How To Install Zabbix on Ubuntu & Configure it to Monitor Multiple VPS Servers

How To Install Zabbix on Ubuntu & Configure it to Monitor Multiple VPS Servers



Zabbix is a networked server and software monitor. It can be used to keep track of multiple physical or virtual private server instances.

The client-server model that Zabbix employs allows the cloud server to collect rich sets of data that be used to graph historical trends. This can be very useful for monitoring the performance of the websites and applications hosted on your VPS.

For this guide, we will configure two machines. One will be configured as the server, and the other as a client. They both will run Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on 20GB Droplets.

Installing the Zabbix Server

We will begin by installing the Zabbix server on the VPS that we will use as the monitoring station.

Ubuntu has Zabbix in its repositories, but it is outdated. We will use a PPA with more up-to-date packages instead.

Edit apt source list to add the PPA:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the following items at the end of the file:

# Zabbix Application PPA
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/tbfr/zabbix/ubuntu precise main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/tbfr/zabbix/ubuntu precise main

Save and close the file.

Next, we need to add the PPA’s key so that apt-get trusts the source:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys C407E17D5F76A32B

We can now install Zabbix. It will pull in the necessary LAMP dependencies as well:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install zabbix-server-mysql php5-mysql zabbix-frontend-php

During the installation, you will be asked to choose a password for the MySQL root account. Make a selection and confirm your choice.

Configuring the Zabbix Server

Next, we will need to configure the packages we just installed.

First, we will edit the main Zabbix server configuration file. Open the file with root privileges:

sudo nano /etc/zabbix/zabbix_server.conf

Search for the following properties and set them accordingly. Some may already be set correctly, and some you may have to add. Choose a password as well:


Save and close the file.

MySQL Configuration

Next, we will go into the package directory and unzip the SQL files that will define our database environment:

cd /usr/share/zabbix-server-mysql/
sudo gunzip *.gz

We will import the SQL files into our database. However, we first must create the database and do some initial configuration.

Log into MySQL as the root user using the password that you set up during installation:

mysql -u root -p

First, create a user for Zabbix that matches the information we entered in the “/etc/zabbix/zabbix_server.conf” file. Make sure to use the same information:

create user 'zabbix'@'localhost' identified by 'Your.Password.Here';

Next, we will create the Zabbix database:

create database zabbix;

Give control over the new database to the new user we created:

grant all privileges on zabbix.* to 'zabbix'@'localhost';

The following line will implement our new permissions:

flush privileges;

We are now done with the initial MySQL configuration. Exit back to the shell:


Now that we have our database set up, we can import the files that Zabbix needs to function. Enter the password for the user “zabbix” that you configured when prompted:

mysql -u zabbix -p zabbix < schema.sql

Do the same with the images file:

mysql -u zabbix -p zabbix < images.sql

And finally, import the data file:

mysql -u zabbix -p zabbix < data.sql

PHP Configuration

We need to adjust some values for the php processing of our monitoring data. Open the php configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini

Search for and adjust the following entries. If they do not exist, add them:

post_max_size = 16M
max_execution_time = 300
max_input_time = 300
date.timezone = UTC

Save and close the file.

Next, we will copy the Zabbix-specific php file into the configuration directory:

sudo cp /usr/share/doc/zabbix-frontend-php/examples/zabbix.conf.php.example /etc/zabbix/zabbix.conf.php

Open the file:

sudo nano /etc/zabbix/zabbix.conf.php

Edit the following values. Use the same info as when you set up the database earlier:

$DB['DATABASE'] = 'zabbix';
$DB['USER'] = 'zabbix';
$DB['PASSWORD'] = 'Your.Password.Here'

Save and close the file.

Configuring Additional Files

There are a few more files that we need to configure.

First, we’ll move the Zabbix apache file from the package directory:

sudo cp /usr/share/doc/zabbix-frontend-php/examples/apache.conf /etc/apache2/conf.d/zabbix.conf

Ensure that the “alias” mod is enabled within Apache:

sudo a2enmod alias

Restart Apache to use the copied configuration file:

sudo service apache2 restart

Edit the Zabbix init file to ensure that it performs the correct action:

sudo nano /etc/default/zabbix-server

Go to the bottom and adjust the “START” property to read “yes”:


Save and close the file. We can now start Zabbix:

sudo service zabbix-server start

Installing and Configuring Zabbix Agent

Next, we need to configure the agent software that reports to the Zabbix server. We will install the agent software on our server machine and an additional client machine.

Follow these steps on both machines. Adjust the commands to reflect the correct information.

First, install the agent software:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install zabbix-agent

Next, we need to update the configuration files:

sudo nano /etc/zabbix/zabbix_agentd.conf

Edit the “Server” property to reflect the IP Address of the Zabbix server. For the agent configuration on the Zabbix server, you can use “”:


Adjust the “Hostname” property to reflect the hostname of the machine being monitored.


Save and close the file.

Restart the agent software:

sudo service zabbix-agent restart

Logging In for the First Time

In your web browser, navigate to your Zabbix server’s IP address followed by “/zabbix”:


You will be presented with a login screen. The default credentials are as follows:

Username = admin
Password = zabbix

Zabbix login screen

When you have logged in, click on the “Configuration” button, and then “Hosts” in the top navigation bar.

Zabbix Host configuration

Click on the name of the server (by default, this should be “Zabbix server”). This will open the host configuration page.

Adjust the Hostname to reflect the hostname of your Zabbix server (this should be the same hostname you entered in the agent configuration for the server machine).

At the bottom, change the “Status” property to “Monitored”. Click save.

Zabbix server host definition

You will be dopped back to the Hosts configuration page. Re-click on the hostname again.

This time, click on the “Clone” button at the bottom of the page.

We will configure this to reflect the settings of the client machine. Change the hostname and the IP address to reflect the correct information from the client agent file.

Zabbix client definition

In the “groups” section, select “Zabbix servers” and click the right arrow icon to remove that group. Select the “Linux servers” and click the left arrow icon to add that group setting.

Zabbix client group definition

Click “Save” at the bottom.

After a few minutes, you should be able to see both computers by going to “Monitoring” and then clicking on “Latest data”.

There should be information for both the server and client machines populating.

Zabbix latest data

If you click on the arrows next to an item, you can see the collected information.

Zabbix item information

If you click “Graph” you will see a graphical representation of the data points that have been collected:

Zabbix graph example

As with all monitoring software, these graphs will become more interesting the longer the server runs.

There are many other options that you can utilize to keep an eye on your VPS. Explore the interface to get comfortable with the powerful monitoring tools.


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