Install Cockpit on Debian 9

In this tutorial, we will guide you through the steps of installing Cockpit on a Debian 9 VPS as well as configure the Apache web server as a reverse proxy, that way you can access Cockpit with your domain name.

Cockpit is a free and open-source lightweight and powerful remote manager for GNU/Linux servers. Cockpit allows you to easily and quickly manage and administer your Linux servers through an intuitive web interface – it even allows you to use the server’s command line inside of the browser itself! Let’s begin with the installation.


  • A Debian 9 VPS. For the purposes of this tutorial we will use our SSD 1 VPS hosting plan.
  •  system user with root privileges.

Step 1: Log in and Update the Server

Log into your Debian 9 VPS via SSH as the root user, or as another user with root privileges:

ssh root@IP_Address -p Port_number

where ‘IP_Address‘ and ‘Port_number‘ are the actual IP address of your server and the SSH port number.

Once you are logged in, make sure that all installed packages on the server are updated to the latest available version by running the following commands

apt update && apt upgrade

You can also enable automatic updates on your Debian 9 VPS by following one of our previous tutorials.

Step 2: Install Cockpit

Cockpit is included in the Debian 9 ‘backports’ repositories, therefore it can be easily installed using the apt package manager. In order to do that, we have to enable the Debian ‘backports’ repository:

echo 'deb stretch-backports main' > \

Once it is enabled, update the repository list:

apt update

Once the repository list is updated, run the following command to install Cockpit along with all of its dependencies:

apt -y install cockpit

Enable the Cockpit service to automatically start after a server reboot:

systemctl enable cockpit

After the installation is completed, Cockpit should be automatically started. You can check its status by issuing the following command:

systemctl status cockpit


cockpit.service - Cockpit Web Service
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/cockpit.service; static; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Tue 2019-07-02 05:44:29 EDT; 2min 33s ago
     Docs: man:cockpit-ws(8)
  Process: 9737 ExecStartPre=/usr/sbin/remotectl certificate --ensure --user=root --group=cockpit-ws --selinux-type= (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
 Main PID: 9740 (cockpit-ws)
    Tasks: 3 (limit: 4915)
   CGroup: /system.slice/cockpit.service
           ââ9740 /usr/lib/cockpit/cockpit-ws
           ââ9746 /usr/bin/ssh-agent

Jul 02 05:44:30 hostname cockpit-ws[9740]: logged in user session

The status output shows that Cockpit is up and running on your Debian 9 VPS and you can already start using it. Cockpit by default is listening on port 9090 and at this point you can access it by navigating your favorite web browser to http://Your_IP/9090 . However, you might not have a web server installed, so we’ll be showing you how to do that in the next step. On top of that, we will also show you how to configure the web server, so you can access Cockpit with a domain name instead of your server’s IP address.

Step 3: Install and Configure Apache as a Reverse Proxy

Apache is the most popular web server in the world. We will install it for the purposes of this tutorial and use it as a reverse proxy. If Apache is not already installed on your Debian 9 VPS, you can easily install it using the following command:

apt -y install apache2

After the installation has been completed, the web server should be automatically started and running on your server. Check its status to make sure that it’s running:

systemctl status apache2


apache2.service - The Apache HTTP Server
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/apache2.service; enabled; vendor preset:
  Drop-In: /lib/systemd/system/apache2.service.d
   Active: active (running) since Thu 2019-07-04 05:02:57 CDT; 4h 35min ago
  Process: 1766 ExecReload=/usr/sbin/apachectl graceful (code=exited, status=0/S
  Process: 692 ExecStart=/usr/sbin/apachectl start (code=exited, status=0/SUCCES
 Main PID: 790 (apache2)
    Tasks: 8 (limit: 1112)
   CGroup: /system.slice/apache2.service
           ├─  790 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─ 1865 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─ 1866 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─ 1867 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─ 1871 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─ 1872 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           ├─13591 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start
           └─13662 /usr/sbin/apache2 -k start

Make sure to enable the Apache web server to automatically start after a server reboot:

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systemctl enable apache2

Next, we will create an Apache virtual host for the domain name which we will use to access Cockpit. For our example, we will use, so make sure to change all instances of that domain name to your unique domain name. Create an Apache configuration file with the following contents:

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/

<VirtualHost *:80>

ProxyRequests Off

Order deny,allow
Allow from all

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP:Upgrade} =websocket [NC]
RewriteRule /(.*) ws://$1 [P,L]
RewriteCond %{HTTP:Upgrade} !=websocket [NC]
RewriteRule /(.*)$1 [P,L]

ProxyPass /
ProxyPassReverse /

Order allow,deny
Allow from all

Save the file and activate the virtual host with the following command:


And then restart the web server for the changes to take effect:

systemctl restart apache2

Finally, you should be able to access Cockpit with your domain name at and use one of your system users to log into the application.

That’s it! You now have a working setup of Cockpit on your Debian 9 VPS.

Of course, you don’t have to install Cockpit on Debian 9, if you use one of our Managed Debian Hosting solutions, in which case you can simply ask our expert Linux admins to setup Cockpit on Debian 9 for you. They are available 24×7 and will take care of your request immediately.

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2 thoughts on “Install Cockpit on Debian 9”

  1. There’s maybe a missing step in your tutorial, I’m running vanilla debian 9:

    systemctl enable cockpit
    The unit files have no installation config (WantedBy, RequiredBy, Also, Alias
    settings in the [Install] section, and DefaultInstance for template units).
    This means they are not meant to be enabled using systemctl.
    Possible reasons for having this kind of units are:
    1) A unit may be statically enabled by being symlinked from another unit’s
    .wants/ or .requires/ directory.
    2) A unit’s purpose may be to act as a helper for some other unit which has
    a requirement dependency on it.
    3) A unit may be started when needed via activation (socket, path, timer,
    D-Bus, udev, scripted systemctl call, …).
    4) In case of template units, the unit is meant to be enabled with some
    instance name specified.

    ¿can you point me out in the right direction?


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