Matteo Mattei

Hello, my name is Matteo Mattei and this is my personal website. I am computer engineer with a long experience in Linux system administration and web software development.

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Full web server setup with Debian 10 (Buster)

Setup bash and update the system

cp /etc/skel/.bashrc /root/.bashrc
apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade

Configure hostname correctly

Make sure to have the following two lines (with the same format) at the top of your /etc/hosts file       localhost.localdomain localhost web1

Note: is the public IP address assigned to your server.

Install all needed packages

apt install wget vim git acl screen rsync net-tools pwgen php mariadb-server mariadb-client apache2 iptables shorewall php php-cli php-curl php-dev php-gd php-imagick php-imap php-memcache php-pspell php-recode php-tidy php-xmlrpc php-pear php-fpm postfix ca-certificates bsd-mailx


Setup chrooted SFTP jail

Create sftponly group:

addgroup --system sftponly

Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config and make sure to have the following lines:

PasswordAuthentication yes
ChallengeResponseAuthentication no

Then change the Subsystem line with the following:

Subsystem sftp internal-sftp

And create the section to allow chrooted SFTP access to the users belonging to the sftponly group.

Match Group sftponly
    ChrootDirectory %h
    X11Forwarding no
    AllowTcpForwarding no
    ForceCommand internal-sftp

Now restart ssh server:

/etc/init.d/sshd restart

In order to have a working sftp jail, there are 4 rules to follow:

  1. every user home directory must belong to root:root
  2. every user home directory must have 0755 permissions
  3. every user must belong to sftponly group
  4. every subfolder in user home directory must belong to ${USER}:sftponly

Setup Apache

Stop Apache web server:

/etc/init.d/apache2 stop

Backup Apache configuration:

cp /etc/apache2/apache2.conf /etc/apache2/apache2.conf.backup

Edit the following lines in /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

Create a configuration for phpmyadmin:

cat << EOF > /etc/apache2/conf-available/phpmyadmin.conf
Alias /phpmyadmin /usr/share/phpmyadmin

<Directory /usr/share/phpmyadmin>
    Options SymLinksIfOwnerMatch
    DirectoryIndex index.php

    <IfModule mod_php5.c>
        <IfModule mod_mime.c>
            AddType application/x-httpd-php .php
        <FilesMatch ".+\.php$">
            SetHandler application/x-httpd-php

        php_value include_path .
        php_admin_value upload_tmp_dir /var/lib/phpmyadmin/tmp
        php_admin_value open_basedir /usr/share/phpmyadmin/:/etc/phpmyadmin/:/var/lib/phpmyadmin/:/usr/share/php/php-gettext/:/usr/share/php/php-php-gettext/:/usr/share/javascript/:/usr/share/php/tcpdf/:/usr/share/doc/phpmyadmin/:/usr/share/php/phpseclib/
        php_admin_value mbstring.func_overload 0
    <IfModule mod_php.c>
        <IfModule mod_mime.c>
            AddType application/x-httpd-php .php
        <FilesMatch ".+\.php$">
            SetHandler application/x-httpd-php

        php_value include_path .
        php_admin_value upload_tmp_dir /var/lib/phpmyadmin/tmp
        php_admin_value open_basedir /usr/share/phpmyadmin/:/etc/phpmyadmin/:/var/lib/phpmyadmin/:/usr/share/php/php-gettext/:/usr/share/php/php-php-gettext/:/usr/share/javascript/:/usr/share/php/tcpdf/:/usr/share/doc/phpmyadmin/:/usr/share/php/phpseclib/
        php_admin_value mbstring.func_overload 0


# Authorize for setup
<Directory /usr/share/phpmyadmin/setup>
    <IfModule mod_authz_core.c>
        <IfModule mod_authn_file.c>
            AuthType Basic
            AuthName "phpMyAdmin Setup"
            AuthUserFile /etc/phpmyadmin/htpasswd.setup
        Require valid-user

# Disallow web access to directories that don't need it
<Directory /usr/share/phpmyadmin/templates>
    Require all denied
<Directory /usr/share/phpmyadmin/libraries>
    Require all denied
<Directory /usr/share/phpmyadmin/setup/lib>
    Require all denied

Configure the proper Apache modules and configurations:

a2dismod mpm_worker
a2dismod mpm_prefork

a2enmod mpm_event
a2enmod ssl
a2enmod rewrite
a2enmod headers
a2enmod deflate
a2enmod proxy
a2enmod proxy_http
a2enmod proxy_fcgi
a2enmod http2
a2enmod setenvif

a2enconf security
a2enconf php7.3-fpm
a2enconf phpmyadmin

Now restart Apache:

/etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Setup MariaDB

Secure MariaDB installation:


Instruct MariaDB to use native password:

mysql -u root mysql -e "update user set plugin='mysql_native_password' where user='root'; flush privileges;"

Set MariaDB root password in a configuration file (the same password configured before!)

cat << EOF > /root/.my.cnf
user = root

Enable MySQL slow query logging (often useful during slow page load debugging):

sed -i "{s/^#slow_query_log_file /slow_query_log_file /g}" /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf
sed -i "{s/^#long_query_time /long_query_time /g}" /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf
sed -i "{s/^#log_slow_rate_limit /log_slow_rate_limit /g}" /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf
sed -i "{s/^#log_slow_verbosity /log_slow_verbosity /g}" /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf
sed -i "{s/^#log-queries-not-using-indexes/log-queries-not-using-indexes/g}" /etc/mysql/mariadb.conf.d/50-server.cnf

MySQL is now configured, so restart it:

/etc/init.d/mysql restart

Install phpMyAdmin

The version of phpmyadmin coming with the distribution is not updated so I prefer to install the latest manually:

export VER=""
cd /tmp
tar xvf phpMyAdmin-${VER}-all-languages.tar.gz
rm -f phpMyAdmin-${VER}-all-languages.tar.gz
mv phpMyAdmin* /usr/share/phpmyadmin
mkdir -p /var/lib/phpmyadmin/tmp
chown -R www-data:www-data /var/lib/phpmyadmin
mkdir /etc/phpmyadmin/
cp /usr/share/phpmyadmin/  /usr/share/phpmyadmin/

Now edit the file /usr/share/phpmyadmin/ and set secret passphrase and temporary directory:

$cfg['blowfish_secret'] = 'SECRET_HERE';
$cfg['TempDir'] = '/var/lib/phpmyadmin/tmp';

Configure Shorewall firewall rules

Copy the default configuration for one interface:

cd /usr/share/doc/shorewall/examples/one-interface
cp interfaces /etc/shorewall/
cp policy /etc/shorewall/
cp rules /etc/shorewall/
cp zones /etc/shorewall/

Now open /etc/shorewall/policy file and change the line:

net             all             DROP            info

removing info directive given it fills the system logs:

net             all             DROP

Now open /etc/shorewall/rules and add the following rules at the bottom of the file:

HTTP/ACCEPT     net             $FW
HTTPS/ACCEPT    net             $FW
SSH/ACCEPT      net             $FW

NOTE: in case you want to allow ICMP (Ping) traffic from a specific remote hosts you need to add a rule similar to the following where is the remote IP address, before the Ping(DROP) rule:

Ping(ACCEPT)       $FW

Now edit /etc/default/shorewall and change startup=0 to startup=1 You are now ready to start the firewall:

/etc/init.d/shorewall start

Setup Postfix

Stop postfix server:

/etc/init.d/postfix stop

Edit /etc/mailname and set your server domain name, for example:

Restart Postfix:

/etc/init.d/postfix start

Let’s encrypt

In order to get SSL free certificates with let’s encrypt install the powerful (and simple) dehydrated tool:

cd /root
git clone
cd dehydrated
touch domains.txt
cp docs/examples/config .

Prepare Apache2 configuration for letsencrypt:

cat << EOF > /etc/apache2/conf-available/dehydrated.conf
Alias /.well-known/acme-challenge /var/www/dehydrated
<Directory /var/www/dehydrated>
        Options None
        AllowOverride None

        # Apache 2.x
        <IfModule !mod_authz_core.c>
                Order allow,deny
                Allow from all

        # Apache 2.4
        <IfModule mod_authz_core.c>
                Require all granted

Enable new config and reload Apache

a2enconf dehydrated
systemctl reload apache2

Log rotation

In order to correctly log files you need to adjust logrotate configuration for Apache:

cat << EOF >> /etc/logrotate.d/apache2
    rotate 30
    size 10M
        /etc/init.d/apache2 reload > /dev/null

    rotate 3
    size 2M
        /etc/init.d/apache2 reload > /dev/null

Prepare environment

Create all needed directories and files

mkdir /root/cron_scripts
mkdir -p /var/www/vhosts

Now download all tools to manage the server locally:

chmod 770 *.sh

Download also the tools that will be used with cron:

cd /root/cron_scripts
chmod 770 *.sh

Configure CRON

Edit /etc/crontab and add the following lines at the bottom:

# mysql optimize tables
3  4  *  *  7   root    /root/cron_scripts/

# mysql backup
32 4  *  *  *   root    /root/cron_scripts/

# letsencrypt
50 2 * * *      root    /root/dehydrated/dehydrated -c > /dev/null
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