Install WordPress locally

While it is possible to develop WordPress Plugin on a WordPress installation hosted on server or cloud, it is much more convenient to do that on local machine.In this section, we explain the steps to install WordPress on local system.

XAMPP is probably the easiest way to install WordPress locally. XAMPP by Apache Friends bundles Apache, MySQL, PHP and Pearl as an installer. XAMPP comes as separate package for Linux, Windows and Mac. Download the appropriate package for your system from XAMPP Download page. We explain how to install it on Linux and Windows.

Install XAMPP on Linux.

Download XAMPP version 5.5.19 as it contains PHP 5.5 and MySQL 5.6 instead of the latest 5.6.3 with PHP 5.6. We need root access to run the XAMPP installer.

Change mode of the downloaded file and run XAMPP installer.

# chmod 755

# ./

In the Setup screen, select both core and dev components.

WordPress Plugin Development Tutorial - WordPress Install locally - XAMPP setup

XAMPP installer unpack all components under /opt/lampp directory.

After installation, use following commands to start and stop the servers.

[root@m m]# /opt/lampp/lampp start

Starting XAMPP for Linux 5.5.19...
XAMPP: Starting Apache...ok.
XAMPP: Starting MySQL...ok.
XAMPP: Starting ProFTPD...ok.

To stop servers, use /opt/lampp/lampp stop error.

In Fedora 19, when we start the XAMPP we got lib.c not found error.

error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory.

To resolve this, we need to edit /opt/lampp/lampp file and change line 436 and pass proper kernel version of our system.

    export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=3.9.5

Install XAMPP on Windows.

Download XAMPP Windows version xampp-win32-5.5.19-0-VC11-installer.exe, which bundles PHP 5.5 and MySQL 5.6.

Run downloaded installer and in the Setup screen select all components.

WordPress Plugin Development Tutorial - WordPress Install locally - XAMPP Windows components

In Windows, by default XAMPP installs under C:xampp directory. Go with the default path to avoid further setup.

WordPress Plugin Development Tutorial - WordPress Install locally - XAMPP Windows default path.

Run C:xampp/xampp-control.exe to bring up the XAMPP Control Panel. Start and stop the servers through the control panel.

WordPress Plugin Development Tutorial - WordPress Install locally - XAMPP Windows Control Panel.

Test XAMPP Setup.

From here on steps are same for Linux and Windows. Before installing WordPress on XAMPP we need to test the setup. To do that, start MySQL and Apache servers and then open http://localhost in the browser and click Status in the left menu.

WordPress Plugin Development Tutorial - WordPress Install locally - XAMPP check status.

To run WordPress, we need components MySQL and PHP as activated.

Install WordPress.

We are ready to install WordPress.

XAMPP Document Root

In XAMPP, Document Root, the directory that holds web site is directory named htdocs.

In Linux, it defaults to /opts/lampp/htdocs and in Windows it is c:xampphtdocs.

For sake of brevity, we explain the installation process on Linux. For Windows, we have to adjust the paths slightly. The Linux path /opt/lampp is c:xampp in Windows and likewise /opt/lampp/htdocs is c:xampphtdocs. Apart from this, development steps are same under Linux and Windows.


Normally WordPress is installed directly under Document Root directory. But document root, htdocs, already contains some XAMPP example files. Rather than deleting those files, we can install WordPress under a subdirectory. This also allows us to install multiple versions of WordPress and switch version to test the plugin against different versions. With this strategy, we can even configure WordPress to run as Multi Site and switch between single or multi site.

First rename the index.php that comes with XAMPP as xampp.php with a move or rename command.

$ mv index.php xampp.php

Next, download the latest from WordPress and install it in /opt/lampp/htdocs

$ cd /opt/lampp/htdocs
$ unzip
$ mv wordpress wordpress-4.0.1     // rename the dir

We rename the wordpress directory as wordpress-4.0.1 so that we are free to install other versions later.

Apache should redirect all access to http://localhost/ to files in WordPress directory and for that add following files to /opt/lampp/htdocs.


 * Front to the WordPress application. This file doesn't do anything, but loads
 * wp-blog-header.php which does and tells WordPress to load the theme.
 * @package WordPress

 * Tells WordPress to load the WordPress theme and output it.
 * @var bool
define('WP_USE_THEMES', true);

/** Loads the WordPress Environment and Template */
require( dirname( __FILE__ ) . '/wordpress-4.0.1/wp-blog-header.php' );


# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index.php$ - <a href="" target="_blank">L]

# add a trailing slash to /wp-admin
RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?wp-admin$ $1wp-admin/ [R=301,L]

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -f [OR]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -d
RewriteRule ^ - [L]
RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?(wp-(content|admin|includes).*) wordpress-4.0.1/$2 [L]
RewriteRule ^([_0-9a-zA-Z-]+/)?(.*.php)$ wordpress-4.0.1/$2 [L]
RewriteRule . index.php [L]


# END WordPress

To switch to the another version, we have to replace the wordpress-4.0.1 strings in these files to the new directory.

Next add WordPress Configuration file wp-config.php to /opt/lampp/htdocs/wordpress-4.0.1 by copying and editing the sample config file that comes with WordPress.

$ cd /opt/lampp/htdocs/wordpress-4.0.1
$ cp wp-config-sample.php wp-config.php

Edit MySQL config section as follows.


/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define('DB_NAME', 'wordpress');

/** MySQL database username */
define('DB_USER', 'wp');

/** MySQL database password */
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'wp');

/** MySQL hostname */
define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');

In the WP Config file, we also need to enter some unique phrases for the items in Authentication Keys and Salts section. From wp-config.php, remove the lines shown in the next screenshot.


define('AUTH_KEY',         'put your unique phrase here');
define('SECURE_AUTH_KEY',  'put your unique phrase here');
define('LOGGED_IN_KEY',    'put your unique phrase here');
define('NONCE_KEY',        'put your unique phrase here');
define('AUTH_SALT',        'put your unique phrase here');
define('SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 'put your unique phrase here');
define('LOGGED_IN_SALT',   'put your unique phrase here');
define('NONCE_SALT',       'put your unique phrase here');

We can get random unique keys and salts from WordPress Org. Open WordPress API in a browser tab, which generates and displays random keys and salts. Copy the contents, paste it to the WP Config file’s and save the changes.

Final step is to create new database in MySQL to hold WordPress tables. Login to MySQL create a database named wordpress and grant privileges on the database to user named wp with password wp as shown below.

$ cd /opt/lampp
$ bin/mysql -u root
mysql> create database wordpress;
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON wordpress.* TO wp@localhost IDENTIFIED BY 'wp';
mysql> flush privileges;
mysql> exit

With everything in place, open http://localhost in the browser to get WordPress installation screen. Complete the WordPress installation.

Multiple WordPress Versions

As we installed WordPress under a separate directory in htdoc, we can keep multiple versions of WordPress and switch between them. To install new version, follow these steps.

  • Extract required version of wordpress zip in htdocs and rename the wordpress directory with a version number such as wordpress-x.x.x where x.x.x is the version number.

  • Edit /opt/lampp/htdocs/index.php and /opt/lampp/htdocs/.htaccess and change existing WordPress paths to new path.

  • Copy the wp-config.php from a existing setup and change the line define('DB_NAME', 'wordpress-x.x.x')with a new database name. This is essential else WordPress uses an existing database of an earlier version.

  • In MySQL, create new a database and grant privileges as done earlier.

  • In browser, access the site and complete WordPress installation.

  • To switch back to an earlier version, edit /opt/lampp/htdocs/index.php and /opt/lampp/htdocs/.htaccess and change WordPress paths.

In the next section, we start with WordPress plugin basics.