Install Automad CMS on Debian 10/Ubuntu 18.04

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In this guide, we are going to learn how to install Automad CMS on Debian 10 /Ubuntu 18.04. Automad is a file-based content management system and template engine written in PHP. It stores all content in human readable text files instead of the database and thus a site created with Automad is fully portable, easy to install and can be version controlled by using Git or Mercurial.

Installing Automad CMS on Debian 10/Ubuntu 18.04


Automad is written in PHP and thus it requires a web server with PHP and PHP extensions installed in order to run. Here is a list of the minimum system requirements;

  • Apache or Nginx web server
  • PHP 7.4+
  • On Apache servers, the mod_rewrite module should be enabled

Run System Update

Run the commands below to update and upgrade your system packages.

apt update

Install PHP and Required PHP Modules

Once the system update is done, proceed to install the required PHP and PHP modules. Automad, as of this writing requires PHP 7.4+ as of this writing, as per the system requirements page.

PHP 7.2 is the default PHP version available on the default Ubuntu 18.04 repositories while PHP 7.3 is the default PHP versions on Debian 10.

Thus, to install PHP 7.4 on Ubuntu 18.04/Debian 10;

Add the third party PPA repositories that provides PHP 7.4 packages;

Ubuntu 18.04:

add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php --yes &> /dev/null

Debian 10:

apt -y install lsb-release apt-transport-https ca-certificates 
wget -qO /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/php.gpg
echo "deb $(lsb_release -sc) main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/php.list

Re-update the package cache;

apt update

Then run the command below to install PHP and the required extensions as well the Apache web server.

apt install php7.4 php7.4-zip php7.4-curl php7.4-mbstring php7.4-gd php7.4-xml php7.4-xmlrpc php7.4-soap -y

Verify the version of PHP installed;

Ubuntu 18.04

php -v

Debian 10 Buster

php -v

The output of both commands should be same;

PHP 7.4.28 (cli) (built: Feb 17 2022 16:06:19) ( NTS )
Copyright (c) The PHP Group
Zend Engine v3.4.0, Copyright (c) Zend Technologies
    with Zend OPcache v7.4.28, Copyright (c), by Zend Technologies

Apache web server is set to run and enabled to run on system boot.

systemctl status apache2

● apache2.service - The Apache HTTP Server
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/apache2.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
  Drop-In: /lib/systemd/system/apache2.service.d
   Active: active (running) since Wed 2022-02-23 18:30:23 EAT; 3s ago
  Process: 14290 ExecStop=/usr/sbin/apachectl stop (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
  Process: 14295 ExecStart=/usr/sbin/apachectl start (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
 Main PID: 14312 (apache2)
    Tasks: 6 (limit: 2317)
   CGroup: /system.slice/apache2.service
           ├─14312 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─14316 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─14317 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─14318 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─14321 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           └─14322 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start

Feb 23 18:30:23 systemd[1]: Stopped The Apache HTTP Server.
Feb 23 18:30:23 systemd[1]: Starting The Apache HTTP Server...
Feb 23 18:30:23 systemd[1]: Started The Apache HTTP Server.

To confirm is Apache is set to run on system boot, run the command below.

systemctl is-enabled apache2

If the output is enabled, otherwise, enable it to run on boot by running;

systemctl enable apache2

Download Automad CMS Installation Files

There are different ways in which you can install Automad; using  ComposerDocker or manual download.

We use manual method in this guide.

Run the command below to download the Automad CMS installation files to the web root directory you defined in the Automad CMS Apache configuration file above.

wget -qO

Install Automad CMS on Debian/Ubuntu

Installing Automad CMS is as simple as unzipping the download files to Automad CMS web root directory.

Extract Automad CMS Files

apt install zip -y
unzip -q -d /var/www/html/

Check the contents;

ls /var/www/html/
automad-master  index.html

Automad Files are under the automad-master directory.

Configure Apache For Automad CMS

Create Apache configuration file for Automad CMS with the following content;

tee /etc/apache2/sites-available/automadcms.conf << 'EOL'
<VirtualHost *:80>
     ServerAdmin [email protected]
     DocumentRoot /var/www/html/automad-master

     <Directory /var/www/html/automad-master>
          Options FollowSymlinks
          AllowOverride All
          Require all granted

    ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
    CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined


Save the configuration file and quit and check configuration syntax.

apachectl configtest

If all is well, you should get Syntax OK.

Next, disable Apache default site and enable Automd CMS site

a2dissite 000-default.conf
a2ensite automadcms.conf

Enable Apache Rewrite module;

a2enmod rewrite

Set the user and group ownership of the Automad CMS files to web server www-data.

chown -R www-data: /var/www/html/automad-master
chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/automad-master

Restart Apache2

systemctl restart apache2

Accessing Automad CMS

You can now access your Automad CMS site via http://<your-defined-domain-name>.

Install Automad CMS on Debian 10/Ubuntu 18.04

Create Automad CMS User Account

To create Automad CMS user account, enter the Automad CMS dashboard, http://<domain>/dashboard.

automad create user account

Fill in the username and password and download the user registration form and copy it under the /config directory within your Automad CMS project directory.

For example, in my case the accounts.php file is downloaded to ~/downloads directory. To preserver the permissions, copy the file as www-data.

sudo -u www-data cp ~/accounts.php /var/www/html/automad-master/config/

Login to Automad CMS Site

Once you have the accounts form in place, login to Automad CMS via

automad cms login

And there you go. You get to Automad CMS admin dashboard.

automad dashboard

You have successfully installed Automad CMS on Debian 10/Ubuntu 18.04. You can now explore it. Enjoy.

Read more about Automad CMS on;

Automad CMS User Guide

Related Tutorials;

Install WonderCMS with Nginx on Debian 10

Install WonderCMS on Debian 10 Buster

Install GoAccess on Ubuntu 18.04/Debian 10 Buster


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I am the Co-founder of, Linux and the whole FOSS enthusiast, Linux System Admin and a Blue Teamer who loves to share technological tips and hacks with others as a way of sharing knowledge as: "In vain have you acquired knowledge if you have not imparted it to others".

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