(This article is part of our Hackercool Magazine)
In our eternal journey of learning hacking and penetration testing, we need to install or set up so many software and labs. XAMPP server is one such important installation that may be useful to us especially if we want to become expert in web hacking.
XAMPP stands for Cross-Platform (X), Apache (A), MariaDB (M), PHP (P) and Perl (P). It is a simple, lightweight Apache distribution that makes it extremely easy for developers to create a local web server for testing and deployment purposes. It is open source and very simple to set up. Once we set up Xampp Server, we can install any CMS in it to practice website hacking or web security.
In this howto, we will see how to install Xampp web server in Ubuntu 16 Desktop. This Ubuntu Desktop is installed as a virtual machine in Vmware Player ( You can also use Oracle Virtualbox). Ubuntu (or for that matter any Linux distribution) has a default web server installed. But I decided to install Xampp server for its simplicity and ease of use.
Why are we setting this up in an Ubuntu system? Because most of the web servers in real life are set up in Linux and this makes it easy for us to simulate real world hacking attacks. Now let’s get to the installation part. Go to the downloads page of Xampp server and download the appropriate version (Many people download the 64 bit version and try to install it in 32 bit OS). For this tutorial, we are using the Xampp version 184.108.40.206 32 bit version since my OS is 32 bit.
The download should complete in a short time depending on the speed of your internet. Once the download is finished, open terminal. This can be done by clicking on search app at the top left of the Ubuntu Desktop and searching for terminal.
Once the terminal is open, navigate to the Downloads folder as shown in the image below. Type “ls” command to see a .run file of XAMPP server. Use command “chmod” to change the permissions of the “run” file. Once the colour of the .run file changes, execute the file by using command “./xampp-linux-5.6.23-0-installer.run” without quotes.
If you get an error as shown below, then you are not running with root privileges which are required for executing this file.
Click on “OK” and execute the .run file with “sudo” command as shown. When it prompts for sudo password, give the password.
The setup will start as shown below. Click on “Next”.
Click on “Next” again.
The system will show you the directory in which this server is being installed. Click on “Next”.
Click on “Next” again.
The system will show you a message that it is ready to install XAMPP server on your computer. Click on “Next”.
The installation process will start as shown below. It will take a bit long of time but it should not be too longer. Just go to a small stroll and come back. After the installation is finished, you will be shown a window as below. Make sure that the “Launch XAMPP” checkbox is enabled and click on “Finish“.
The XAMPP server application is launched as shown below.
Go to tab “Manage Servers” as shown below. Make sure that Apache web server and MYSQL database servers are running. If any service is not running, you can start them using buttons given below. The services should be green in colour.
Now let’s see if you can access the phpmyadmin of the web server. PHPmyadmin allows yo- u to manage databases from the browser, Open a browser and type “localhost/phpmyadmin” in the tab to access phpmyadmin. If everything went well, you should see this page shown below.
Now let’s see if we can access a website on the web server. In the browser window, just type “localhost” without quotes and you should see the webpage given below. This is the default webpage of XAMPP server.
Everything is set with our XAMPP web server. The XAMPP server can be started or stopped form the terminal using given commands as shown below.