How to Install Reader Self 3.5 RSS Reader on a FreeBSD 11 FAMP VPS
Reader Self 3.5 is a simple and flexible, free and open source, self-hosted RSS reader and Google Reader alternative. Reader Self supports the main keyboard shortcuts from Google Reader, OPML import, built-in authentication, HTTPS image proxying (to download HTTP images), syncing starred items with Pinboard, ability to share across major social networks, Elastic Search integration, and is beautifully responsive across desktop, tablet, and mobile.
In this tutorial, we are going to install Reader Self 3.5 on a FreeBSD 11 FAMP VPS using Apache web server, PHP 7.1, and a MariaDB database.
- A clean Vultr FreeBSD 11 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 FreeBSD 11 server instance, so we will first install
pkg install sudo
Now add a new user called
user1 (or your preferred username):
adduser command will prompt you for lots of details for the user account, so simply select the defaults for most of them when it makes sense to do so. When you are asked whether to
Invite user1 into any other groups?, you should enter
wheel to add
user1 to the
Now check the
/etc/sudoers file to make sure that the
sudoers group is enabled:
Look for a section like this:
# %wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL
This line tells us that users who are members of the
wheel group can use the
sudo command to gain
root privileges. It will be commented out by default so you will need to uncomment it and then save and exit the file.
We can verify the
user1 group membership with the
user1 is not a member of the
wheel group, you can use this command to update the
user1 group membership:
pw group mod wheel -m user1
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 /etc/rc.d/sshd restart
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
wheel group so that it looks like this:
%wheel 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 the following:
Step 2: Update FreeBSD 11 System
Before installing any packages on the FreeBSD server instance, we will first update the system.
Make sure you are logged into the server using a non-root sudo user and run the following commands:
sudo freebsd-update fetch sudo freebsd-update install sudo pkg update sudo pkg upgrade
Step 3: Install Apache Web Server
Install the Apache web server:
sudo pkg install apache24
y when prompted.
Now use the
sysrc command to enable the Apache service to execute automatically at boot time:
sudo sysrc apache24_enable=yes
sysrc command updates the
/etc/rc.conf configuration file, so if you want to verify the configuration update manually you can simply open the
/etc/rc.conf file with your favourite terminal editor:
Now start the Apache service:
sudo service apache24 start
You can quickly check that apache is running by visiting the IP address or domain of the server instance in your browser:
You will see the default FreeBSD Apache page displaying the text:
Check your Apache default configuration file to ensure that the
DocumentRoot directive points to the correct directory:
sudo vi /usr/local/etc/apache24/httpd.conf
DocumentRoot configuration option will look like this:
We now need to enable the
mod_rewrite Apache module. We can do this by searching the default Apache configuration file for the term
By default, the
mod_rewrite Apache module will be commented out (which means it is disabled). The configuration line on a clean Vultr FreeBSD 11 instance will look like this:
#LoadModule rewrite_module libexec/apache24/mod_rewrite.so
Simply remove the hash symbol to uncomment the line and load the module. This, of course, applies to any other required Apache modules too:
LoadModule rewrite_module libexec/apache24/mod_rewrite.so
We now need to edit The
Directory Apache directive in the same configuration file so that
mod_rewrite will work correctly with Reader Self.
Find the section of the configuration file that starts with
<Directory "/usr/local/www/apache24/data"> and change
AllowOverride none to
AllowOverride All. The end result (with all comments removed) will look something like this:
<Directory "/var/www/html"> Options Indexes FollowSymLinks AllowOverride All Require all granted </Directory>
Now save and exit the Apache configuration file.
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 service apache24 restart
Step 4: Install PHP 7.1
We can now install PHP 7.1 along with all of the necessary PHP modules required by Reader Self:
sudo pkg install php71 mod_php71 php71-gd php71-mbstring php71-mysqli php71-xml php71-curl php71-ctype php71-tokenizer php71-simplexml php71-dom php71-session php71-iconv php71-hash php71-json php71-fileinfo php71-pdo php71-pdo_mysql php71-zlib php71-openssl php71-zip php71-phar
FreeBSD 11 gives us the option to use a development
php.ini or a production
php.ini. Since we are going to install Reader Self on a public web server, we'll use the production version. First, back up
sudo cp /usr/local/etc/php.ini-production /usr/local/etc/php.ini-production.backup
sudo ln -s /usr/local/etc/php.ini-production /usr/local/etc/php.ini
We need to configure Apache to actually use PHP, so let's create a new file called
php.conf in the Apache
sudo vi /usr/local/etc/apache24/Includes/php.conf
Enter the following text into the newly created file:
<IfModule dir_module> DirectoryIndex index.php index.html <FilesMatch "\.php$"> SetHandler application/x-httpd-php </FilesMatch> <FilesMatch "\.phps$"> SetHandler application/x-httpd-php-source </FilesMatch> </IfModule>
Save and exit the file.
Now let's restart Apache so that it can reload the configuration changes:
sudo service apache24 restart
Step 5: Install MariaDB (MySQL) Server
FreeBSD 11 defaults to using MariaDB database server, which is an enhanced, fully open source, community developed, drop-in replacement for MySQL server.
Install the latest version of MariaDB database server:
sudo pkg install mariadb102-server mariadb102-client
Start and enable MariaDB server to execute automatically at boot time:
sudo sysrc mysql_enable="yes" sudo service mysql-server start
Secure your MariaDB server installation:
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 Reader Self
Log into the MariaDB shell as the MariaDB
root user by running the following command:
sudo mysql -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 Reader Self:
CREATE DATABASE self_db CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci; CREATE USER 'self_user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'UltraSecurePassword'; GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON self_db.* TO 'self_user'@'localhost'; FLUSH PRIVILEGES; EXIT;
You can replace the database name
self_db and username
self_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 Reader Self Files
Change your current working directory to the default web directory:
Your current working directory will now be:
/usr/local/www/apache24/data. You can check this with the
pwd (print working directory) command:
wget to download the Reader Self installation package:
sudo wget --content-disposition https://github.com/readerself/readerself/archive/3.5.6.zip
Please note: You should definitely check for the most recent version by visiting the Reader Self download page.
List the current directory to check that you have successfully downloaded the file:
sudo rm index.html
Now uncompress the zip archive:
sudo unzip readerself-3.5.6.zip
Move all of the installation files to the web root directory:
sudo mv -v readerself-3.5.6/* readerself-3.5.6/.* /usr/local/www/apache24/data 2>/dev/null
Change ownership of the web files to avoid any permissions problems:
sudo chown -R www:www * ./
Restart Apache again:
sudo service apache24 restart
Now we're ready to move onto the final step.
Step 8: Complete Reader Self Installation
It's now time to visit the IP address of your 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.
To access the Reader Self installation page, enter your Vultr instance IP address into your browser address bar, followed by
You will see a
Pre-Installation Checkat the top of the page so make sure that everything looks okay and proceed to the next step.
Enter the following database values in the
Databasesection of the installation page:
Database Type: MySQL (improved version) Hostname: localhost Username: self_user Password: UltraSecurePassword Database Name: self_db
Enter the following
Email: <your email address> Password: <a secure password>
Once you have checked that all of the above details are okay, simply click on the tick icon in the bottom left of the page to finalize the installation.
You will be redirected to a confirmation that says
To further configure Reader Self, click on the menu in the top right corner and select
If you want the reader to auto-update your feeds (and you almost certainly do), you will need to edit your crontab:
sudo crontab -e
Add the following line to refresh your feeds hourly:
0 * * * * www cd /usr/local/www/apache24/data && php index.php refresh items
If you haven't yet configured your Vultr DNS settings, you can do so using the Vultr DNS control panel.
It's also advisable to configure your site to use SSL as most modern browsers will give warnings when sites do not have SSL enabled and SSL certificates are now available for free.
In any case, you are now ready to start adding your feeds and further customizing the look and functionality of your reader.