Step-by-step Guide to Install WordPress on a Raspberry Pi


WordPress is an interesting tool to manage a website (I know what I’m talking about, this website is running on WordPress!). It’s possible to install it on Raspberry Pi, and I will share with you an ultimate guide to install a functional WordPress on Raspberry Pi from scratch.

To install WordPress on a Raspberry Pi, three services should be installed first: Apache, MySQL and PHP.
Then WordPress can be downloaded on the official website and the files extracted into the web directory of the Raspberry Pi (/var/www).

I’m going to assume that your Raspberry Pi is empty, or that you want to reinstall one just for WordPress.
So, here you have the necessary information to start from scratch.
If this isn’t the case, and you’ve already completed some steps, you can use the summary below to start where you left off.

If you are looking for quick progress on Raspberry Pi, you can check out my e-book here. It’s a 30-day challenge, where you learn one new thing everyday until you become a Raspberry Pi expert. The first third of the book teaches you the basics, but the following chapters include projects you can try on your own.

Install Raspberry Pi OS

I have an entire article on how to install Raspberry Pi OS that you can check first if you want, but I’ll give you the short version here.

Download Raspberry Pi OS

First, you need to download the latest version of Raspberry Pi OS from the official website.

If you only want to install WordPress, the lite version may be enough. You’ll have to install it without the GUI, but it shouldn’t be too complicated.

Download the image and continue.

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Flash an SD Card with Raspberry Pi OS

Then I recommend using Etcher.
If you haven’t installed it yet, get it from the official website.
It’s a tool that allows you to flash an SD card easily on Linux, Mac, or Windows.

  • Start Etcher.
  • Select the location of the Raspberry Pi OS image.
  • Choose your SD card.
  • Click on Flash.
flash raspbian with etcher

Once the SD card is ready, eject it and insert in your Raspberry Pi.

First Boot

The installation is automatic, you just have to start your Raspberry Pi, and Raspberry Pi OS will launch.

GUI

If you chose the Desktop version, a welcome menu will open:

  • Choose your language preferences.
  • Change the default password.
  • Connect to the Wi-Fi if necessary.
  • Accept system updates.
  • Reboot the Raspberry Pi.

If everything works fine, you can move on.
Otherwise, it will be required at least to succeed to connect the network and to change the password (the following paragraph can help you).

Lite

If you chose the lite version, you’ll have to do the same thing but by hand.

  1. Login:
    1. Default login: pi
    2. Default password:  raspberry
  2. Change the password:
    passwd
  3. Use raspi-config to configure network and change language preferences if needed (nothing to do if Ethernet with DHCP):
    sudo raspi-config
  4. Once connected to the Internet, update your system:
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get upgrade
  5. Reboot.

If everything is ok, you can move on.

A bit lost in the Linux command line? Check this article first, which will give you the most important ones to remember with a free cheat sheet you can download to have all of them at your fingertips.

Enable SSH

SSH is a secure remote connection protocol, which allows you to launch commands from another computer on the network.

Unless it isn’t possible for you, I strongly recommend using SSH for the rest of this guide.
It will be much simpler to copy commands, test, etc. from your usual computer.

By default, the service doesn’t start on Raspberry Pi.
So we will enable SSH and connect to it before continuing.

GUI

To enable SSH through the GUI, go to the applications menu, then Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration > Interfaces.
Check Enabled for the SSH line.

Terminal

You can also launch the terminal and type this command:
sudo service ssh start

Autorun at each boot

The SSH service doesn’t start automatically when the Raspberry Pi is started.
If necessary you can start it with each reboot, by typing this command:
sudo crontab -e

And adding this line:
@reboot /usr/sbin/service ssh start

Connect

You can now connect to your Raspberry Pi in SSH.

If you aren’t familiar with SSH, I recommend you read my two articles about it before continuing:
How to connect in SSH?
What is the IP address of my Raspberry Pi?

Install a web server (Apache, PHP)

Introduction

WordPress is a web application, written in PHP.
We need a web server to make it available so that we will set up all the components of a LAMP server:
L: Linux (Raspberry Pi OS)
A: Apache
M: Mysql (MariaDB)
P: PHP

We already have the “L” in place with our Raspberry Pi OS installation, so let’s go to Apache.

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Install Apache

Apache is the most popular web server on the internet.
Its role is to provide visitors with HTML files that will then be interpreted by browsers.

Install Apache with apt:

sudo apt-get install apache2

It works!
You can now navigate to the default web page by typing the IP address of the Raspberry Pi into a browser (http: //X.X.X.X).
You should see something like this:

Install PHP

PHP is a programming language, which will allows you to create dynamic web pages (e.g. display to add your name dynamically in the page).

We need to install PHP and allow Apache to use it:

sudo apt-get install php

Hello world

To make sure that PHP is active, we will do the following test:

  • Go to the folder /var/www/html.
    cd /var/www/html 
  • Create and edit the test.php file.
    sudo nano test.php
  • Paste the following PHP code.
    <?php echo "Hello World!";  ?>
  • Save and close.

Then go to http://X.X.X.X/test.php and watch.

It should display only “Hello World!”.
If so, everything works fine so far; you can move on.

Install a database server (MariaDB)

Introduction

We are now able to create a website in HTML and PHP.
But WordPress needs a little more; it requires a database to store all posts, pages, and configurations

For that, we will install MariaDB, a free fork of MySQL which exists since the acquisition of MySQL by Oracle

Installation

To install it, nothing more simple, let’s use again apt:

sudo apt-get install mariadb-server

It takes a little longer than the previous ones :).

Configuration

Access to the database is protected by a password, which may be different from the one of the users.

By default, only the root user has access without a password from their account. So, we will connect to it and create a new account for WordPress.

  • Connect to the MySQL CLI:
    sudo mysql -uroot
  • Create a new user:
    CREATE USER 'wordpress'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
  • Create a new database:
    CREATE DATABASE wordpress;
  • Give WordPress user all privileges on the new database:
    GRANT ALL ON wordpress.* TO 'wordpress'@'localhost';
  • Quit the MySQL CLI:
    quit

PHP MySQL package

To allow PHP to connect to MySQL, a last small package must be installed:

sudo apt-get install php-mysql

Restart Apache to apply:

sudo service apache2 restart

Test

Again, let’s do a quick test to make sure the connection is functional:

  • Try to connect to MySQL.
    mysql -u wordpress -p
  • Enter the user password.
  • Check if the user can view the new database:
    SHOW DATABASES;
  • Quit:
    quit

If you see at least the WordPress database, then you can continue and move to the WordPress installation itself.

If you want to learn more about the database server, I have an entire article about it that you can find here.

Install WordPress

Download

WordPress offers its software under two versions:

  • A version hosted on their servers, WordPress.com.
  • A version to download, WordPress.org.

So you have to use the second option to use it on your Raspberry Pi.

Download WordPress from the official website.
Copy the link (right click on it) and download it to the Raspberry Pi via SSH:

sudo wget https://wordpress.org/latest.zip -O /var/www/html/wordpress.zip

Uncompress

Move to the web folder and uncompress the file:

cd /var/www/html
sudo unzip wordpress.zip

Permissions

To avoid permissions problems with WordPress, and to avoid using the sudo later, we can modify the rights on the WordPress files:

sudo chmod 755 wordpress -R
sudo chown www-data wordpress -R

This will give full permissions to Apache, and read/execution to others.

Configuration

The WordPress code is now in place; it remains only to configure it, i.e.:

  • Configure the connection to the database.
  • Create a login for the administration of WordPress.

Access the installation wizard by pointing your browser at http://X.X.X.X/wordpress:

Click Let’s Go Button.
On the next screen, fill the form with the MySQL user created before.
You should have something like this:

Validate, and the wizard will ask you to run the installation.
Click the button and wait.

On the next screen you have to choose the site name, and create the administrator user:

Fill in the fields with what you want, then validate.
It will take a few moments.

Here we are!

The configuration is complete! You can go back to the address http://X.X.X.X/wordpress to see your WordPress website live!
The wizard offers you to go directly to the administration page, which we will talk about next.

Extra Tips for WordPress

WordPress introduction

I won’t go into much detail in using WordPress; this is not the goal here.
But now that it’s installed, I will give you two or three tips to get started.

Admin and Front

WordPress is composed of two parts:

  • Administration: accessible by adding /wp-admin to the URL, it allows you to configure your site and add content.
  • Front: this is the part visible to all visitors.

When you are logged in, the top bar allows you to switch from one to the other easily.

Appearance

WordPress comes with a basic design, but it’s possible to customize your site as you wish.
To get started, go to Appearance> Themes.
Here you can add free themes from the list.

In the Appearance menu, you can also manage your site menus and widgets.
A widget is a block that can be integrated into the sidebar for example to display a search engine or an image.

Plugins

Similar to Raspberry Pi, WordPress provides a scalable foundation.
You can install plugins, to add additional features to your website or your admin
.

Go to Plugins > Add new to see a list of all plugins available.

Pages and Posts

Once your site is personalized, it’s time to add content.

For this you can create two types of content:

  • Pages: These are static pages, which contain content. For example your homepage or a contact form.
  • Posts: that’s all the rest of the content, they are grouped into categories to make it easier for users to search later.

You will be able to add your pages and categories to your menus, and the posts will appear automatically.

Services management

Let’s go back to our services that allow you to run WordPress: Apache, PHP, and MySQL.

You need to know that there are commands to start or stop these services.
This may be useful in case of a crash, or if you want to stop them to cut access to the site.
Here are the commands:

sudo service apache2 start | stop | restart | reload
sudo service mysql start | stop | restart | reload

As I said above, PHP is a module of Apache, so there is no particular command to launch.
If Apache is running, the PHP pages will be displayed correctly.

Services configuration files

I will also tell you where to find the configuration files if you ever want or need to make changes:

Apache : /etc/apache2
PHP : /etc/php
MySQL : /etc/mysql

In a WordPress installation, you normally don’t need to touch the configuration.
But if this article makes you want to try other things, it could be useful.

PHPMyAdmin

PHPMyAdmin is a handy tool that you can use on a LAMP installation.
This is a web interface that will allow you to access your MySQL databases in a more intuitive way.
You will be able to view and modify the data, create users, manage rights and supervise the MySQL server.

To install it, use the following command:

sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin

Choose apache2 as your web server when asked.
You can skip database configuration.

Once the installation is complete, the interface is available at http://X.X.X.X/phpmyadmin.
Log in with your WordPress account to see the WordPress database.

Share the website on the Internet

If you want to share this newly created website on the internet, it is quite possible.

You simply have to redirect a port from your internet box on the port 80 of Raspberry Pi = to be able to connect to the site by using the public IP address of your Internet connection:
Public IP:PORT => Raspberry Pi IP: 80

So you can access the website with http://Y.Y.Y.Y:PORT/wordpress.
Y.Y.Y.Y is your public IP, and PORT the port you choose.

If you do not have a fixed IP address, you can inquire about dynamic DNS services that allow you to use a web address that will be constantly updated with your new IP address.

Conclusion

So you learned to install a LAMP server on Raspberry Pi and to install WordPress to use it.
You also had some tips to go further with your installation of WordPress.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that WordPress works pretty well on Raspberry Pi, while it happens to be rather slow on some professional web hosting.
Can be a project idea to think about!

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Patrick Fromaget

I'm the lead author and owner of RaspberryTips.com. My goal is to help you with your Raspberry Pi problems using detailed guides and tutorials. In real life, I'm a Linux system administrator with a web developer experience.

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