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Installation

Quick test drive?

Feel free to give Flarum a spin on one of our demonstration forums. Or set up your own forum in seconds at Free Flarum, a free community service not affiliated with the Flarum team.

Server Requirements

Before you install Flarum, it's important to check that your server meets the requirements. To run Flarum, you will need:

  • Apache (with mod_rewrite enabled) or Nginx
  • PHP 7.3+ with the following extensions: curl, dom, gd, json, mbstring, openssl, pdo_mysql, tokenizer, zip
  • MySQL 5.6+/8.0.23+ or MariaDB 10.0.5+
  • SSH (command-line) access to run Composer
Shared Hosting

It's not possible to install Flarum by downloading a ZIP file and uploading the files to your web server. This is because Flarum uses a dependency-management system called Composer which needs to run on the command line.

This doesn't necessarily mean you need a VPS. Most decent hosts support SSH access, through which you should be able to install Composer and Flarum just fine.

Installing

Flarum uses Composer to manage its dependencies and extensions. If you're not familiar with it, read our guide for information on what it is and how to set it up. Afterwards, run this command in an empty location that you want Flarum to be installed in:

composer create-project flarum/flarum .

While this command is running, you can configure your web server. You will need to make sure your webroot is set to /path/to/your/forum/public, and set up URL Rewriting as per the instructions below.

When everything is ready, navigate to your forum in a web browser and follow the instructions to complete the installation.

URL Rewriting

Apache

Flarum includes a .htaccess file in the public directory – make sure it has been uploaded correctly. Flarum will not function properly if mod_rewrite is not enabled or .htaccess is not allowed. Be sure to check with your hosting provider (or your VPS) that these features are enabled. If you're managing your own server, you may need to add the following to your site configuration to enable .htaccess files:

<Directory "/path/to/flarum/public">
AllowOverride All
</Directory>

This ensures that htaccess overrides are allowed so Flarum can rewrite URLs properly.

Methods for enabling mod_rewrite vary depending on your OS. You can enable it by running sudo a2enmod rewrite on Ubuntu. mod_rewrite is enabled by default on CentOS. Don't forget to restart Apache after making modifications!

Nginx

Flarum includes a .nginx.conf file – make sure it has been uploaded correctly. Then, assuming you have a PHP site set up within Nginx, add the following to your server's configuration block:

include /path/to/flarum/.nginx.conf;

Caddy

Caddy requires a very simple configuration in order for Flarum to work properly. Note that you should replace the URL with your own and the path with the path to your own public folder. If you are using a different version of PHP, you wil also need to change the fastcgi path to point to your correct PHP install socket or URL.

www.example.com {
root * /var/www/flarum/public
php_fastcgi unix//var/run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock
header /assets {
+Cache-Control "public, must-revalidate, proxy-revalidate"
+Cache-Control "max-age=25000"
Pragma "public"
}
file_server
}

Folder Ownership

During installation, Flarum may request that you make certain directories writable. Modern operating systems are generally multi-user, meaning that the user you log in as is not the same as the user FLarum is running as. The user that Flarum is running as MUST have read + write access to:

  • The root install directory, so Flarum can edit config.php.
  • The storage subdirectory, so Flarum can edit logs and store cached data.
  • The assets subdirectory, so that logos and avatars can be uploaded to the filesystem.

Extensions might require other directories, so you might want to recursively grant write access to the entire Flarum root install directory.

There are several commands you'll need to run in order to set up file permissions. Please note that if your install doesn't show warnings after executing just some of these, you don't need to run the rest.

First, you'll need to allow write access to the directory. On Linux:

chmod 775 -R /path/to/directory

If that isn't enough, you may need to check that your files are owned by the correct group and user. By default, in most Linux distributions www-data is the group and user that both PHP and the web server operate under. You'll need to look into the specifics of your distro and web server setup to make sure. You can change the folder ownership in most Linux operating systems by running:

chown -R www-data:www-data /path/to/directory

With www-data changed to something else if a different user/group is used for your web server.

Additionally, you'll need to ensure that your CLI user (the one you're logged into the terminal as) has ownership, so that you can install extensions and manage the Flarum installation via CLI. To do this, add your current user (whoami) to the web server group (usually www-data) via usermod -a -G www-data YOUR_USERNAME. You will likely need to log out and back in for this change to take effect.

Finally, if that doesn't work, you might need to configure SELinux to allow the web server to write to the directory. To do so, run:

chcon -R -t httpd_sys_rw_content_t /path/to/directory

To find out more about these commands as well as file permissions and ownership on Linux, read this tutorial. If you are setting up Flarum on Windows, you may find the answers to this Super User question useful.

Environments may vary

Your environment may vary from the documentation provided, please consult your web server configuration or web hosting provider for the proper user and group that PHP and the web server operate under.

Never use permission 777

You should never set any folder or file to permission level 777, as this permission level allows anyone to access the content of the folder and file regardless of user or group.

Customizing Paths

By default Flarum's directory structure includes a public directory which contains only publicly-accessible files. This is a security best-practice, ensuring that all sensitive source code files are completely inaccessible from the web root.

However, if you wish to host Flarum in a subdirectory (like yoursite.com/forum), or if your host doesn't give you control over your webroot (you're stuck with something like public_html or htdocs), you can set up Flarum without the public directory.

Simply move all the files inside the public directory (including .htaccess) into the directory you want to serve Flarum from. Then edit .htaccess and uncomment lines 9-15 in order to protect sensitive resources. For Nginx, uncomment lines 8-11 of .nginx.conf.

You will also need to edit the index.php file and change the following line:

$site = require './site.php';

Edit the site.php and update the paths in the following lines to reflect your new directory structure:

'base' => __DIR__,
'public' => __DIR__,
'storage' => __DIR__.'/storage',

Finally, check config.php and make sure the url value is correct.

Importing Data

If you have an existing community and don't want to start from scratch, you may be able to import your existing data into Flarum. While there are no official importers yet, the community has made several unofficial importers:

These can be used for other forum software as well by migrating to phpBB first, then to Flarum. Be aware that we can't guarantee that these will work nor can we offer support for them.