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Installing Apache, PHP, and MySQL on SUSE Linux Professional

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Kevin Millecam

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Updated: 1 Jan 2005

In the six months since this piece was first published, I've gotten some key feedback and "better ways" to do this or that. Thanks to a long holiday weekend, I've finally gotten around to adding bits of wisdom to the article. I've tried to make the changes clear by wrapping a border around each. This should help those who've already read the article cut to the chase.

SUSE Linux 9.1 Professional
KDE 3.2.1

Here's the deal. I've been a Windows user for the better part of my career. So, any way you go about it, I'm a Linux neophyte. I hope to get over that. Sooner would be better than later. I really like what I've seen others doing with Linux and I would love to take part in the rebellion.

For the past three weeks I've been working to install MySQL on my SUSE Pro 9.1 box. It's been quite an adventure. Maybe it was me and my lack of experience. Maybe it wasn't. Nonetheless, in an effort to make the trip shorter for the next guy or gal trying the same task, I've taken the time to outline the steps I took -- once I figured out where it was safe to step. I hope it helps someone.

Pouring the Foundation
One of the reasons I embarked on this adventure is so I could have a Linux web server in my lab. (Well, okay, in the laundry room.) I've done a lot of Cool Solutions work lately with a number of hosting providers and they're all running ... Linux. So it makes sense for me to have a development and/or test environment that runs the same.

The Main Ingredients
My end goal was to have a server running Apache web server software, the PHP scripting language, and the MySQL database engine. Few will argue that this combination is one of the most popular on the web today.

Before I start listing the steps, let me apologize in advance. The initial installation was actually quite easy, thanks to SUSE's YaST ("Yet another Setup Tool"). But, as is most often the case, the devil was in the details. And to complicate things, as I pointed out earlier, I'm terribly new at this. If I've made a mistake, please send in your suggestions and set me straight. That way we can all learn (and I can patch up my configuration).

Here's where I started:
  1. Power up the server.
  2. Log in as user (not root).

  3. Start up YaST. (Do this by clicking the SUSE toolbar's "Start" button (that would be the green button with the smiling gecko) => "System" menu => "YaST"
  4. YaST dialog opens telling you that you need to enter root's password before you can continue.

  5. Enter the root password.
  6. In the YaST window that opens, click the "Software" icon in the left menu and then the "Install and Remove Software" icon to the right.

  7. YaST takes a moment to inventory what you already have installed and what you can install. Then it opens a window with a search dialog (and a few other options that I've yet to explore).

Install Apache
  1. Type "apache" in the search field and click the "Search" button.
  2. Select the modules you want to install. I wanted to start out with the basics so I selected "apache2", "apache2-mod_php4".

  3. Click the "Accept" button.
  4. This is where YaST gets cool. Like a good guardian angel, YaST evaluates your selections, tells you what's missing, and gives you some ideas about resolution. In my case, YaST suggested a few other modules that were required to make the install successful. It took a few minutes to evaluate the suggestions and (sometimes) choose between the options, but I was happy to have the help and used every bit of the YaST information to complete the installation.

    This screen informed me that there was a conflict and gave me a few logical choices that would need to be made in order to resolve the conflict.

    I clicked the radio button next to "install apache2-prefork" and pressed the "OK - Try Again" button.

  5. YaST notified me that not that I had resolved the pending conflicts, and that two other packages were being installed to "resolve dependencies".

  6. As I said, I was happy for the direction and clicked the "Continue" button without hesitation.
  7. Now you'll want to set Apache to start up when you boot. To do that, click the "System" icon in the left pane of the YaST window.
  8. Click the "Runlevel Editor" in the right pane.

  9. Click the "Expert Mode" radio button at the top of the YaST window.
  10. Select "apache2" from the scrolling list.

  11. Under the "Set/Reset" dropdown in the lower-right corner, choose "Enable the Service".
  12. This should automatically select the appropriate runlevels that will be used when starting the service.
  13. Under the "Start/Stop/Refresh" dropdown, select "Start now ..."
  14. The Apache service should start and the runlevel editor screen will look like this:

  15. Click "Finish".
  16. Save the changes.
Install PHP
  1. Type "php" in YaST's search field and click the "Search" button.
  2. This time, YaST shows that I've already installed "apache2-mod_php4" and "php4".

  3. Since I know I'll be working with MySQL, I select "php4-mysql" and "phpmyadmin" (a browser-based admin tool for MySQL databases).
  4. Click "Accept".
  5. Survey the suggested additions.

  6. Click "Continue".

19 Jan 2005 - One of our readers, Mike M. wrote to tell us that his version of YaST did not have a phpMyAdmin choice. If you find yourself in the same boat, follow these steps to install phpMyAdmin without YaST:

1) Log in to your SUSE box as root so you can save the phpMyAdmin files in the /srv/www/htdocs directory.

2) Use your Web browser to download the "latest stable version" of the phpMyAdmin code from

3) Save the download (gzip version) in the /srv/www/htdocs/ directory.

4) Click the home (house) icon and browse to the file.

5) Right-click on the file and under the "Actions" menu selection, choose "Extract Here".

6) Once the files are extracted, right click on the folder (probably something like phpMyAdmin-2.6.0-pl3) and rename it to "phpMyAdmin". (Make it all lower case if you like).

7) Follow the instructions to modify the configuration file ( which is in the phpMyAdmin folder.

8) Point your browser to and away you go!

Test our Progress
Let's take a minute to test what we've just installed before we dig ourselves a hole that's too deep to get out of. We can test both Apache and PHP by dropping a .php file in the server directory and seeing if Apache will serve it up.

  1. Open a text editor. (Remember, I'm a Windows guy. I just want to create a text file, not learn a new paradigm for editing.) "Start" menu => "Utilities" => "Editor" opened up the perfect text editor (Kate) for a guy like me. She was graphical and familiar and knew what to do with a mouse. What more could a guy want?
  2. Type the following into a document: <?php phpinfo(); ?>

  3. Save the file as info.php to the "/home/kmillecam/public_html/" directory. (You'll want to replace "kmillecam" with your username, not mine).
  4. One of the neat features of Linux and Apache, is that every user has their own personal directory that they can use to host their content.
  5. Launch a web browser and access the info.php file using this URL: http://localhost/~kmillecam/info.php
  6. You should see a web page that displays all the configuration details of your PHP installation. WooHaa! Apache is running. PHP is running. Two down, one to go.

Install MySQL
  1. Type "mysql" in YaST's search field and click the "Search" button.
  2. Add "mysql" and "mysql-client" to the list of previously installed components.
  3. Click "Accept".
  4. Survey the suggested additions.
  5. Click "Continue".

We There Yet?
If you're still with me, thanks. YaST stops a little short of fully installing MySQL. So, the best is yet to come. The following was not easy fare and came only after much pizza and many a caffeine-charged cola. I found the following in various and sundry support databases, list servers, and documentation pages.

I immediately (actually, it took me a week to figure out this one) checked the /var/lib/mysql/ directory only to find it empty! This directory is supposed to include the MySQL foundation files that are necessary to make it all work.

17 Jan 2005 - Feedback from reader Jim Pye:

The /bin directory is in your path so the need to change to this directory first is not needed. As the script is located in the /bin dir you can invoke it from anywhere in the file system eg. your home dir (the prompt with the ~) by typing:

mysql_install_db --user=mysql

If you want to run a command that is in a directory not in your path then there are 2 options; Change to the directory and run the command with special syntax or use the full path to the command.

If your current directory is the one that contains the command then you must use the following syntax to run the command:

./mysql_install_db --user=mysql

The leading dot and forward slash are required because the shell (bash in this case) does not automatically look in the current directory for files to execute, this is unlike DOS. The ./ syntax tells the shell to look in the current directory for the command to run.

The other way to run a command is to specify the full path to the command.

/bin/mysql_install_db --user=mysql

would work from anywhere as it uniquely specifies the file to run.

I found the following in the MySQL documentation:

  1. Log in as the root user. ("Start" => "Switch User")
  2. Open a terminal window (the icon that looks like a monitor behind a clamshell).
  3. Type "cd /bin" enter (no quotes).
  4. Type "mysql_install_db --user=mysql

  5. If you typed carefully, after a few seconds of processing, you'll be reading a screen of kudos and congratulations.

Adding the MySQL Group
In order for the mysql, the root, and the daemon user accounts to be able to startup and work with the databases you've just created, you'll need to create a group for these members.

  1. Open YaST.
  2. Click "Security and Users" in the left pane.
  3. Click "edit and create groups" in the right pane.

  4. Click "Add" from the bottom of the "User and Group Administration" window.

  5. Type "mysql" in the "Group Name" field.
  6. Check the checkboxes next to the "daemon", "mysql", and "root" names in the "Members of this Group" window.
  7. Click "Next".

Fixing the Permissions
Don't pat yourself on the back, quite yet. I'm not sure why, but the new directories, databases, and files that were just created in the /var/lib/mysql/ directory do not have enough rights and permissions to allow the MySQL service to start up.

So, before you log out of the root account, you'll need to grant the appropriate rights. Here's how I went about it.

  1. Open the Konqueror file browser by clicking on the "House" icon in the toolbar.
  2. Browse to /var/lib/ and right-click the /mysql/ directory.

  3. Select "Properties"
  4. In the Properties window that opens, click the "Permissions" tab.

  5. Under "Access Permissions", select "Can View & Modify Content" from the "Group" dropdown menu.
  6. Under "Ownership", type "mysql" in the "Group" field.
  7. Click the "Apply changes to all sub folders and their contents" checkbox. This will apply these rights (that are set at the /var/lib/mysql/ level) to the files, folders (and databases) below.

  8. Click "OK"
  9. Log out of the Root account.

Starting the MySQL Service

  1. Open YaST.
  2. Click the "System" icon in the left pane of the YaST window.
  3. Click the "Runlevel Editor" in the right pane.
  4. Click the "Expert Mode" radio button at the top of the YaST window.
  5. Select "mysql" from the scrolling list.
  6. Under the "Set/Reset" dropdown in the lower-right corner, choose "Enable the Service".
  7. This should automatically select the appropriate runlevels to use when starting the service.
  8. Under the "Start/Stop/Refresh" dropdown, select "Start now ..."
  9. If we haven't' made any missteps, the MySQL service will start.
  10. Click "Finish".
  11. Save the changes.

Testing MySQL
If you installed phpMyAdmin, you can test your MySQL installation by going to http://localhost/phpMyAdmin/. With Linux, URLs are case sensitive so it is important to capitalize the "M" and the "A" in phpMyAdmin or you'll get an error.

WooHoo! You should see the following screen if you have phpMyAdmin using Apache to communicate with MySQL. (We'll take care of the warnings -- the ones in BOLD RED type -- next.

Taking Care of Warning #1

  1. Log into the root account.
  2. Use Konqueror to browse to /srv/www/htdocs/phpMyAdmin/
  3. Right-click on
  4. From the menu that opens, select "Open With ..."
  5. Select "Utilities" => "Editor" => "Kate"
  6. Click "OK"
  7. Change line 39 from "$cfg['PmaAbsoluteUri'] = ''" to "$cfg['PmaAbsoluteUri'] = 'http://localhost/phpMyAdmin/'"

    17 Jan 2005 - I've discovered that this string works if you plan to use phpMyAdmin from the server machine but if you want to access it from another computer, you'll want to use the fully qualified domain name, like this:

  8. While you're in the configuration file, enter 'localhost' between the quotes on line 69.
  9. Enter the username 'root' on line 83.
  10. Enter the root password 'password' on line 84.
  11. Save the file and close the editor.
  12. Log out of the root account.
  13. Reboot your server.

    17 Jan 2005 - I've learned that this is a gaping security hole. Since you've hard coded the root username and password into the configuration file, anyone can access (and toy with) your databases if they know the URL to phpMyAdmin =-) Yikes!

    Avoid this by 1) removing the user and password info from the file and 2) either a) changing the 'auth_type' to 'http' which asks whomever is accessing the site for the appropriate username and password (Keep in mind that the password travels in plain text, unless you are using the HTTPS protocol.) or b) Changing the 'auth_type' to 'cookie', where the password is stored, encrypted with the blowfish algorithm, in a temporary cookie.

Taking Care of Warning #2
MySQL is initially installed without passwords. You should follow the steps in the MySQL documentation ([url] to add passwords to all accounts.

Here are the steps I took:

  1. From my user account, open a terminal window.
  2. Type "cd /bin" (no quotes)
  3. Type "mysql -u root" [enter] to log into the "MySQL monitor" tool as the root user.
  4. Type "UPDATE mysql.user SET Password = PASSWORD('rock0n') WHERE User = 'root';
  5. Enter.
  6. This will secure your database with a password.

Home at Last
Hopefully these directions have given you enough to get you up and running with these powerful tools. Feel free to let us know if you've found other, better ways to set up a system similar to ours.


February 3, 2009:


I wanted to suggest/add a few comments.

I have installed Apache & PHP & MySQL & phpMyAdmin in OpenSUSE 11.1.

In my YaST there wasn't 'phpmyadmin'. I had to install phpmyadmin by myself.

I suggest to add to your comments from 19 Jan 2005:

7) Follow the instructions to modify the configuration file ( which is in the phpMyAdmin folder.:

  1. Under /srv/www/htdocs/phpMyAdmin make directory 'config' and change permission ( chmod o+w config )
  2. Copy /srv/www/htdocs/phpMyAdmin/ to /srv/www/htdocs/phpMyAdmin/config/
  3. Open in webbrowser http://localhost/phpMyAdmin/setup/index.php
  4. Click 'new server', type 'localhost' , check 'mysql' , check 'config' and type 'root' and password (this password phpMyAdmin will use to connect to MySQL)
  5. Click 'save' and 'save' in main page
  6. Copy file from config folder to phpMyAdmin folder and change permission to file (group and other cannot write)
  7. Later after installing MySQL and after making 'mysql' account in MySQL, make password for root account in MySQL (password the same as in phpMyAdmin)

Robert Dudek, Poland

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