This guide clones a Wordpress installation on GoDaddy to a development environment on Debian 9.5 Linux and VMWare, making it available via a subdomain pointing to the external network’s IP address. This allows a Wordpress child theme to be developed locally and previewed remotely before being deployed to production.

Step 1: Install Debian 9.5 netinst

Complete the following guide: Install Debian Stretch on VMWare with Custom Iptables NAT

Add the following iptables rules to port forward port 80:

-A FORWARD -i eth0 -o vnet1 -p tcp -m conntrack --ctstate NEW --dport 80 -j ACCEPT

Add the following within nat section of rules:

-A PREROUTING -d -p tcp --dport 80 -j DNAT --to

In this case, is the local network IP address of the machine running VMWare.

Step 2: Clone GoDaddy Wordpress

In GoDaddy => Hosting, find your SFTP user and corresponding password. Use this to navigate to sftp://user@domain/home/user/html/, which is your GoDaddy Wordpress installation directory.

Copy the directory wp-content/ and file wp-config.php to your local development machine.

Modify wp-config.php by commenting out the require statement to gd-config.php since we chose not to include it:

//require_once( dirname( __FILE__ ) . '/gd-config.php' );

To dump MySQL database, use GoDaddy phpMyAdmin url and log in with provided user and password. Select the database with same name as username and click on the Export tab.

Save this SQL dump text to file database.sql on your local development machine.

Copy these to virtual server:

local$ rsync -vrc wp-content wp-config.php database.sql anon@

Step 3: Install Apache, MySql, PHP

From development machine, open a remote terminal to virtual server and obtain root:

local$ ssh -l anon
$ su

Install Apache Web Server

$ apt-get install apache2 apache2-utils 

Enable and start apache2

$ systemctl enable apache2
$ systemctl start apache2

Install MySQL Database

**Consider installing latest MariaDB mariadb-server instead of MySQL mysql-server using the following repo:**

$ apt-get install mysql-client mysql-server

Set the root password, secure installation, and restart:

$ mysql_secure_installation

Disable DNS lookups in /etc/mysql/my.cnf:

# * Basic Settings

This fixes a problem where first page request is very slow, but subsequent page requests are fast, and only when accessing the database.

Install PHP

$ apt-get install php7.0 php7.0-mysql libapache2-mod-php7.0 php7.0-cli php7.0-cgi php7.0-gd

Create info.php file:

vim /var/www/html/info.php

With the following contents:


Visit to ensure everything is working properly.

Step 4: Install Wordpress

$ wget -c
$ tar -xzvf latest.tar.gz

Move wordpress files to apache2 location:

$ rsync -av wordpress/* /var/www/html/

Set the correct file permissions:

$ chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/
$ chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/

Step 5: Enable Apache mod_rewrite & .htaccess

Create Wordpress .htaccess file:

$ vim /var/www/html/.htaccess

With the contents:

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
# END WordPress

Save, exit, then change owner and permissions:

$ chown www-data:www-data /var/www/html/.htaccess
$ chmod 644 /var/www/html/.htaccess

Edit apache2.conf to allow override:

$ vim /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

Adjust AllowOverride within /var/www/:

<Directory /var/www/>
  AllowOverride All

Enable mod_rewrite and restart apache2:

$ a2enmod rewrite
$ service apache2 restart

Step 6: Setup MySQL Database

Use information within wp-config.php to setup MySQL database:

$ mysql -u root -p 

Enter password setup during MySQL installation.

Create table and grant privileges, replacing DB_NAME, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD with correct info:

mysql> EXIT;

Import database.sql:

$ mysql -u root -p DB_NAME < database.sql

Log back into database:

$ mysql -u root -p DB_NAME

To list tables:

mysql> show tables;

Update wp_options table to use development subdomain:

mysql> UPDATE wp_rygxqxy6yx_options SET option_value = '' WHERE option_id = 1;

Update wp_users table to set login password of default user:

mysql> UPDATE wp_rygxqxy6yx_users SET user_pass = MD5('newpassword') WHERE user_login = 'username';

Exit database.

Step 7: Finish Wordpress Setup

Copy wp-content/ to installation directory:

$ rsync -vrc wp-content/ /var/www/html/wp-content/
$ chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/wp-content

Copy wp-config.php to installation directory:

$ mv wp-config.php /var/www/html/
$ chmod 755 /var/www/html/wp-config.php

Set the correct ownership of entire installation directory:

$ chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html/

Restart apache2 and mysql:

$ service mysql restart
$ service apache2 restart

Assuming port forwarding is set up correctly on your router, you should be able to view the Wordpress install on the subdomain pointing to your external IP address.