- Log in to your server
- Download the source code from GitHub
- Set permissions
- Create the database
- Run the guided installer
If you're using Cerb Cloud you can jump to Quick Start. We've already handled the installation for you.
- An Internet or intranet connection to the server (e.g. Ethernet, Wi-Fi, mobile data)
- Mozilla Firefox
- Apple Safari
- Google Chrome
- Microsoft Edge
- (Internet Explorer is no longer supported)
- Any of these 64-bit operating systems:
- Linux (recommended, using Ubuntu LTS)
- Any of these webserver applications:
- Nginx (recommended, using PHP-FPM)
- Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS)
- Built-in PHP webserver (for development and evaluation)
- PHP 7.2 (64-bit) or later
- With the following extensions enabled:
- tidy (recommended)
- gmp (recommended)
- memcached (optional)
- redis (optional)
- With these php.ini settings:
- file_uploads = On
- memory_limit = 128M (or higher)
- upload_max_filesize = 32M (or higher)
- post_max_size = 32M (or higher)
- With the following extensions enabled:
- Any of these database servers:
- MySQL 5.6 or later
- MariaDB 10.2 or later
- Amazon Aurora
If you are unable to meet these requirements, consider Cerb Cloud.
Log in to your server
The following general instructions assume that you have console access to a Linux-based server that meets the above requirements. You should already have a webserver, database, and PHP installed before proceeding.
You can follow one of these guides to set up a new server:
- Installing Cerb on Ubuntu 20.04 with Nginx and PHP-FPM
- Installing Cerb on Amazon Linux with Nginx and PHP-FPM
- Installing Cerb on Debian 9 with Nginx and PHP-FPM
Download the source code from GitHub
Navigate to your website’s document directory on the filesystem. The directory will usually be named something like
When deploying Cerb on a production server you should use Git to manage the project files. This provides many useful capabilities:
- Quickly upgrade by just fetching files that have changed since your last update.
- See the local changes that you have made to any project files.
- Easily reset files back to their default condition.
- See what changes would occur before performing an upgrade.
- Continuously merge your local changes with our future updates.
You won’t need to download the entire project again after your initial installation. You also won’t have to hassle with copying your
framework.config.php configuration file or storage directory when upgrading, or repeating any of your custom modifications to the source code.
You can download Cerb into a specific directory with a single command:
git clone git://github.com/cerb/cerb-release.git cerb
You would access Cerb at a URL with a base path like
https://example.com/cerb. You can change the last argument above to whatever path you want:
To download Cerb into the root of your domain instead, use:
git clone git://github.com/cerb/cerb-release.git .
This results in a URL without a base path, like
Next, we need to make sure that Cerb’s files are owned by the webserver’s user and group. The default user and group are both
www-data when using Apache or Nginx on Ubuntu. If you’re using something different, you should consult your configuration for the proper values.
You only need to enable write access to the webserver in two locations:
framework.config.phpThis is your configuration file.
storage/This is where any data unique to your installation is stored: third-party plugins, attachments, temporary files, caches, etc.
Give ownership of all the files to the webserver daemon using
chown, and make the two locations above writable using
cd cerb chown -R www-data:www-data . chmod -R u+w framework.config.php storage
You must use your own user and group for
www-data in the example above.
There are special situations, such as PHP in FastCGI mode, custom PHP-FPM pools, or with security extensions like Suhosin, where the ownership and permissions of the files may need to be something else. Consult a system administrator if you need assistance. The Cerb installer will let you know if the permissions are incorrect.
Create the database
Create a new MySQL database using the console or your favorite GUI tool.
From the MySQL console, you can issue the following SQL statements:
CREATE DATABASE cerb CHARACTER SET utf8; CREATE USER cerb@localhost IDENTIFIED BY 'secret_password'; GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON cerb.* TO cerb@localhost;
Substitute your own database name and login in place of
cerb, and replace
secret_password with something that’s actually a secret. If you’re connecting to a remote database, change
@localhost to the network address of the webserver where you’ll be connecting from.
If you’re concerned about granting
ALL PRIVILEGES, the minimum required privileges for the database user are:
SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, CREATE, ALTER, DROP, INDEX, CREATE TEMPORARY TABLES.
Run the guided installer
Cerb has a guided installer that verifies your requirements, initializes the database, and walks you through the initial configuration of the software.
To start the installer, open your browser to the location where you downloaded Cerb. For instance,
Step 1: Requirements Check
The first step of the installer checks if your server meets the requirements for installing Cerb. Correct any problems before proceeding, and then click the Next Step button.
Step 2: License
Review the software license agreement and then click the I Accept button.
Step 3: Database Setup
Leave this at the default of MySQLi (the MySQL Improved extension).
Cerb currently only supports MySQL1 databases. You can also use one of the MySQL-based forks2, like Amazon Aurora, MariaDB, Percona, or WebScaleSQL. We recommend MySQL or Amazon Aurora, as they receive the most testing.
MySQL supports many storage engines3 that offer different functionality, strengths, and trade-offs. Of those, Cerb is well-tested with the two most common:
InnoDB: This is the default and recommended storage engine in recent versions of MySQL. It is transactional and designed to recover gracefully from unexpected interruptions. It implements row-based locking on writes, which reduces resource contention at scale in high-volume environments. It has slightly higher overhead than MyISAM due to transactions, durability, and indexing. It may require more resources, and more experience to maintain and tune performance.
MyISAM: This is the legacy storage engine in MySQL, and it is no longer under active development. It’s simpler to configure and maintain than InnoDB, and has slightly less overhead for some workloads (due to being non-transactional), but it risks data loss and corruption when the server is unexpectedly interrupted. It also implements table-based locking on writes, which generally doesn’t scale well and may lead to resource contention in high volume environments.
In general, we recommend that you use InnoDB. If you’re in an environment that only supports MyISAM, or you just feel more comfortable with it, then go ahead and use it.
This isn’t a life-or-death decision. You can easily switch between storage engines at any time (and even use different storage engines for each table).
This is the IP or hostname of your MySQL server.
If MySQL is installed on the same server as your web server, this value is usually localhost.
The name of the database on the MySQL server that you created earlier with the
CREATE DATABASE statement.
The username that you created earlier with the
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ... TO <user>@host statement.
The password that you created earlier with the
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ... IDENTIFIED BY '<password>' statement.
Once you’ve entered your database connection details, click the Test Settings button to verify them.
Step 4: Save Configuration File
If the web server has write access to the
framework.config.php file then it will automatically handle this for you and skip to the next step.
If it can’t write the file, it will generate the file for you to manually copy and paste.
Step 5: Database Initialization
If successful, the installer will create your initial database structure. This may take a while because the database is created by incrementally running the updates from each previous version. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like anything is happening right away.
Step 6: General Settings
This is the page title that shows up by default on browser tabs and in URL bookmarks.
This establishes your first shared outgoing email address. You’ll probably want to use something like
example.com is your own domain name).
You can also configure a personalized name for the email address, such as your organization name.
For everything to work properly, this email address absolutely must route back into Cerb so that you receive new messages. This is usually accomplished by configuring a POP/IMAP mailbox for Cerb to download mail from.
Once you’re done, click the Continue button.
Step 7: Outgoing Mail
This step configures your first outgoing mail transport. Once you become familiar with Cerb, you can configure several outgoing mail transports for fail-over, branding, etc.
Mail Transport Type
When you intend to deliver real email to your contacts, you’ll be using an SMTP4 transport.
If this is going to be a development or evaluation instance, you can select None to discard all outgoing mail without delivering it. You won’t need to enter any other details with this option.
This is the IP or hostname of your SMTP server.
For Google Apps, you would use
If you want to use a local mail server (like Postfix) that is installed on the same server as Cerb, you can usually enter
This is the port where your SMTP server accepts new mail for relay.
The legacy port is
25, although this is now intended for mail delivery and not relaying.
Generally, you’ll use port
587, depending on your configuration.
With Google Apps,
465 is used for SSL and
587 for TLS.
This is your username when SMTP Authentication is required.
With Google Apps (and many other providers), it’s your full Gmail or Google Apps email address.
This is the password established by your SMTP provider.
It is highly recommended that you enable encryption if you use a remote SMTP server. Cerb supports both TLS7 and SSL8 encryption, and your selection will depend on the configuration of your email provider. Given recent SSL vulnerabilities, TLS is considered to be more secure.
As mentioned in the port configuration above, Google Apps requires you to pair the right encryption method to the corresponding port. With Google Apps, we recommend port
587 for the port and
TLS for encryption.
Step 8: Admin Account
In this step you’ll create the administrator account that you use to log in.
This is simply your first and last name (given and surname).
Your personal email address. This is how you will authenticate during logins, and it’s where your notifications and account recovery details will be sent. For that reason, this should not be an email address managed by Cerb.
This will likely be something like
It is recommended that you choose a strong password here that you don’t use anywhere else. It should be fairly long, contain a mix of alphanumeric characters and symbols, in both upper and lower cases.
We highly recommend using a password manager like 1Password9 to maintain strong password security practices. You can also enable two-factor authentication for even stronger security.
Cerb will use your timezone setting to display and interpret dates using your local timezone. The installer attempts to automatically detect this for you, but you can adjust it as necessary.
Step 9: Testing Mode
Without a license, Cerb operates in testing mode. This allows full functionality with a single seat.
You can install a purchased license in Setup » Configure » License.
Click the Continue button.
Step 10: Finished
That’s it! You’re ready to start using Cerb.
Click the Log in and get started link.
If this is a production installation, you need to delete the /install directory since it is no longer necessary and it provides access to some sensitive information about your environment.
If this is a development installation, you may leave the /install directory in place since it contains useful scripts and examples for plugin development.