Piwik on Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin)

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Piwik is a “downloadable, open source (GPL licensed) web analytics software program”. As an alternative to services like Google Analytics, Piwik allows you to host your statistics services on your own server and have full ownership of and control over the data collected from your visitors.

Piwik requires a functioning LAMP stack. You can install the LAMP software with one of the LAMP guides. Make sure you follow the steps for installing PHP and PHP-MySQL support.


Make sure your package repositories and installed programs are up to date by issuing the following commands:

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade --show-upgraded

Piwik requires a few additional dependencies beyond LAMP fundamentals. Most importantly, Piwik requires the php5-gd package to draw the “sparklines”. These are the small graphs displayed in the control panel. We’ll also need wget and unzip to access the files in the Piwik package. Install php5-gd and unzip by running the following command:

apt-get install php5-gd unzip wget

Configure a Dedicated Virtual Host for Piwik

This phase of the installation process is optional, but recommended. Here we configure a subdomain and virtual host configuration in Apache specifically for Piwik. This makes it easy to separate the statistics package from the website or websites that Piwik monitors.

To create a virtual host we need to add an “A Record,” for the subdomain that Piwik will use; in our example this is stats.example.com. If your DNS is hosted with Linode’s DNS servers, you can configure the A record in the DNS manager. Additionally, we’ll need to create a new virtual hosting file for this sub domain.

We’ll create the following host file, located at /etc/apache2/sites-available/stats.example.org:

File: /etc/apache2/sites-available/stats.example.org
<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin admin@stats.example.org
    ServerName stats.example.org
    ServerAlias stats.example.org
    DocumentRoot /srv/www/stats.example.org/public_html/
    ErrorLog /srv/www/stats.example.org/logs/error.log
    CustomLog /srv/www/stats.example.org/logs/access.log combined

We’ll need to create the logs/ and public_html/ directories by issuing the following commands:

mkdir -p /srv/www/stats.example.org/public_html
mkdir /srv/www/stats.example.org/logs

Enable the virtual host and restart the web server configuration with the following two commands:

a2ensite stats.example.org
/etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Remember that the configuration of a special virtual host for Piwik is optional. If you use a web server other than Apache, you will need to pursue different steps to configure the virtual host.

Installing Piwik

First we’ll download the latest distribution of the Piwik package. Issue the following two commands:

cd /srv/www/stats.example.org/
wget http://builds.piwik.org/latest.zip

Uncompress the archive and move the contents of the archive to the directory where you want to install Piwik. Use these two commands:

unzip latest.zip
mv piwik/* public_html

Before running Piwik’s installation script, we need to change the permissions of several directories. Piwik requires these permissions to remain set to function properly. Issue the following commands:

chmod a+w /srv/www/stats.example.org/public_html/tmp
chmod a+w /srv/www/stats.example.org/public_html/config

Visit your new Piwik instance in your browser. In our example, this is located at http://stats.example.org/. Follow the instructions provided by the Piwik installation process. It will prompt you for the name of your MySQL database as well as access credentials for this database. This information was created when you installed the LAMP stack.

When Piwik’s installation process is complete, you will receive JavaScript snippet that you can insert in every page on your site that you want to track using Piwik.

If you are concerned about the security of the data collected by Piwik, consider limiting access to Piwik’s virtual host, using either rule-based or authentication based access control.

Congratulations! You now have a fully functional statistics and web traffic analytics package running on your own server.

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