If this is your first time installing UserFrosting or if you're not already familiar with setting up a local environment, this page will guide you in setting up your first local environment using Homestead. If you already have a local environment (e.g., LAMP or LEMP) and you're already familiar with composer, the Native Installation guide is for you.

Why you need a development environment

We get it - you just want to get UserFrosting up and running as quickly as possible. Don't worry! We'll get you there.

If you're uploading your code to a live site while you're still writing it, this section is for you. If you are already developing in a local environment, please skip this section.

Web hosting vs. web server

In actuality, "web server" and "web hosting" are not the same thing. A web server is nothing more than a piece of software that runs on a computer and listens for HTTP requests. The most common web servers - Apache and Nginx - are completely free and open-source. You can download and run them on your personal computer.

When you sign up with a web hosting company, you're not paying for the web server software; you're paying to run a web server on their computers instead of your own. The reason that you need a web hosting service is not because they possess some magical ability to run PHP. What you're paying for is:

  • Hardware maintenance and reliable uptime
  • Better network connections, superior bandwidth
  • Static IP addresses
  • Support services (backup, monitoring, etc)

These are important concerns - and part of the reason that most people don't run their web applications off of a home/office server - but they have nothing to do with the development of your application.

Using a local server to view and test your code

In the long run, the amount of time you'll spend uploading your code after each change you make will easily dwarf the amount of time it takes to set up a working test server on your own computer. Examples of test server software are Apache and Nginx. If you don't like the idea of setting up a local test server, there's an alternative option that is a little easier and very reliable, called a virtual environment. Vagrant and Homestead (using them together) is an example of setting up a virtual environment.

When you run your code in a place that is accessible only to you and where it's ok when something breaks, this is referred to as a development environment. When you upload your code so that it is running live and interacting with real visitors to your site, this is called a production environment.

VirtualBox, Vagrant and Homestead

The first thing you'll need to do is install VirtualBox and Vagrant. VirtualBox is a virtualization manager that lets you run just any operating system as a "guest" inside another operating system (the "host"). Our goal with VirtualBox is to let you run Ubuntu on a "virtual machine" on your computer, not matter which operating system you natively use.

To install VirtualBox, simply download and run one of the installers available on their Downloads page.

The next thing we'll do is set up Vagrant. Vagrant works in tandem with VirtualBox to automatically manage the configuration and installed software inside your virtual machine. Head over to Vagrant's downloads page to grab one of their installers.

If you think of VirtualBox as your kitchen, Vagrant is sort of like the cookbook that contains recipes for how to set up a useful development environment on your virtual machine. The particular recipe that we'll be using is called Homestead, and it is has everything we need to easily set up the UserFrosting development environment.

Command-line Life

Before we begin, it's important to understand that we will rely heavily on command-line operations and git. If you are natively running on a Linux distribution or MacOS, this is already handled for you with Terminal and a preinstalled copy of git.

However, if you are a Windows user, you'll need to install git and get set up with a decent command-line program. Fortunately, Git for Windows takes care of both of these things for you. Just install it, and you'll have git and the Git Bash command-line terminal available in your start menu.

Setting up Homestead

Once you've installed VirtualBox and Vagrant, we can use Vagrant to spin up a virtual machine with the Homestead configuration.

Set up the virtual machine

The first thing we need to do is create a virtual machine. To do this, open up your command line program (Terminal, Git Bash, whatever). In Windows, you may need use choose "Run as administrator". At the command line, run:

vagrant box add laravel/homestead

This will hit Vagrant's public catalog of preconfigured boxes and install the laravel/homestead box. You will be prompted to choose which virtual machine manager to use. Choose the virtualbox option.

Homestead will automatically give us the following components that we need to run UserFrosting:

  • Ubuntu 18.04
  • Git
  • PHP 7.x
  • Nginx (webserver)
  • MySQL/MariaDB (database)
  • Composer
  • Node and npm
  • Bower and Gulp

Nice! This means that we are saved the hassle of setting these up natively in our operating system.

Download and initialize Homestead

In a directory of your choice (I have a generic dev/ directory on my computer where I keep all of my projects), clone the Homestead repository to a new subdirectory (we need both the box and the repository!):

git clone homestead

While we're at it, we can also clone the UserFrosting repository into another directory:

git clone userfrosting

You should now have a directory structure that looks something like this:

└── alexweissman/
    └── dev/
        ├── homestead/
        └── userfrosting/

Let's now change into the homestead/ directory and run the initialization script:

cd homestead

This will create a Homestead.yaml file in the homestead/ directory. Open up this file in your favorite text editor, because we will need to make some modifications.

The default Homestead.yaml configuration file looks like this:

ip: ""
memory: 2048
cpus: 1
provider: virtualbox

authorize: ~/.ssh/

    - ~/.ssh/id_rsa

    - map: ~/code
      to: /home/vagrant/code

    - map: homestead.test
      to: /home/vagrant/code/public

    - homestead

# blackfire:
#     - id: foo
#       token: bar
#       client-id: foo
#       client-token: bar

# ports:
#     - send: 50000
#       to: 5000
#     - send: 7777
#       to: 777
#       protocol: udp

The first section we'll focus on is the authorize and keys section. This is the configuration for SSH which, for our purposes, is the means by which we will be able to "log in" to our virtual machine.

Create an SSH keypair

You can generate a new SSH keypair using the ssh-keygen tool. Before doing this, make sure you have a .ssh directory in your user's home directory (e.g. C:/Users/<username> in Windows, or /Users/<username> in Mac/Linux). If not, you can do mkdir $HOME/.ssh.

Then, run the following command:

ssh-keygen -t rsa -f $HOME/.ssh/homestead_rsa

It will prompt you to create a passphrase. Since this is all for a development environment, we don't need a passphrase - just hit Enter. If it succeeds, you'll see something like:

Your identification has been saved in /Users/alexweissman/.ssh/homestead_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /Users/alexweissman/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:
cf:3e:b8:a0:6a:11:91:74:a7:20:09:fb:b2:79:89:41 alexweissman@willis
The key's randomart image is:
+--[ RSA 2048]----+
|+oo.. .          |
|.ooo o           |
|.E ..            |
|...              |
|o ..    S        |
| *..     o       |
|+ o.  .  .o      |
| ..  . ....      |
| ....   ....     |

You should now have files homestead_rsa and Change the authorize and keys paths to point to these files:

authorize: ~/.ssh/

 - ~/.ssh/homestead_rsa

Customize folders, sites, and database

Homestead lets us share directories between our native operating system and the virtual machine. For this to work, we need to map each directory in our native operating system, to a corresponding directory on the virtual machine. To do this, we use the folders setting in Homestead.yaml. Replace the default map with the directory where you cloned UserFrosting on your host machine:

    - map: ~/dev/userfrosting            # This is the directory on your "real" computer; should point to the userfrosting repo directory we made earlier
      to: /home/vagrant/userfrosting   # This is the corresponding directory in the virtual machine

For Windows users, you should use the use the full, absolute path including the drive letter in your map value. For example, C:/Users/alexweissman/dev/userfrosting.

If folders maps directories to directories, then sites maps URLs to our document root (similar to what VirtualHosts do in Apache). In the case of UserFrosting, we want our document root on the virtual machine to be /home/vagrant/userfrosting/public. We'll map this to a userfrosting.test URL, which we'll use to access our website in the browser. Change the defaults to look like:

    - map: userfrosting.test
      to: /home/vagrant/userfrosting/public

Now any time we visit http://userfrosting.test in our browser, it will run our website starting in /home/vagrant/userfrosting/public.

Finally, we need to tell Homestead to create a database for us. Change the database section to:

    - userfrosting

Homestead will automatically create a userfrosting database, along with a homestead database user account. The password will be secret.

Add userfrosting.test to your hosts file

We need to tell our host operating system how to find the "server" (running in our virtual machine) that corresponds to userfrosting.test. To do this, we need to edit the hosts file. In Windows, this file is located at C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts. In MacOS, you can find it at /private/etc/hosts. In either case, you will need to edit it as an administrator, or temporarily give yourself permissions to write to this file.

Add the following lines at the bottom, save and exit:

# Vagrant projects  userfrosting.test

Notice that we're mapping the IP address from our Homestead.yaml file to our desired domain.

Running the virtual machine

Congratulations! We're ready to start up our virtual machine and get to work. First, from inside your homestead/ directory, run:

vagrant up

This will take a little bit of time to provision the virtual machine.

If you get an error like "did not find expected key while parsing a block mapping", this means that Vagrant could not properly parse your Homestead.yaml file. To find syntax errors in YAML files, try pasting them into YAML Lint.

Make sure that the directories you map in Homestead.yaml exist before you run vagrant up. Otherwise, you will need to reload your virtual machine using vagrant reload --provision so that Homestead has a chance to find your directories.

Once it's done, you'll be able to log into your virtual machine:

vagrant ssh

It would appear that Git-Bash functions poorly as an SSH client in Windows. For Windows users, you may want to use the native "command prompt" application instead.

If it connects successfully, you will see a welcome message for Ubuntu:

Welcome to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (GNU/Linux 4.15.0-20-generic x86_64)

 * Documentation:
 * Management:
 * Support:

  System information as of Sun May 13 19:06:39 UTC 2018

  System load:  0.0               Processes:           121
  Usage of /:   8.2% of 61.80GB   Users logged in:     0
  Memory usage: 19%               IP address for eth0:
  Swap usage:   0%                IP address for eth1:

 * Meltdown, Spectre and Ubuntu: What are the attack vectors,
   how the fixes work, and everything else you need to know

0 packages can be updated.
0 updates are security updates.

If you try the ls command, you should see the userfrosting directory that you had mapped in your Homestead.yaml file. If you don't see this directory, double-check your Homestead.yaml, log out of the virtual machine (exit) and then reload the virtual machine (vagrant reload --provision).

Installing UserFrosting

Now that you've logged into the virtual machine and have all the mappings properly set up, you can finish installing UserFrosting.

Composer dependencies

This will install UserFrosting's dependencies:

cd userfrosting
composer install

This may take some time to complete. If Composer has completed successfully, you should see that a vendor/ directory has been created under app/. This vendor/ directory contains all of UserFrosting's PHP dependencies - there should be nearly 30 subdirectories in here!

If you only see composer and wikimedia subdirectories after running composer install, then you may need to delete the composer.lock file (rm composer.lock) and run composer install again.

Assets and database setup

We can use Bakery to set up our database and download the Node and Bower dependencies:

$ php bakery bake

You will first be prompted for your database credentials. Remember, our database information should be as follows:

  • Type: MySQL
  • Host: localhost
  • Port: 3306
  • Database name: userfrosting
  • Database user: homestead
  • Database password: secret

If the database connection is successful, the installer will then ask for STMP server config. This config is used to connect to the outgoing mail server. You can use the default values here, but UserFrosting won't be able to send outgoing emails.

Once the STMP config is defined, the installer will check that the basic dependencies are met. If so, the installer will run the migrations to populate your database with new tables. After this process, you will be prompted for some information to set up the master account (first user). Finally, the installer will run the build-assets command to fetch javascript dependencies and build the assets bundles.

Check our your first UserFrosting installation!

Ok, that should be it! If you head over to http://userfrosting.test in your browser, you should see the front page of the default UserFrosting installation.

Next steps

Change your git remote

We highly recommend that you change your git remote to make it easier to pull future updates to UserFrosting.

Install phpmyadmin

You can install phpmyadmin on your virtual machine to make it easier to interact with the userfrosting database. If you're SSH'ed into your virtual machine, do the following:

sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin

Do not select apache2 nor lighttpd when prompted. Just hit tab and enter. Choose the defaults for any prompts that appear.

Next, create a symlink to the phpmyadmin installation:

sudo ln -s /usr/share/phpmyadmin/ /home/vagrant/phpmyadmin

exit from your virtual machine, and then add phpmyadmin to your sites in Homestead.yaml:

    - map: userfrosting.test
      to: /home/vagrant/userfrosting/public

    - map: phpmyadmin.test
      to: /home/vagrant/phpmyadmin

Don't forget to add phpmyadmin.test to your hosts file as well:

# Vagrant projects  userfrosting.test  phpmyadmin.test

Finally, reload your virtual machine and log back in:

vagrant reload --provision
vagrant ssh

You should be able to access phpmyadmin in your browser at http://phpmyadmin.test. Remember, your database credentials are homestead/secret. You may see some errors the first time you sign in - these can be ignored.

Configure NFS if pages load slowly

By default, the way that VirtualBox shares directories between your native operating system and the virtual machine can be very slow. If you are experiencing slow page loads because of this, you can configure Homestead to use the nfs filesystem.

First, log in to the virtual machine:

vagrant ssh

Then install the nfs-common package in your virtual machine:

sudo apt-get install nfs-common portmap

When this is done, exit from your virtual machine.

In your Homestead.yaml, modify the folders mappings to use nfs:

    - map: ~/userfrosting
      to: /home/vagrant/userfrosting
      type: "nfs"

Reload the virtual machine:

vagrant reload --provision

If you get errors about a missing vboxsf filesystem, then it is possible that your host operating system does not have NFS natively available. In this case, you may need to install special NFS server software for your operating system.

Start developing!

Head over to the chapter on Sprinkles to get oriented and find your way around the UserFrosting codebase. Come see us in chat if you're having trouble.

It will help us a lot if you could star the UserFrosting project on GitHub. Just look for the button in the upper right-hand corner!

How to star

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