Server Requirements

The Laravel framework has a few system requirements. Of course, all of these requirements are satisfied by the Laravel Homestead virtual machine:

  • PHP >= 5.5.9
  • OpenSSL PHP Extension
  • PDO PHP Extension
  • Mbstring PHP Extension
  • Tokenizer PHP Extension

Installing Laravel

Laravel utilizes Composer to manage its dependencies. So, before using Laravel, make sure you have Composer installed on your machine.

Via Laravel Installer

First, download the Laravel installer using Composer:

composer global require "laravel/installer=~1.1"

Make sure to place the ~/.composer/vendor/bin directory in your PATH so the laravel executable can be located by your system.

Once installed, the simple laravel new command will create a fresh Laravel installation in the directory you specify. For instance, laravel new blog will create a directory named blog containing a fresh Laravel installation with all of Laravel's dependencies already installed. This method of installation is much faster than installing via Composer:

laravel new blog

Via Composer Create-Project

You may also install Laravel by issuing the Composer create-project command in your terminal:

composer create-project laravel/laravel --prefer-dist


Basic Configuration

All of the configuration files for the Laravel framework are stored in the config directory. Each option is documented, so feel free to look through the files and get familiar with the options available to you.

Directory Permissions

After installing Laravel, you may need to configure some permissions. Directories within the storage and the bootstrap/cache directories should be writable by your web server. If you are using the Homestead virtual machine, these permissions should already be set.

Application Key

The next thing you should do after installing Laravel is set your application key to a random string. If you installed Laravel via Composer or the Laravel installer, this key has already been set for you by the key:generate command. Typically, this string should be 32 characters long. The key can be set in the .env environment file. If you have not renamed the .env.example file to .env, you should do that now. If the application key is not set, your user sessions and other encrypted data will not be secure!

Additional Configuration

Laravel needs almost no other configuration out of the box. You are free to get started developing! However, you may wish to review the config/app.php file and its documentation. It contains several options such as timezone and locale that you may wish to change according to your application.

You may also want to configure a few additional components of Laravel, such as:

Once Laravel is installed, you should also configure your local environment.

Pretty URLs


The framework ships with a public/.htaccess file that is used to allow URLs without index.php. If you use Apache to serve your Laravel application, be sure to enable the mod_rewrite module.

If the .htaccess file that ships with Laravel does not work with your Apache installation, try this one:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteRule ^ index.php [L]


On Nginx, the following directive in your site configuration will allow "pretty" URLs:

location / {
    try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$query_string;

Of course, when using Homestead, pretty URLs will be configured automatically.

Environment Configuration

It is often helpful to have different configuration values based on the environment the application is running in. For example, you may wish to use a different cache driver locally than you do on your production server. It's easy using environment based configuration.

To make this a cinch, Laravel utilizes the DotEnv PHP library by Vance Lucas. In a fresh Laravel installation, the root directory of your application will contain a .env.example file. If you install Laravel via Composer, this file will automatically be renamed to .env. Otherwise, you should rename the file manually.

All of the variables listed in this file will be loaded into the $_ENV PHP super-global when your application receives a request. You may use the env helper to retrieve values from these variables. In fact, if you review the Laravel configuration files, you will notice several of the options already using this helper!

Feel free to modify your environment variables as needed for your own local server, as well as your production environment. However, your .env file should not be committed to your application's source control, since each developer / server using your application could require a different environment configuration.

If you are developing with a team, you may wish to continue including a .env.example file with your application. By putting place-holder values in the example configuration file, other developers on your team can clearly see which environment variables are needed to run your application.

Accessing The Current Application Environment

The current application environment is determined via the APP_ENV variable from your .env file. You may access this value via the environment method on the App facade:

$environment = App::environment();

You may also pass arguments to the environment method to check if the environment matches a given value. You may even pass multiple values if necessary:

if (App::environment('local')) {
    // The environment is local

if (App::environment('local', 'staging')) {
    // The environment is either local OR staging...

An application instance may also be accessed via the app helper method:

$environment = app()->environment();

Configuration Caching

To give your application a speed boost, you should cache all of your configuration files into a single file using the config:cache Artisan command. This will combine all of the configuration options for your application into a single file which can be loaded quickly by the framework.

You should typically run the php artisan config:cache command as part of your production deployment routine. The command should not be run during local development as configuration options will frequently need to be changed during the course of your application's development.

Accessing Configuration Values

You may easily access your configuration values using the global config helper function. The configuration values may be accessed using "dot" syntax, which includes the name of the file and option you wish to access. A default value may also be specified and will be returned if the configuration option does not exist:

$value = config('app.timezone');

To set configuration values at runtime, pass an array to the config helper:

config(['app.timezone' => 'America/Chicago']);

Naming Your Application

After installing Laravel, you may wish to "name" your application. By default, the app directory is namespaced under App, and autoloaded by Composer using the PSR-4 autoloading standard. However, you may change the namespace to match the name of your application, which you can easily do via the app:name Artisan command.

For example, if your application is named "Horsefly", you could run the following command from the root of your installation:

php artisan app:name Horsefly

Renaming your application is entirely optional, and you are free to keep the App namespace if you wish.

Maintenance Mode

When your application is in maintenance mode, a custom view will be displayed for all requests into your application. This makes it easy to "disable" your application while it is updating or when you are performing maintenance. A maintenance mode check is included in the default middleware stack for your application. If the application is in maintenance mode, an HttpException will be thrown with a status code of 503.

To enable maintenance mode, simply execute the down Artisan command:

php artisan down

To disable maintenance mode, use the up command:

php artisan up

Maintenance Mode Response Template

The default template for maintenance mode responses is located in resources/views/errors/503.blade.php.

Maintenance Mode & Queues

While your application is in maintenance mode, no queued jobs will be handled. The jobs will continue to be handled as normal once the application is out of maintenance mode.