Looking to replace your documentation platform or software? BookStack may just be what you want. Built on open source Laravel framework with simple interface, you’ll get all the powerful features in BookStack platform that you’ll need to create robust documentations.

BookStack is an opensource platform for creating documentation and wikis content for your users it’s built on the LAMP or LEMP stack and great for creating professional documentations for any project. This brief tutorial is going to show students and new users how to install BookStack on Ubuntu 16.04 / 17.10 and 18.04.

If you currently using an antiquated documentation creator or platform, you may want to give BookStack a try.  it’s a great alternative to other documentation software and platform.

BookStack interface is easy and simple. The page editor has a very attractive WYSIWYG interface and all content is broken into three simple real world groups:

For more on BookStack, please visit its home page

When you’re ready to get BookStack working on Ubuntu, please continue with the steps below:

Step 1: Install Nginx Server on Ubuntu

Nginx Server is the second most popular web server in use and is required in order to run BookStack.

To install Nginx on Ubuntu server, run the commands below:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nginx

After installing Nginx, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable Nginx service to always start up with the server boots:

sudo systemctl stop nginx.service
sudo systemctl start nginx.service
sudo systemctl enable nginx.service

To test Nginx setup, open your browser and browse to the server hostname or IP address and you should see Nginx default test page. When you see that, then Nginx is working as expected.

Step 2: Install MariaDB Database Server

To install MariaDB run the commands below:

sudo apt-get install mariadb-server mariadb-client

After installing MariaDB, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable MariaDB service to always start up when the server boots:

Run these on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

sudo systemctl stop mysql.service
sudo systemctl start mysql.service
sudo systemctl enable mysql.service

Run these on Ubuntu 17.10 and 18.04 LTS

sudo systemctl stop mariadb.service
sudo systemctl start mariadb.service
sudo systemctl enable mariadb.service

After that, run the commands below to secure MariaDB server by creating a root password and disallowing remote root access:

sudo mysql_secure_installation

When prompted, answer the questions below by following the guide.

  • Enter current password for root (enter for none): Just press the Enter
  • Set root password? [Y/n]: Y
  • New password: Enter password
  • Re-enter new password: Repeat password
  • Remove anonymous users? [Y/n]: Y
  • Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n]: Y
  • Remove test database and access to it? [Y/n]:  Y
  • Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n]:  Y

Restart MariaDB server

To test if MariaDB is installed, type the commands below to logon to MariaDB server:

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then type the password you created above to sign on.If successful, you should see MariaDB welcome message.

Step 3: Install PHP 7.1-FPM and Related Modules

PHP 7.1 may not be available in Ubuntu default repositories. In order to install it, you will have to get it from third-party repositories.

Run the commands below to add the below third party repository to upgrade to PHP 7.1-FPM:

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php

Then update and upgrade to PHP 7.1-FPM:

sudo apt update

Next, run the commands below to install PHP 7.1-FPM and related modules:

sudo apt install php7.1-fpm php7.1-common php7.1-sqlite php7.1-curl php7.1-intl php7.1-mbstring php7.1-xmlrpc php7.1-mysql php7.1-gd php7.1-xml php7.1-cli php7.1-mcrypt php7.1-tidy php7.1-zip

After installing PHP 7.1, run the commands below to open PHP default config file for Nginx:

sudo nano /etc/php/7.1/fpm/php.ini

Then make the changes on the following lines below in the file and save. The value below are great settings to apply in your environments:

file_uploads = On
allow_url_fopen = On
memory_limit = 256M
upload_max_filesize = 100M
cgi.fix_pathinfo = 0
max_execution_time = 360
date.timezone = America/Chicago

After making the change above, save the file and close out.

Step 3: Restart Nginx

After installing PHP and related modules, all you have to do is restart Nginx to reload PHP configurations.

To restart Nginx, run the commands below:

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

Step 4: Create MariaDB Database

Now that you’ve installed all the packages that are required for BookStack to function, continue below to start configuring the servers. First run the commands below to create a blank MariaDB database.

To logon to MariaDB database server, run the commands below:

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called bookstack:

CREATE DATABASE bookstack;

Create a database user called bookstackuser with new password:

CREATE USER 'bookstackuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'new_password_here';

Then grant the user full access to the database:

GRANT ALL ON bookstack.* TO 'bookstackuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'user_password_here' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit:

FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
EXIT;

Step 5: Download and Install BookStack

Run the commands below to install Composer and use it to download BookStack content:

sudo curl -sS https://getcomposer.org/installer | sudo php -- --install-dir=/usr/bin --filename=composer
cd /var/www/html/
sudo apt install git
sudo git clone https://github.com/BookStackApp/BookStack.git --branch release --single-branch
cd BookStack
sudo composer install

Next, create the environment configuration file from the example file and configure the database connection info:

sudo mv .env.example .env
sudo nano .evn

and enter the database connection info you created above:

# Database details
DB_HOST=localhost
DB_DATABASE=bookstack        
DB_USERNAME=bookstackuser
DB_PASSWORD=database_user_password

Save and exit.

After that, run the commands below in the BookStack directory to create the application unique key and migrate the database:

sudo php artisan key:generate
sudo php artisan migrate

Next, run the commands below to change the root folder permissions

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/BookStack/
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/BookStack/

Step 6: Configure Nginx BookStack Site

Finally, configure Nginx configuration file for BookStack. This file will control how users access BookStack content. Run the commands below to create a new configuration file called bookstack:

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

Then copy and paste the content below into the file and save it. Replace the highlighted line with your own domain name and directory root location:

server {
    listen 80;
    listen [::]:80;
    root /var/www/html/BookStack/public;
    index  index.php index.html index.htm;
    server_name  example.com www.example.com;

    client_max_body_size 100M;

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

    location ~ .php$ {
    include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
    fastcgi_pass             unix:/var/run/php/php7.1-fpm.sock;
    fastcgi_param   SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
     }
}

Save the file and exit.

After configuring the VirtualHost above, enable it by running the commands below

Step 7: Enable the BookStack conf

After configuring the VirtualHost above, enable it by running the commands below, then restart Nginx server:

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

Next, open your browser and go to the URL and continue with the installation.

Restart Nginx.

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

Now open your browser and browse to the server URL or hostname.

Type default admin user [email protected]‘ with password ‘password‘, and then press the ‘Login’ button.

Once you are in, get configuring and customize it to your liking!

About the Author

Pauraic Morrissey

Born and bred Irishman with a slight obsession with everything IT.

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