Collection of tricks to quickly setup Joomla testing sites during PBF sessions
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Automated Joomla Installations

During PBF (Pizza-Bug-Fun) sessions, many people are struggling with setting up new Joomla environments, ready for testing. To ease this process, this project forms an attempt to roll out new fresh Joomla sites with exactly those requirements needed.

Current state



  • MySQL user that has privilege to create new databases (DB prefix: example\_)
  • PHP exec() support
  • Composer installed on server to install joomla-console

Included steps

  • Management interface (index.php) to quickly create and dump sites
  • Create a new site using joomla-console
  • Disable debugger plugin (cli/pbf.php)
  • Install Patchtester component


Setup the GUI (see: Setup). Click on "Create Site". Navigate to the Joomla Administrator and login with username admin and your password. Passwords are automatically being generated and visible in the GUI if you have used the secret-token successfully.


  • Make sure composer is installed on the server
  • Copy config.json.sample to config.json
    • Modify the MySQL data
    • Modify strings if needed
  • Go to the source folder and run the script, to install joomla-console plus download packages
  • Add optional packages to source/extensions
    • OScontent for dummy content
    • Language-packs

Notes: Using the secret token

The GUI is accessible for anyone. However, if you want to create or destroy sites, or see the generated passwords, you need to access the GUI with a token:


Once the token is set in the URL, a redirect occurs, and the token is saved in the browser session.

This token is configured in the config.json file and should only be available to PBF instructors.

Notes: Creating a new site

The GUI (index.php) allows you to create a new site. This is by using the joomla-console CLI tool. There currently is a PR open for the original JoomlaTools project to include a custom DB prefix. The source/ script therefore contains the Yireo clone of joomla-console which contains this PR.

Notes: Site structure

    ./ - Simple script to install a site using joomla-console
    ./joomla-console - Git clone 

Notes: Setting the Joomla version

Normally the config value joomla_version (under server) is set to latest, which simply means the latest available stable Joomla version is used. You can also install specific versions (3.4.2) or a Git branch (master, staging).

Besides this option, the batch.php file also contains a procedure to update the joomla command with the latest version. This is determined via the config value server.version_refresh. It makes sure that an existing PBF repository is updating its definition of the latest Joomla version.

Notes: Setting the password type

In your config.json you can set the option password_type. See the config.json.sample file for an example. The password_type can be one of the following:

  • default = The username and password of the Super User will be the same as the site name. For example joomla1.

  • admin = The username and password of the Super User will be admin

  • generate = The username of the Super User will be admin. The password is automatically generated.

    "password_type": "generate",

Additionally, there is the option password_reset with a default value 0. If this option is set to 1, it will require the Super User to change his/her password at first login. (Technically, the require_reset flag in the com_users table is set.

"password_reset": 1,

Tip: Adding extensions by URL

You can automatically install extensions by dumping them in the source/extensions folder. You can also automatically install extensions by defining them in the config.json file:

    "extensions": {
        "dutch": "",

You can check the URL for instance for translations. Make sure to use the URL pointining to the final ZIP file, not an URL to a XML file. In effect, this will download the ZIP to the source/extensions folder.

Troubleshooting tips

Make sure the default php binary is the CLI binary. If for instance the default /usr/bin/php binary is a FastCGI executable, the CLI tasks of this project will not run. If rearranging the PATH is no option, modify the config.json file to point to the right binary.

    "server": {
        "php_binary": "/usr/local/bin/php"

Also make sure the source/joomla-console/bin/joomla script uses the right binary:


Make sure display_errors is On. Also make sure the memory_limit is large enough. Enable the log flag in the configuration if you want to log the commands to the logs folder.

Don't forget to run the command steps in the source folder. This also requires composer to be already installed on the server.

If in a CGI environment, make sure all files and folders are only writable for the current user:

find . -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;
find . -type d -exec chmod 755 {} \;


  • Command-line script to destroy or create all sites in batches
  • Flexible way to install language packs with URL that is no longer dependant on Joomla version