How to Install BookStack on Debian 12

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How to Install BookStack on Debian 12

BookStack is free and open-source wiki software written in PHP with Laravel web framework. BookStack is aimed to be a simple and self-hosted platform for storing and organizing information.

In this tutorial, we will guide you step by step through the installation process of BookStack on the Debian 12 server so that you can have your own wiki-like platform for posting information.


Before commencing, ensure that you have the following:

  • A Debian 12 server.
  • A non-root user with sudo administrator privileges.
  • A domain name pointed to the server IP address.

Installing Dependencies

BookStack is a wiki platform written in PHP and MySQL/MariaDB. At this time, it is fully supported with PHP 8.2. As for this stage, you will install dependencies for BookStack, which includes LAMP Stack (Apache2, MariaDB, PHP) packages, Git, and Composer.

Update and refresh your Debian package index using the following command.

sudo apt update

Once the repository is updated, install package dependencies for BookStack by executing the following apt install command. With this command, you will install the LAMP Stack package, Composer, and Git.

sudo apt install apache2 mariadb-server composer curl php php-xml libapache2-mod-php php-fpm php-curl php-mbstring php-ldap php-tidy php-zip php-gd php-mysql git

Type y to proceed with the installation.

After dependencies are installed, verify each dependency by executing the following command.

Verify the apache2 service via the systemctl command below to ensure that the service is running and enabled.

sudo systemctl is-enabled apache2
sudo systemctl status apache2

The following output will confirm that apache2 service is running and enabled.

Now verify the mariadb service using the command below.

sudo systemctl is-enabled mariadb
sudo systemctl status mariadb

The output should display that the mariadb service is running and enabled on your system.

Next, verify the PHP version and list enabled extensions using the command below.

php -v
php -m

Based on the following output, PHP 8.2 is installed on your system.

Lastly, verify the Composer using the following command. This will locate the Composer binary file and check its version.

which composer
sudo -u www-data composer -v

You should see the Composer 2.5.5 is installed at /usr/bin/composer.

Configuring PHP

After installing dependencies, the next step is to configure PHP installation by making changes to the php.ini file on your Debian machine.

Open the default PHP configuration /etc/php/8.2/apache2/php.ini using the following nano editor command.

sudo nano /etc/php/8.2/apache2/php.ini

Change some default settings with the following configuration. Be sure to adjust the date.timezone and memory_limit parameters with your server environment.

date.timezone = Europe/Amsterdam
memory_limit = 512M

Save the file and exit the editor when finished.

Now run the following systemctl command to restart the apache2 service and apply the changes you’ve made.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Configuring MariaDB Server

Now that PHP is configured, the next step you will configure the MariaDB server installation using the mariadb-secure-installation utility, which allows you to set up basic security for MariaDB. Then, you will also create a new database and user that will be used by BookStack.

Execute the following mariadb-secure-installlation command to secure your MariaDB installation.

sudo mariadb-secure-installation

During the process, you will be asked about some configurations. Type Y to agree and apply the new changes, or type n for No to reject the configuration.

  • For the default MariaDB server installation without a root password, press ENTER when asked about the password.
  • The local authentication for MariaDB root users is secured by default, input ‘n’ when asked to change the authentication method to ‘unix_socket’.
  • Input ‘Y’ to create a new MariaDB root password. Then, input the strong password for your MariaDB root user and repeat.
  • When asked to disable remote authentication for the MariaDB root user, input ‘Y’ to agree.
  • The default MariaDB server installation comes with the database ‘test’ and allows an anonymous user to access it. Input ‘Y’ for both settings to remove the default database ‘test’ and remove anonymous privilege.
  • Lastly, input ‘Y’ to confirm reloading table privileges.

After configuring MariaDB, you will create a new MariaDB database and user that will be used by BookStack via the mariadb client command.

Log in to the MariaDB server using the following mariadb command. Input your MariaDB root password when prompted.

sudo mariadb -u root -p

Now run the following queries to create a new database and user for BookStack. In this example, you will create a new database and user bookstack, with the password p4ssword.

CREATE USER bookstack@localhost IDENTIFIED BY 'p4ssword';
GRANT ALL ON bookstack.* TO bookstack@localhost WITH GRANT OPTION;

Next, run the following query to verify the privileges for the user bookstack.

SHOW GRANTS FOR bookstack@localhost;

You should see the user bookstack is allowed to access and manage the database bookstack that will be used by BookStack.

Type quit to exit from the MariaDB Server.

Downloading Bookstack

Now that you’ve configured the PHP and MariaDB server, you’re ready to install BookStack. In this section, you will install BookStack via Git and Composer.

First, create new directories /var/www/.config and /var/www/.cache that will be used by Composer for storing dependencies cache and configuration. Then, you must also change the ownership of both directories to the user www-data.

mkdir -p /var/www/{.config,.cache}
sudo chown -R www-data /var/www/{.config,.cache}

Move to the /var/www directory and download BookStack source code to the bookstack directory. Your BookStack installation directory should be /var/www/bookstack.

cd /var/www
git clone https://github.com/BookStackApp/BookStack.git --branch release --single-branch bookstack

Now change the ownership of /var/www/bookstack directory to user www-data and move into it.

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/bookstack
cd /var/www/bookstack

Next, copy the .env.example file to .env and open the new file using the following nano editor command.

sudo -u www-data cp .env.example .env
sudo -u www-data nano .env

Input your domain name to the APP_URL option and input your MariaDB database details to the DB_ settings below.

# The application URL

# Database values also need to be modified
# If you follow previous command, you only need to add your DB_PASSWORD

Save and close the file when you’re done.

Next, run the following command to install PHP dependencies via Composer.

sudo -u www-data composer install --no-dev --no-plugins

During the installation, the following output will be displayed.

After PHP dependencies are installed, execute the following command to generate the secret key and migrate the database.

sudo -u www-data php artisan key:generate --no-interaction --force
sudo -u www-data php artisan migrate --no-interaction --force

The secret key on the .env file will be updated, and below is the process during the database migration.

After everything is finished, run the following command to change the ownership of some directories to the www-data user and ensure those directories are writeable.

sudo chown www-data:www-data -R bootstrap/cache public/uploads storage
sudo chmod u+rw bootstrap/cache public/uploads storage

Lastly, run the command below to change the permission of the .env file to 640. This will ensure only user www-data will be able to make changes to the file.

sudo chmod -R 640 /var/www/bookstack/.env

Configuring Apache2 Virtual Host

In the following section, you will create a new Apache2 virtual host configuration that will be used to run BookStack. So, you must ensure that you’ve prepared your domain name and ensure it is pointed to the server IP address.

Before creating a virtual host configuration, execute the following command to enable the rewrite module on Apache2.

sudo a2enmod rewrite

Now create a new virtual host configuration /etc/apache2/sites-available/bookstack.conf using the following nano editor command.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/bookstack.conf

Insert the following configuration and be sure to change the domain name within the ServerName option. The following example will be using the domain bookstack.hwdomain.io for the BookStack installation.

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName bookstack.hwdomain.io
    ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
    DocumentRoot /var/www/bookstack/public/

    <Directory /var/www/bookstack/public/>
        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
        AllowOverride None
        Require all granted
        <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
            <IfModule mod_negotiation.c>
                Options -MultiViews -Indexes
            RewriteEngine On
            # Handle Authorization Header
            RewriteCond %{HTTP:Authorization} .
            RewriteRule .* - [E=HTTP_AUTHORIZATION:%{HTTP:Authorization}]            # Redirect Trailing Slashes If Not A Folder...
            RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
            RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} (.+)/$
            RewriteRule ^ %1 [L,R=301]            # Handle Front Controller...
            RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
            RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
            RewriteRule ^ index.php [L]        </IfModule>

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

Save and close the file when you’re done.

Next, run the following command to activate the virtual host file bookstack.conf and verify your Apache2 syntax.

sudo a2ensite bookstack.conf
sudo apachectl configtest

If you use proper syntax, the output “Syntax OK” will be printed out to your terminal.

Lastly, run the systemctl command below to restart the aapche2 service and apply the changes that you’ve made.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Securing Bookstack with SSL/TLS Certificates

In this guide, you will secure BookStack with SSL/TLS certificates, which can be generated from Letsencrypt via the Certbot tool.

Install Certbot and Certbot Apache plugin via the apt install command below. Type y to confirm and proceed with the installation.

sudo apt install certbot python3-certbot-apache

Now run the certbot command below to generate SSL/TLS certificates and secure your BookStack installation. Be sure to change the domain name and email address within the following command.

sudo certbot --apache --agree-tos --redirect --hsts --staple-ocsp --email [email protected] -d bookstack.hwdomain.io

After the process is finished, your SSL/TLS certificates will be available in the /etc/letsencrypt/live/bookstack.hwdomain.io directory. Also, your BookStack installation will automatically configured with HTTPS, which is configured via the Certbot Apache plugin.

Accessing Bookstack

At this point, everything is configured and your BookStack installation is finished. You can now access your BookStack installation.

Launch your web browser and visit the domain name of your BookStack installation, such as https://bookstack.hwdomain.io/, and you will be redirected to the BookStack login page.

Input the default email address [email protected] and the password is password, then click Login.

If successful, you should see the BookStack dashboard like the following:


To wrap up, you’ve successfully installed BookStack on Debian 12 server step-by-step. You’ve installed BookStack via Git, Composer, and with LAMP Stack (Apache2, MariaDB, and PHP) packages. You’ve also secured BookStack with SSL/TLS certificates from Letsencrypt. From here, you can now populate your information and build your own documentation.

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