How to Install BoxBilling on Ubuntu Linux with Apache

This brief post shows students and new users how to install BoxBilling on Ubuntu Linux with Apache HTTP web server. It also has a link to setup free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates to secure your billing website.

BoxBilling is a free, open source and community-driven billing client management platform based on PHP and MySQL, and also capable of doing anything, extensible for any need. If you want to a true open source platform to automate your invoicing, incoming payments, client management and communication, then BoxBilling should be a great fit.

This tutorial is based on Ubuntu Linux. We’ll be installing Apache web server, MariaDB database server and additional PHP modules. We’ll also link to another post that will show you how to secure your BoxBilling website using Let’s Encrypt free SSL certificates.

For more about BoxBilling, please check its homepage

To get started with installing BoxBilling on Ubuntu Linux, follow the steps below:

How to install Apache on Ubuntu Linux

As mentioned above, we’re going to be using Apache web server to run BoxBilling. BoxBilling requires a web server to function, and Apache is the most popular open source web servers available today.

To install Apache on Ubuntu, run the commands below:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install apache2

After installing Apache, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable Apache services to always start up everytime your server starts up.

sudo systemctl stop apache2.service
sudo systemctl start apache2.service
sudo systemctl enable apache2.service

To test whether Apache is installed and functioning, open your web browser and browse to the server’s IP address or hostname.

If you see the above page in your browser, then Apache is working as expected.

How to install MariaDB on Ubuntu Linux

A database server is required for BoxBilling to function. BoxBilling stores its content in a database, and MariaDB is probably the best database server available to run BoxBilling.

MariaDB is fast, secure and the default server for almost all Linux servers. To install MariaDB, run the commands below:

sudo apt install mariadb-server
sudo apt install mariadb-client

After installing MariaDB, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable MariaDB services to always start up when the server boots.

sudo systemctl stop mariadb.service
sudo systemctl start mariadb.service
sudo systemctl enable mariadb.service

Next, run the commands below to secure the database server with a root password if you were not prompted to do so during the installation.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

When prompted, use the guide below to answer:

If you've just installed MariaDB, and haven't set the root password yet, you should just press enter here.

Enter current password for root (enter for none): PRESS ENTER

Switch to unix_socket authentication [Y/n] n

Change the root password? [Y/n] n

Remove anonymous users? [Y/n] y

Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n] y

Remove test database and access to it? [Y/n] y

Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n] y

All done!

To verify and validate that MariaDB is installed and working, login to the database console using the commands below:

sudo mysql -u root -p

You should automatically be logged in to the database server since we initiated the login request as root. Only the root can login without password, and only from the server console.

mariadb welcome

If you see a similar screen as shown above, then the server was successfully installed.

How to install PHP on Ubuntu Linux

As we also mentioned above, we’re installing PHP on Ubuntu since BoxBilling requires it. PHP packages are added to Ubuntu repositories. The versions the repositories might not be the latest. If you need to install the latest versions, you’ll need to add a third party PPA repository.

To a third party repository with the latest versions of PHP, run the commands below.

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php

At the time of this writing, the latest PHP version 8.0.

sudo apt update

Next, run the commands below to install PHP 8.0 and related modules.

sudo apt install php8.0 php8.0-common php8.0-mysql php8.0-gmp php8.0-curl php8.0-intl php8.0-mbstring php8.0-xmlrpc php8.0-json php8.0-imap php8.0-gd php8.0-xml php8.0-cli php8.0-zip

Next, you’ll want to change some PHP configuration settings that work great with BoxBilling. Run the commands below to open PHP default configuration file.

sudo nano /etc/php/8.0/apache2/php.ini

Then change the line settings to be something line the lines below. Save your changes and exit.

file_uploads = On
allow_url_fopen = On
short_open_tag = On
memory_limit = 256M
upload_max_filesize = 100M
max_execution_time = 360
date.timezone = America/Chicago

How to create BoxBilling database on Ubuntu

At this point, we’re ready to create BoxBilling database. As mentioned above, BoxBilling uses databases to store its content.

To create a database for BoxBilling, run the commands below:

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then create a database called boxbilling


Next, create a database user called boxbillinguser and set password

CREATE USER 'boxbillinguser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'new_password_here';

Then grant the user full access to the database.

GRANT ALL ON boxbilling.* TO 'boxbillinguser'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Finally, save your changes and exit.


How to download BoxBilling

We’re ready to download BoxBilling and begin configuring it. First, run the commands below to download the latest version of BoxBilling from its repository.

Next, extract the downloaded content into a new folder called boxbilling.

cd /tmp
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/boxbilling
unzip -d /var/www/boxbilling
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/boxbilling/bb-data/{cache,uploads}

Then run command below to allow www-data user to own the new BoxBilling directory.

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/boxbilling
sudo chmod u+rw /var/www/boxbilling/bb-data/{cache,uploads}

How to configure Apache for BoxBilling

We have downloaded BoxBilling content into a new folder we called BoxBilling. Now, let’s configure Apache to create a new server block to use with our BoxBilling website. You can create as many server blocks with Apache.

To do that, run the commands below to create a new configuration file called boxbilling.conf in the /etc/apache2/sites-available/ directory to host our BoxBilling server block.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/boxbilling.conf

In the file, copy and paste the content below into the file and save.

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerAdmin [email protected]
  DocumentRoot /var/www/boxbilling
  <Directory /var/www/boxbilling/>
       Options FollowSymlinks
       AllowOverride All
       Require all granted

       ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
       CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

Save the file and exit.

After saving the file above, run the commands below to enable the new file that contains our BoxBilling server block. Restart Apache after that.

sudo a2ensite boxbilling.conf
sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo systemctl restart apache2.service

At this stage, BoxBilling is ready and can be launched by going to the server’s IP or hostname.

However, we want to make sure our server is protected with Let’s Encrypt free SSL certificates. So, continue below to learn how to generate Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate for websites.

How to setup Let’s Encrypt for BoxBilling

We have written a great post on how to generate and manage Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for Apache web server. You can use that post, to apply it here for your BoxBilling website.

To read the post on how to generate Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for website, click on the link below:

How to Setup Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu Linux with Apache – Website for Students

If you were successful in generating a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, you should then reopen the server block for our BoxBilling website by running the commands below.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/boxbilling.conf

The new BoxBilling server blocks configurations should look similar to the line below. Take notes of the highlighted lines.

  • The first server block listens on port 80.  It contains a 301 redirect to redirect HTTP to HTTPS.
  • The second server block listens on port 443. It contains a 301 redirect to redirect www to non-www domain.
<VirtualHost *:80>

  Redirect permanent / 

<VirtualHost *:443>
  DocumentRoot /var/www/boxbilling

  Protocols h2 http:/1.1

  <If "%{HTTP_HOST} == ''">
    Redirect permanent / 
  ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/
  CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/ combined

  SSLEngine On
  SSLCertificateFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/
  SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/
  SSLOpenSSLConfCmd DHParameters "/etc/ssl/certs/dhparam.pem"

  SSLProtocol All -SSLv2 -SSLv3 -TLSv1 -TLSv1.1
  SSLCompression off
  SSLUseStapling on

  Header always set Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=63072000"

  <Directory /var/www/boxbilling/>
       Options FollowSymlinks
       AllowOverride All
       Require all granted

Save the file above, then restart Apache and PHP using the commands below.

sudo systemctl reload apache2

Finally, if everything went as planned, you should be able to start BoxBilling setup wizard by browsing to the server hostname or IP address over HTTPS.

A BoxBilling setup wizard should appear. Follow the wizard to complete the setup.

Validate that all requirements are met and click Next.

You will need to know the following items before proceeding. Use the database connection info you created above.

  • Database name
  • Database username
  • Database password
  • Database host

On the next page, create an administrator account. Username, email address and password, then click Next.

BoxBilling should successfully install.

Even though BoxBilling was installed successfully, you must take a few more actions. Normally, install folder should be automatically deleted. But if it still exists, you have to delete the installer from your web server before getting started.

sudo rm -rf /var/www/boxbilling/install

Change configuration file permissions to read-only (CHMOD 644)

sudo chmod 644 /var/www/boxbilling/bb-config.php

Setup this cron job to run every five minutes

*/5 * * * * php /var/www/boxbilling/bb-cron.php

When you’re done, BoxBilling should be installed and ready to use.

That should do it!


This post showed you how to install BoxBilling on Ubuntu Linux with link to setting up Let’s Encrypt. If you find any error above, or have something to add, please use the comment form below.