How to Install Dolphin on an Ubuntu 18.04 VPS

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In this guide, we will show you how to install Boonex Dolphin 7 on an Ubuntu Cloud VPS.

Boonex Dolphin is a popular social networking platform and web application designed for you to create easy-to-use community and social media oriented websites. With dolphin, you can create small-scale social networks, a community page, or a social club for any topic you wish. Additionally, thanks to its user friendly interface and excellent customizability all through the web interface, you won’t need to know how to program or design websites to get up and running with Dolphin. Let’s get started with the installation.


At the time of this writing, the latest version of Dolphin is 7.3.0 and it requires:

  • root access via SSH to the VPS where we plan to install Dolphin
  • PHP >= 5.3.0 (PHP 5.5 or later is recommended) with the following PHP extensions enabled: curl, fileinfo, ftp, GD Graphics Library version 2.0.x+ compiled with FreeType fonts (or ImageMagick), JSON, mbstring, mysql,  openssl, xsl and zip. Also, short_open_tag option in PHP should be enabled and open_basedir should not have any value.
  • Apache Web Server >= 2.0 compiled with mod_rewrite module
  • A mail server for sending emails (Sendmail, Postfix etc.)
  • MySQL >= 4.1.2 or MariaDB installed on your Linux Cloud VPS (MySQL 5.5 or MariaDB 5.5 or later is recommended)
  • JRE 1.6 or higher (some of Dolphin’s features require media streaming capabilities)
  • Ability to create ​cron-jobs and execute files.

Step 1. Connect to your server

To connect to the server via SSH as the root user, use the following command:

ssh [email protected]_ADDRESS -p PORT_NUMBER

Make sure to replace “IP_ADDRESS” and “PORT_NUMBER” with the actual server IP address and SSH port number. If you need a different user from root to log in, make sure the account has sudo privileges.

Step 2. Update OS packages

Before we can start with the Dolphin installation, we have to make sure that all Ubuntu OS packages installed on the server are up to date. We can do this by running the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Once that’s done, we can move on to the next step.

Step 3. Install Apache web server

Check whether Apache is already installed and running on your server:

ps aux | grep apache2

We can also check if there are Apache2 packages installed on the server:

dpkg -l | grep apache2

If Apache is already installed on the server, we can skip the Apache installation steps and proceed with JAVA, ImageMagick and PHP installation.

If Apache is not installed, we can install it using:

apt-get install apache2

Once installed, start the Apache server and enable it to start on server boot:

systemctl start apache2
systemctl enable apache2

Step 4. Install JRE (Java Runtime Environment) and ImageMagick

Install Java Runtime Environment:

apt-get install openjdk-8-jre

Check if it is installed:

java -version

The output should be similar to this one:

openjdk version "1.8.0_191"
OpenJDK Runtime Environment (build 1.8.0_191-8u191-b12-0ubuntu0.18.04.1-b12)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM (build 25.191-b12, mixed mode)

Step 4.1. Install ImageMagick

Install ImageMagick using the following command:

apt-get install imagemagick

Step 5. Install PHP

Install PHP 7.2 and all of the required PHP modules and other dependencies with the following command:

sudo apt-get install php7.2 php7.2-common libapache2-mod-php7.2 \
    php-imagick php7.2-curl php7.2-gd php7.2-mysql php7.2-dev \
    php7.2-imap php7.2-intl php7.2-json php7.2-mbstring \
    php7.2-xml php7.2-sqlite3 php7.2-zip php7.2-xmlrpc \
    php-pear php-apcu openssl

Step 6. Install PHP mcrypt

Install the PHP mcrypt module on the server using pecl channel:

sudo apt install php-dev libmcrypt-dev
sudo pecl channel-update
sudo pecl install mcrypt-1.0.1

Step 7. Install MariaDB and Create a New Database

We will use MariaDB as our choice of database engine. We can install MariaDB server from the Ubuntu base repository using the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mariadb-server-10.1 mariadb-server-core-10.1

Once the MariaDB installation is complete, run the following commands to start the MariaDB service and enable it to run on server boot:

sudo systemctl start mariadb
sudo systemctl enable mariadb

Log in to the MariaDB server as the root user, create a new database and assign a MariaDB user with privileges for accessing and modifying the newly created Dolphin database:

mysql -u root -p
mysql> CREATE DATABASE dolphindb;
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON dolphindb.* TO 'dolphinuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'sTr0ng-Pa55w0rd' WITH GRANT OPTION;
mysql> quit

NOTE: Do not forget to replace ‘sTr0ng-Pa55w0rd’ with a strong password (we recommend a combination of letters and numbers and at least 10 characters long).

Step 8. Create an Apache Virtual Host

In order to access the Dolphin instance with a domain name, we need to create a virtual host. For example, create a new Apache configuration file named ‘dolphin.conf‘ on the Cloud VPS:

vi /etc/apache2/sites-available/dolphin.conf

Add the following lines:

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin [email protected]
    DocumentRoot /var/www/dolphin/
    <Directory /var/www/dolphin/>
        Options FollowSymLinks
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted
    ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/
    CustomLog /var/log/apache2/ common

IMPORTANT: Do not forget to replace ‘‘ with your actual domain name.

Save the file and enable the Apache configuration that we created for Dolphin:

sudo a2ensite dolphin.conf

We can also disable the default Apache virtual host file if needed:

a2dissite 000-default.conf

Restart the Apache web server for the changes to take effect:

systemctl restart apache2

Step 9. Configure PHP

Locate the PHP configuration file:

php --ini | grep Loaded

The output should be something like this:

Loaded Configuration File:         /etc/php/7.2/cli/php.ini

Edit the php.ini configuration file:

vi /etc/php/7.2/cli/php.ini

Add/modify the following options:

memory_limit = 128M 
file_uploads = On	
allow_url_fopen = On
allow_url_include = Off
upload_max_filesize = 256M
short_open_tag = On	
max_execution_time = 360
default_charset = "UTF-8"

Make sure that ‘exec‘ PHP function is allowed (i.e. it is not listed in disable_functions) and ‘open_basedir‘ is not set:

#php -i | grep -i disable_functions
disable_functions => no value => no value
#php -i | grep -i open_basedir
open_basedir => no value => no value

Once again, restart the Apache web server for the changes to take effect:

service apache2 restart

Download the latest version of Dolphin available at ‘’ in the /opt directory on the server and extract it using the following commands:

cd /opt

Move the unpacked Dolphin files in the document root directory of your website:

mv /var/www/dolphin

Set the proper file permissions so the web server user can write in certain files and directories of the Dolphin instance:

chown www-data:www-data -R /var/www/dolphin

Also, run the following command to make the ‘ffmpeg.exe‘ file executable:

chmod 755 /var/www/dolphin/flash/modules/global/app/ffmpeg.exe

Open in your favorite web browser and follow the easy instructions: check whether file and directory permissions are set properly on the server and check the paths to website’s document root and scripts.

On the next page, enter 3306 as database host port number, enter the database name, database user and password. On the next page, set a website title, site description, enter your email address and create a new administrator user.

To keep your Dolphin instance secure, remove the write flag from the ‘inc‘ directory:

chmod -w /var/www/dolphin/inc/

Also, set a new cron job for Dolphin with the following command:

crontab -e

Then add the following lines:

[email protected]
* * * * * cd /var/www/dolphin/periodic; /usr/bin/php -q cron.php

Do not forget to change ‘[email protected]‘ with your actual email address, save the file and restart the cron service for the changes to take effect:

service cron restart

After finishing the installation, it is recommended to delete all files and sub-directories from the install directory located in the document root of the Dolphin instance as a security precaution, so run the following command:

rm -rf /var/www/dolphin/install/

That is everything! We successfully installed Dolphin on an Ubuntu 18.04 Cloud VPS. We can now proceed to the admin panel and configure Dolphin, install additional modules etc.

Of course, you don’t have to install and configure Boonex Dolphin on Ubuntu 18.04 if you use one of our Ubuntu Linux Cloud VPS Hosting solutions, in which case you can simply ask our expert Linux admins to set up and configure Boonex Dolphin on Ubuntu 18.04 for you. They are available 24×7 and will take care of your request immediately.

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