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MODX Revolution is a fast, flexible, scalable, free and open source, enterprise-grade Content Management System (CMS) written in PHP. It is particularly well-suited to building high-end sites since it features advanced multi-lingual capabilites, and is built from the ground up using secure design principles.
- A clean Vultr Debian 9 server instance with SSH access
Step 1: Add a Sudo User
We will start by adding a new
First, log into your server as
sudo command isn’t installed by default in the Vultr Debain 9 server instance, so we will first install
apt-get -y install sudo
Now add a new user called
user1 (or your preferred username).
When prompted, enter a secure and memorable password. You will also be prompted for your “Full Name” and some other details, but you can simply leave them blank by pressing “
Now check the
/etc/sudoers file to make sure that the
sudoers group is enabled.
Look for a section like this.
%sudo ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL
This line tells us that users who are members of the
sudo group can use the
sudo command to gain
root privileges. It should be uncommented by default so you can simply exit the file.
Next we need to add
user1 to the
usermod -aG sudo user1
We can verify the
user1 group membership and check that the
usermod command worked with the
Now use the
su command to switch to the new sudo user
su - user1
The command prompt will update to indicate that you are now logged into the
user1 account. You can verify this with the
Now restart the
sshd service so that you can login via
ssh with the new non-root sudo user account you have just created.
sudo systemctl restart sshd
root account (which will disconnect your
You can now
ssh into the server instance from your local host using the new non-root sudo user
If you want to execute
sudo without having to type a password every time, then open the
/etc/sudoers file again, using
Edit the section for the
sudo group so that it looks like this.
%sudo ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL
Please note: Disabling the password requirement for the sudo user is not a recommended practice, but it is included here as it can make server configuration much more convenient and less frustrating, especially during longer systems administration sessions. If you are concerned about the security implications, you can always revert the configuration change to the original after you finish your administration tasks.
Whenever you want to log into the
root user account from within the
sudo user account, you can use one of the following commands.
sudo su -
You can exit the
root account and return back to your
sudo user account any time.
Step 2: Update Debian 9 System
Before installing any packages on the Debian server instance, we will first update the system.
Make sure you are logged in to the server using a non-root sudo user and run the following commands.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get -y upgrade
Step 3: Install Apache
Install the Apache web server.
sudo apt-get -y install apache2
Then use the
systemctl command to start and enable Apache to execute automatically at boot time.
sudo systemctl enable apache2
sudo systemctl start apache2
Check your Apache default site configuration file to ensure that the
DocumentRoot directive points to the correct directory.
sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default.conf
DocumentRoot configuration option should look like this.
Now enable the
mod_rewrite Apache module.
sudo a2enmod rewrite
We will restart Apache at the end of this tutorial, but restarting Apache regularly during installation and configuration is certainly a good habit, so let’s do it now.
sudo systemctl restart apache2
Step 4: Install PHP 7.0
We can now install PHP 7.0 along with the necessary PHP modules required by MODX Revolution CMS.
sudo apt-get -y install php php-gd php-mbstring php-common php-mysql php-imagick php-xml
Step 5: Install MariaDB (MySQL)
Debian 9 defaults to using MariaDB, which is an enhanced, fully open source, community developed, drop-in replacement for MySQL.
sudo apt-get -y install mariadb-server
Start and enable MariaDB to execute automatically at boot time.
sudo systemctl enable mariadb
sudo systemctl start mariadb
Secure your MariaDB server installation.
root password will probably be blank, so simply hit “
enter” when prompted for the
When prompted to create a MariaDB/MySQL
root user, select “
Y” (for yes) and then enter a secure
root password. Simply answer “
Y” to all of the other yes/no questions as the default suggestions are the most secure options.
Step 6: Create a Database for MODX Revolution
Log into the MariaDB shell as the MariaDB
root user by running the following command.
sudo mariadb -u root -p
To access the MariaDB command prompt, simply enter the MariaDB
root password when prompted.
Run the following queries to create a MariaDB database and database user for MODX Revolution.
CREATE DATABASE modx_data CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci;
CREATE USER 'modx_user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'UltraSecurePassword';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON modx_data.* TO 'modx_user'@'localhost';
You can replace the database name
modx_data and username
modx_user with something more to your liking, if you prefer. Also, make sure that you replace “
UltraSecurePassword” with an actual, secure password.
Step 7: Install MODX Revolution Files
Change your current working directory to the default web directory.
If you get an error message saying something like
'No such file or directory' then try the following command.
cd /var/www/ ; sudo mkdir html ; cd html
Your current working directory should now be:
/var/www/html/. You can check this with the
pwd (print working directory) command.
wget to download the MODX Revolution installation zip package.
sudo wget https://modx.com/download/direct?id=modx-2.6.0-pl.zip
Please note: You should definitely check for the most recent version by visiting the MODX Revolution download page.
List the current directory to check that you have successfully downloaded the file.
unzip so you can unzip the file.
sudo apt-get -y install unzip
Give the package a simpler name.
sudo mv direct/?id/=modx-2.6.0-pl.zip modx.zip
Now uncompress the zip package.
sudo unzip modx.zip
Move all of the installation files to the web root directory.
sudo mv modx-2.6.0-pl/* /var/www/html
Change ownership of the web files to avoid any permissions problems.
sudo chown -R www-data:www-data *
Restart Apache again.
sudo systemctl restart apache2
Now we’re ready to move on to the final step.
Step 8: Complete MODX Revolution Installation
It’s time to visit the IP address of your Debian 9 server instance in your browser. Or, if you’ve already configured your Vultr DNS settings (and given it enough time to propagate) you can simply visit your domain instead.
To access the MODX revolution installation page, enter your Vultr instance IP address, followed by
/setup into your browser address bar.
Most of the installation options are self explanatory, but here are a few pointers to help you along.
Select your language.
Next button to continue the installation.
New Installation and leave the folder permissions at their default values. Click
Next when you are ready to move on to the next step.
Set the following database options.
Database type: mysql
Database host: localhost
Database login name: modx_user (or your previously selected name)
Database password: UltraSecurePassword (or your previously chosen password)
Database name: modx_data (or your previously selected name)
Table prefix: modx_
Once you have entered the above database options, click on the link below to
Test database server connection and view collations. You should see a message that says:
Connecting to database server: Success!. If you get any errors, go back and ensure that all database options are correct.
You can leave the character set and collation options at their default values. They should look like this.
Connection character set: utf8
When you are satisfied with your selected installation options, you can click on the link below to
Create or test selection of your database.
You will be prompted to enter your admin details, which will be used to login to the CMS. Fill them in as shown below and click
Administrator name: <your_prefered_admin_name>
Administrator email: <your_admin_email>
Administrator password: <a_secure_password
Confirm password: <the_same_secure_password>
You should see an Installation Summary. As long as everything looks okay, you can simply click
Install to Install MODX Revolution to your server instance.
You should see a confirmation page that says
Core installation was successful. Simply click
Next to continue.
You can now login to your MODX Revolution admin panel using the login details you entered earlier during installation.
Please note: During installation and login, you may see some warning messages about directories and files. Simply follow the instructions shown on the warning pages and the warning messages will disappear.
If you haven’t already set up your Vultr DNS, then that should probably be your next step.
Now you can start adding your content and start configuring the look of your site. Be sure to check out the excellent MODX Revolution docs for more guidance on how to build and configure your site.
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