Set Up a LEMP Stack (Nginx, MariaDB, PHP) on CentOS, RHEL 8

This guide will walk you through the steps to set up a LEMP Stack on a CentOS/RHEL 8. LEMP is a combination of Linux operating system, the E(nginx) web Server, the MySQL/MariaDB relational database management system, and the PHP programming language.

Note: With CentOS 8 release, yum command has been replaced with dnf and in near future yum package manager will be discontinued. It is now recommended to use dnf for installing packages but if you still wish to use yum you can use it.


You will need one (physical or virtual) machine with CentOS/RHEL 8 minimal installed having sudo non-root user privileges

Set Timezone

You can correct your server timezone by typing the following command but make sure you replace Asia/Karachi with yours
sudo timedatectl set-timezone Asia/Karachi

Adding EPEL Repository

It is always recommended to add extra packages for enterprise Linux on your fresh CentOS/RHEL server:
sudo dnf -y install
sudo dnf config-manager --set-enabled PowerTools
sudo dnf -y update
If you are on RHEL 8, execute the following command as well:
sudo ARCH=$( /bin/arch )
sudo subscription-manager repos --enable "codeready-builder-for-rhel-8-${ARCH}-rpms"
sudo dnf config-manager --set-enabled PowerTools

Installing PHP

You can install latest PHP and its commonly used extensions with the below command:
sudo dnf -y install
sudo dnf -y install php php-common php-process php-xmlrpc php-xml php-soap php-snmp php-recode php-bcmath php-cli php-dba php-dbg php-mbstring php-odbc php-pecl-apcu-devel php-pecl-zip php-pgsql php-pecl-apcu php-pear php-pdo php-opcache php-devel php-embedded php-enchant php-gd php-fpm php-gmp php-intl php-ldap php-json php-mysqlnd php-pdo php-gd php-mbstring zip unzip tar wget

Installing Nginx

Type the following command to install Nginx web server:
sudo dnf -y install nginx nginx-all-modules
Now starting Nginx service and making it persistent even when system reboots:
sudo systemctl start nginx
sudo systemctl enable nginx

Installing MariaDB

If you would like to user MariaDB as your database, type the below command to install:
sudo dnf -y install mariadb-server
Starting MariaDB service and making it persistent even when system reboots:
sudo systemctl start mariadb
sudo systemctl enable mariadb
Or if you still wish to use MySQL as your database, type the below command to install:
sudo dnf -y install mysql-server mysql

Securing MariaDB/MySQL

By default MariaDB/MySQL has no root password and anyone can intrude into your database, so run the below script and follow on screen instruction to secure it:
sudo mysql_secure_installation
Response to the following prompts on your server like below:

In order to log into MariaDB to secure it, we'll need the current
password for the root user.  If you've just installed MariaDB, and
you haven't set the root password yet, the password will be blank,
so you should just press enter here.

Enter current password for root (enter for none):
OK, successfully used password, moving on...

Setting the root password ensures that nobody can log into the MariaDB
root user without the proper authorisation.

Set root password? [Y/n] y
New password:
Re-enter new password:
Password updated successfully!
Reloading privilege tables..
 ... Success!

By default, a MariaDB installation has an anonymous user, allowing anyone
to log into MariaDB without having to have a user account created for
them.  This is intended only for testing, and to make the installation
go a bit smoother.  You should remove them before moving into a
production environment.

Remove anonymous users? [Y/n] y
 ... Success!

Normally, root should only be allowed to connect from 'localhost'.  This
ensures that someone cannot guess at the root password from the network.

Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n] y
 ... Success!

By default, MariaDB comes with a database named 'test' that anyone can
access.  This is also intended only for testing, and should be removed
before moving into a production environment.

Remove test database and access to it? [Y/n] y
 - Dropping test database...
 ... Success!
 - Removing privileges on test database...
 ... Success!

Reloading the privilege tables will ensure that all changes made so far
will take effect immediately.

Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n] y
 ... Success!

Cleaning up...

All done!  If you've completed all of the above steps, your MariaDB
installation should now be secure.

Thanks for using MariaDB!

Enabling SSL

We need to generate an SSL certificate for our Nginx server to enable HTTPS secure protocol:
sudo openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 3650 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/pki/tls/certs/nginx.crt -out /etc/pki/tls/private/nginx.pki
Response to the following prompts with yours:
Generating a RSA private key
writing new private key to '/etc/pki/tls/private/nginx.key'
You are about to be asked to enter information that will be incorporated
into your certificate request.
What you are about to enter is what is called a Distinguished Name or a DN.
There are quite a few fields but you can leave some blank
For some fields there will be a default value,
If you enter '.', the field will be left blank.
Country Name (2 letter code) [XX]:PK
State or Province Name (full name) []:Sindh
Locality Name (eg, city) [Default City]:Karachi
Organization Name (eg, company) [Default Company Ltd]:TECH SUPPORT
Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:IT
Common Name (eg, your name or your server's hostname) []:localhost
Email Address []
Now edit default configuration file from Nginx like below:
sudo vi /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
Uncomment the below parameters to enable HTTPS secure protocol and make sure you update ssl_certificate and ssl_certificate_key parameters with your newly generated certificate file:
# Settings for a TLS enabled server.
    server {
        listen       443 ssl http2 default_server;
        listen       [::]:443 ssl http2 default_server;
#        server_name  _;
#        root         /usr/share/nginx/html;
       ssl_certificate "/etc/pki/tls/certs/nginx.crt";
       ssl_certificate_key "/etc/pki/tls/private/nginx.key";
       ssl_session_cache shared:SSL:1m;
       ssl_session_timeout  10m;
       ssl_ciphers PROFILE=SYSTEM;
       ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;
#        # Load configuration files for the default server block.
        include /etc/nginx/default.d/*.conf;
        location / {
        error_page 404 /404.html;
            location = /40x.html {
        error_page 500 502 503 504 /50x.html;
            location = /50x.html {

Testing Nginx, PHP

Now create info.php page under /usr/share/nginx/html to test your Apache and PHP functionality:
sudo vi /usr/share/nginx/html/info.php
Add following code into it:
Save and close file.

Restart Nginx to take changes into effect:
sudo systemctl restart nginx
Add firewall rules to allow HTTPS traffic:
sudo firewall-cmd --zone=public --permanent --add-service=https
sudo firewall-cmd --reload
Open up you preferred web browser and navigate to nginx default page https://your_server_name_or_ip and if you see the below page, then your nginx is working as expected

Now navigate to https://your_server_name_or_ip/info.php and if you see below page, then your Nginx and PHP working as expected.

Wrapping up

You have successfully set up a foundation for serving PHP websites and applications to your visitors, using Nginx as web server and MariaDB/MySQL as database server.

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