How To Install Vanilla Forums on Ubuntu 12.10

Published on June 14, 2013

Bulat Khamitov

How To Install Vanilla Forums on Ubuntu 12.10

First, spin up Ubuntu 12.10 x64 droplet:

Even though you would be able to use up to 4GB of RAM on 32 bit distributions, it would be easier to scale your droplet vertically if you run a 64 bit distribution.

Step 1 - Install LAMP stack and Sendmail

The simplest way to get a LAMP stack (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) installed on Ubuntu is to set your dpkg frontend to “non interactive”.

It is called Debian Frontend because Ubuntu is based on Debian, and provides same package manager (apt).

Another important package for these web based applications is sendmail. Sendmail is used to send e-mails to new users, password reset requests from the forums, and other notifications.

export DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive
apt-get -y install apache2 mysql-server mysql-client php5 php5-mysql php5-gd sendmail

Step 2 - Create a Database and User for Vanilla Forums

Make sure to replace PassWord with your own value below:

mysqladmin create vanilla
mysql -Bse "create user 'vanilla'@'localhost' identified by 'PassWord';"
mysql -Bse "grant all privileges on \`vanilla\`.* to 'vanilla'@'localhost';"
mysqladmin flush-privileges

You can download latest version of Vanilla Forums from their website

cd /var/www
wget http://cdn.vanillaforums.com/www.vanillaforums.org/addons/I73N851HNLPN.zip
unzip I73N851HNLPN.zip
rm -rf I73N851HNLPN.zip index.html

Set executable permissions

We would need to set world-writable permissions to configuration folder (conf) because Apache webserver would finish installation process from the web, and write to those configuration files.

The uploads and cache folders would be written to later and need to have executable permissions.

chmod -R 777 /var/www/conf
chmod -R 777 /var/www/uploads
chmod -R 777 /var/www/cache

Step 3 - Setup your Vanilla Forums

Navigate over to your droplet's IP address ( in our case) and complete installation:

To further increase your security, you can change your admin username to your own value.

At this point, installation is mostly done. You should customize your forum name, and other settings from admin panel:

Select which plugins you want to use:

You can also secure your registration with CAPTCHA. CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”, and is used to prevent spamming on your forums.

It is highly recommended that you use some sort of CAPTCHA mechanism to distinguish whether a person is making a post, or an automated script spamming your forum.

You would need to get a reCAPTCHA key from here

Public Key:	6Leo1-ISAAAAAMlTpMuV7jRbEYJe_6rSIg8WS2Wc
Private Key:	6Leo1-ISAAAAAD0162QIii8si6S1grcFTvXQKZ4n

Once you have your reCAPTCHA keys, you can place them in Settings -> Registration.

Now user registrations will require a CAPTCHA, which should prevent a lot of spam.

As you can see on the bottom of the form, a CAPTCHA verification is required in order to sign up for an account, and would prevent someone from creating a lot of automated accounts which could be used for flooding your boards with messages, or sending ads and other content to your users.

Vanilla Forums embedded in Wordpress

There is also a Vanilla Forums plugin for Wordpress that you can integrate into your blog.

To get started you can use our one-click Wordpress installation article.

Once you have your Wordpress blog running, install Vanilla Forums plugin from Vanilla Forums Wordpress Plugins

And you are all done!

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About the authors
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Bulat Khamitov


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Exact same thing happened to me as fredy1718. Filled out info form three times then the Fatal Error page. Is there a fix for this problem?

@adblavier sudo restart worked for me

Kamal Nasser
DigitalOcean Employee
DigitalOcean Employee badge
January 9, 2014

@adblavier: Try running <pre>sudo apt-get install php5-mysql php5-pdo</pre>

I have this error: You must have the MySQL driver for PDO enabled in order for Vanilla to connect to your database. Checked my php.ini and its enabled. What do?

Will Rowe
DigitalOcean Employee
DigitalOcean Employee badge
December 3, 2013

If you have issues with the mysql grant line, try this instead:

mysql -Bse “grant all privileges on vanilla.* to ‘vanilla’@‘localhost’;”

Kamal Nasser
DigitalOcean Employee
DigitalOcean Employee badge
October 10, 2013

<strong>When I write “mv * forum” into console, it says "mv: cannot move ‘forum’ to a subdirectory of itself, ‘forum/forum’ </strong>

That’s fine, you can ignore it. It just means that it can’t move the ‘forum’ dir to the ‘forum’ dir (which is impossible) but every other file was moved to the ‘forum’ dir so you’re good to go.

Glad it’s working now anyway :] Let me know if you need anything else!

OK I guess that the answe to the previous answer is yes, however because I moved somehow directories despite the error the forrum stopped working. There was this error

“Fatal error: Class ‘Gdn’ not found in /var/www/forum/bootstrap.php on line 47”

What I had to do was to delete all .ini files in cache directory and it works well, it even kept content and users from the original site. Maybe it will help someone. Ia m starting to learn basic linux commands. It strangely reminds me of DOS, but I stopped using it 15 years ago. I thought I will never need it again because clicking with mouse is more user friendy… well, nevermind.

Anyway, when I will be doing this in the future, can I follow the tutorial and instead of “cd /var/www” do:

cd /var/www mkdir forum cd /var/www/forum

and continue in this tutorial?

Thanks for your reply

When I write “mv * forum” into console, it says "mv: cannot move ‘forum’ to a subdirectory of itself, ‘forum/forum’

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