Installing and running Lucee with CommandBox on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Server and Apache2

Installing and running Lucee with CommandBox on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Server and Apache2

A step by step guide about installing and running Lucee with CommandBox behind Apache2 with AJP. The setup is made from a remote computer with Windows 10 using SSH X11 forwarding and Ubuntu's lightweight display manager lightdm from desktop interface xfce4. The first two steps are equal to the first two videos of the 'Installing Lucee on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Server Apache2 - Video Guide'.

Step 1: Adding Required Ubuntu Packages

Please follow the steps shown in the following video:

Adding Required Ubuntu Packages Video

Commands used

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install xfce4
$ sudo systemctl disable lightdm.service
$ sudo apt install apache2
$ sudo apt install gufw
$ sudo apt install firefox
$ sudo apt install mousepad

Step 2 - Setting Up SSH X11 Forwarding

Please follow the steps shown in the following video:

Setting Up SSH X11 Forwarding Video

Snippet used for Putty SSH Command at 1:33

sudo xauth add $(xauth -f ~YourSudoUsername/.Xauthority list|tail -1); /bin/bash

Commands used

$ sudo thunar
$ sudo mousepad /etc/sshd/sshd_config

Step 3 - Installing Java Development Kit (JDK)

CommandBox needs Java Development Kit (JDK) to run. In this example we are going to install Ubuntus default JDK OpenJDK. First you need to connect through SSH with X11 forwarding enabled to your server and log into your sudo account. After that you can install Ubuntus default JDK with:

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install default-jdk

Step 4 - Installing CommandBox

Install CommandBox as specified at Ortus Solutions official installation documentation with the following commands:

$ sudo apt install libappindicator-dev
$ curl -fsSl | sudo apt-key add -
$ echo "deb /" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/commandbox.list
$ sudo apt update && sudo apt install apt-transport-https commandbox

Step 5 - Create a non-root/non-sudo user to run CommandBox as a service

To run CommandBox with a different user we need to create a user and usergroup ( e.g. named "cfbox" ) with no login capabilities:

$ sudo useradd -r -m -U -d /opt/CommandBox -s /bin/false cfbox

Explanation of the command '*$ sudo useradd -r -m -U -d /opt/CommandBox -s /bin/false cfbox**':*

  • '-r' : creates the group also with the same name as user.
  • '-m' : creates the user's home directory if it does not exist.
  • '-U' : Creates a group with the same name as the user, and adds the user to this group.
  • '-d /opt/CommandBox' : specifies the home directory for new user.
  • '-s /bin/false' : specifies the user's default shell. The value 'bin/false' locks the default shell, so there is no log in for the user 'cfbox' available.
  • '-c "user display information"' : use this to optionally add a text display information to the users account

Note: It's important to understand that running CommandBox as non-root/non-sudo user may cause file read/write permission issues (e.g. when using cffile/cfexecute in your web application). However, that is what good security praxis is all about and you'll need to adapt/set the corresponding permissions of a given location if necessary.

Step 6 - Create a wwwroot to hold your web applications files and add a index.cfm file to it for testing

Connect with SSH X11 Forwarding as shown in step 2 and create a folder 'wwwroot' that will hold your web application cfm files and resources. To do that, open the file explorer 'thunar' with sudo with:

$ sudo thunar
  1. Then navigate to /var/www/ and
  2. Create a folder named wwwroot and
  3. Add a '/var/www/wwwroot/index.cfm' file with the following simple content for testing:
<!-- file located at /var/www/wwwroot/index.cfm -->
<cfexecute name="whoami" variable="cfexecOutput"></cfexecute>
<cfdump var="#[cfexecOutput,now(),cgi]#">

Step 7 - Add a CommandBox server.json to configure the server to serve your web application

CommandBox uses a 'server.json' file to configure specific server settings to be used for the web application to run with its embedded server Undertow. Some settings need to be disabled, otherwise the service start will fail. If you want to see a full description of the possible settings of the server.json file, visit the Ortus Solutions - server.json settings documentation. For now we are going to create the server.json file at '/var/www/wwwroot/server.json' with the following content:

  "name": "myapp",
  "openBrowser": false,
  "trayEnable": false,
  "web": {
      "HTTP": {
          "enable": true,
          "port": 8080
      "AJP": {
          "enable": true,
          "port": 8009
   "app": {
        "cfengine": "lucee@5.x",
        "serverHomeDirectory": "/opt/CommandBox/web-contexts/wwwroot-myapp"

Explanation of what the file '/var/www/wwwroot/server.json' shown above does:

  • specifies the web applications name "myapp"
  • prevents CommandBox from launching a Browser
  • prevents CommandBox from launching the IconTray
  • enables HTTP on port 8080 for simple test browsing on
  • enables AJP on port 8009 for connecting Apache2
  • uses Lucee's latest version as the running cfengine of the app
  • deploys Undertow's server context for the app at "/opt/CommandBox/web-contexts/wwwroot-myapp".

There is much more that can be configured with the server.json file. Please find further information about configuring your CommandBox inbuilt server Undertow and also specific Lucee settings at Ortus Solution documentation for CommandBox server.json

Step 8 - Give CommandBox read/write permissions to the server.json file

Because CommandBox opens and rewrites the server.json file, the user 'cfbox' needs read/write privileges for it. To adjust it navigate to the file with the file explorer 'thunar' -> right click the server.json file -> 'permissisions' -> group -> 'cfbox' with read/write permissions.

Step 9 - Run CommandBox for the first time as the user 'cfbox' for initialization

At first start CommandBox installs/initializes itself and deploys all necessary packages and dependencies it needs to run. To firstly run CommandBox as the user 'cfbox' all together with the 'server start' command to launch the web application, enter the line as follows:

$ sudo -H -u cfbox box server start /var/www/wwwroot/server.json --console

Explanation of the command '$ sudo -H -u cfbox box server start /var/www/wwwroot/server.json --console':

  • '-H' : runs the command by using the target user's HOME environment variables. That will cause CommandBox to use the folder '/opt/CommandBox' as specified in 'Step 5 - Create a non-root/non-sudo user to run CommandBox as a service' and create CommandBox lib/deploy directory at '/opt/CommandBox/.CommandBox/'.
  • '-u cfbox' : runs the command as the user 'cfbox'.
  • 'box server start /var/www/wwwroot/server.json --console' : run a CommandBox server instance with the settings of the server.json and output the data to console

As soon as you see the text in the console window "[INFO ] Runwar: Server is up - http-port:8080..." CommandBox/Lucee completed all the context creation and the server instance is up and running. After that you can quit the server with the Linux quit shortcut:


If you are running CommandBox and you have access to the interactive CommandBox shell, simply enter $ quit to quit.

Addition information: If in certain situations you need to run CommandBox as the user 'cfbox' to access CommandBox shell (e.g. for debugging the service start), launch the CommandBox session with the following line:

$ sudo -H -u cfbox box

Step 10 - Install CommandBox as a service to run as 'cfbox'

To install a service (e.g. named 'MyServiceName') in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, a corresponding file with the extension '.service' needs to be created and saved to '/usr/lib/systemd/system/' (e.g. '/usr/lib/systemd/system/MyServiceName.service'). To run CommandBox as service we will create a service named 'commandbox-myapp' and create the file /usr/lib/systemd/system/commandbox-myapp.service:

1. Launch the file explorer 'thunar' with:

$ sudo thunar

2. Then navigate to '/usr/lib/systemd/system/' and create a file named 'commandbox-myapp.service' with the following content:

#Systemd unit file for CommandBox Site
ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/box server start /var/www/wwwroot/server.json
#execute service as 'cfbox' user

3. Enable the service with:

$ sudo systemctl enable commandbox-myapp.service

4. Start the service with:

$ sudo systemctl start commandbox-myapp.service

5. Wait for CommandBox/Lucee deploy all the contexts from the preceding service start. If the service start timesout or if you just would like to verify the last service status, check with:

$ sudo journalctl -e -u commandbox-myapp


$ sudo systemctl status commandbox-myapp.service

Step 11 - Open a browser and test the web application

Check if the CommandBox inbuilt server Undertow is serving the page correctly at: by entering firefox without sudo:

$ firefox

If you have successfully tested the page and you are seeing the index.cfm page displayed with the data dump, we can proceed to Step 12 to connect CommandBox inbuilt servlet container enging Undertow with the front end web server Apache2.

Step 12 - Connect Apache2 with Commandbox inbuilt servler container engine Undertow with AJP

CommandBox inbuilt lightweight servlet engine Undertow can also run without a front end web server (as stand alone server). Typical options/features needed for such a scenario are configurable in server.json (e.g. urlRewirte, admin lock down, prodution-profiles, etc). Running Undertow in such a setup may suffice and should be taken into consideration. If running as 'stand alone' is wished, simply deactivate AJP by deleting the respective entries in your server.json and changing HTTP port 8080 to port 80. Nevertheless, we'll show you in this step how to connect Lucee/Undertow to Apache2 with AJP, which is a very common setup.

We have already enabled AJP in the server.json file. Still, Apache2 needs to be configured to intercept '.cfm/.cfc' files and forward the connection (also called to 'reverse proxy') to CommandBox 'servlet container engine'. This is done with the Apache2 module mod_proxy_ajp (and mod_proxy). To configure Apache2 to for reverse proxy as AJP, you need to:

1. Enable the module by entering:

$ sudo a2enmod proxy_ajp

2. Open thunar and adapt the virtual host configuration file '/etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf' by changing your document root to your webroot at '/var/www/wwwroot' and add the 'DirectoryIndex' directive with the value 'index.cfm'. Then lock down Lucee administrator and prevent others from downloading sensitive configuration files from your webroot with Apache2's 'Location' and 'LocationMatch' directives:

<VirtualHost *:80>
	# define wwwroot to point to your web applications root
	# and define index.cfm as the default index document
	DocumentRoot /var/www/wwwroot
	DirectoryIndex index.cfm
	<IfModule mod_proxy.c>
		ProxyPreserveHost On
		# HTTP ProxyPassReverse
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/(.+\.cf[cm])(/.*)?$$1$2
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/(.+\.cfml)(/.*)?$$1$2
		# AJP  ProxyPassReverse
		ProxyPassMatch ^/(.+\.cf[cm])(/.*)?$ ajp://$1$2
		ProxyPassMatch ^/(.+\.cfml)(/.*)?$ ajp://$1$2
		# optional mappings
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/flex2gateway/(.*)$$1
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/messagebroker/(.*)$$1
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/flashservices/gateway(.*)$$1
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/openamf/gateway/(.*)$$1
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/rest/(.*)$$1
		# optional mappings as AJP
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/flex2gateway/(.*)$ ajp://$1
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/messagebroker/(.*)$ ajp://$1
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/flashservices/gateway(.*)$ ajp://$1
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/openamf/gateway/(.*)$ ajp://$1
		# ProxyPassMatch ^/rest/(.*)$ ajp://$1
		# HTTP ProxyPassReverse
		# ProxyPassReverse /
		# AJP	ProxyPassReverse
		ProxyPassReverse / ajp://
	# lock down Lucee Administrator in Apache2. Lucee Administrator still will keep accessible
	# through X11 SSH forwarding on port 8080 ( http: )
	<Location /lucee/admin>
		Order deny,allow
		Deny from all
	# lock down specific CommandBox configuration and other sensitive files here with Regex
	<LocationMatch "(?i).*/(box\.json|server\.json|web\.config|urlrewrite\.xml|package\.json|package-lock\.json|Gulpfile\.js)$">
		Order deny,allow
		Deny from all

3. After that you only need to restart apache2 with:

$ sudo systemctl restart apache2

Then open your web application with your browser from the remote machine on port 80 and enjoy!