Install Kimai on Ubuntu 18.04

This is a collection of snippets to help you with setting up a fresh Ubuntu 18.04 server for using with Kimai. It is neither a full fledged documentation, explaining each step, nor is it a bash tutorial.

Please see it as a personal snippet collection… in which I assume:

  • that you are familiar with the Linux bash and have at least basic knowledge of vim
  • that you use a single domain on this server, change the nginx configuration accordingly if you have multiple VirtualHosts
  • that you know how to protect your server (UFW, Fail2Ban …) and can securely run it in the “wild”

You must additionally:

  • replace IP-of-myserver with the server IP
  • replace the username kevin with your own
  • replace the domain www.kimai.local with your own

Accounts and SSH connection

We start on our local machine, connect to the server and create our real user account:

ssh root@IP-of-myserver

useradd -m -s /bin/bash kevin
passwd kevin

Enable sudo access for this new user:

visudo /etc/sudoers.d/kevin

And paste this one line:

kevin   ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL

Back to our local machine:


Generate your SSH key and sent it to your server:

ssh-keygen -f ~/.ssh/kevin_myserver_rsa
ssh-copy-id -i /Users/kevin/.ssh/ kevin@IP-of-myserver

Then edit your local SSH config:

vim ~/.ssh/config

And paste this:

Host myserver
    HostName IP-of-myserver
    IdentityFile ~/.ssh/kevin_myserver_rsa
    User kevin

And finally on to the server to start the software installation:

ssh myserver

Secure your SSHD configuration

Make sure your SSH server has at least some basic security settings in place:

sudo su
vim /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Change those:

PermitRootLogin no
PasswordAuthentication no

And restart the SSH Daemon:

/etc/init.d/ssh restart

Install PHP, webserver and database

Lets start with all required software:

apt-get update
apt-get install php-fpm php-cli php-common php-json php-opcache php-readline php-xml php-zip php-intl php-gd php-mbstring php-mysql php-curl
apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client
apt-get install nginx
apt-get install git unzip curl

BTW: I’d use MariaDB, but Ubuntu 18.04 ships an outdated MariaDB which does not support JSON columns, thus not compatible with Kimai.

Install composer

Grab the latest hash from the composer download page and then execute:

php -r "copy('', 'composer-setup.php');"
php -r "if (hash_file('sha384', 'composer-setup.php') === '48e3236262b34d30969dca3c37281b3b4bbe3221bda826ac6a9a62d6444cdb0dcd0615698a5cbe587c3f0fe57a54d8f5') { echo 'Installer verified'; } else { echo 'Installer corrupt'; unlink('composer-setup.php'); } echo PHP_EOL;"

Only proceed if you see: Installer verified!

php composer-setup.php
php -r "unlink('composer-setup.php');"
chmod +x composer.phar
mv composer.phar /usr/bin/composer

Create database

Connect to your database as root user:

sudo su
mysql -u root

And execute the following statements:

CREATE USER IF NOT EXISTS `kimai2`@ IDENTIFIED BY "my-super-secret-password";
GRANT select,insert,update,delete,create,alter,drop,index,references ON `kimai2`.* TO kimai2@;

Replace “my-super-secret-password” with a strong password and probably change the username as well.

Install Kimai

Clone Kimai and set proper file permissions:

Replace 1.1 with the latest available version, see:

cd /var/www/
git clone -b 1.1 --depth 1
cd kimai2/
chown -R :www-data .
chmod -R g+r .
chmod -R g+rw var/
composer install --no-dev --optimize-autoloader
vim .env

Configure the above created database credentials:


And execute the Kimai installation:

bin/console kimai:install -n
bin/console kimai:user:create admin ROLE_SUPER_ADMIN

Fix Kimai file permission

You have to allow PHP (your webserver process) to write to var/ and it subdirectories.

Here is an example for Debian/Ubuntu (to be executed inside the Kimai directory):

chown -R :www-data .
chmod -R g+r .
chmod -R g+rw var/
chmod -R g+rw public/avatars/

Test Kimai before executing these commands (they are likely not required in a shared-hosting environment). You probably need to prefix them with sudo and the group might be called different than www-data.

Use sudo to run the commands to change file permissions.

Configure webserver

Good, now that we have done all these steps we only need the webserver and VirtualHost configuration:

Check your PHP-FPM config for the fastcgi_pass (eg. version and socket)

This can be done with:

vim /etc/php/7.2/fpm/pool.d/www.conf
listen = /run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock <= search for this "listen" entry

Edit/create the virtual host file:

vim /etc/nginx/sites-available/kimai2

And paste the following configuration:

server {
    listen 80 default_server;
    listen [::]:80 default_server;
    server_name www.kimai.local;
    root /var/www/kimai2/public;
    index index.php;

    access_log off;
    log_not_found off;

    location ~ /\.ht {
        deny all;

    location / {
        try_files $uri /index.php$is_args$args;

    location ~ ^/index\.php(/|$) {
        fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock;
        fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+\.php)(/.*)$;
        include fastcgi.conf;
        fastcgi_param PHP_ADMIN_VALUE "open_basedir=$document_root/..:/tmp/";

    location ~ \.php$ {
        return 404;

Lets activate the site and remove the Ubuntu default host:

ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/kimai2 /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/kimai2
unlink /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default
nginx -t && service nginx reload

Install Certbot for SSL

Almost there, only the free Lets Encrypt SSL certificate is missing:

apt-get install software-properties-common
add-apt-repository universe
add-apt-repository ppa:certbot/certbot
apt-get update
apt-get install certbot python-certbot-nginx
certbot --nginx

Follow the interactive dialogs and choose “2: Redirect - Make all requests redirect to secure HTTPS access.”. This will rewrite your nginx site configuration and should work out-of-the-box.

Kimai is now up and running at www.kimai.local - enjoy!