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Building A WordPress Theme From Scratch

WordPress Development with LAMP

While I choose to develop for WordPress using LAMP there are alternatives such as MAMP, WAMP, XAMPP as well as services that provide a sandbox development environment such as Desktop Server and Local by Flywheel. This post only covers setting up WordPress using Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fosa.

Installing WordPress for Local Development with LAMP

bash terminal illustration

LAMP must be installed prior to these steps I enjoy using this old tutorial. However, package names for PHP and others are outdated, be sure use the latest packages available for Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fosa.

Begin by creating a folder in your hosting environment

Feel free to substitute scratch for your own folder name.

cd /var/www/html/
sudo mkdir scratch
cd scratch/
Creating a folder named scratch
Creating a folder named scratch to contain our WordPress website

Download and expand an archive of the latest version of WordPress.

sudo wget -c http://wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz
sudo tar -xzvf latest.tar.gz
Downloading and expanding the WordPress archive
Downloading and expanding the WordPress archive

After everything expands the files will be contained in a folder named wordpress. Now we can delete latest.tar.gz and move the files into our scratch folder then remove the wordpress folder itself.

Warning: This is a good time to warn you about the dangers of the rm command. It is a command to delete files, while superuser you can remove an entire directory and its contents so be sure you are in the scratch directory and targeting the correct wordpress folder.

sudo rm latest.tar.gz
cd wordpress/
sudo mv * ..
cd ..
sudo rm -rf wordpress/
Removing the download archive and moving our WordPress files.

Setting folder permissions

This next couple commands will provide permission for WordPress to operate with read and write access in the scratch folder.

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/scratch/
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/scratch/
Setting up folder permissions for WordPress
Setting up folder permissions for WordPress

Create a MySQL database for WordPress

sudo mysql -u root -p

Change your database name to match your naming convention. and use a unique and secure password in place of password used here.

CREATE DATABASE wp_scratch;
CREATE USER 'scratch'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON wp_scratch.* TO 'scratch'@'localhost';
FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
EXIT;
Creating a WordPress database and a unique user
Creating a WordPress database and a unique user

Configure Apache for WordPress

sudo vim /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

Editing the apache2.conf file to allow pretty permalinks.

<Directory /var/www/html/scratch/>
        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
        AllowOverride All
        Require all granted
</Directory>
Configure Apache
Configure Apache

Run the following commands in the terminal to finish setting up Apache and then restart it along with MySQL

sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo systemctl restart apache2.service
sudo systemctl restart mysql.service
Finish setting up Apache and restart services
Finish setting up Apache and restart services

If everything worked correctly you now have a localhost ready for WordPress development in using LAMP.

Visit http://localhost/scratch/ or the folder you used in place of scratch to complete the WordPress setup using the information you provided to MySQL.

Complete your WordPress Installation
Complete your WordPress Installation

Warning: If this server is intended to be used in a production environment use secure and unique passwords.


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To the extent possible under law, Joseph Dickson has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Building a WordPress Theme From Scratch. This work is published from: United States.

By Joseph Dickson

Joseph Dickson is a web developer in higher education and an avid proponent of using WordPress’ core features to create flexible and manageable design solutions.