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Automate your Laravel app deployment with Github Actions

Automate your Laravel app deployment with Github Actions

Hello again my fellow artisans!!

In this article, I will go through the step-by-step process of how you can automate your Laravel app deployment on a VPS, for free of course.

Setting the scene...

I am a part of a small team working on a Laravel project which is deployed on a VPS. Each of our team members will work on a particular task and when it's ready for production there is always a need for someone access to the server to deploy each change that is being pushed to our GitHub repo.

This become a very repetitive and unpleasant task for all of us and a solution was needed within our scale and budget, that's when we turned to the mighty Github Actions to automate our workflows.

Let's dive into the simplified version of our workflow setup guide.


In this guide, I assume you have the followings points in check.

  1. You have a configured Linux server that is capable of running a Laravel application and Git is installed on it.

  2. You have a Laravel application Github repository. If you don't have one you can follow the first 2 sections on my previous post here free-serverless-laravel-deployment.

How it works

On typical workflow a developer will create a new branch for a given task and make a pull request to the main/master branch or make the changes on the main/master branch it self (not advisable) and do a push.

Both pull request and push are events on a given branch we can subscribe to with Github Actions. Therefor we can define a set of instructions that should be carried out when ever the given events happen on our repository. These instructions might be running our Tests, Builds, and Deployments.

Create deployment script

The first thing we will do is create a deployment script that will contain all the necessary commands to deploy and run our application.

In the root directory of your application create a folder called .scripts.

Inside the .scripts directory create a file called with the following content.

Refer to comments on the scripts to know what we are doing on each line.

Create a workflow

A Github action workflow is a set of instructions that consists different jobs and steps that can be triggered on events we mentioned above.

Workflows for a repository are stored inside .github/workflows in the root directory of your applications.

create a file called deploy.yml inside .github/workflows folder with the following content.

Commit the newly created files

Now we have created all the necessary files for our automation let's commit them with the following commands.

$ git add deploy.yml 
$ git commit -m "Deployment automation"
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Create deployment branch and push to Github

If you notice on our and deploy.yml files we have referred to a branch called production. we will use this branch to add commits that are production-ready with a push or pull request.

Create this branch for your repository with the following git command and push them to GitHub.

$ git checkout -b production 
$ git push -u origin production
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Setting up ssh key

It's time to set up the connection between our server and Github's.

To do this we first need to generate a new ssh key pair on our server.

Run this command on your server to generate the ssh keys.

$ ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C ""
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When prompt to enter a file name and passphrase, just press enter and accept the defaults.

This will create 2 ssh keys, public and private inside your home directory .ssh/ folder.

And now add your newly generated ssh private key to the ssh-agent with the following commands.

$ eval "$(ssh-agent -s)"
$ ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa
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And let's add our public key to the authorized_keys file on our server with the following command.

$ cat ~/.ssh/ >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
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Copying ssh keys to Github

Our above setup will allow:-

1. Github Actions to authenticate itself to our server and run our script.

For this to work, we have to let Github know how to authenticate to our server.

As we prepared our ssh key above will provide it to GitHub alongside the server HOST, the ssh PORT, the ssh private KEY, and the USERNAME of our server.

To do this go to your Github account on your browser and open your repository.

Click on setting like shown below

Github setting

And on the sidebar menu click on secrets

github add button

On the Action Secret page, click on add a new repository secret.

add button

On the new secret page, add the following keys one by one.


The HOST secret is your server IP address, put in the HOST keyword in the name field and your server IP address in the value field.


The PORT secret is your ssh port. use the PORT keyword in the name and 22 in the value to use the default ssh port.


The SSHKEY secret is the private ssh key we generated on our server. normally you wouldn't share your private ssh key with anyone but since we are doing automation it's required.

Use the SSHKEY keyword for the name field.

To copy your private key value go to your server and run the following command.

$ cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa
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This will print your private ssh key on your terminal, copy it and past it inside the value field.


The last secret would be the USERNAME you want to authenticate with.

To get this you can run whoami on your server and get the value. Then use the USERNAME keyword for the name field and past in the value.

when you are done you should have your secrets looking something like this

github secrets

2. Our server to authenticate to Github and fetch the latest commits on our repository.

In order to Github allow access to our server we have to provide the ssh public key we generated earlier.

if we have multiple repositories we can provide the public key at the account level, but if it is just one repository we can provide it in the repository and allow access only to that one repository on our account.

To do that go to your repository settings again and click on Deploy keys

deploy keys

Add deploy keys..

add deploy keys

Give it a title that helps you remember the server, like PROD_SERVER.

Image description

And for the key field value go to your server and print your public key with the following command and copy it.

$ cat ~/.ssh/
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Don't check to allow write access and just click on add key button.

The last thing would be to change our remote origin on our server to use SSH instead of HTTPS and do a fetch to get the new commits on the server

To do that go to your Github repository and click on the code button and copy the link on the ssh tab.

Image description

Then on your server go to your deployed application directory, most commonly inside /var/html/www and run the following command.

git remote set-url origin
git fetch
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replace the URL with the one you copied.

Give your script execution permission

sudo chmod +x ./REPOSITORY/.scripts/
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There you have it, my friends, you have now a Laravel application deployment automation. create a test commit and push it to your production branch to see the magic happen.

You can go crazy with it by adding in more workflows for your test builds, staging environments, etc…

mic drop

Top comments (11)

nablidev profile image

This is a very helpful article that I use as a reference and keep visiting over and over. However, I leave this note comment as a future reference and help for myself and others.

Because the Laravel app uses npm to build its assets and thus also the script on the server, then the deploy.yml needs to indicate that the github action server also needs npm to build the assets. So to the deploy.yml file you need to add the following:

      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      - uses: actions/setup-node@v3
          node-version: latest
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And if you are using nvm on the server to install node then maybe you need to add the following to the script

export NVM_DIR=~/.nvm
source ~/.nvm/
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nablidev profile image

thank you for this post, following it helped me set my continuous deployment using laravel and github actions, however some small things are missing in this guide.
For example you need to grant execution permissions on your server for the ./.scripts/ in order for it to be able to execute

kenean50 profile image

Thank you for pointing that out, its updated now.

precampio profile image

Thanks for your post. I have created two workflows one for staging one for prod. When I run $ git fetch Permission denied (publickey).
fatal: Could not read from remote repository.

Please make sure you have the correct access rights
and the repository exists.

nablidev profile image

@precampio as @hammykl20 pointed out you need to add github to the ssh known_hosts list like the following:

ssh-keyscan -t rsa >> ~/.ssh/known_hosts

However, this is not enough as you have to also add your public key to your github account by going to your account's settings, clicking on "SSH and GPG keys," and then clicking "New SSH key."

Then just to be safe I would run the following two commands:

eval "$(ssh-agent -s)"
ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

hammykl20 profile image
souravdutt profile image
souravdutt • Edited

When I run following command replacing with my repo ssh key on my vps:
git remote set-url origin
it give fatal: No such remote 'origin' error.
Can you please help me in this? do I need to login with github credentials?

souravdutt profile image

A note to myself and whoever facing similar issues

If deploying a new repo, first need to clone it on server using (make sure both ssh keys have been added on github):
git clone

cloning will auto set origin to current repo but you can check once using below command:
git remote -v
In case no origin found, then add origin using:
git remote set-url origin

as you may need to make some permission changes (such as inside storage directory or .script directory) so ignore permission changes tracking using below command else your next action will fail:
git config core.fileMode false

asoko2 profile image
Anang Hariyanto N

Hi, i've followed all the instruction, and i ended up getting this error,

Run appleboy/ssh-action@master
Will download drone-ssh-1.7.4-linux-amd64 from
% Total % Received % Xferd Average Speed Time Time Time Current
Dload Upload Total Spent Left Speed

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 0

100 5580k 100 5580k 0 0 16.5M 0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 16.5M
cd /var/www/travellist && ./.scripts/
2024/05/05 03:45:01 dial tcp :: connect: connection timed out

i don't know what's wrong, i've tried to add timeout: 3600s to the deploy.yml, but it's still not working

kenean50 profile image

I am not quite sure why you are getting this error but the following points might help debugging

  1. Make sure you don't have firewall rules on your server blocking Github action from connecting with SSH
  2. Make sure you are connecting through the right SSH port on your server
diazsasak profile image
Diaz Guntur Febrian

Thanks mate..