Laravel 5.6 on Digital Ocean

alchermd profile image John Alcher Updated on ・3 min read

So I was trying to deploy a project on Digital Ocean (referral link) in which I used the Laravel 5.6 framework to get things started. Now all I wanted is to put up a simple "coming soon" page of some sort while we keep working on the application itself. Now, I found this guide (How To Deploy a Laravel Application with Nginx on Ubuntu 16.04) and tried to follow it to setup my server. But boy was it hard! This article will list all the things I wish I've known earlier before I start setting up my DO server:

1. Use PHP 7.2

The DO tutorial wants us to install PHP 7.0 with the following command:

$ sudo apt-get install php7.0-mbstring php7.0-xml composer unzip

But according to Laravel's Server Requirements

We need PHP version 7.1.3 or greater. I say we might as well go for the latest release, PHP 7.2.* right? Here's a quick and easy guide to install PHP 7.2 on your DO server.

Getting an 'ascii codec can't decode' error?

If you're adding the ppa:ondrej/php repository and ran into this error, try installing a language pack:

$ sudo apt-get install language-pack-en

This should fix any ascii codec errors you might encounter.

2. Generating an App Key

The DO tutorial wants us to create a .env file and put in the following:



Well, I wouldn't want an APP_KEY that came from an article online. So what I did was copy the .env.example into .env

$ sudo cp .env.example .env

... and generate a new APP_KEY with

$ php artisan key:generate

But this would raise a permission denied error of some sort. To remedy this, let's give write permission to the .env file with

$ sudo chmod -R 777 .env
$ php artisan key:generate

This should remove the error and give you a fresh application key!

3. Typo Alert!

At the section where we configure Nginx, there's a sneaky typo that will mess up your day (at least mine did) when gone unnoticed:

See that? Instead of opening /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/example.com, you should instead open /etc/nginx/sites-avaiable/example.com because that's the new server block that we copied. Beware of this one!

4. I did everything right, but I'm getting a 502!

This is most likely because of step #1. We are using PHP 7.2 now, but our server block is still configured to use the PHP extension php7.0-fpm. To update our configuration, open /etc/nginx/sites-available/example.com and change this line:

server {

        location ~ \.php$ {
                include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;

                # Change the line below and update to use php7.2-fpm
                # fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.0-fpm.sock;

                fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.2-fpm.sock;


Give Nginx a restart

$ sudo systemctl reload nginx

... and your app should be live!

Bonus: Overcoming TLS Issues

Though our app is now live, it is still served with plain-old HTTP. To strike confidence into our customers, let's serve our app with HTTPS and get that fancy secure lock in the URL bar. (just kidding, HTTPS is not a replacement for good security practices)

The Step 6 - Securing your Application with TLS is pretty much a pain point when I'm setting up my server. I even hit the hourly limit that Let's Encrypt enforce when validating a website because I wasn't able to make it work.

Then I found a simple solution. What I did is completely ignore the tutorial and follow this documentation on securing Nginx with Let's Encrypt. Make sure you are at the root of your project (ex. /var/www/html/example_project/) when you run the commands. You should have an HTTPS secured application by now!

Posted on May 13 '18 by:

alchermd profile

John Alcher


Writing software for fun and profit.


markdown guide

Manually installing Laravel on DigitalOcean server seems quite a hassle. After setup, you have to manage the server as well. have you tried out managed platforms that provides 1-click Laravel server? I think DigitalOcean is also providing 1-click solution in it Marketplace? If you really want to go with DigitalOcean, try out the Marketplace and see if there is 1-click solution for Laravel.


You should not chmod 777'ing the .env file. Giving write permissions to anyone is a security issue.


Thanks for the reply! What would be the correct approach then?


I'd go with chmod 644 and chown $USER to fix the permissions issue.