How To Install DokuWiki with Nginx on an Ubuntu 12.04 VPS

Published on January 29, 2014
How To Install DokuWiki with Nginx on an Ubuntu 12.04 VPS

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 This guide is no longer maintained.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.


Wiki-style documentation has grown in popularity over the past decade. Community-editable documentation projects offer a system that can distribute the workload among contributors, can be made publicly or privately accessible, and can scale easily.

There are many different wiki applications that each have their strengths depending on your needs. One choice is DokuWiki, which is a very light-weight wiki that can be set up easily. DokuWiki uses a simple file format to store its data, so it does not require you to maintain a database. This makes migrating and scaling trivial.

In this guide, we will discuss how to install DokuWiki with an Nginx server on an Ubuntu 12.04 VPS.

Install Nginx and PHP

As we mentioned above, DokuWiki does not rely on a database like many wikis do. As such, we can forego installing MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, or other relational database management systems and simply install and configure our web server and processing language.

Install the Web Server

For our web server, we are selecting Nginx. Nginx is easy to install and configure once you are familiar with its syntax. It is also very lightweight, which matches well with our DokuWiki software.

We can find Nginx in Ubuntu’s default repositories. Install it now, with apt:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nginx

We can then start the server by issuing this command:

sudo service nginx start

Visit your droplet’s IP address or domain name in your browser to see the default Nginx page.

<pre> <span class=“highlight”>server_ip_or_domain</span> </pre>

Nginx default page

This verifies that the web server is installed and functioning properly.

Install and Configure PHP

DokuWiki is written in PHP, so we will need to install some components to get this to work well. Unlike Apache, Nginx does not include a module that can handle PHP processing, so instead, it offloads that work onto a separate, dedicated component.

We can install this from apt as well. We will also install a library that will allow our PHP files to process images directly:

sudo apt-get install php5-fpm php5-gd

We need to tighten up some security on the service so that when a request is made for a PHP file that does not exist, the processor does not simply execute other files that may be similar.

Open up the configuration file with root privileges:

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

Search for and adjust the cgi.fix_pathinfo parameter so that it reads like this:


Save and close the file when you are done.

Next, we’ll change our PHP processor to look for connections using a socket instead of a port on our local interface. Open this file with root privileges:

sudo nano /etc/php5/fpm/pool.d/www.conf

Look for the listen directive and change it to use a socket file:

listen = /var/run/php5-fpm.sock

Save and close the file.

Now, configuration on the PHP side is complete. Restart the service to implement the changes we made:

sudo service php5-fpm restart

Configure Nginx

Although we have set up our PHP processor, we have not yet told Nginx to pass PHP requests to that processor. We will have to configure this and some details specific to our DokuWiki installation.

Begin by opening the Nginx default server block file with root privileges:

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/default

With the comments stripped, this file looks something like this:

server {
    root /usr/share/nginx/www;
    index index.html index.htm;

    server_name localhost;

    location / {
        try_files $uri $uri/ /index.html;

    location /doc/ {
        alias /usr/share/doc/;
        autoindex on;
        deny all;

We will be modifying this significantly. First, we want to tell it to listen to port 80 at the top. You can simply uncomment that line from the file:

<pre> server { <span class=“highlight”>listen 80;</span>

root /usr/share/nginx/www;
index index.html index.htm;

. . . </pre>

Next, we need to fix the indexing to look for a PHP index file first, before trying to find HTML files, when a directory is requested:

<pre> server { listen 80;

root /usr/share/nginx/www;
index <span class="highlight">index.php</span> index.html index.htm;

. . . </pre>

We should change the name of the server from localhost to the domain name or IP address associated with your server. This will allow it to correctly match web requests:

<pre> . . . root /usr/share/nginx/www; index index.php index.html index.htm;

server_name <span class="highlight">server_domain_or_IP_address</span>;

location / {

. . . </pre>

We can comment out the documentation section, since this is configured at the moment to only accept requests originating from the server itself anyways.

We will want to enable some error handling. These lines should already be in your file, and you can simply uncomment them:

<pre> . . . <span class=“highlight”>#</span> location /doc/ { <span class=“highlight”>#</span> alias /usr/share/doc/; <span class=“highlight”>#</span> autoindex on; <span class=“highlight”>#</span> allow; <span class=“highlight”>#</span> deny all; <span class=“highlight”>#</span> }

<span class="highlight">error_page 404 /404.html;</span>

<span class="highlight">error_page 500 502 503 504 /50x.html;</span>
<span class="highlight">location = /50x.html {</span>
    <span class="highlight">root /usr/share/nginx/www;</span>
<span class="highlight">}</span>

. . . </pre>

Under the error section, you can set a location block that will hand off our PHP files to our processor. This is somewhat already present in the commented out section, but you should take care to configure it correctly.

In particular, we have a try_files directive that goes along with our PHP configuration choice to discard PHP files that are not exact matches. We also set a fastcgi_param directive to pass the correct script name to our processor to execute.

<pre> . . . <span class=“highlight”>location ~ .php$ {</span> <span class=“highlight”>try_files $uri =404;</span> <span class=“highlight”>fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php5-fpm.sock;</span> <span class=“highlight”>fastcgi_index index.php;</span> <span class=“highlight”>fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;</span> <span class=“highlight”>include fastcgi_params;</span> <span class=“highlight”>}</span> . . . </pre>

Below this, we will find another commented out block that we can uncomment. This will ignore the .htaccess files used by Apache to implement per-directory configuration since Nginx does not use these.

In addition, we will take this opportunity to add an additional block that denies access to a number of directories that DokuWiki uses internally, but which should not be accessible from the web:

<pre> . . . <span class=“highlight”>location ~ /.ht {</span> <span class=“highlight”>deny all;</span> <span class=“highlight”>}</span>

<span class="highlight">location ~ /(data|conf|bin|inc)/ {</span>
    <span class="highlight">deny all;</span>
<span class="highlight">}</span>

} </pre>

This should bring you to the end of our configuration file. At this point, your file should look similar to this file:

<pre> server { listen 80;

root /usr/share/nginx/www;
index index.php index.html index.htm;

server_name <span class="highlight">server_domain_or_IP_address</span>;

location / {
	try_files $uri $uri/ /index.html;

error_page 404 /404.html;

error_page 500 502 503 504 /50x.html;
location = /50x.html {
    root /usr/share/nginx/www;

location ~ \.php$ {
	try_files $uri =404;
	fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php5-fpm.sock;
	fastcgi_index index.php;
	fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
	include fastcgi_params;

location ~ /\.ht {
	deny all;

location ~ /(data|conf|bin|inc)/ {
	deny all;

} </pre>

Save and close the file.

Now, we need to restart our web server to implement our new configuration:

sudo service nginx restart

Test PHP Processing on our Server

Before we begin the actual DokuWiki configuration, we need to make sure that our server can actually handle PHP files.

If we have not configured our server correctly, our PHP files will simply be downloaded instead of processed. This is certainly not what we want.

To begin, let’s create a PHP test file in our server’s document root (/usr/share/nginx/www). This file will contain a simple PHP function that displays information about our server:

sudo sh -c 'echo "<?php phpinfo(); ?>" > /usr/share/nginx/www/info.php'

Now, all we have to do is access this file in our web browser by typing our domain name or IP address followed by the path “/info.php”:

<pre> <span class=“highlight”>server_domain_or_IP_address</span>/info.php </pre>

If you have configured everything correctly, your PHP script should execute, displaying a page that looks something like this:

PHP info page

If this works correctly, we can remove the file we created and move on to the actual wiki installation:

sudo rm /usr/share/nginx/www/info.php

Install and Configure DokuWiki

Now that we have our web server and PHP processor set up correctly, we can download and install DokuWiki.

In your user’s home directory, we can download the latest stable version of DokuWiki by typing these commands:

cd ~
wget http://download.dokuwiki.org/src/dokuwiki/dokuwiki-stable.tgz

This will download a tarball into your current directory. Extract the directory structure by typing:

tar xzvf dokuwiki-stable.tgz

We can now delete the tarball by typing:

rm dokuwiki-stable.tgz

Let’s change the name of the directory to whatever path we’d like to access our wiki from. We will use wiki for this guide:

mv doku* wiki

We should move our directory into our web root. This will allow us to access our server by typing our domain followed by /wiki. Move the directory now:

sudo mv wiki /usr/share/nginx/www/

Before we continue, we need to do some additional security steps, or the installer will complain that it cannot access certain areas. Change to the directory you just moved:

cd /usr/share/nginx/www/wiki

The web process needs to have certain access to some files and directories within the wiki structure.

sudo chown -R www-data data
sudo chown www-data lib/plugins/
sudo chown www-data conf

Now, we are ready to install DokuWiki through the web browser using an installer script.

In your browser, go to your domain or IP address followed by the wiki sub directory and install.php:

<pre> <span class=“highlight”>server_domain_or_IP_address</span>/wiki/install.php </pre>

You will be presented with the DokuWiki installation page:

DokuWiki installation page

This is the only configuration page that you need to fill out to get started. Come up with a title and create an administrative account.

One thing to be to be aware of is the ACL policy that you set up. This will decide how people are able to access your wiki:

DokuWiki ACL Policy

Click on the “Save” button at the bottom when you are finished.

At this point, your wiki is installed. You should remove the installation script for additional security. On your server, type:

sudo rm /usr/share/nginx/www/wiki/install.php


You should now have a wiki set up and running on your system. DokuWiki can be easily extended and themed using plugins and templates respectively. Adding content and configuring your site is easy by logging into an administrative account and implementing changes through the interface.

<div class=“author”>By Justin Ellingwood</div>

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Most of the instructions work okay for Ubuntu 16.04 but there are a few caveats worth mentioning.

1 - PHP has been updated quite a bit and so the PHP5 packages have been deprecated. Instead the base PHP packages should be used which will install PHP7 which gets installed to some slightly different locations. There is also a change in the packaging so an additional package is needed in order to avoid utf8_encode and utf8_decode not being available.

To install the correct packages use the following apt-get command instead:

sudo apt-get install php-fpm php-gd php7.0-xml

PHP configuration files are now in /etc/php/7.0 so the following command can be used to edit the PHP configuration file:

 sudo nano /etc/php/7.0/fpm/php.ini

The default PHP configuration now uses sockets so there is no need to update the www.conf.

2 - The Nginx configuration is also slightly different.

The php location in the server block seems to work fine with the following:

location ~ \.php$ {
        include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
        fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock;

The default location for content has also changed from /usr/share/nginx/www to /var/www/html so use the following commands to install DokuWiki to the correct location:

cd ~
wget http://download.dokuwiki.org/src/dokuwiki/dokuwiki-stable.tgz
tar xzvf dokuwiki-stable.tgz
rm dokuwiki-stable.tgz
mv doku* wiki
sudo mv wiki /var/www/html/
cd /var/www/html/wiki
sudo chown -R www-data data
sudo chown www-data lib/plugins/
sudo chown www-data conf

FYI: Same instructions work on Debian 8 x.64 as well

FYI: Same instructions work on 14.04 as well

hello, This is a very useful tutorial and it helped me a lot for my ubuntu server. The downside of my situation is that i had to rebuild my server with a centos 7 os. Lucky for me, I somehow stumbled upon this great article http://bit.ly/1CHAhyT which explains how to install and run dokuwiki on centos 7. It works perfectly.

Kind regards to the digital ocean team.

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