Install Kimai on Ubuntu 20.04

How to install Kimai on a brand new Ubuntu 20.04 with database, webserver and SSL certificate

This is a collection of snippets to help you with setting up a fresh Ubuntu 20.04 server for using with Kimai. It is neither a fully 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/myserver_rsa
ssh-copy-id -i ~/.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/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

Let’s start with all required software:

apt update
apt upgrade
apt install git unzip curl vim
apt install mariadb-server mariadb-client
apt install nginx

Now before we continue, we enable the well-known and respected Ondřej PPA by @oerdnj to use PHP 8.1:

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

Now install PHP 8.1:

apt install php8.1-cli php8.1-common php8.1-curl php8.1-fpm php8.1-gd php8.1-intl php8.1-mbstring php8.1-mysql php8.1-opcache php8.1-readline php8.1-xml php8.1-zip

Note: the required packages php8.1-ctype, php8.1-iconv, php8.1-json, php8.1-pdo are usually part of other packages like php8.1-common, php8.1-cli and php8.1-fpm

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') === '906a84df04cea2aa72f40b5f787e49f22d4c2f19492ac310e8cba5b96ac8b64115ac402c8cd292b8a03482574915d1a8') { 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:

Please check the latest installation docs to check if something changed since writing these docs:

cd /var/www/
git clone -b 2.15.0 --depth 1
cd kimai/
composer install --optimize-autoloader
vim .env

Configure the database connection and adjust the settings to your needs (compare with the original .env file):


Then execute the Kimai installation:

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

Adjust 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/

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/8.1/fpm/pool.d/www.conf
listen = /run/php/php8.1-fpm.sock

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/kimai/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(/|$) {
        fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php8.1-fpm.sock;
        fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+\.php)(/.*)$;
        include fastcgi.conf;
        fastcgi_param PHP_ADMIN_VALUE "open_basedir=$document_root/..:/tmp/";

    location ~ \.php$ {
        return 404;

Remove the Ubuntu default host and activate the site:

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

Install Certbot for SSL

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

apt-get install certbot python3-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!