There is a new version of this tutorial available for Debian 6 (Squeeze).

Creating Advanced MySQL-Based Virtual Hosts On Lighttpd (Debian Etch)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme

This guide explains how you can create advanced virtual hosts on a lighttpd web server on Debian Etch that are stored in a MySQL database. The method described here does not use the lighttpd mod_mysql_vhost module, and unlike mod_mysql_vhost (which allows you to store only the hostname and document root of a vhost in a database), this method allows to store individual configuration directives for each vhost in the MySQL database.

This tutorial is based on the chapter "Per-vhost configuration" from

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Installing MySQL 5.0

First we install MySQL 5.0 like this:

apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client

Create a password for the MySQL user root (replace yourrootsqlpassword with the password you want to use):

mysqladmin -u root password yourrootsqlpassword

Then check with

netstat -tap | grep mysql

on which addresses MySQL is listening. If the output looks like this:

tcp        0      0 localhost.localdo:mysql *:*                     LISTEN     2713/mysqld

which means MySQL is listening on localhost.localdomain only, then you're safe with the password you set before. But if the output looks like this:

tcp        0      0 *:mysql *:*                     LISTEN     2713/mysqld

you should set a MySQL password for your hostname (my hostname is here), too, because otherwise anybody can access your database and modify data:

mysqladmin -h -u root password yourrootsqlpassword


2 Installing Lighttpd, Python, And python-mysqldb

We will use a Python script to read the vhost configurations from the MySQL database, therefore we must install Python and python-mysqldb in addition to lighttpd.

You can install these packages as follows:

apt-get install lighttpd python python-mysqldb


3 Preparing The MySQL Database

Now we log in to MySQL...

mysql -u root -p

... and create the database lighttpd:


Next we create a database user (which we name lighttpd as well) with SELECT privileges for the lighttpd database:

GRANT SELECT ON lighttpd.* TO [email protected] IDENTIFIED BY 'secret';
GRANT SELECT ON lighttpd.* TO [email protected] IDENTIFIED BY 'secret';

(Replace secret with a password of your choice.)

Then we create the domains table in the lighttpd database and leave MySQL:

USE lighttpd;

domain varchar(64) NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,
docroot varchar(128) NOT NULL,
config text



4 Creating The Python Script To Read The Vhost Configuration From The Database

Now we create the Python script /usr/share/lighttpd/ which will connect to the lighttpd database and read the vhost configurations from it:

vi /usr/share/lighttpd/

#!/usr/bin/env python
import sys
import MySQLdb

# load configuration data from the database
db=MySQLdb.connect(host='localhost', db=sys.argv[1], user=sys.argv[2], passwd=sys.argv[3])
cur = db.cursor()
cur.execute("SELECT * FROM domains")

for domain in rs:

    print "$HTTP[\"host\"] == \"%s\" {\nserver.document-root = \"%s\"\n%s\n}" % (domain[0], domain[1], domain[2])

Make the script executable:

chmod 755 /usr/share/lighttpd/

Now we must tell lighttpd to use that script. Therefore we open /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf and add the following line at the end of it:

vi /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf

include_shell "/usr/share/lighttpd/ lighttpd lighttpd secret"

(The first lighttpd refers to the name of the MySQL database, the second lighttpd to the database user, and secret to the MySQL password.)

Restart lighttpd afterwards:

/etc/init.d/lighttpd restart

Falko Timme

About Falko Timme

Falko Timme is an experienced Linux administrator and founder of Timme Hosting, a leading nginx business hosting company in Germany. He is one of the most active authors on HowtoForge since 2005 and one of the core developers of ISPConfig since 2000. He has also contributed to the O'Reilly book "Linux System Administration".

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By: Falko Timme