Laravel is an open-source PHP framework that provides a set of tools and resources to build modern PHP applications. With a complete ecosystem leveraging its built-in features, Laravel’s popularity has grown rapidly in the past few years, with many developers adopting it as their framework of choice for a streamlined development process.

In this guide, you’ll install and configure a new Laravel application on an Ubuntu 18.04 server, using Composer to download and manage the framework dependencies. When you’re finished, you’ll have a functional Laravel demo application pulling content from a MySQL database.


In order to complete this guide, you will first need to perform the following tasks on your Ubuntu 18.04 server:

Step 1 — Installing Required PHP modules

Before you can install Laravel, you need to install a few PHP modules that are required by the framework. We’ll use apt to install the php-mbstringphp-xml and php-bcmath PHP modules. These PHP extensions provide extra support for dealing with character encoding, XML and precision mathematics.

If this is the first time using apt in this session, you should first run the update command to update the package manager cache:

sudo apt update 

Now you can install the required packages with:

sudo apt install php-mbstring php-xml php-bcmath

 Your system is now ready to execute Laravel’s installation via Composer, but before doing so, you’ll need a database for your application.

Step 2 — Creating a Database for the Application

To demonstrate Laravel’s basic installation and usage, we’ll create a sample travel list application to show a list of places a user would like to travel to, and a list of places that they already visited. This can be stored in a simple places table with a field for locations that we’ll call name and another field to mark them as visited or not visited, which we’ll call visited. Additionally, we’ll include an id field to uniquely identify each entry.

To connect to the database from the Laravel application, we’ll create a dedicated MySQL user, and grant this user full privileges over the travel_list database.

To get started, log in to the MySQL console as the root database user with:

sudo mysql

To create a new database, run the following command from your MySQL console:

CREATE DATABASE travel_list; 

Now you can create a new user and grant them full privileges on the custom database you’ve just created. In this example, we’re creating a user named travel_user with the password password, though you should change this to a secure password of your choosing:

GRANT ALL ON travel_list.* TO 'travel_user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password' WITH GRANT OPTION;

 This will give the travel_user user full privileges over the travel_list database, while preventing this user from creating or modifying other databases on your server.

Following this, exit the MySQL shell:


 You can now test if the new user has the proper permissions by logging in to the MySQL console again, this time using the custom user credentials:

mysql -u travel_user -p

 Note the -p flag in this command, which will prompt you for the password used when creating the travel_user user. After logging in to the MySQL console, confirm that you have access to the travel_list database:


 This will give you the following output:
| Database           |
| information_schema |
| travel_list        |
2 rows in set (0.01 sec)

Next, create a table named places in the travel_list database. From the MySQL console, run the following statement:

CREATE TABLE travel_list.places (
name VARCHAR(255),
visited BOOLEAN,

 Now, populate the places table with some sample data:

INSERT INTO travel_list.places (name, visited)

VALUES ("Tokyo", false),

("Budapest", true),

("Nairobi", false),

("Berlin", true),

("Lisbon", true),

("Denver", false),

("Moscow", false),

("Olso", false),

("Rio", true),

("Cincinnati", false),

("Helsinki", false);

 To confirm that the data was successfully saved to your table, run:

SELECT * FROM travel_list.places;

 You will see output similar to this:
| id | name      | visited |
|  1 | Tokyo     |       0 |
|  2 | Budapest  |       1 |
|  3 | Nairobi   |       0 |
|  4 | Berlin    |       1 |
|  5 | Lisbon    |       1 |
|  6 | Denver    |       0 |
|  7 | Moscow    |       0 |
|  8 | Oslo      |       0 |
|  9 | Rio       |       1 |
| 10 | Cincinnati|       0 |
| 11 | Helsinki  |       0 |
11 rows in set (0.00 sec)

After confirming that you have valid data in your test table, you can exit the MySQL console:


 You’re now ready to create the application and configure it to connect to the new database.

Step 3 — Creating a New Laravel Application

You will now create a new Laravel application using the composer create-project command. This Composer command is typically used to bootstrap new applications based on existing frameworks and content management systems.

Throughout this guide, we’ll use travel_list as an example application, but you are free to change this to something else. The travel_list application will display a list of locations pulled from a local MySQL server, intended to demonstrate Laravel’s basic configuration and confirm that you’re able to connect to the database.

First, go to your user’s home directory:

cd ~

The following command will create a new travel_list directory containing a barebones Laravel application based on default settings:

composer create-project --prefer-dist laravel/laravel travel_list

You will see output similar to this:


Installing laravel/laravel (v5.8.17) - Installing laravel/laravel (v5.8.17): Downloading (100%) Created project in travel_list > @php -r "file_exists('.env') || copy('.env.example', '.env');" Loading composer repositories with package information Updating dependencies (including require-dev) Package operations: 80 installs, 0 updates, 0 removals - Installing symfony/polyfill-ctype (v1.11.0): Downloading (100%) - Installing phpoption/phpoption (1.5.0): Downloading (100%) - Installing vlucas/phpdotenv (v3.4.0): Downloading (100%) - Installing symfony/css-selector (v4.3.2): Downloading (100%) ...

When the installation is finished, access the application’s directory and run Laravel’s artisan command to verify that all components were successfully installed:

cd travel_list

php artisan

You’ll see output similar to this:


Laravel Framework 5.8.29

  command [options] [arguments]

  -h, --help            Display this help message
  -q, --quiet           Do not output any message
  -V, --version         Display this application version
      --ansi            Force ANSI output
      --no-ansi         Disable ANSI output
  -n, --no-interaction  Do not ask any interactive question
      --env[=ENV]       The environment the command should run under
  -v|vv|vvv, --verbose  Increase the verbosity of messages: 1 for normal output, 2 for more verbose output and 3 for debug


This output confirms that the application files are in place, and the Laravel command-line tools are working as expected. However, we still need to configure the application to set up the database and a few other details.

Step 4 — Configuring Laravel

The Laravel configuration files are located in a directory called config, inside the application’s root directory. Additionally, when you install Laravel with Composer, it creates an environment file. This file contains settings that are specific to the current environment the application is running, and will take precedence over the values set in regular configuration files located at the config directory. Each installation on a new environment requires a tailored environment file to define things such as database connection settings, debug options, application URL, among other items that may vary depending on which environment the application is running.

Warning: The environment configuration file contains sensitive information about your server, including database credentials and security keys. For that reason, you should never share this file publicly.

We’ll now edit the .env file to customize the configuration options for the current application environment.

Open the .env file using your command line editor of choice. Here we’ll use nano:

nano .env

Even though there are many configuration variables in this file, you don’t need to set up all of them now. The following list contains an overview of the variables that require immediate attention:

APP_NAME: Application name, used for notifications and messages.

APP_ENV: Current application environment.

APP_KEY: Used for generating salts and hashes, this unique key is automatically created when installing Laravel via Composer, so you don’t need to change it.

APP_DEBUG: Whether or not to show debug information at client side.

APP_URL: Base URL for the application, used for generating application links.

DB_DATABASE: Database name.

DB_USERNAME: Username to connect to the database.

DB_PASSWORD: Password to connect to the database.

By default, these values are configured for a local development environment that uses Homestead, a prepackaged Vagrant box provided by Laravel. We’ll change these values to reflect the current environment settings of our example application.

In case you are installing Laravel in a development or testing environment, you can leave the APP_DEBUG option enabled, as this will give you important debug information while testing the application from a browser. The APP_ENV variable should be set to development or testing in this case.

In case you are installing Laravel in a production environment, you should disable the APP_DEBUG option, because it shows to the final user sensitive information about your application. The APP_ENV in this case should be set to production.

The following .env file sets up our example application for development:

Note: The APP_KEY variable contains a unique key that was auto generated when you installed Laravel via Composer. You don’t need to change this value. If you want to generate a new secure key, you can use the php artisan key:generate command.





Adjust your variables accordingly. When you are done editing, save and close the file to keep your changes. If you’re using nano, you can do that with CTRL+X, then Y and Enter to confirm.

Your Laravel application is now set up, but we still need to configure the web server in order to be able to access it from a browser. In the next step, we’ll configure Nginx to serve your Laravel application.

Step 5 — Setting Up Nginx

We have installed Laravel on a local folder of your remote user’s home directory, and while this works well for local development environments, it’s not a recommended practice for web servers that are open to the public internet. We’ll move the application folder to /var/www, which is the usual location for web applications running on Nginx.

First, use the mv command to move the application folder with all its contents to /var/www/travel_list:

sudo mv ~/travel_list /var/www/travel_list

Now we need to give the web server user write access to the storage and cache folders, where Laravel stores application-generated files:

sudo chown -R www-data.www-data /var/www/travel_list/storage

sudo chown -R www-data.www-data /var/www/travel_list/bootstrap/cache

The application files are now in order, but we still need to configure Nginx to serve the content. To do this, we’ll create a new virtual host configuration file at /etc/nginx/sites-available:

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/travel_list

The following configuration file contains the recommended settings for Laravel applications on Nginx:

server {
    listen 80;
    server_name server_domain_or_IP;
    root /var/www/travel_list/public;

    add_header X-Frame-Options "SAMEORIGIN";
    add_header X-XSS-Protection "1; mode=block";
    add_header X-Content-Type-Options "nosniff";

    index index.html index.htm index.php;

    charset utf-8;

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

    location = /favicon.ico { access_log off; log_not_found off; }
    location = /robots.txt  { access_log off; log_not_found off; }

    error_page 404 /index.php;

    location ~ \.php$ {
        fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock;
        fastcgi_index index.php;
        fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $realpath_root$fastcgi_script_name;
        include fastcgi_params;

    location ~ /\.(?!well-known).* {
        deny all;

Copy this content to your /etc/nginx/sites-available/travel_list file and, if necessary, adjust the highlighted values to align with your own configuration. Save and close the file when you’re done editing.

To activate the new virtual host configuration file, create a symbolic link to travel_list in sites-enabled:

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/travel_list /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Note: If you have another virtual host file that was previously configured for the same server_name used in the travel_list virtual host, you might need to deactivate the old configuration by removing the corresponding symbolic link inside /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/.

To confirm that the configuration doesn’t contain any syntax errors, you can use:

sudo nginx -t

You should see output like this:


nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok

nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

To apply the changes, reload Nginx with:

sudo systemctl reload nginx

Now go to your browser and access the application using the server’s domain name or IP address, as defined by the server_name directive in your configuration file:


You will see a page like this:

Laravel splash page

That confirms your Nginx server is properly configured to serve Laravel. From this point, you can start building up your application on top of the skeleton provided by the default installation.

In the next step, we’ll modify the application’s main route to query for data in the database using Laravel’s DB facade.

Step 6 — Customizing the Main Page

Assuming you’ve followed all the steps in this guide so far, you should have a working Laravel application and a database table named places containing some sample data.

We’ll now edit the main application route to query for the database and return the contents to the application’s view.

Open the main route file, routes/web.php:

nano routes/web.php

This file comes by default with the following content:


| Web Routes
| Here is where you can register web routes for your application. These
| routes are loaded by the RouteServiceProvider within a group which
| contains the "web" middleware group. Now create something great!

Route::get('/', function () {
    return view('welcome');

Routes are defined within this file using the static method Route::get, which receives a path and a callback function as arguments.

The following code replaces the main route callback function. It makes 2 queries to the database using the visited flag to filter results. It returns the results to a view named travel_list, which we’re going to create next. Copy this content to your routes/web.php file, replacing the code that is already there:


use Illuminate\Support\Facades\DB;

Route::get('/', function () {
  $visited = DB::select('select * from places where visited = ?', [1]);
  $togo = DB::select('select * from places where visited = ?', [0]);

  return view('travel_list', ['visited' => $visited, 'togo' => $togo ] );

Save and close the file when you’re done editing. We’ll now create the view that will render the database results to the user. Create a new view file inside resources/views:

nano resources/views/travel_list.blade.php

The following template creates two lists of places based on the variables visited and togo. Copy this content to your new view file:

    <title>Travel List</title>

    <h1>My Travel Bucket List</h1>
    <h2>Places I'd Like to Visit</h2>
      @foreach ($togo as $newplace)
        <li>{{ $newplace->name }}</li>

    <h2>Places I've Already Been To</h2>
          @foreach ($visited as $place)
                <li>{{ $place->name }}</li>

Save and close the file when you’re done. Now go to your browser and reload the application. You’ll see a page like this:

Demo Laravel Application

You have now a functional Laravel application pulling contents from a MySQL database.


In this tutorial, you’ve set up a new Laravel application on top of a LEMP stack (Linux, Nginx, MySQL and PHP), running on an Ubuntu 18.04 server. You’ve also customized your default route to query for database content and exhibit the results in a custom view.

From here, you can create new routes and views for any additional pages your application needs. Check the official Laravel documentation for more information on routesviews, and database support. If you’re deploying to production, you should also check the optimization section for a few different ways in which you can improve your application’s performance.

For improved security, you should consider installing an TLS/SSL certificate for your server, allowing it to serve content over HTTPS. To this end, you can follow our guide on how to secure your Nginx installation with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 18.04.

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