Getting started

The command line interface (CLI) is a useful utility for phpBB administrators who have access to a shell (or SSH) on the server they run phpBB on, as well as for extension developers. It provides CLI commands for managing config values, extensions, running database migration, purging the cache, and more.

Most operating systems ship with a built in command line application. For Mac OS and Ubuntu it is called “Terminal” and for Windows it is called “Command Prompt”. Third party software such as PuTTY and iTerm can also be used.

To use phpBB’s CLI on a web server, you will need SSH access to your web server. You can find out from your web hosting company if they offer SSH access and how to log into your web server from the CLI.

Once you have accessed your web server via SSH, or if you are in a localhost development environment, you simply need to navigate to your phpBB forum directory via the cd command:

$ cd path/to/phpBB

From there, issuing commands is simply a matter of calling phpBB’s CLI application.

$ php bin/phpbbcli.php

If everything is working correctly, the above command should output information about the currently installed phpBB CLI console. If you receive an error message, make sure you have navigated into the root directory of your forum.

General commands

The list command will show a list of all available commands available for phpBB’s CLI.

$ php bin/phpbbcli.php list

The help command will display general help for using phpBB’s CLI.

$ php bin/phpbbcli.php help

Using commands

All phpBB commands (as described when running the list command) have integrated help documentation available within the CLI. Use the --help or -h option with any of phpBB’s CLI commands to view detailed help for that command.

$ php bin/phpbbcli.php config:set --help

The above command will display information about the arguments and options that can be used with the specified command, in this example config:set. For example, the above command will output:

 config:set [-d|--dynamic] key value

Arguments or options shown inside of brackets indicates that they are optional to use. This shows us that the key and value arguments are required. However, the -d or --dynamic options available for this command are optional. Also note that -d is shorthand for --dynamic. Most options have a shorthand equivalent.

General options

Common options that can be used with any of phpBB’s CLI commands.



--help, -h

Display a help message

--quiet, -q

Do not output any message

--verbose, -v, -vv, -vvv

Increase the verbosity of messages: 1 for normal output, 2 for more verbose output and 3 for debug

--version, -V

Display this application version


Force ANSI (colors) output


Disable ANSI (colors) output

--no-interaction, -n

Do not ask any interactive question


Run in Safe Mode (without extensions)

Install phpBB using the CLI

The phpBB CLI installer uses a YAML file populated with the data needed to configure a database for a new phpBB installation. You can find a sample configuration file in docs/install-config.sample.yml. Copy this file to install/install-config.yml. Adjust the sample parameters to your needs. For example, a MySQL database using the mysqli interface hosted on a localhost server with the root user bertie and password bertiepasswd and named bertiedb would look like:

        name: admin
        password: mypassword
        email: [email protected]

        lang: en
        name: My Board
        description: My amazing new phpBB board

        dbms: mysqli
        dbhost: ~
        dbport: ~
        dbuser: bertie
        dbpasswd: bertiepasswd
        dbname: bertiedb
        table_prefix: phpbb_

        enabled: false
        smtp_delivery : ~
        smtp_host: ~
        smtp_port: ~
        smtp_auth: ~
        smtp_user: ~
        smtp_pass: ~

        cookie_secure: false
        server_protocol: http://
        force_server_vars: false
        server_name: localhost
        server_port: 80
        script_path: /

    extensions: ['phpbb/viglink']

You can adjust additional settings like the admin’s username, email address and the board info. Make sure the file is readable by the CLI.

To install the board, run the following command:

$ php install/phpbbcli.php install install-config.yml

The installer will start now and show its progress during the installation.

Update phpBB using the CLI

Much like installing from the CLI, phpBB can also be updated from the CLI using a YAML file with update instructions. You can find a sample update configuration file in docs/update-config.sample.yml. Copy this file to install/update-config.yml.

    type: all
    extensions: ['phpbb/viglink']

In this state, the updater will update your phpBB database and it will also replace all phpBB files with the updated files, giving you a complete upgrade.

However, if you have already replaced the files via the filesystem or FTP, you can choose to update the database only by changing the type from all` to ``db_only:

   type: db_only

To update the board, run the following command:

$ php install/phpbbcli.php update update-config.yml

The updater will start and show its progress.