How To Install Drupal on a Virtual Server Running CentOS 6

Published on September 25, 2012
How To Install Drupal on a Virtual Server Running CentOS 6

Status: Deprecated

This article covers a version of CentOS that is no longer supported. If you are currently operating a server running CentOS 6, we highly recommend upgrading or migrating to a supported version of CentOS.

Reason: CentOS 6 reached end of life (EOL) on November 30th, 2020 and no longer receives security patches or updates. For this reason, this guide is no longer maintained.

See Instead:
This guide might still be useful as a reference, but may not work on other CentOS releases. If available, we strongly recommend using a guide written for the version of CentOS you are using.

About Drupal

Drupal is a free and open source content management that uses a PHP and a backend database, such as MySQL. It was created in 2001 and is the 3rd most popular content management site online. It now has over 17,000 addons to customize its functionality.


The steps in this tutorial require the user to have root privileges on their virtual private server. You can see how to set that up in steps 3 and 4 of the Initial Server Setup

Before working with Drupal, you need to have LAMP installed on your virtual server. If you don't have the Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP stack on your VPS, you can find the tutorial for setting it up here: How to Install LAMP on CentOS 6.

Once you have the user and required software, you can start installing Drupal!

Step One—Download Drupal

We can download Drupal straight from their website. Currently, the latest version is 7.15

wget  http://ftp.drupal.org/files/projects/drupal-7.15.tar.gz

This command will download the zipped Drupal package straight to your user's home directory on the virtual server. You can unzip it with the following command:

tar zxvf drupal-7.15.tar.gz 

Once the file is unzipped, move it your default web directory. For Apache users, this is most likely /var/www/html.

sudo mv drupal-7.15 /var/www/html

Step Two—Download Additional Packages

Although the LAMP stack provided a good foundation for a server, Drupal requires a few additional packages in order to run. We should download them now:

sudo yum install php-mbstring php-gd php-xml

After the packages are installed, it’s time to start setting up Drupal itself.

Step Three—Configure the Settings

After moving the Drupal files into the web directory, switch in to the Drupal directory:

cd /var/www/html/drupal-7.15

There are a couple of steps we need to take here:

First, copy the default settings file and rename the duplicate. Do not rename the default file—you need both files for the Drupal installation.

 cp sites/default/default.settings.php sites/default/settings.php

Second, allow the installer to write to the configuration file by updating the permissions for the file and for the settings directory:

chmod a+w sites/default/settings.php
chmod a+w sites/default

Step Three—Create the Drupal Database and User

Now we need to switch gears for a moment and create a new MySQL directory for Drupal.

Go ahead and log into the MySQL Shell:

mysql -u root -p

Login using your MySQL root password. We then need to create a Drupal database, a user in that database, and give that user a new password. Keep in mind that all MySQL commands must end with semi-colon.

First, let's make the database (I'm calling mine Drupal for simplicity's sake—for a real server, however, this name is not very secure). Feel free to give it whatever name you choose:

Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)

Then we need to create the new user. You can replace the database, name, and password, with whatever you prefer:

CREATE USER druser@localhost;
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

Set the password for your new user:

SET PASSWORD FOR druser@localhost= PASSWORD("password");
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

Finish up by granting all privileges to the new user. Without this command, the Drupal installer will be able to harness the new mysql user to create the required tables:

GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON drupal.* TO druser@localhost IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

Then refresh MySQL:

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

Exit out of the MySQL shell:


Restart apache:

sudo service httpd restart

Step Four—Access the Drupal Installer

Once you have placed the Drupal files in the correct location on your VPS, assigned the proper permissions, and set up the MySQL database and username, you can complete the remaining steps in your browser.

Access the Drupal installer by adding /drupal-7.15/ to your site's domain or IP address (eg. example.com/drupal-7.15/)

By Etel Sverdlov

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

There is an additional step to enable Clean Urls:

Edit httpd.conf and change the value of “AllowOverride” from None to All.

Restart Apache2 by typing in sudo service httpd restart

After installing, Drupal would come up , but when I went to login I kept getting “was not found on this server”. For me, the answer was changing “AllowOverride None” to “AllowOverride All” in /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf Apparently this was necessary to allow allow Drupal to rewrite the URLs.

I cannot thank you enough for this tutorial. Actually, your site and another, I will not name it here, have helped me to setup my vps from scratch to host a fully blown drupal site. If you ever need, I can help you out with any drupal tips. Abhi

Thank you for this tutorial. I have followed this and the installation was a breeze. However, this tutorial won’t work for installation of Drupal 8 for various reasons. I have written a tutorial specific to Installing Drupal 8.

If you are getting 403 errors then use this command,

restorecon -r /var/www/html

This should restore the correct permission for the drupal folder that was moved

The following helped me.


It describes what happens when the Drupal directory was moved instead of copied,how the permissions were set on the moved folder and how to restore the permissions.

I really do not think it is a good idea to leave “chmod a+w sites/default/settings.php” & “chmod a+w sites/default”. Leaving it World-Writable…, bad, really bad!

From dupal.org documentation: NOTE: Do not forget to change permissions back after you have run the installation script. Those permissions should be: chmod 644 settings.php chmod 755 …/default

Hope it helps.

Etel Sverdlov
DigitalOcean Employee
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January 11, 2013

You have to be sure that you are setting the correct permissions on the drupal installation:

chmod a+w sites/default/settings.php chmod a+w sites/default

Without the change in permissions, the drupal installer cannot make the necessary changes, which is why you may be getting a 403 error.

My apologies I meant I am getting a 403 error saying it is forbidden.

Moisey Uretsky
DigitalOcean Employee
DigitalOcean Employee badge
January 11, 2013

A 404 error would indicate that there is an issue with the path that you have setup and no files are being found where they are expected.

Check over your config and copy and paste the directories into your shell and cd to them to make sure that everything is where it’s expected.

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