How to Install and Get Started with Symfony 2 on Ubuntu 14.04

Published on October 1, 2015
How to Install and Get Started with Symfony 2 on Ubuntu 14.04


Symfony is a full-stack, open source PHP framework. It’s well known for its independent components which can be easily integrated into any other PHP project. The Symfony framework is suitable for building PHP applications of any size, including console applications meant to run only on the command line.

In this tutorial, we will see how to install, configure, and get started with a Symfony 2 application on Ubuntu 14.04.

This is a development setup, intended to make you familiar with Symfony and get you started writing your first Symfony project. We’ll walk you through the setup and installation of a brand new Symfony project.


For this tutorial, you will need:

Step 1 — Installing PHP

Before we get started, we’ll need to install PHP for the command line environment. There’s no need to install a full-featured web server such as Apache or Nginx because Symfony comes with a console command that makes it trivial to run and manage PHP’s built-in web server while you are developing your application. It´s a simple and efficient way to run the application while it’s in development mode.

First, let’s update the package manager cache:

  1. sudo apt-get update

Now, in order to use and execute PHP scripts via the command line, install the php5-cli package.

  1. sudo apt-get install php5-cli

You should now have PHP installed on your server. To check if it was successfully installed, run:

  1. php -v

And you should get output similar to this:

PHP 5.5.9-1ubuntu4.11 (cli) (built: Jul 2 2015 15:23:08) Copyright (c) 1997-2014 The PHP Group Zend Engine v2.5.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2014 Zend Technologies with Zend OPcache v7.0.3, Copyright (c) 1999-2014, by Zend Technologies

Step 2 — Configuring date.timezone in php.ini

Symfony requires that the option date.timezone is set in your php.ini file(s). If you are testing this tutorial on a fresh server, this option is not defined yet. If that’s the case, your Symfony application won’t run.

We’ll need to edit the server’s php.ini file to make sure we have this option defined. This file should be located at /etc/php5/cli/php.ini.

Open the php.ini file using nano or your favorite command line editor:

  1. sudo nano /etc/php5/cli/php.ini

Search for the line containing date.timezone. Uncomment the directive by removing the ; sign in the beginning of the line, and add the appropriate timezone for your application. In this example we’ll use Europe/Amsterdam, but you can choose any supported timezone.

Modified php.ini
; Defines the default timezone used by the date functions
; http://php.net/date.timezone
date.timezone = Europe/Amsterdam

Save the file and exit.

Step 3 — Getting the Symfony Installer

The easiest way to create a new Symfony project is by using the official Symfony Installer. It’s a simple script created to facilitate the bootstrap of new Symfony applications.

The following command will download the Symfony Installer and place it on your /usr/local/bin path:

  1. sudo curl -LsS http://symfony.com/installer -o /usr/local/bin/symfony

Now, you’ll need to make the script executable with the next command:

  1. sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/symfony

To test the Symfony Installer, run:

  1. symfony

The output should look like this:

Symfony Installer (1.1.7) ========================= This is the official installer to start new projects based on the Symfony full-stack framework. To create a new project called blog in the current directory using the latest stable version of Symfony, execute the following command: symfony new blog . . .

Step 4 — Creating a new Symfony Project

Now that we have the Symfony Installer in place, we can proceed and create a new Symfony project. Because this is a development setup and we will be using PHP’s built-in web server, you can go ahead an create the project inside your home directory. For this example, we’ll create a project named “myproject”, but you can use your own project name in the next command.

  1. cd ~
  2. symfony new myproject

This will create a new folder myproject inside your home directory, containing a brand new Symfony application. The command will produce output similar to this:

Downloading Symfony... Preparing project... ✔ Symfony 2.7.3 was successfully installed. Now you can: * Change your current directory to /home/sammy/myproject * Configure your application in app/config/parameters.yml file. * Run your application: 1. Execute the php app/console server:run command. 2. Browse to the http://localhost:8000 URL. * Read the documentation at http://symfony.com/doc

Step 5 — Running the Application with the Symfony Console

The built-in web server that comes with PHP (since PHP 5.4) is suited for running PHP applications while in development, for testing, or for demonstrations. It enables a more frictionless experience because you won’t need to bother configuring a full-featured web server like Apache or Nginx.

Symfony comes with a console command that facilitates the process of starting / stopping PHP’s built-in web server, also allowing (since Symfony 2.6) you to run the web server in the background.

The Symfony console is a CLI script that has several commands to help you build and test your application. You can even include your own commands written in PHP!

The web server can be initiated anytime with the console command server:run. However, the default settings used by the Symfony command will only accept connections to localhost on port 8000. If you are following this tutorial on an external development / testing server or a local virtual machine, you’ll need to provide an extra parameter to the command, telling the web server to listen to a different IP address.

To allow connections coming from both internal and external networks, run this command from inside the project directory:

  1. php app/console server:run
Server running on Quit the server with CONTROL-C.

This will start PHP’s built-in web server, listening to all network interfaces on port 8000.

Now you should be able to access the application if you point your browser to http://your_server_ip:8000. You should see a page like this:

Symfony App Preview

The command will keep running in the active terminal until you terminate its execution with CTRL+C. To make the web server run in the background, you should use the server:start command instead:

  1. php app/console server:start
Web server listening on

This will make the web server run in the background, leaving your terminal session free for executing other commands. To stop the server, you should use:

  1. php app/console server:stop
Stopped the web server listening on

You can also check the status of the web server with:

  1. php app/console server:status

When the server is not running, this is the output you should get:

No web server is listening on

When there’s an active server running in the specified IP and port, you should get output like this:

Web server still listening on

Just remember that the server:stop and server:status commands should include the same IPADDRESS:PORT portion you used when initiating the server with server:start.


Symfony is a full-stack PHP framework suited for building applications of any size. In this tutorial, we saw how to install and get started with Symfony 2 on a fresh Ubuntu 14.04 server using PHP’s built-in web server to run the application. For more information on how to build PHP applications using Symfony, have a look at their official documentation.

Thanks for learning with the DigitalOcean Community. Check out our offerings for compute, storage, networking, and managed databases.

Learn more about our products

About the authors
Default avatar

Developer Advocate

Dev/Ops passionate about open source, PHP, and Linux.

Default avatar

staff technical writer

hi! i write do.co/docs now, but i used to be the senior tech editor publishing tutorials here in the community.

Still looking for an answer?

Ask a questionSearch for more help

Was this helpful?

This textbox defaults to using Markdown to format your answer.

You can type !ref in this text area to quickly search our full set of tutorials, documentation & marketplace offerings and insert the link!

With Symfony 3, all instances of: php app/console

Should be changed to: php bin/console

also had to change from dev env to prd env by running php bin/console server:run --env=prod as i was getting error reading > You are not allowed to access this file. Check app_dev.php for more information.

Great tutorial with details description …

This comment has been deleted

    I really have to learn Symfony :). Just tried it a little, few months ago. Anyway it looks like a good framework ! Thanks for this post.

    This comment has been deleted

      Symfony 3 is apparently out at some point this month; would be great to see a follow-up

      Try DigitalOcean for free

      Click below to sign up and get $200 of credit to try our products over 60 days!

      Sign up

      Join the Tech Talk
      Success! Thank you! Please check your email for further details.

      Please complete your information!

      Featured on Community

      Get our biweekly newsletter

      Sign up for Infrastructure as a Newsletter.

      Hollie's Hub for Good

      Working on improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth? We'd like to help.

      Become a contributor

      Get paid to write technical tutorials and select a tech-focused charity to receive a matching donation.

      Welcome to the developer cloud

      DigitalOcean makes it simple to launch in the cloud and scale up as you grow — whether you're running one virtual machine or ten thousand.

      Learn more
      DigitalOcean Cloud Control Panel