How to Install Backdrop CMS 1.8.0 on a Debian 9 LAMP VPS
Backdrop CMS 1.8.0 is a simple and flexible, mobile-friendly, free and open source Content Management System (CMS) that allows web designers to design beautiful web sites without any knowledge of web programming languages. Backdrop CMS 1.8.0 features advanced access control, a robust API, integrated add-on installation, and is designed with web security best practices in mind.
In this tutorial we are going to install Backdrop CMS 1.8.0 on a Debian 9 LAMP VPS using Apache web server, PHP 7.1, and a MariaDB database.
- A clean Vultr Debian 9 server instance with SSH access
Step 1: Add a Sudo User
We will start by adding a new
First, log into your server as
sudo command isn't installed by default in the Vultr Debian 9 server instance, so we will first install
apt-get -y install sudo
Now add a new user called
user1 (or your preferred username):
When prompted, enter a secure and memorable password. You will also be prompted for your "Full Name" and some other details, but you can simply leave them blank by pressing "
Now check the
/etc/sudoers file to make sure that the
sudoers group is enabled:
Look for a section like this:
%sudo ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL
This line tells us that users who are members of the
sudo group can use the
sudo command to gain
root privileges. It should be uncommented by default so you can simply exit the file.
Next we need to add
user1 to the
usermod -aG sudo user1
We can verify the
user1 group membership and check that the
usermod command worked with the
Now use the
su command to switch to the new sudo user
su - user1
The command prompt will update to indicate that you are now logged into the
user1 account. You can verify this with the
Now restart the
sshd service so that you can login via
ssh with the new non-root sudo user account you have just created:
sudo systemctl restart sshd
root account (which will disconnect your
You can now
ssh into the server instance from your local host using the new non-root sudo user
If you want to execute
sudo without having to type a password every time, then open the
/etc/sudoers file again, using
Edit the section for the
sudo group so that it looks like this:
%sudo ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL
Please note: Disabling the password requirement for the sudo user is not a recommended practice, but it is included here as it can make server configuration much more convenient and less frustrating, especially during longer systems administration sessions. If you are concerned about the security implications, you can always revert the configuration change to the original after you finish your administration tasks.
Whenever you want to log into the
root user account from within the
sudo user account, you can use one of the following commands:
sudo -i sudo su -
You can exit the
root account and return back to your
sudo user account any time by simply typing:
Step 2: Update Debian 9 System
Before installing any packages on the Debian server instance, we will first update the system.
Make sure you are logged in to the server using a non-root sudo user and run the following commands:
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get -y upgrade
Step 3: Install Apache Web Server
Install the Apache web server:
sudo apt-get -y install apache2
Then use the
systemctl command to start and enable Apache to execute automatically at boot time:
sudo systemctl enable apache2 sudo systemctl start apache2
Check your Apache default site configuration file to ensure that the
DocumentRoot directive points to the correct directory:
sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf
DocumentRoot configuration option should look like this:
Now save and exit the file, and enable the
mod_rewrite Apache module:
sudo a2enmod rewrite
We will restart Apache at the end of this tutorial, but restarting Apache regularly during installation and configuration is certainly a good habit, so let's do it now:
sudo systemctl restart apache2
Step 4: Install PHP 7.0
We can now install PHP 7.0 along with all of the necessary PHP modules required by Backdrop CMS:
sudo apt-get -y install php php-gd php-mbstring php-common php-mysql libapache2-mod-php php-curl
Step 5: Install MariaDB (MySQL)
Debian 9 defaults to using MariaDB database, which is an enhanced, fully open source, community developed, drop-in replacement for MySQL.
Install MariaDB database:
sudo apt-get -y install mariadb-server
Start and enable MariaDB to execute automatically at boot time:
sudo systemctl enable mariadb sudo systemctl start mariadb
And secure your MariaDB server installation:
root password will probably be blank, so simply hit "
Enter" when prompted for the
When prompted to create a MariaDB/MySQL
root user, select "
Y" (for yes) and then enter a secure
root password. Simply answer "
Y" to all of the other yes/no questions as the default suggestions are the most secure options.
Step 6: Create Database for Backdrop CMS
Log into the MariaDB shell as the MariaDB
root user by running the following command:
sudo mariadb -u root -p
To access the MariaDB command prompt, simply enter the MariaDB
root password when prompted.
Run the following queries to create a MariaDB database and database user for Backdrop CMS:
CREATE DATABASE backdrop_db CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci; CREATE USER 'backdrop_user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'UltraSecurePassword'; GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON backdrop_db.* TO 'backdrop_user'@'localhost'; FLUSH PRIVILEGES; EXIT;
You can replace the database name
backdrop_db and username
backdrop_user with something more to your liking, if you prefer. Also, make sure that you replace "
UltraSecurePassword" with an actually secure password.
Step 7: Install Backdrop CMS Files
Change your current working directory to the default web directory:
If you get an error message saying something like
'No such file or directory' then try the following command:
cd /var/www/ ; sudo mkdir html ; cd html
Your current working directory should now be:
/var/www/html/. You can check this with the
pwd (print working directory) command:
wget to download the Backdrop CMS installation package:
sudo wget https://github.com/backdrop/backdrop/releases/download/1.8.0/backdrop.zip
Please note: You should definitely check for the most recent version by visiting the Backdrop CMS download page.
List the current directory to check that you have successfully downloaded the file:
Let's quickly install
unzip so we can unzip the file:
sudo apt-get -y install unzip
Now uncompress the zip archive:
sudo unzip backdrop.zip
Move all of the installation files to the web root directory:
sudo mv backdrop/* /var/www/html
Change ownership of the web files to avoid any permissions problems:
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data *
Let's restart Apache again:
sudo systemctl restart apache2
Now we're ready to move on to the final step.
Step 10: Complete Backdrop CMS Installation
Before running the Backdrop CMS installer, we will first edit the Backdrop CMS settings file
settings.php to make sure Backdrop CMS correctly detects the database settings. Make sure you are in the webroot directory and then open the settings file:
sudo vi settings.php
Now find the following line in
$database = 'mysql://user:pass@localhost/database_name';
Edit it so that it looks like this:
$database = 'mysql://backdrop_user:UltraSecurePassword@localhost/backdrop_db';
We are now ready to run the Backdrop CMS installer, so visit the IP address of your Vultr server instance in your browser, or if you've already configured your Vultr DNS settings (and given it enough time to propagate) you can simply visit your domain instead:
If the Backdrop CMS installation page doesn't appear in your browser, then simple add
index.php to the end of the URL:
Most of the Backdrop CMS installation options are self explanatory, but here are a few pointers to help you along:
Choose your language and click on the "
Save and Continue" button.
Once the installation script has run, simply enter the following details on the
Configure site page:
Site name: <Your preferred site name> Username: <Your preferred username> E-mail address: <Your email address> Password: <A secure password> Default time zone: <Appropriate time zone>
Save and Continue".
You will be automatically redirected to the home page of your site.
If you haven't already set up your Vultr DNS, then that should probably be your next step.
You are now ready to start adding content and configuring the look and feel of your site. Be sure to check out the excellent Backdrop CMS User Guide for more information on how you can build and configure your site.