How to Install MODX CMS and Nginx on CentOS 7

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MODX is a free and open source content management system written in PHP. It uses MySQL or MariaDB to store its database. MODX is designed for the business in which maintaining a website is critical. It provides flexibility to developers to create a website by choosing their own design and structure. It also features a WYSIWYG editor for non-technical users in the business. Apart from being flexible, it can be optimized for blazing fast speed.

This tutorial was written for MODX 2.6.1 and may also work for newer versions.


  • A Vultr CentOS 7 server instance.
  • A sudo user.
  • A domain name pointed towards the instance.

For this tutorial, we will use as the domain name pointed towards the Vultr instance. Please make sure to replace all occurrences of the example domain name with the actual one.

Update your base system using the guide How to Update CentOS 7. Once your system has been updated, proceed to install the dependencies.

Install Nginx

Nginx is a production web server to run web applications. Install Nginx.

sudo yum -y install epel-release
sudo yum -y install nginx

Start Nginx and enable it to automatically run at boot time.

sudo systemctl start nginx
sudo systemctl enable nginx

Install PHP 7.2

MODX supports all PHP versions above 5.4. We will install the latest available version of PHP. Using PHP 7.2 will ensure maximum speed and security. Add and enable the Remi repository as PHP version 7.2 is not available in default YUM repository.

sudo rpm -Uvh
sudo yum -y install yum-utils
sudo yum-config-manager --enable remi-php72

Install PHP version 7.2 along with the modules required by MODX.

sudo yum -y install php php-zlib php-mysqli php-curl php-json php-cli php-pear php-gd php-openssl php-xml php-mbstring php-fpm ImageMagick

Edit the loaded PHP configuration file.

sudo nano /etc/php.ini

Find the following line. Uncomment it and set the appropriate timezone.

date.timezone = Asia/Kolkata
;Replace "Asia/Kolkata" with your appropriate time zone

Also, set an appropriate memory limit on the following line. Setting it to -1 will give unlimited available memory to a script.

memory_limit = -1

Next, find the following line and set its value to 0 after uncommenting it.


Save the file and open the php-fpm configuration file.

sudo nano /etc/php-fpm.d/www.conf

Find the existing listen =, comment it and append a new line as shown below.

;listen =
listen = /var/run/php-fpm/php-fpm.sock

Also, change the users as shown below.

listen.owner = nginx = nginx


user = nginx
group = nginx

Save the file and start php-fpm and enable it to automatically start at boot time.

sudo systemctl restart php-fpm
sudo systemctl enable php-fpm

Provide writing permissions to the session directory.

sudo mkdir /var/lib/php/session
sudo chmod -R 777 /var/lib/php/session

Now, proceed to the installation of MariaDB.

Install MariaDB

MariaDB is a fork of MySQL. Add the MariaDB repository to your system. The default YUM repository contains an older version of MariaDB.

echo "[mariadb]
name = MariaDB
baseurl =
gpgcheck=1" | sudo tee /etc/yum.repos.d/mariadb.repo

Install MariaDB.

sudo yum -y install mariadb mariadb-server

Start MariaDB and enable it to automatically start at boot time.

sudo systemctl start mariadb
sudo systemctl enable mariadb

Before configuring the database, you will need to secure MariaDB.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

You will be asked for the current MariaDB root password. By default, there is no root password in a fresh MariaDB installation. Press the “Enter” key to proceed. Set a strong password for the root user of your MariaDB server and answer “Y” to all of the other questions that are asked. The questions asked are self-explanatory.

Log into the MySQL shell as root.

mysql -u root -p

Provide the password for the MariaDB root user to log in.

Run the following queries to create a database and a database user for the MODX installation.

CREATE DATABASE modx_data CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci;
CREATE USER 'modx_user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'StrongPassword';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON modx_data.* TO 'modx_user'@'localhost';

You can replace the database name modx_data and username modx_user according to your choice. Please make sure to change StrongPassword to a very strong password.

Install MODX

Download the MODX zip archive.

wget -O

You can always look for the link to the latest version of the application on the MODX download page.

Install unzip.

sudo yum -y install unzip

Extract the archive into the webroot directory of Nginx.

sudo unzip -d /usr/share/nginx/

Change the name of the directory.

cd /usr/share/nginx/
sudo mv modx-*/ modx/

Also, rename the ht.access file to .htaccess.

sudo mv /usr/share/nginx/modx/ht.access /usr/share/nginx/modx/.htaccess

Create a session cache directory and provide ownership to the nginx user.

sudo mkdir /usr/share/nginx/modx/core/cache
sudo chown nginx:nginx /usr/share/nginx/modx/core/cache

Finally, create an empty configuration file and provide appropriate permissions.

sudo touch /usr/share/nginx/modx/core/config/
sudo chown -R nginx:nginx /usr/share/nginx/

Allow traffic on ports 80 and 443 through the firewall.

sudo firewall-cmd --zone=public --permanent --add-service=http
sudo firewall-cmd --zone=public --permanent --add-service=https
sudo firewall-cmd --reload

Create Virtual Host

To host your MODX site, create a new virtual host.

sudo nano /etc/nginx/conf.d/

Populate the file.

server {
        listen 80;
        root /usr/share/nginx/modx;
        index index.php;
        client_max_body_size 30M;
        location / {
                root /usr/share/nginx/modx;
                if (!-e $request_filename) {
                        rewrite ^/(.*)$ /index.php?q=$1 last;
        location ~ /.php$ {
                try_files $uri =404;
                fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+/.php)(.*)$;
                fastcgi_pass   unix:/var/run/php-fpm/php-fpm.sock;
                fastcgi_index  index.php;
                fastcgi_param  SCRIPT_FILENAME  $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
                include fastcgi_params;
                fastcgi_ignore_client_abort on;
                fastcgi_param  SERVER_NAME $http_host;

        location ~ //.ht {
                deny  all;

Test the Nginx web server configuration.

sudo nginx -t

You will see the following output.

[[email protected] nginx]$ sudo nginx -t
nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

If you see no errors in the configuration, restart Nginx so that the new configuration can take effect.

sudo systemctl restart nginx

Wrapping Up

Before you can access the installation, you will need to complete the installation via the web installer. Access the web-based installation on You will see an interface to change the language of installation.

Choose the language according to your preference and on next page, select the “New Installation” option. On the following page, provide your MySQL or MariaDB database credentials and create a new administrator account. Finally, click the “Install” button and the installer will write its data into the database.

At this point, you are all set to create your website from the administrative dashboard.

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