How To Configure GeoIP (PECL) With Piwik On An Ubuntu 12.04 VPS

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Status: Deprecated

This article covers a version of Ubuntu that is no longer supported. If you are currently operate a server running Ubuntu 12.04, we highly recommend upgrading or migrating to a supported version of Ubuntu:

Reason: Ubuntu 12.04 reached end of life (EOL) on April 28, 2017 and no longer receives security patches or updates. This guide is no longer maintained.

See Instead:
This guide might still be useful as a reference, but may not work on other Ubuntu releases. If available, we strongly recommend using a guide written for the version of Ubuntu you are using. You can use the search functionality at the top of the page to find a more recent version.


Piwik always offered a way to detect a user's country based on the language they were using. There is no doubt that it is not a reliable and satisfactory way to determine where your users are from; Imagine that someone located in Spain is accessing your website using a computer whose default language is English EN-US, since Piwik guesses a visitor's country based on the language they use, this visit will be detected as a US visit.

A GeoIP database can be used to accurately determine the location of your visitors based on their IP address. A PECL (PHP Extension Community Library) extension will give you a very fast solution, compared to MaxMind's PHP API where the database has to be loaded for each request.


The steps in this tutorial require the user to have root privileges. You can see how to set that up in the Initial Server Setup Tutorial.

Additionally, this article assumes that you have Piwik installed and is configured in the default root directory of Apache: /var/www/piwik. You can find a Piwik installation tutorial here.

Step One: Prerequisites

You will need to install build-essential, this package contains an informational list of packages which are considered essential for building Debian packages:

sudo apt-get install build-essential

You will need to install PEAR via apt-get to get the necessary package and distribution system that both PEAR and PECL use:

sudo apt-get install php-pear

You will need to install the php5-dev package to get the necessary PHP5 source files to compile additional modules:

sudo apt-get install php5-dev

Step Two: Installing GeoIp

Run the following command:

sudo apt-get install php5-geoip php5-dev libgeoip-dev

Then, run the following command:

sudo pecl install geoip

Step Three: Configuring PHP

Once the installation is complete, it will probably tell you that an extension= line cannot be found in your php.ini file. Let's find your php.ini file and add the required lines:

sudo nano /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini

This will open your php.ini, we have to add "extension=geoip.so" to the [PHP] section:


Now we have to add "geoip.custom_directory=/path/to/piwik/misc" to the [gd] section:


Step Four: Installing and renaming the GeoIP database

Download and extract the GeoIP database:
cd /var/www/piwik/misc
sudo wget http://geolite.maxmind.com/download/geoip/database/GeoLiteCity.dat.gz
sudo gunzip GeoLiteCity.dat.gz

The PECL extension won't recognize the database if it's named GeoLiteCity.dat so make sure it is named GeoIPCity.dat:

sudo mv GeoLiteCity.dat GeoIPCity.dat

Restart the Apache Web Server:

sudo service apache2 restart

Step Five - Configure Piwik to use GeoIP PECL

Open your browser and login into your Piwik page, go to settings, Geolocation, and choose GeoIP (PECL) as your location provider.

Step Six Optional - Updating Previous Visits and Updating the GeoIP Database

To re-evaluate all previously tracked visits with the current GeoIP database, input:

cd /var/www/piwik/misc/others
sudo php geoipUpdateRows.php

This process can take a LONG time if you have many visits to process:

1 rows to process in piwik_log_visit and piwik_log_conversion...
0% done...
100% done!

Note that the GeoLite database is updated on the first Tuesday of each month, you should update your GeoIP database regularly since providers reallocate IP address ranges very often.

That is all - congratulations!

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