How To Install Drupal on a Virtual Server Running Ubuntu 12.04


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 This guide is no longer maintained.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.

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 currently 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 Ubuntu 12.04.

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.

sudo mv drupal-7.15/* /var/www/

Step Two—Configure the Settings

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

cd /var/www/

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:


Drupal requires a specific php module. If it is not yet installed on your server, download php-gd:

sudo apt-get install php5-gd

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
Creative Commons License