How to Manually Perform a WordPress Deployment

I’m going to walk you through a WordPress deployment, using only the terminal. This is mostly because I need to put some content up here. And, once upon a time, this used to be one of my staple articles. Nothing has changed, really. But, I will reiterate the fact that you really should know how to do things manually, because you start plowing ahead and automating them.

Automation is good, it’s absolutely necessary, even. But, when things break, it’s best that you’re able to figure it out how it happened. And, the easiest way to obtain that information is, sadly, the hard way.

WordPress being so evolved.. Please do not expect a WordPress deploy to be something you can’t handle. Deploying WordPress is very straightforward. So, let’s get started.

virtual guest linux debian in a vagrant
Linux Debian 9 as a vagrant guest

LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP

WordPress runs very well on almost any web server. But, for the purposes of sticking to the documentation, we’re going to use Apache (not that I always stick to the documentation, mind you). You should familiarize yourself with a “LAMP” deployment anyway, it’s pretty much what powers the entire internet. Please note that MySQL is often replaced with either MariaDB or Percona Server. I won’t go into the differences here.

Go ahead and SSH into your web server, update your software repository and do a full system upgrade. There’s no reason to deploy LAMP without the latest patches. I’m using debian, so your commands may be slightly different for these types of things. Refer to your distributions handbook, if you need to.

sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo apt install apache2 mariadb-server php-fpm

Enable the Necessary Apache Modules

Hah! Before, that required us grabbing a whole lot more packages than it does these days. But, don’t worry! We will still need to go get various PHP libraries for our WordPress deploy to be successful (specifically, for it to interact with mariadb). Still, you don’t need to do anything else there on Debian, unless Apache was previously configured with libapache2-mod-php. Then go ahead and issue the following (unexplained):

sudo a2dismod php
sudo a2dismod mpm_prefork
sudo a2enconf php7.3-fpm (at time of writing, 7.3 was stable)
sudo a2enmod mpm_event fcgid cgi proxy_fcgi setenvif rewrite
using terminal to swap apache modules for a manual wordpress deploy
Configure Apache

There’s plenty of other Apache modules that are beneficial for WordPress, but we’re just doing a deploy right now.

Prepare MariaDB for Production

I’m pretty sure that we all knew MySQL shipped with insecure defaults for many years. So, I have no idea, why this tradition has carried through to MariaDB. But, it’s my opinion, that we should damn not be having to still do this bit here. But, set a root password for the SQL db. And, disable remote access. Run ‘mysql_secure_installation’, press Y to everything and set a password.

Install the Minimum PHP Requirements

As I just said about Apache, there’s also plenty of PHP libraries that will benefit WordPress, but they’re beyond the scope of this walk through. So, we’re only going to grab what WordPress requires to install without complaint, as well as what is required to return a green health check.

sudo apt install php-mysql php-gd php-bz2 php-curl php-zip php-xml php-gmp php-intl php-mbstring php-xmlrpc php-token-stream php-mcrypt
manual wordpress deploy, installing required php modules
install php modules

I, honestly, don’t know what to tell you about PHP modules. Depending on your linux distribution, your PHP package is going to come with different modules. There’s really no telling what was bundled with it and what wasn’t. If you’re on Debian, this will get WordPress up and running, at least. But, on others, the packages will be named differently anyway. So, try to reach this minimum.

WordPress Deployed from Terminal

On Debian, Apache’s default “webroot” is in /var/www/html . Your “webroot” may be in a different location. If you don’t know, check your Apache configuration. It should be located in /etc/apache2 or /etc/httpd – The filename would either be apache2.conf or httpd.conf

Anyway, back to manually WordPress deploying from the terminal. I’ll have to clean this up later. But, for now, I’ll just finish what I started. Jump on over to webroot, grab the latest version from wordpress.org and extract it. All that’s left after that is to create a user for “MySQL”, set permissions and run the installer.

cd /var/www/html
wget https://wordpress.org/latest.zip
unzip latest.zip
quite literally deploying wordpress into a folder, out of compressed zip file
extract wordpress

Note: this next part you can ignore. What I am doing is deleting my webroot and moving the folder wordpress extracted to in place of my webroot. If you extracted wordpress into ./html/ then you don’t need to do this.

rm -rf ./html/
mv ./wordpress/ ./html/

Create a MySQL Database, a MySQL User, Marry Them

Now we need to create a MySQL database. Create a MySQL user and grant it privileges to write to the database. Then, fix the file permissions and we’re done with the terminal (the website is technically up, a that point.

mysql -u root -p (perhaps prefix with sudo, if you're not root)
mysql> create database wordpress;
mysql> grant all privileges on wordpress.* to 'wordpress'@localhost identified by 'p@ssword';
mysql> flush privileges;
mysql> quit
grant all privileges on WordPress Deploy to Deploy@WordPress identified by 'ASSWORD'
Identified by assword?!

Let’s set some privileges, first give the user that runs Apache ownership of the files. Then set the directories to read/write, read/write by Apache’s user and group. Finally, give the files read/write to Apache’s user and read/execute to everyone else (since php-fpm needs to read and run them).

Fix File Permissions and Be Done!

chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html
find /var/www/html -type d -exec chmod 755 {} ;
find /var/www/html -type f -exec chmod 644 {} ;

At this point, we really need to bust out our browser and complete the install, so we can prevent about a billion zombies from hammering away at our install script and owning the box (just log password attempts on WordPress for a week and you’ll see what I mean). So get your browser out and finish this bitch off! You’re done.

Good luck. Have fun! And, next map. If you’d like this handled for you, drop me a line at Gray Hat Freelancing!

wordpress initial configuration - final step of wordpress deployment
Porky Pig

FIN – Our Job Here is Done

There’s plenty more to do. Especially from a security standpoint. I can tell you right now, our file permissions are decent but not perfect. There’s optimizations that need to be made or your blog could become a zombie in a DDoS, etc.. But, those are for another article. For now, enjoy the WordPress deploy!

wordpress has been deployed - hello world
Hello World!
deploying wordpress - do the speak english in wordpress deployment?
Self-explanatory
wordpress database configuration - almost done with wordpress deployment
@ssword