Back in 2016, Microsoft’s relational database, MS SQL, was released under an open source license. If you’re an MS SQL admin and would like to have that power, combined with the stability and security of Linux, you’re in luck. Installing MS SQL on Ubuntu Server 18.04 is actually quite easy. Once you have it installed, the database server will function exactly as you’ve grown accustomed to.

So, let’s install MS SQL on Ubuntu Server 18.04.

What you need

The only things you need are a working Ubuntu 18.04 Server instance and a user with sudo privileges. You can run the MS SQL Server with a trial license (or use the Developer or Express editions), but beyond that, you will need to purchase a license to put the MS SQL Server into production usage.

SEE: Server deployment/migration checklist (Tech Pro Research)


Before we install MS SQL, the Ubuntu Server should be updated and upgraded. Know that, should the kernel be upgraded, a reboot will be required. Because of this, you should run the update/upgrade process at a time when a server reboot is possible.

To run the update/upgrade, open a terminal and issue the commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade -y

Once the above commands complete, reboot the server (if necessary), and you’re ready to install.


The first thing to do is import the necessary repository key. From the terminal window, issue the following command:

sudo wget -qO- | sudo apt-key add -

Next, add the repository with the command:

sudo add-apt-repository "$(wget -qO-"

Update apt with the command:

sudo apt-get update

And, finally, install MS SQL with the command:

sudo apt-get install mssql-server -y

Configure MS SQL server

Once the installation completes, you then need to run a setup script and answer the required questions. The script is run with the following command:

sudo /opt/mssql/bin/mssql-conf setup

After answering all of the questions (which includes creating an admin password), you will then need to restart the MS SQL server with the command:

systemctl restart mssql-server.service

Installing the command line tools

You now have a working MS SQL Server. However, in order to work with it you must install the necessary command line tools. To do this, issue the following commands:

sudo apt-get install curl -y
curl | sudo apt-key add -
curl | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/msprod.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mssql-tools unixodbc-dev
echo 'export PATH="$PATH:/opt/mssql-tools/bin"' >> ~/.bash_profile
echo 'export PATH="$PATH:/opt/mssql-tools/bin"' >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Where PASSWORD is the password you set up during the MS SQL installation.

That’s it. You’re ready to begin working with your MS SQL Server on Ubuntu 18.04.