1. Overview

WordPress is the most popular open-source blogging system and CMS on the Web. It is based on PHP and MySQL. Its features can be extended with thousands of free plugins and themes.

In this tutorial we will install WordPress on Apache2 server and create our first post.

What you’ll learn

  • How to set up WordPress
  • How to configure WordPress
  • How to create first post

What you’ll need

  • A computer running Ubuntu Server 20.04 LTS
  • This guide will also show you how to configure a database for WordPress

Originally authored by Marcin Mikołajczak
Heavily updated by Dani Llewellyn

2. Install Dependencies

To install PHP and Apache, use following command:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install apache2 \
                 ghostscript \
                 libapache2-mod-php \
                 mysql-server \
                 php \
                 php-bcmath \
                 php-curl \
                 php-imagick \
                 php-intl \
                 php-json \
                 php-mbstring \
                 php-mysql \
                 php-xml \

3. Install WordPress

We will use the release from WordPress.org rather than the APT package in the Ubuntu Archive, because this is the preferred method from upstream WordPress. This will also have fewer “gotcha” problems that the WordPress support volunteers will not be able to anticipate and therefore be unable to help with.

Create the installation directory and download the file from WordPress.org:

sudo mkdir -p /srv/www
sudo chown www-data: /srv/www
curl https://wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz | sudo -u www-data tar zx -C /srv/www

Note that this sets the ownership to the user www-data, which is potentially insecure, such as when your server hosts multiple sites with different maintainers. You should investigate using a user per website in such scenarios and make the files readable and writable to only those users. This will require configuring PHP-FPM to launch a separate instance per site each running as the site’s user account. In such setup the wp-config.php should (read: if you do it differently you need a good reason) be readonly to the site owner and group and other permissions set to no-access (chmod 400). This is beyond the scope of this guide, however.

4. Configure Apache for WordPress

Create Apache site for WordPress. Create /etc/apache2/sites-available/wordpress.conf with following lines:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    DocumentRoot /srv/www/wordpress
    <Directory /srv/www/wordpress>
        Options FollowSymLinks
        AllowOverride Limit Options FileInfo
        DirectoryIndex index.php
        Require all granted
    <Directory /srv/www/wordpress/wp-content>
        Options FollowSymLinks
        Require all granted

Enable the site with:

sudo a2ensite wordpress

Enable URL rewriting with:

sudo a2enmod rewrite

Disable the default “It Works” site with:

sudo a2dissite 000-default

Or, instead of disabling the “it works” page, you may edit our configuration file to add a hostname that the WordPress installation will respond to requests for. This hostname must be mapped to your box somehow, e.g. via DNS, or edits to the client systems’ /etc/hosts file (on Windows the equivalent is C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts). Add ServerName as below:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName hostname.example.com
    ... # the rest of the VHost configuration

Finally, reload apache2 to apply all these changes:

sudo service apache2 reload

5. Configure database

To configure WordPress, we need to create MySQL database. Let’s do it!

$ sudo mysql -u root
Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 7
Server version: 5.7.20-0ubuntu0.16.04.1 (Ubuntu)

Copyright (c) 2000, 2017, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

Oracle is a registered trademark of Oracle Corporation and/or its
affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

mysql> CREATE DATABASE wordpress;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0,00 sec)

mysql> CREATE USER wordpress@localhost IDENTIFIED BY '<your-password>';
Query OK, 1 row affected (0,00 sec)

    -> ON wordpress.*
    -> TO wordpress@localhost;
Query OK, 1 row affected (0,00 sec)

Query OK, 1 row affected (0,00 sec)

mysql> quit

Enable MySQL with sudo service mysql start.

6. Configure WordPress to connect to the database

Now, let’s configure WordPress to use this database. First, copy the sample configuration file to wp-config.php:

sudo -u www-data cp /srv/www/wordpress/wp-config-sample.php /srv/www/wordpress/wp-config.php

Next, set the database credentials in the configuration file (do not replace database_name_here or username_here in the commands below. Do replace <your-password> with your database password.):

sudo -u www-data sed -i 's/database_name_here/wordpress/' /srv/www/wordpress/wp-config.php
sudo -u www-data sed -i 's/username_here/wordpress/' /srv/www/wordpress/wp-config.php
sudo -u www-data sed -i 's/password_here/<your-password>/' /srv/www/wordpress/wp-config.php

Finally, in a terminal session open the configuration file in nano:

sudo -u www-data nano /srv/www/wordpress/wp-config.php

Find the following:

define( 'AUTH_KEY',         'put your unique phrase here' );
define( 'SECURE_AUTH_KEY',  'put your unique phrase here' );
define( 'LOGGED_IN_KEY',    'put your unique phrase here' );
define( 'NONCE_KEY',        'put your unique phrase here' );
define( 'AUTH_SALT',        'put your unique phrase here' );
define( 'SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 'put your unique phrase here' );
define( 'LOGGED_IN_SALT',   'put your unique phrase here' );
define( 'NONCE_SALT',       'put your unique phrase here' );

Delete those lines (ctrl+k will delete a line each time you press the sequence). Then replace with the content of https://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1/salt/. (This address is a randomiser that returns completely random keys each time it is opened.) This step is important to ensure that your site is not vulnerable to “known secrets” attacks.

Save and close the configuration file by typing ctrl+x followed by y then enter

7. Configure WordPress

Open http://localhost/ in your browser. You will be asked for title of your new site, username, password, and address e-mail. Note that the username and password you choose here are for WordPress, and do not provide access to any other part of your server - choose a username and password that are different to your MySQL (database) credentials, that we configured for WordPress’ use, and different to your credentials for logging into your computer or server’s desktop or shell. You can choose if you want to make your site indexed by search engines.

You can now login under http://localhost/wp-login.php. In the WordPress Dashboard, you will see bunch of icons and options. Don’t worry, it’s easy!

8. Write your first post

You will notice the “Hello world!” post. Let’s delete it and write something more interesting…

All Posts

From Dashboard (http://localhost/wp-admin/), select the “Posts” icon and click on “All Posts”. Mouse over the “Hello world!” post title and select Trash.

To create new post, click on the “Add New” button. You should notice a fancy WYSIWYG editor with simple (but powerful) text formatting options. You may want to switch to Text mode if you prefer pure HTML.

Let’s write something! It’s as easy, as using text processors that you know from office suites.

Now, click the Publish button. You can now view your brand-new post!

9. That’s all!

Of course, this tutorial has only described basics of WordPress usage, you can do much more with this blogging platform/CMS. You can install one of thousands of available (free and commercial) plugins and themes. You can even configure it as forum (with bbPress plugin), microblogging platform (BuddyPress), eCommerce platform (WooCommerce) or extend existing WordPress features with plugins like JetPack or TinyMCE Advanced.

The WordPress manual and documentation is available in the WordPress Documentation pages.You can read it to learn more about WordPress usage, and even something about themes/plugins development.

If you need more guidance on using WordPress, help is always at hand:

Further reading: