Setting up Laravel and React in WSL

Recently I was given an assignment to build a simple web app using Laravel. Having never used PHP before, this was an interesting challenge! Because setting up environments is never fun, I decided to write this post to summarize my notes and hopefully help out anyone else looking to get Laravel up and running. I setup my environment using WSL, but this guide should work for any Unix system.


If you're a Windows user, first you're going to want to get WSL setup and running. For more information please see: Windows Subsystem for Linux Installation Guide for Windows 10.

Getting Started

From a fresh WSL install, we'll want to install the following packages:

  • Apache 2.4.29
  • PHP 7.2.24
  • Node 8.10.0

Step 1 - Node, Apache, PHP

The following commands will get the above packages, and other dependencies installed.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt install apache2 curl openssl zip unzip git libonig-dev nodejs npm

Check nodejs and npm were installed correctly with:

$ node --version
$ npm --version

After confirming nodejs and npm are ok, confirm apache is ok, and if not, get it running

$ apache2 -v
Server version: Apache/2.4.29 (Ubuntu)
Server built:   2019-09-16T12:58:48
$ sudo service apache2 status

You can confirm the server is running and restart/start/stop it with the following commands when needed

sudo service apache2 status
sudo service apache2 restart
sudo service apache2 start
sudo service apache2 stop

Now that apache2 is up and running, it's time to get all the required php packages installed! In this tutorial, we're going to go with PHP 7.2.

sudo apt install php7.2 libapache2-mod-php php-cli php-cgi php-mbstring php-zip php7.2-gd php-xml php7.2-sqlite

You can visit PHP Function Reference for more info on some of the above packages.

Step 2 - Composer and Laravel

The composer installation guide comes with an SHA-384 installer check, so I recommend visiting the installation guide for more information. If the second step of the following commands fail, please see the guide. Download Composer

Summarized Composer Installation (Feb 2020)

php -r "copy('', 'composer-setup.php');"
php -r "if (hash_file('sha384', 'composer-setup.php') === 'e0012edf3e80b6978849f5eff0d4b4e4c79ff1609dd1e613307e16318854d24ae64f26d17af3ef0bf7cfb710ca74755a') { echo 'Installer verified'; } else { echo 'Installer corrupt'; unlink('composer-setup.php'); } echo PHP_EOL;"
php composer-setup.php --install-dir=~/.composer/vendor/bin/ --filename=composer
php -r "unlink('composer-setup.php');"

If the composer-setup.php command fails, please create the directory yourself and re-run.

mkdir -p ~/.composer/vendor/bin

Make sure composer is added to your .bashrc

echo 'PATH=$PATH:$HOME/.composer/vendor/bin/' >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Finally, confirm composer installed correctly

$ composer --version
Composer version 1.9.3 2020-02-04 12:58:49

Laravel install is much simpler! Just run the following commands and you're good to go

composer global require laravel/installer
$ laravel --version
Laravel Installer 3.0.1

Step 3 - React Framework

Laravel comes with VueJS scaffolding as default, but I personally prefer working with React. Luckily, switching over to React is very simple! Just run the following commands in the directory of your choice and you'll be good to go.

laravel new project_name
cd project_name
php artisan preset react
npm install

The above commands will create a new Laravel project named project_name in a directory of the same name. It will set the preset scaffolding to React and install all the required node modules.

Step 4 - Build and Go!

We're almost there! To get your new Laravel app running, run the following commands

composer install
npm run dev

Once those are finished, you will want to duplicate the provided env.example and rename it to .env and setup you're preferred database.

If you want something lightweight and simple, you can just set


and delete the other DB_ lines. This will use the database file in the default directory database/database.sqlite (make sure to create this file yourself!)

Lastly, get our API_KEY filled in with:

php artisan key:generate

And that should be it!! If everything went smoothly, you can run

php serve artisan --port=8181

and you're good to go! Open up the basic site at localhost:8181 and have fun working with Laravel and React!

Final Comments

If you have any questions, advice, or found something wrong in this explanation, please let me know down below!

Leave a comment over at!

Tyler Welsh
Full Stack and Lead Backend Engineer

Interests include Machine Learning, Neural Networks, AI in Games, Full-Stack Development, and learning to make witty sentences.