How To Use Ansible to Install and Set Up WordPress with LAMP on Ubuntu 18.04
How To Use Ansible to Install and Set Up WordPress with LAMP on Ubuntu 18.04

Tutorial

How To Use Ansible to Install and Set Up WordPress with LAMP on Ubuntu 18.04

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Introduction

Server automation now plays an essential role in systems administration, due to the disposable nature of modern application environments. Configuration management tools such as Ansible are typically used to streamline the process of automating server setup by establishing standard procedures for new servers while also reducing human error associated with manual setups.

Ansible offers a simple architecture that doesn’t require special software to be installed on nodes. It also provides a robust set of features and built-in modules which facilitate writing automation scripts.

This guide explains how to use Ansible to automate the steps contained in our guide on How To Install WordPress with LAMP on Ubuntu 18.04. WordPress is the most popular CMS (content management system) on the internet, allowing users to set up flexible blogs and websites on top of a MySQL backend with PHP processing. After setup, almost all administration can be done through the web frontend.

Prerequisites

In order to execute the automated setup provided by the playbook we’re discussing in this guide, you’ll need:

Before proceeding, you first need to make sure your Ansible control node is able to connect and execute commands on your Ansible host(s). For a connection test, please check step 3 of How to Install and Configure Ansible on Ubuntu 18.04.

What Does this Playbook Do?

This Ansible playbook provides an alternative to manually running through the procedure outlined in our guide on How To Install WordPress with LAMP on Ubuntu 18.04.

Running this playbook will perform the following actions on your Ansible hosts:

  1. Install aptitude, which is preferred by Ansible as an alternative to the apt package manager.
  2. Install the required LAMP packages and PHP extensions.
  3. Create and enable a new Apache VirtualHost for the WordPress website.
  4. Enable the Apache rewrite (mod_rewrite) module.
  5. Disable the default Apache website.
  6. Set the password for the MySQL root user.
  7. Remove anonymous MySQL accounts and the test database.
  8. Create a new MySQL database and user for the WordPress website.
  9. Set up UFW to allow HTTP traffic on the configured port (80 by default).
  10. Download and unpack WordPress.
  11. Set up correct directory ownership and permissions.
  12. Set up the wp-config.php file using the provided template.

Once the playbook has finished running, you will have a WordPress installation running on top of a LAMP environment, based on the options you defined within your configuration variables.

How to Use this Playbook

The first thing we need to do is obtain the WordPress on LAMP playbook and its dependencies from the do-community/ansible-playbooks repository. We need to clone this repository to a local folder inside the Ansible Control Node.

In case you have cloned this repository before while following a different guide, access your existing ansible-playbooks copy and run a git pull command to make sure you have updated contents:

  • cd ~/ansible-playbooks
  • git pull

If this is your first time using the do-community/ansible-playbooks repository, you should start by cloning the repository to your home folder with:

  • cd ~
  • git clone https://github.com/do-community/ansible-playbooks.git
  • cd ansible-playbooks

The files we’re interested in are located inside the wordpress-lamp_ubuntu1804 folder, which has the following structure:

wordpress-lamp_ubuntu1804
├── files
│   ├── apache.conf.j2
│   └── wp-config.php.j2
├── vars
│   └── default.yml
├── playbook.yml
└── readme.md

Here is what each of these files are:

  • files/apache.conf.j2: Template file for setting up the Apache VirtualHost.
  • files/wp-config.php.j2: Template file for setting up WordPress’s configuration file.
  • vars/default.yml: Variable file for customizing playbook settings.
  • playbook.yml: The playbook file, containing the tasks to be executed on the remote server(s).
  • readme.md: A text file containing information about this playbook.

We’ll edit the playbook’s variable file to customize its options. Access the wordpress-lamp_ubuntu1804 directory and open the vars/default.yml file using your command line editor of choice:

  • cd wordpress-lamp_ubuntu1804
  • nano vars/default.yml

This file contains a few variables that require your attention:

vars/default.yml
---
#System Settings
php_modules: [ 'php-curl', 'php-gd', 'php-mbstring', 'php-xml', 'php-xmlrpc', 'php-soap', 'php-intl', 'php-zip' ]

#MySQL Settings
mysql_root_password: "mysql_root_password"
mysql_db: "wordpress"
mysql_user: "sammy"
mysql_password: "password"

#HTTP Settings
http_host: "your_domain"
http_conf: "your_domain.conf"
http_port: "80"

The following list contains a brief explanation of each of these variables and how you might want to change them:

  • php_modules: An array containing PHP extensions that should be installed to support your WordPress setup. You don’t need to change this variable, but you might want to include new extensions to the list if your specific setup requires it.
  • mysql_root_password: The desired password for the root MySQL account.
  • mysql_db: The name of the MySQL database that should be created for WordPress.
  • mysql_user: The name of the MySQL user that should be created for WordPress.
  • mysql_password: The password for the new MySQL user.
  • http_host: Your domain name.
  • http_conf: The name of the configuration file that will be created within Apache.
  • http_port: HTTP port for this virtual host, where 80 is the default.

Once you’re done updating the variables inside vars/default.yml, save and close this file. If you used nano, do so by pressing CTRL + X, Y, then ENTER.

You’re now ready to run this playbook on one or more servers. Most playbooks are configured to be executed on every server in your inventory, by default. We can use the -l flag to make sure that only a subset of servers, or a single server, is affected by the playbook. We can also use the -u flag to specify which user on the remote server we’re using to connect and execute the playbook commands on the remote hosts.

To execute the playbook only on server1, connecting as sammy, you can use the following command:

  • ansible-playbook playbook.yml -l server1 -u sammy

You will get output similar to this:

Output
PLAY [all] ***************************************************************************************************************************** TASK [Gathering Facts] ***************************************************************************************************************** ok: [server1] TASK [Install prerequisites] *********************************************************************************************************** ok: [server1] … TASK [Download and unpack latest WordPress] ******************************************************************************************** changed: [server1] TASK [Set ownership] ******************************************************************************************************************* changed: [server1] TASK [Set permissions for directories] ************************************************************************************************* changed: [server1] TASK [Set permissions for files] ******************************************************************************************************* changed: [server1] TASK [Set up wp-config] **************************************************************************************************************** changed: [server1] RUNNING HANDLER [Reload Apache] ******************************************************************************************************** changed: [server1] RUNNING HANDLER [Restart Apache] ******************************************************************************************************* changed: [server1] PLAY RECAP ***************************************************************************************************************************** server1 : ok=22 changed=18 unreachable=0 failed=0 skipped=0 rescued=0 ignored=0

Note: For more information on how to run Ansible playbooks, check our Ansible Cheat Sheet Guide.

When the playbook is finished running, you can go to your web browser to finish WordPress’s installation from there.

Navigate to your server’s domain name or public IP address:

http://server_host_or_IP

You will see a page like this:

WordPress language selection page

After selecting the language you’d like to use for your WordPress installation, you’ll be presented with a final step to set up your WordPress user and password so you can log into your control panel:

WordPress Setup

When you click ahead, you will be taken to a page that prompts you to log in:

WP login prompt

Once you log in, you will be taken to the WordPress administration dashboard:

WP Admin Panel

Some common next steps for customizing your WordPress installation include choosing the permalinks setting for your posts (can be found in Settings > Permalinks) and selecting a new theme (in Appearance > Themes).

The Playbook Contents

You can find the WordPress on LAMP server setup featured in this tutorial in the wordpress-lamp_ubuntu1804 folder inside the DigitalOcean Community Playbooks repository. To copy or download the script contents directly, click the Raw button towards the top of each script.

The full contents of the playbook as well as its associated files are also included here for your convenience.

vars/default.yml

The default.yml variable file contains values that will be used within the playbook tasks, such as the database settings and the domain name to configure within Apache.

vars/default.yml
#System Settings
php_modules: [ 'php-curl', 'php-gd', 'php-mbstring', 'php-xml', 'php-xmlrpc', 'php-soap', 'php-intl', 'php-zip' ]

#MySQL Settings
mysql_root_password: "mysql_root_password"
mysql_db: "wordpress"
mysql_user: "sammy"
mysql_password: "password"

#HTTP Settings
http_host: "your_domain"
http_conf: "your_domain.conf"
http_port: "80"

files/apache.conf.j2

The apache.conf.j2 file is a Jinja 2 template file that configures a new Apache VirtualHost. The variables used within this template are defined in the vars/default.yml variable file.

files/apache.conf.j2
<VirtualHost *:{{ http_port }}>
   ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
   ServerName {{ http_host }}
   ServerAlias www.{{ http_host }}
   DocumentRoot /var/www/{{ http_host }}
   ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
   CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

   <Directory /var/www/{{ http_host }}>
         Options -Indexes
   </Directory>

   <IfModule mod_dir.c>
       DirectoryIndex index.php index.html index.cgi index.pl  index.xhtml index.htm
   </IfModule>

</VirtualHost>

files/wp-config.php.j2

The wp-config.php.j2 file is another Jinja template, used to set up the main configuration file used by WordPress. The variables used within this template are defined in the vars/default.yml variable file. Unique authentication keys and salts are generated using a hash function.

files/info.php.j2
<?php
/**
 * The base configuration for WordPress
 *
 * The wp-config.php creation script uses this file during the
 * installation. You don't have to use the web site, you can
 * copy this file to "wp-config.php" and fill in the values.
 *
 * This file contains the following configurations:
 *
 * * MySQL settings
 * * Secret keys
 * * Database table prefix
 * * ABSPATH
 *
 * @link https://codex.wordpress.org/Editing_wp-config.php
 *
 * @package WordPress
 */

// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define( 'DB_NAME', '{{ mysql_db }}' );

/** MySQL database username */
define( 'DB_USER', '{{ mysql_user }}' );

/** MySQL database password */
define( 'DB_PASSWORD', '{{ mysql_password }}' );

/** MySQL hostname */
define( 'DB_HOST', 'localhost' );

/** Database Charset to use in creating database tables. */
define( 'DB_CHARSET', 'utf8' );

/** The Database Collate type. Don't change this if in doubt. */
define( 'DB_COLLATE', '' );

/** Filesystem access **/
define('FS_METHOD', 'direct');

/**#@+
 * Authentication Unique Keys and Salts.
 *
 * Change these to different unique phrases!
 * You can generate these using the {@link https://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1/salt/ WordPress.org secret-key service}
 * You can change these at any point in time to invalidate all existing cookies. This will force all users to have to log in again.
 *
 * @since 2.6.0
 */
define( 'AUTH_KEY',         '{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null chars=ascii_letters length=64') }}' );
define( 'SECURE_AUTH_KEY',  '{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null chars=ascii_letters length=64') }}' );
define( 'LOGGED_IN_KEY',    '{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null chars=ascii_letters length=64') }}' );
define( 'NONCE_KEY',        '{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null chars=ascii_letters length=64') }}' );
define( 'AUTH_SALT',        '{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null chars=ascii_letters length=64') }}' );
define( 'SECURE_AUTH_SALT', '{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null chars=ascii_letters length=64') }}' );
define( 'LOGGED_IN_SALT',   '{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null chars=ascii_letters length=64') }}' );
define( 'NONCE_SALT',       '{{ lookup('password', '/dev/null chars=ascii_letters length=64') }}' );

/**#@-*/

/**
 * WordPress Database Table prefix.
 *
 * You can have multiple installations in one database if you give each
 * a unique prefix. Only numbers, letters, and underscores please!
 */
$table_prefix = 'wp_';

/**
 * For developers: WordPress debugging mode.
 *
 * Change this to true to enable the display of notices during development.
 * It is strongly recommended that plugin and theme developers use WP_DEBUG
 * in their development environments.
 *
 * For information on other constants that can be used for debugging,
 * visit the Codex.
 *
 * @link https://codex.wordpress.org/Debugging_in_WordPress
 */
define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );

/* That's all, stop editing! Happy publishing. */

/** Absolute path to the WordPress directory. */
if ( ! defined( 'ABSPATH' ) ) {
    define( 'ABSPATH', dirname( __FILE__ ) . '/' );
}

/** Sets up WordPress vars and included files. */
require_once( ABSPATH . 'wp-settings.php' );

playbook.yml

The playbook.yml file is where all tasks from this setup are defined. It starts by defining the group of servers that should be the target of this setup (all), after which it uses become: true to define that tasks should be executed with privilege escalation (sudo) by default. Then, it includes the vars/default.yml variable file to load configuration options.

playbook.yml
---
- hosts: all
  become: true
  vars_files:
    - vars/default.yml

  tasks:
    - name: Install prerequisites
      apt: name=aptitude update_cache=yes state=latest force_apt_get=yes
      tags: [ system ]

    - name: Install LAMP Packages
      apt: name={{ item }} update_cache=yes state=latest
      loop: [ 'apache2', 'mysql-server', 'python3-pymysql', 'php', 'php-mysql', 'libapache2-mod-php' ]
      tags: [ system ]

    - name: Install PHP Extensions
      apt: name={{ item }} update_cache=yes state=latest
      loop: "{{ php_modules }}"
      tags: [ system ]

  # Apache Configuration
    - name: Create document root
      file:
        path: "/var/www/{{ http_host }}"
        state: directory
        owner: "www-data"
        group: "www-data"
        mode: '0755'
      tags: [ apache ]

    - name: Set up Apache VirtualHost
      template:
        src: "files/apache.conf.j2"
        dest: "/etc/apache2/sites-available/{{ http_conf }}"
      notify: Reload Apache
      tags: [ apache ]

    - name: Enable rewrite module
      shell: /usr/sbin/a2enmod rewrite
      notify: Reload Apache
      tags: [ apache ]

    - name: Enable new site
      shell: /usr/sbin/a2ensite {{ http_conf }}
      notify: Reload Apache
      tags: [ apache ]

    - name: Disable default Apache site
      shell: /usr/sbin/a2dissite 000-default.conf
      notify: Restart Apache
      tags: [ apache ]

  # MySQL Configuration
    - name: Set the root password
      mysql_user:
        name: root
        password: "{{ mysql_root_password }}"
        login_unix_socket: /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
      tags: [ mysql, mysql-root ]

    - name: Remove all anonymous user accounts
      mysql_user:
        name: ''
        host_all: yes
        state: absent
        login_user: root
        login_password: "{{ mysql_root_password }}"
      tags: [ mysql ]

    - name: Remove the MySQL test database
      mysql_db:
        name: test
        state: absent
        login_user: root
        login_password: "{{ mysql_root_password }}"
      tags: [ mysql ]

    - name: Creates database for WordPress
      mysql_db:
        name: "{{ mysql_db }}"
        state: present
        login_user: root
        login_password: "{{ mysql_root_password }}"
      tags: [ mysql ]

    - name: Create MySQL user for WordPress
      mysql_user:
        name: "{{ mysql_user }}"
        password: "{{ mysql_password }}"
        priv: "{{ mysql_db }}.*:ALL"
        state: present
        login_user: root
        login_password: "{{ mysql_root_password }}"
      tags: [ mysql ]

  # UFW Configuration
    - name: "UFW - Allow HTTP on port {{ http_port }}"
      ufw:
        rule: allow
        port: "{{ http_port }}"
        proto: tcp
      tags: [ system ]

  # WordPress Configuration
    - name: Download and unpack latest WordPress
      unarchive:
        src: https://wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz
        dest: "/var/www/{{ http_host }}"
        remote_src: yes
        creates: "/var/www/{{ http_host }}/wordpress"
      tags: [ wordpress ]

    - name: Set ownership
      file:
        path: "/var/www/{{ http_host }}"
        state: directory
        recurse: yes
        owner: www-data
        group: www-data
      tags: [ wordpress ]

    - name: Set permissions for directories
      shell: "/usr/bin/find /var/www/{{ http_host }}/wordpress/ -type d -exec chmod 750 {} \\;"
      tags: [ wordpress ]

    - name: Set permissions for files
      shell: "/usr/bin/find /var/www/{{ http_host }}/wordpress/ -type f -exec chmod 640 {} \\;"
      tags: [ wordpress ]

    - name: Set up wp-config
      template:
        src: "files/wp-config.php.j2"
        dest: "/var/www/{{ http_host }}/wordpress/wp-config.php"
      tags: [ wordpress ]

  handlers:
    - name: Reload Apache
      service:
        name: apache2
        state: reloaded

    - name: Restart Apache
      service:
        name: apache2
        state: restarted

Feel free to modify these files to best suit your individual needs within your own workflow.

Conclusion

In this guide, we used Ansible to automate the process of installing and setting up a WordPress website with LAMP on an Ubuntu 18.04 server.

If you’d like to include other tasks in this playbook to further customize your server setup, please refer to our introductory Ansible guide Configuration Management 101: Writing Ansible Playbooks.

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