How to Install and Configure the ELK Stack on Ubuntu 16.04


ELK stands for Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana and is a robust open source solution for searching, analyzing and visualizing data. Elasticsearch is a distributed, RESTful search and analytics engine based on Lucene, Logstash is a data processing pipeline for managing events and logs and Kibana is a web application for visualizing data in Elasticsearch. This ELK Stack tutorial should work on other Linux VPS systems as well but was tested and written for an Ubuntu 16.04 VPS.


For this tutorial to work, there are a couple of requirements:

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Update the system and install necessary packages

sudo apt update && apt -y upgrade
sudo apt install apt-transport-https software-properties-common wget

Make sure to always update the software on your Linux VPS or set up automatic updates.

Install Oracle Java JDK via PPA

We will use the PPA repository maintained by the Webupd8 Team. The install script will ask you to accept the license agreement and it will download the Java archive file from the Oracle download page and set everything up for you.

To add the Webupd8 Team PPA repository, run the following commands on your server:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
sudo apt update

You can now install JDK8 with the following command:

sudo apt install oracle-java8-installer

To check if everything is set correctly, run:

java -version

and you should see something like the following:

java version "1.8.0_131"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.8.0_131-b11)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 25.131-b11, mixed mode)

Install and configure Elasticsearch

We will install Elasticsearch using the package manager from the Elastic repository.

wget -qO - | sudo apt-key add -
echo "deb stable main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/elastic-5.x.list
sudo apt update
sudo apt install elasticsearch

Once the installation is completed, open the elasticsearch.yml file and restrict the remote access to the Elasticsearch instance:

sudo nano /etc/elasticsearch/elasticsearch.yml localhost

Start the Elasticsearch service and set it to automatically start on boot:

sudo systemctl restart elasticsearch
sudo systemctl enable elasticsearch

Install and configure Kibana

Same as Elasticsearch, we will install Kibana using the package manager from the Elastic repository.

sudo apt install kibana

Once the installation is completed, open the kibana.yml file and restrict the remote access to the Kibana instance:

sudo nano /etc/kibana/kibana.yml "localhost"
Start the Elasticsearch service and set it to start automatically on boot:
sudo systemctl restart kibana
sudo systemctl enable kibana

Kibana will now run on localhost on port 5601

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Install and configure Nginx as a reverse proxy

We will use Nginx as a reverse proxy to access Kibana from the public IP address. To install Nginx, run:

sudo apt-get install nginx

Create a basic authentication file with the openssl command:

echo "admin:$(openssl passwd -apr1 YourStrongPassword)" | sudo tee -a /etc/nginx/htpasswd.kibana

Note: always use a strong password.

Generate a self signed ssl certificate:

Delete the default nginx virtual host:

sudo rm /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default

and create a virtual host configuration file for our Kibana instance:

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/kibana
server {
    listen 80 default_server;
    server_name _;
    return 301 https://$server_name$request_uri;

server {
    listen 443 default_server ssl http2;
    server_name _;
    ssl_certificate /etc/ssl/certs/ssl-cert-snakeoil.pem;
    ssl_certificate_key /etc/ssl/private/ssl-cert-snakeoil.key;
    ssl_session_cache shared:SSL:10m;
    auth_basic "Restricted Access";
    auth_basic_user_file /etc/nginx/htpasswd.kibana;
    location / {
        proxy_pass http://localhost:5601;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Connection 'upgrade';
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
        proxy_cache_bypass $http_upgrade;

Activate the server block by creating a symbolic link:

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/kibana /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/kibana

Test the Nginx configuration and restart nginx:

sudo nginx -t
sudo service nginx restart

Install Logstash

The final step is to install Logstash using the package manager from the Elastic repository.

sudo apt install logstash

The Logstash configuration depends on your personal preferences and the plugins you will use. You can find more information on how to configure Logstash here.

That’s it. You have successfully installed the ELK Stack on your Ubuntu 16.04 VPS.