New Ubuntu 11.04 server setup instructions

| Reading time: 7 min

I've had to setup a couple of servers from scratch recently and figured I'd document how I did it so that the next time I can get it done quicker. Feel free to use it yourself but I take no responsibility for the accuracy of this.

This post covers users, ssh, git, oh my zsh, LAMP, MongoDB and NodeJS/NPM.


Add a new user and give them sudo access

adduser your_username
vi /etc/sudoers

Insert the following below the root user (should look identical to root, except for the username)

your_username    ALL=ALL    ALL

If you get "write errors" when trying to save, just add:

:w !sudo tee %

Source – Saving Files as root From Inside VIM


Generating SSH keys

On the local computer

cd ~/.ssh
# Checks to see if there is a directory named ".ssh" in your user directory

ssh-keygen -t rsa -f name_of_file_rsa  -C ""
# [-t] type
# [-f] output_keyfile
# [-C] comment

Follow prompts and name the RSA file differently to others in .ssh directory making sure to add a passphrase.

Getting keys to the server

On the server

mkdir ~/.ssh

On the local computer

The command below reads the content of the key you just created on your computer, and appends that key to the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file on your server. If you don't have an existing authorized_keys file, it creates one. Replace with your domain:

cat ~/.ssh/ | ssh 'cat - >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys'


Set correct permissions on .ssh directory (local and server)

chmod 700 ~/.ssh && chmod 600 ~/.ssh/*

Server SSH configuration (server)

vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Make the following changes:

Port 1234
# causes SSH to listen on port 1234.
# You can use any unused port from 1 to 65535.
# It's recommended to choose a privileged port (port 1-1024)
# which can only be used by root. If your SSH daemon
# stops working for some reason, a rogue application
# can't intercept the connection.
PermitRootLogin no
# Disallows direct root login.

Restart ssh

sudo /etc/init.d/ssh restart

Test SSH connection

ssh your_username@server_ip -p 1234
# Replace username, IP address and 1234.
# 1234 is the port numberyou set in sshd_config file on the server

Creating an ssh shortcut

I prefer to keep my ssh details in a config file, allowing me to just write ssh shortcut_name. Create a shortcut shortcut in ~/.ssh/config file using this as an example:

Host shortcut_name

HostName or domain name
# Custom port number specified in server sshd config file:
Port 1234
User your_username
IdentityFile ~/.ssh/name_of_file_rsa
ServerAliveInterval 30
ServerAliveCountMax 120

Test the ssh connection using the shortcut:

ssh shortcut_name

If this fails, check that it is using the correct identity file created in the keygen step, name_of_file_rsa. If it succeeds then proceed with disabling password login attempts on server for extra security.

Disabling password login

On the server again:

vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config

And find the line that reads

#PasswordAuthentication yes

Change to no to disable tunnelled clear text passwords

PasswordAuthentication no
# Uncomment this line and change to no so that we can no longer login with a password

Install developer tools (Ubuntu)

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install build-essential

Fix Perl locale warnings (Ubuntu 12)

sudo apt-get install language-pack-en-base

Install Git

Install required dependencies

sudo apt-get install libcurl4-gnutls-dev libexpat1-dev gettext libz-dev libssl-dev build-essential

Install Git from apt:

sudo apt-get install git

Install Git from updated repo:

# Update everything
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

# Add ability to add other repositories
sudo apt-get install python-software-properties

# Upgrade to latest stable git
# Adds latest git releases to install list
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:git-core/ppa

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install git

Source –

Install Oh My ZSH

Oh My ZSH makes working on the commandline not painful.

Install zsh

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install zsh

Automatic install

cd ~/tmp
curl -L | sh

The manual way

Clone the repository

git clone git:// ~/.oh-my-zsh

Optional – Backup your existing ~/.zshrc file

cp ~/.zshrc ~/.zshrc.orig

Create a new zsh config by copying the provided zsh template.

cp ~/.oh-my-zsh/templates/zshrc.zsh-template ~/.zshrc

Set zsh as your default shell:

chsh -s /bin/zsh

Start / restart zsh (open a new terminal is easy enough…)

Install my custom zsh mods

Edit ~/src/customise-ohmyzsh/ and set $CONTEXT to server if it different from "server" then execute:


This will install my custom .zshrc file and the sheedy.zsh-theme a customised version of the doubletree theme.

Install LAMP

Instructions from MediaTemple

sudo apt-get install apache2 php5 libapache2-mod-php5 mysql-server mysql-client php5-mysql

Visit the IP address and check that apache is loading the test page.

Edit ports.conf

sudo vi /etc/apache2/ports.conf

Replace the * in NameVirtualHost *:80 with the IP address.

Edit the default virtual host

sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-available/default

Change the * in <VirtualHost *:80> to the IP addrres.

Optional – The default site will be what displays for your server if someone requests a domain, subdomain, or IP address that resolves to your server but doesn't have a distinct VirtualHost file. The content for this domain is stored in /var/www/. If you don't want to have a default website, you can disable it. Run this command to disable the default site (only if desired):

sudo a2dissite default
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

Create a new site

sudo touch /etc/apache2/sites-available/
sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-available/

Add the following content (replace examples with your own IP address and domain name):

Add the ServerAlias line with any domains or subdomains that you also want to redirect to the domain listed on the ServerName line. It's a good idea to at least include the www. subdomain. You can list additional entries right after the first one, with a space in between. If you want to include all subdomains, enter *


    DocumentRoot /var/www/

    ErrorLog /var/www/
    # Possible values include: debug, info, notice, warn, error, crit,
    # alert, emerg.
    LogLevel warn

    CustomLog /var/www/ combined

The file you just edited references some paths that don't yet exist. Let's create them:

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/

Enable your new site:

sudo a2ensite
sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

HTTPS Configuration (SSL)

The mod_ssl module is available in apache2-common package. Execute the following command from a terminal prompt to enable the mod_ssl module:

sudo a2enmod ssl

There is a default HTTPS configuration file in /etc/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl. In order for Apache2 to provide HTTPS, a certificate and key file are also needed. The default HTTPS configuration will use a certificate and key generated by the ssl-cert package. They are good for testing, but the auto-generated certificate and key should be replaced by a certificate specific to the site or server.

To configure Apache2 for HTTPS, enter the following:

sudo a2ensite default-ssl

The directories /etc/ssl/certs and /etc/ssl/private are the default locations. If you install the certificate and key in another directory make sure to change SSLCertificateFile and SSLCertificateKeyFile appropriately.

Source – HTTPD - Apache2 Web Server

Test PHP

sudo touch /var/www/
sudo vi /var/www/

Add the following to the file:

<?php phpinfo(); ?>

Secure MYSQL

Follow the prompts of this command:

sudo mysql_secure_installation

Login to mysql

sudo mysql -u root -p

For this example, we will create the database 'woot', grant the user 'meh' read/write privileges and assign the password 'DBF5f3'.

create database woot; grant all on woot.* to 'meh' identified by 'DBF5f3';

Install and upgrade PHPMyAdmin

sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin

Add new package source

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nijel/phpmyadmin
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin

Follow prompts.

Source – How Do You Upgrade To PhpMyAdmin 3.4.5?.

Install MongoDB

Configure Package Management System (APT)

The Ubuntu package management tool (i.e. dpkg and apt) ensure package consistency and authenticity by requiring that distributors sign packages with GPG keys. Issue the following command to import the 10gen public GPG Key:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv 7F0CEB10

Create a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/10gen.list file.

sudo touch /etc/apt/sources.list.d/10gen.list
sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list.d/10gen.list

And include the following line for the 10gen repository

deb dist 10gen

Now issue the following command to reload your repository:

sudo apt-get update

Install Packages

Issue the following command to install the latest stable version of MongoDB:

sudo apt-get install mongodb-10gen

Follow instructions (possibility to miss this part)

sudo apt-get autoremove

Configure MongoDB

These packages configure MongoDB using the /etc/mongodb.conf file in conjunction with the control script. You will find the control script is at /etc/init.d/mongodb.

This MongoDB instance will store its data files in the /var/lib/mongodb and its log files in /var/log/mongodb, and run using the mongodb user account.

Source – Install MongoDB on Ubuntu

Installing MMS

MMS is a MongoDB monitoring service.

Install pyton setuptools

sudo apt-get install python-setuptools

Install pymongo dependencies

sudo apt-get install build-essential python-dev

Install pymongo

sudo easy_install pymongo

Upgrade to the latest version of the driver

sudo easy_install -U pymongo

Install the MMS Agent

If you have not downloaded the MMS agent already, click the “download agent” link immediately after you sign into MMS (e.g. to download an agent specifically configured for your account.

You can run the agent on any system that can connect to the MongoDB instances you want to monitor. As long as it can connect to each instance, you can use a single agent to do all the monitoring. Do be sure that the agent can make outgoing connections via HTTPS on port 443.

Unzip the archive and run the agent with the following command:


The above command is sufficient for testing the MMS agent. For production deployments, you will want to daemonize the process and ensure that it restarts following a system restart. Your operating system likely has a preferred method for managing daemon processes.

As a temporary measure, the following command will start the agent process detached from the current terminal session:

nohup python > /[LOG-DIRECTORY]/agent.log 2>&1 &

Replace “[LOG-DIRECTORY] with the path to your MongoDB logs.

This command allows the agent survive the current terminal session and writes all messages to the agent.log file. You may include this command in your MongoDB control script or use your system’s /etc/rc.local equivalent; however, avoid running the agent as root.

Source – Getting Started with MMS

Installing the mongo driver for PHP

Install pear and pecl

sudo apt-get install php5-dev php5-cli php-pear

This command:

sudo pecl install mongo

Caused the following error for me:

downloading mongo-1.3.1.tgz ...
Starting to download mongo-1.3.1.tgz (118,731 bytes)
..........................done: 118,731 bytes
49 source files, building
running: phpize
Configuring for:
PHP Api Version:         20090626
Zend Module Api No:      20090626
Zend Extension Api No:   220090626
/usr/bin/phpize: 209: /tmp/pear/temp/mongo/build/shtool: Permission denied
Cannot find autoconf. Please check your autoconf installation and the
$PHP_AUTOCONF environment variable. Then, rerun this script.

ERROR: `phpize' failed

I found that the autoconf version seemed really old and found no useful ways to upgrade it so downloaded the source directly then installed it:

sudo dpkg -i autoconf_2.68-1ubuntu1_all.deb

That didn't fix it.

Running which autoconf returned /usr/bin/autoconf, showing that I did in fact have it installed so I followed theses instructions:

sudo su
export PHP_AUTOCONF=/usr/bin/autoconf
export PHP_AUTOHEADER=/usr/bin/autoheader

But that didn't seem to help, even when adding to my .zshrc and executing source ~/.zshrc.

This stackoverflow question seemed to get really close but I got new errors

mkdir /root/tmpz
mount --bind /root/tmpz /tmp
umount /tmp; umount /var/tmp
umount: /tmp: device is busy.
    (In some cases useful info about processes that use
     the device is found by lsof(8) or fuser(1))

This command told me what was causing the directory to be busy

lsof | grep /tmp

And in my case it was mongodb and mysqld so I stopped those services and then tried it again:

sudo pecl install mongo

It worked!

Enable MongoDB driver for php

sudo vi /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini

Add the following:

# MongoDB Driver

# Allow 64-bit Integers in PHP
mongo.native_long = 1

Installing NodeJS and NPM

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install git-core curl build-essential openssl libssl-dev
git clone
cd node
git tag # Gives you a list of released versions
git checkout v0.8.16
sudo make install
node -v
curl | sudo sh
npm -v

If you need to uninstall for any reason

# From within Node source directory
sudo make uninstall

This would be a lot easier though

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:chris-lea/node.js
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nodejs npm

Source – Installing Node.js via package manager