How to Install Tiny Tiny RSS Reader on a FreeBSD 11 FAMP VPS

Published on: Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 11:16 am EST
This article is a port of my "How to Install Tiny Tiny RSS Reader on a CentOS 7 LAMP VPS" tutorial. It has been updated for FreeBSD 11.

Tiny Tiny RSS Reader is a free and open source self-hosted web-based news feed (RSS/Atom) reader and aggregator, designed to allow you to read news from any location, while feeling as close as possible to a real desktop application. Tiny Tiny RSS Reader supports feed aggregation and syndication, OPML import and export, social sharing, internationalization, duplicate article detection, flexible article filtering, plugins and themes, a JSON API, and much more!

In this tutorial, we are going to install Tiny Tiny RSS Reader 17.4 on a FreeBSD 11 FAMP VPS using Apache web server, PHP 7.1, and a MariaDB database.

Prerequisites

  • A clean Vultr FreeBSD 11 server instance with SSH access

Step 1: Add a Sudo User

We will start by adding a new sudo user.

First, log into your server as root:

ssh root@YOUR_VULTR_IP_ADDRESS

The sudo command isn't installed by default in the Vultr FreeBSD 11 server instance, so we will first install sudo:

pkg install sudo

Add a new user called user1 (or your preferred username):

adduser user1

The 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 wheel group.

Now check the /etc/sudoers file to make sure that the sudoers group is enabled:

visudo

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 groups command:

groups user1

If 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 user1 account:

su - user1

The command prompt will update to indicate that you are now logged into the user1 account. You can verify this with the whoami command:

whoami

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

Exit the user1 account:

exit

Exit the root account (which will disconnect your ssh session).

exit

You can now ssh into the server instance from your local host using the new non-root sudo user user1 account:

ssh user1@YOUR_VULTR_IP_ADDRESS

If you want to execute sudo without having to type a password every time, then open the /etc/sudoers file again, using visudo:

sudo visudo

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:

exit

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 2.4 web server:

sudo pkg install apache24

Enter y when prompted.

Now use the sysrc command to enable the Apache service to execute automatically at boot time.

sudo sysrc apache24_enable=yes

The 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.

vi /etc/rc.conf

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:

http://YOUR_VULTR_IP_ADDRESS/

You should see the default FreeBSD Apache page displaying the text:

It works!

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

The DocumentRoot configuration option should look like this:

DocumentRoot "/usr/local/www/apache24/data"

We now need to enable the mod_rewrite Apache module. We can do this by searching the default Apache configuration file for the term mod_rewrite.

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 Tiny Tiny RSS.

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) should 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 Tiny Tiny RSS.

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 Tiny Tiny RSS on a public web server, we'll use the production version. First, back up php.ini-production:

sudo cp /usr/local/etc/php.ini-production /usr/local/etc/php.ini-production.backup

And then soft-link php.ini-production to php.ini.

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 Includes directory:

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>

And 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

And 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:

sudo mysql_secure_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 Tiny Tiny RSS

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 MySQL root password when prompted.

Run the following queries to create a MySQL database and database user for Tiny Tiny RSS.

CREATE DATABASE tiny_db CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci;
CREATE USER 'tiny_user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'UltraSecurePassword';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON tiny_db.* TO 'tiny_user'@'localhost';
FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
EXIT;

You can replace the database name tiny_db and username tiny_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 Tiny Tiny RSS Files

Change your current working directory to the default web directory.

cd /usr/local/www/apache24/data

Your current working directory will now be: /usr/local/www/apache24/data. You can check this with the pwd (print working directory) command:

pwd

Now use wget to download the Tiny Tiny RSS installation package.

sudo wget --content-disposition https://git.tt-rss.org/git/tt-rss/archive/17.4.zip

Please note: The above Tiny Tiny RSS package URL was correct at the time of writing, but you should definitely check for the most recent version by visiting the Tiny Tiny RSS download page.

List the current directory to check that you have successfully downloaded the file.

ls -la

Remove index.html:

sudo rm index.html

Now uncompress the zip archive.

sudo unzip tt-rss-17.4.zip

Move all of the installation files to the web root directory:

sudo mv -v tt-rss/* tt-rss/.* /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 once again.

sudo service apache24 restart

Now we're ready to move onto the final step.

Step 8: Complete Tiny Tiny RSS 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 Tiny Tiny RSS installation page, enter your Vultr instance IP address into your browser address bar, followed by /install/ :

http://YOUR_VULTR_IP_ADDRESS/install/
  1. On the Database Settings section of the Tiny Tiny RSS Installer page, enter the following database values:

    Database type:              MySQL
    Username:                   u1
    Password:                   usecpass1
    Database name:              db1
    Host name:                  localhost
    Port:                       3306
    
  2. The Tiny Tiny RSS URL field should be filled in with your URL automatically so you can leave it with the default value (which will be your IP address if you haven't set up your DNS yet). If you later decide to set up your Vultr DNS, you will be able to modify this value in the Tiny Tiny RSS configuration settings.

    When you have filled in the correct details, simply click Test Configuration to continue.

  3. If everything went smoothly you will see two messages that say Configuration check succeeded and Database test succeeded. Simply click on the Initialize Databse button to continue.

  4. The installer will generate a configuration file for you using the values you have already entered. Click on Save Configuration to save the file automatically.

  5. You will see a message that says Successfully saved config.php.

    You can now access the admin section by clicking on the loading tt-rss now link and entering the default username and password shown below:

    Login:                      admin
    Password:                   password
    

    If you aren't redirected to the admin login page, you can enter the admin address manually:

    http://YOUR_VULTR_IP_ADDRESS/
    
  6. Once you have logged in, the first thing you must do is change the admin password from the default to something more secure, so click on Actions... in the top right corner of the page and select Preferences....

  7. Now click on the Users tab and then click on the admin user. A User editor dialog box will pop up so simply enter you new password into the Change Password field and click Save

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 free to start exploring the many configuration settings for Tiny Tiny RSS and you can configure it according to your personal preferences. Make sure you check out the Tiny Tiny RSS wiki for more information about how to configure and optimize your reader.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and I hope you have fun self-hosting your very own personalized RSS feed aggregator with Tiny Tiny RSS Reader!