There is a new version of this tutorial available for Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf).

Installing Lighttpd With PHP5 (PHP-FPM) And MySQL Support On Ubuntu 12.10

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
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Lighttpd is a secure, fast, standards-compliant web server designed for speed-critical environments. This tutorial shows how you can install Lighttpd on an Ubuntu 12.10 server with PHP5 support (through PHP-FPM) and MySQL support. PHP-FPM (FastCGI Process Manager) is an alternative PHP FastCGI implementation with some additional features useful for sites of any size, especially busier sites. I use PHP-FPM in this tutorial instead of Lighttpd's spawn-fcgi.

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


1 Preliminary Note

In this tutorial I use the hostname with the IP address These settings might differ for you, so you have to replace them where appropriate.

I'm running all the steps in this tutorial with root privileges, so make sure you're logged in as root:

sudo su


2 Installing MySQL 5

First we install MySQL 5 like this:

apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client

You will be asked to provide a password for the MySQL root user - this password is valid for the user root@localhost as well as, so we don't have to specify a MySQL root password manually later on:

New password for the MySQL "root" user: <-- yourrootsqlpassword
Repeat password for the MySQL "root" user: <-- yourrootsqlpassword


3 Installing Lighttpd

Lighttpd is available as an Ubuntu package, therefore we can install it like this:

apt-get install lighttpd

Now direct your browser to, and you should see the Lighttpd placeholder page:

Lighttpd's default document root is /var/www on Ubuntu, and the configuration file is /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf. Additional configurations are stored in files in the /etc/lighttpd/conf-available directory - these configurations can be enabled with the lighttpd-enable-mod command which creates a symlink from the /etc/lighttpd/conf-enabled directory to the appropriate configuration file in /etc/lighttpd/conf-available. You can disable configurations with the lighttpd-disable-mod command.


4 Installing PHP5

We can make PHP5 work in Lighttpd through PHP-FPM which we install like this:

apt-get install php5-fpm php5

PHP-FPM is a daemon process (with the init script /etc/init.d/php5-fpm) that runs a FastCGI server on the socket /var/run/php5-fpm.sock.


5 Configuring Lighttpd And PHP5

To enable PHP5 in Lighttpd, we must modify /etc/php5/fpm/php.ini and uncomment the line cgi.fix_pathinfo=1:

vi /etc/php5/fpm/php.ini

; cgi.fix_pathinfo provides *real* PATH_INFO/PATH_TRANSLATED support for CGI.  PHP's
; previous behaviour was to set PATH_TRANSLATED to SCRIPT_FILENAME, and to not grok
; what PATH_INFO is.  For more information on PATH_INFO, see the cgi specs.  Setting
; this to 1 will cause PHP CGI to fix its paths to conform to the spec.  A setting
; of zero causes PHP to behave as before.  Default is 1.  You should fix your scripts

The Lighttpd configuration file for PHP /etc/lighttpd/conf-available/15-fastcgi-php.conf is suitable for use with spawn-fcgi, however, we want to use PHP-FPM, therefore we create a backup of the file (named 15-fastcgi-php-spawnfcgi.conf) and modify 15-fastcgi-php.conf as follows:

cd /etc/lighttpd/conf-available/
cp 15-fastcgi-php.conf 15-fastcgi-php-spawnfcgi.conf
vi 15-fastcgi-php.conf

# /usr/share/doc/lighttpd-doc/fastcgi.txt.gz

## Start an FastCGI server for php (needs the php5-cgi package)
fastcgi.server += ( ".php" =>
                "socket" => "/var/run/php5-fpm.sock",
                "broken-scriptfilename" => "enable"

To enable the fastcgi configuration, run the following commands:

lighttpd-enable-mod fastcgi
lighttpd-enable-mod fastcgi-php

This creates the symlinks /etc/lighttpd/conf-enabled/10-fastcgi.conf which points to /etc/lighttpd/conf-available/10-fastcgi.conf and /etc/lighttpd/conf-enabled/15-fastcgi-php.conf which points to /etc/lighttpd/conf-available/15-fastcgi-php.conf:

ls -l /etc/lighttpd/conf-enabled

root@server1:/etc/lighttpd/conf-available# ls -l /etc/lighttpd/conf-enabled
total 0
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 33 Nov  4 13:40 10-fastcgi.conf -> ../conf-available/10-fastcgi.conf
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 37 Nov  4 13:40 15-fastcgi-php.conf -> ../conf-available/15-fastcgi-php.conf

Then we reload Lighttpd:

/etc/init.d/lighttpd force-reload

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