress install to use our database. The following steps will quickly guide you through this.

1) Navigate to the WordPress directory:

# sudo cd /var/www/html/wordpress

2) Within this directory, WordPress provides a sample config file, but the easiest thing to do is just to rename it and then edit it to be a working config file. The following command will rename the config file:

# sudo mv wp-config-sample.php wp-config.php

3) Now we need to open the wp-config.php file with our text editor of choice. Once the file is opened you’ll see a following block of code:

// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define( 'DB_NAME', 'database_name_here' );

/** MySQL database username */
define( 'DB_USER', 'username_here' );

/** MySQL database password */
define( 'DB_PASSWORD', 'password_here' );

/** MySQL hostname */
define( 'DB_HOST', 'localhost' );

We’re interested in changing the ‘database_name_here’, ‘username_here’, ‘password_here’, and ‘localhost’ of this block of code. ‘database_name_here’, ‘username_here’, and ‘password_here’ need to be replaced with the matching values that you used when creating your database. The ‘localhost’ will need to be replaced with the IP of your database. 

Once these changes are made, it should resemble something like this:

// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define( 'DB_NAME', 'wordpress' );

/** MySQL database username */
define( 'DB_USER', 'wpadmin' );

/** MySQL database password */
define( 'DB_PASSWORD', 'Password!' );

/** MySQL hostname */
define( 'DB_HOST', '' );

Also, add the following lines to the file as well, and replace with your site’s URL. This will prevent you from receiving 404 not found and WordPress trying to redirect you to use your server’s IP address.

define('WP_SITEURL', '');
define('WP_HOME', '');

Save the file upon exit. 

Next, we need to enable the new site:

# sudo a2ensite

Disable the default site:

# sudo a2dissite 000-default.conf

You’ll want to test your configuration before restarting or reloading the apache2 service. This can be done with the apache2ctl command. You should get a warning about the site’s fully qualified domain name. This can be ignored. As long as you get a “Syntax OK” message, you’re good to go.

# sudo apache2ctl configtest

Restart apache:

# sudo systemctl restart apache2

Now, when you navigate to you should be greeted with a WordPress login page. Enter the username of the user you created on your server and their password. You should now be passed into the WordPress Dashboard where you can begin configuring and customizing your WordPress site.

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