How to Install LimeSurvey CE on Debian 9

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LimeSurvey is an open source survey software written in PHP. LimeSurvey source code is hosted on GitHub. This guide will show you how to install LimeSurvey Community Edition (CE) on a fresh Debian 9 Vultr instance.


  • Minimum 180 MB disk space
  • Nginx version 1.1 or greater
  • Minimum PHP version 5.5.9. PHP 7.0.0 or greater is recommended with the following modules and libraries enabled:
    • MBstring, PDO database driver for MySQL, GD-Library, IMAP, LDAP, ZIP
  • MariaDB version 5.5 or greater

Check the Debian version.

lsb_release -ds# Debian GNU/Linux 9.4 (stretch)

Ensure that your system is up to date.

apt update && apt upgrade -y

Install the necessary packages.

apt install -y sudo unzip apt-transport-https curl wget dirmngr

Create a new non-root user account with sudo access and switch to it.

adduser johndoe --gecos "John Doe"usermod -aG sudo johndoesu - johndoe

NOTE: Replace johndoe with your username.

Set up the timezone.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

Install PHP

Install PHP 7.0 and the required PHP extensions.

sudo apt install -y php7.0 php7.0-cli php7.0-fpm php7.0-common php7.0-mbstring php7.0-xml php7.0-mysql php7.0-gd php7.0-zip php7.0-ldap php7.0-imap

Check the version.

php --version# PHP 7.0.27-0+deb9u1 (cli) (built: Jan  5 2018 13:51:52) ( NTS )# Copyright (c) 1997-2017 The PHP Group# Zend Engine v3.0.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2017 Zend Technologies#     with Zend OPcache v7.0.27-0+deb9u1, Copyright (c) 1999-2017, by Zend Technologies

Install MariaDB and setup the database

Install MariaDB.

sudo apt install -y mysql-server

Check the version.

mysql --version && sudo mysqld --version# mysql  Ver 15.1 Distrib 10.1.26-MariaDB, for debian-linux-gnu (x86_64) using readline 5.2# mysqld  Ver 10.1.26-MariaDB-0+deb9u1 for debian-linux-gnu on x86_64 (Debian 9.1)

Run mysql_secure_installation to improve MariaDB security and set the password for the MySQL root user.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

Connect to the MariaDB shell as the root user.

sudo mysql -u root -p# Enter password

Create an empty MariaDB database and user for LimeSurvey, and remember the credentials.


Install and configure Nginx

Install Nginx.

sudo apt install -y nginx

Check the version.

sudo nginx -v# nginx version: nginx/1.10.3

Run sudo vim /etc/nginx/sites-available/limesurvey.conf and configure Nginx for LimeSurvey.

server {    listen 80;    listen [::]:80;    server_name;    root /var/www/limesurvey;    index index.php;    location / {        try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$args;    }    location ~ /.php$ {        include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;        fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock;    }}

Save the file and exit.

Activate the new limesurvey.conf configuration by linking the file to the sites-enabled directory.

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/limesurvey.conf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Test the configuration.

sudo nginx -t

Reload Nginx.

sudo systemctl reload nginx.service

Install LimeSurvey

Navigate to /var/www.

cd /var/www

Download the latest stable LimeSurvey CE ZIP package and unpack it.

sudo wget unzip limesurvey3.11.0+180612.zipsudo rm

Navigate to the document root folder.

cd /var/www/limesurvey

Change ownership of the /var/www/limesurvey folder to the user www-data.

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/limesurvey

Open your site in a web browser and follow the LimeSurvey web installer.

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