How to Install LEMP Stack (Nginx, MariaDB, PHP7.2) on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

This tutorial is going to show you how to install Nginx, MariaDB and PHP7.2 (LEMP) on Ubuntu 18.04. You can follow this tutorial on a VPS (Virtual Private Server) or on a local Ubuntu 18.04 computer. PHP7.2 is included in Ubuntu 18.04 and has a minor performance improvement over php7.2.


To follow this tutorial, you need to have an Ubuntu 18.04 OS running on your local computer or on a remote server. If you are looking for a VPS (Virtual Private Server), then I recommend Linode, from which you can get a 1G RAM server for only 5 USD per month. You can also get $10 free credit by using the promo code DOCS10 if you are a new customer. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Step 1: Update Software Packages

Before we install the LEMP stack, it’s a good practice to update repository and software packages by running the following commands on your Ubuntu 18.04 OS.

sudo apt update

sudo apt upgrade

Step 2: Install Nginx Web Server

Nginx is a high performance web server and very popular these days. It also can be used as a reverse proxy and caching server. Enter this command to install Nginx Web server.

sudo apt install nginx

After it’s installed, we can enable Nginx to auto start when Ubuntu is booted by running the following command.

sudo systemctl enable nginx

Then start Nginx with this command:

sudo systemctl start nginx

Now check out its status.

systemctl status nginx


 nginx.service - A high performance web server and a reverse proxy server
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/nginx.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Thu 2018-05-17 02:20:05 UTC; 2min 56s ago
     Docs: man:nginx(8)
 Main PID: 19851 (nginx)
    Tasks: 2 (limit: 2059)
   CGroup: /system.slice/nginx.service
           ├─19851 nginx: master process /usr/sbin/nginx -g daemon on; master_process on;
           └─19853 nginx: worker process

Enabled” indicates that auto start at boot time is enabled and we can see that Nginx is running. Notice that the above command will not immediately quit after running. You need to press “q” to make it quit.

Check Nginx version.

nginx -v


nginx version: nginx/1.14.0 (Ubuntu)

Now type in the public IP address of your Ubuntu 18.04 server in the browser address bar. You should see the “Welcome to Nginx” Web page, which means Nginx Web server is running properly. If you are installing LEMP on your local Ubuntu 18.04 computer, then type or localhost in the browser address bar.

Note that some cloud server providers may block all incoming traffic by default, so if your browser can’t connect to Nginx web server, you may need to set firewall rules in your control panel.


Finally, we need to make www-data (Nginx user) as the owner of web directory. By default it’s owned by the root user.

sudo chown www-data:www-data /usr/share/nginx/html -R

Step 3: Install MariaDB Database Server

MariaDB is a drop-in replacement for MySQL. It is developed by former members of MySQL team who are concerned that Oracle might turn MySQL into a closed-source product. Enter the following command to install MariaDB on Ubuntu 18.04.

sudo apt install mariadb-server mariadb-client

After it’s installed, MariaDB server should be automatically stared. Use systemctl to check its status.

systemctl status mariadb


 mariadb.service - MariaDB database server
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/mariadb.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Thu 2018-05-17 02:39:57 UTC; 49s ago
 Main PID: 21595 (mysqld)
   Status: "Taking your SQL requests now..."
    Tasks: 27 (limit: 2059)
   CGroup: /system.slice/mariadb.service
           └─21595 /usr/sbin/mysqld

If it’s not running, start it with this command:

sudo systemctl start mariadb

To enable MariaDB to automatically start at boot time, run

sudo systemctl enable mariadb

Now run the post installation security script.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

When it asks you to enter MariaDB root password, press Enter key as the root password isn’t set yet. Then enter y to set the root password for MariaDB server.

ubuntu 18.04 install lemp stack

Next, you can press Enter to answer all remaining questions, which will remove anonymous user, disable remote root login and remove test database. This step is a basic requirement for MariaDB database security. (Notice that Y is capitalized, which means it is the default answer. )

How to Install LEMP stack on Ubuntu 18.04

By default, the MaraiDB package on Ubuntu uses unix_socket to authenticate user login, which basically means you can use username and password of the OS to log into MariaDB console. So you can run the following command to login without providing MariaDB root password.

sudo mariadb -u root

To exit, run


Check MariaDB server version information.

mariadb --version

As you can see, we have installed MariaDB 10.1.29.

mariadb Ver 15.1 Distrib 10.1.29-MariaDB, for debian-linux-gnu (x86_64) using readline 5.2

Step 4: Install PHP7.2

PHP7.2 is included in Ubuntu 18.04 repository and has a minor performance imrovement over PHP7.1. Enter the following command to install php7.2 and some common extensions.

sudo apt install php7.2 php7.2-fpm php7.2-mysql php-common php7.2-cli php7.2-common php7.2-json php7.2-opcache php7.2-readline php7.2-mbstring php7.2-xml php7.2-gd php7.2-curl

PHP extensions are commonly needed for content management systems (CMS) like WordPress. For example, if your installation lacks php7.2-xml, then some of your WordPress site pages may be blank and you can find an error in Nginx error log like:

PHP message: PHP Fatal error:  Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function xml_parser_create()

Installing these PHP extensions ensures that your CMS runs smoothly. Now start php7.2-fpm.

sudo systemctl start php7.2-fpm

Enable auto-start at boot time.

sudo systemctl enable php7.2-fpm

Check status:

systemctl status php7.2-fpm

Sample output:

 php7.2-fpm.service - The PHP 7.2 FastCGI Process Manager
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/php7.2-fpm.service; enabled; vendor prese
   Active: active (running) since Thu 2018-05-17 03:04:46 UTC; 2min 43s ago
     Docs: man:php-fpm7.2(8)
 Main PID: 31922 (php-fpm7.2)
   Status: "Processes active: 0, idle: 2, Requests: 0, slow: 0, Traffic: 0req/se
    Tasks: 3 (limit: 2059)
   CGroup: /system.slice/php7.2-fpm.service
           ├─31922 php-fpm: master process (/etc/php/7.2/fpm/php-fpm.conf)
           ├─31939 php-fpm: pool www
           └─31940 php-fpm: pool www

Step 5: Create a Nginx Server Block

A Nginx server block is like a virtual host in Apache. We will not use the default server block because it’s inadequate to run PHP code and if we modify it, it becomes a mess. So remove the default symlink in sites-enabled directory by running the following command. (It’s still available as /etc/nginx/sites-available/default.)

sudo rm /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default

Then create a brand new server block file under /etc/nginx/conf.d/ directory.

sudo nano /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf

Paste the following text into the file. The following snippet will make Nginx listen on IPv4 port 80 and IPv6 port 80 with a catch-all server name.

server {
  listen 80;
  listen [::]:80;
  server_name _;
  root /usr/share/nginx/html/;
  index index.php index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;

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

  location ~ \.php$ {
    fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock;
    fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
    include fastcgi_params;
    include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;

  location ~ /\.ht {
    deny all;

Save and close the file. Then test Nginx configurations.

sudo nginx -t

If the test is successful, reload Nginx.

sudo systemctl reload nginx

Step 6: Test PHP

To test PHP-FPM with Nginx Web server, we need to create a info.php file in the document root directory.

sudo nano /usr/share/nginx/html/info.php

Paste the following PHP code into the file.

<?php phpinfo(); ?>

Save and close the file. Now in the browser address bar, enter server-ip-address/info.php. Replace sever-ip-address with your actual IP. If you follow this tutorial on your local computer, then type or localhost/info.php.

You should see your server’s PHP information. This means PHP scripts can run properly with Nginx web server.

ubuntu 18.04 nginx php7.2-fpm

Congrats! You have successfully installed Nginx, MariaDB and PHP7.2 on Ubuntu 18.04. For your server’s security, you should delete info.php file now to prevent hacker seeing it.

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

That’s it! I hope this tutorial helped you install LEMP stack on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. As always, if you found this post useful, then subscribe to our free newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Take care.

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21 Responses to “How to Install LEMP Stack (Nginx, MariaDB, PHP7.2) on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

  • good

  • GlockApps
    6 months ago

    Best ever.

  • Thank you so much for this tutorial!

  • Clear, concise and best of all, worked without problem

  • Testing the validity of the nginx configuration file gives me an error. Can you help?

    [email protected]:~# nginx -t
    nginx: [emerg] invalid number of arguments in “fastcgi_param” directive in /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf:14
    nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test failed

    line 14 is:
    fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;

  • Timo Carlier
    4 weeks ago


    I’ve looked at a lot of different tutorials online and yours are by far the most clear and concise. I like that you explain what everything does in simple terms each step of the way.

    Maybe this is obvious, but where you write ‘www-data’ above, that can be any name, right?

    • Nginx is running as the www-data user, which is defined in /etc/nginx/nginx.conf file.

      head /etc/nginx/nginx.conf


      user www-data;
      worker_processes auto;
      pid /run/;

      So you can’t use other name.

  • Timo Carlier
    4 weeks ago

    ok, thanks!

    • Timo Carlier
      4 weeks ago

      For step 3, I’m getting:

      E: Unable to locate package mariadb-server
      E: Unable to locate package mariadb-client

      Any ideas?

    • mariadb-server and mariadb-client are in the default Ubuntu repository (universe). Make sure it’s enabled by executing the following command.

      sudo add-apt-repository universe


      sudo apt update
      sudo apt install mariadb-server mariadb-client
  • Timo Carlier
    4 weeks ago

    No luck. I think it might be this:

    I did have mysql installed previously, and today I started over with my whole server (reinstalled Ubuntu 18.04 from usb stick) because I was stuck and decided to follow your steps (also for Nextcloud).

    Maybe I should reformat the drive, as I am only at the very beginning?

  • Timo Carlier
    4 weeks ago

    Thank you – I’ll try that.

    • Timo Carlier
      4 weeks ago

      Thank you – I’ll try that.

      Edit: that worked!

  • Timo Carlier
    4 weeks ago

    It’s weird – everything installed but when I type:

    sudo mariadb -u root

    it says:

    sudo: mariadb: command not found.

    Same with:

    mariadb –version

    It doesn’t seem to recognise mariadb as a command, even though mariadb is active and running.

  • Timo Carlier
    4 weeks ago

    That brings up Access denied for user ‘root’@;’localhost’ (using password: NO)

  • Timo Carlier
    4 weeks ago

    Thank you, Xiao. That seems to work. For the ‘version’ command, I also have to type mysql –version instead of mariadb for it to work.

    Thank you for your time!

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