Serving CGI Scripts With Nginx On OpenSUSE 12.2

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
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This tutorial shows how you can serve CGI scripts (Perl scripts) with nginx on OpenSUSE 12.2. While nginx itself does not serve CGI, there are several ways to work around this. I will outline two solutions: the first is to proxy requests for CGI scripts to Thttpd, a small web server that has CGI support, while the second solution uses a CGI wrapper to serve CGI scripts.

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


1 Preliminary Note

I'm using the website here with the document root /srv/www/; the vhost configuration is located in the main nginx configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf.


2 Using Thttpd

In this chapter I am going to describe how to configure nginx to proxy requests for CGI scripts (extensions .cgi or .pl) to Thttpd. I will configure Thttpd to run on port 8000.

First we install Thttpd. There is a Thttpd package for OpenSUSE, but the nginx ThttpdCGI page says that Thttpd should be patched - therefore we download the src.rpm package for OpenSUSE 12.2, patch it and build a new rpm package from it.

We must enable the openSUSE-12.2-Source repository first. Run


and go to Software > Software Repositories:

Enable the openSUSE-12.2-Source repository and leave YaST:

We need to install the tools that are required to build a new rpm package:

zypper install patch automake glibc-devel gcc flex compat-readline4 db-devel wget gcc-c++ make vim libtool rpm-build

Next we download the Thttpd src.rpm package for OpenSUSE 12.2:

cd /usr/src
zypper source-install thttpd

Now we download the patch to the /usr/src/packages/SOURCES/ directory and modify the /usr/src/packages/SPECS/thttpd.spec file accordingly:

cd /usr/src/packages/SOURCES
wget -O thttpd-2.25b-ipreal.patch

Open /usr/src/packages/SOURCES/thttpd-2.25b-ipreal.patch...

vi /usr/src/packages/SOURCES/thttpd-2.25b-ipreal.patch

... and modify the first two lines - in the original version they look as follows:

--- thttpd-2.25b/libhttpd.c     2003-12-25 20:06:05.000000000 +0100
+++ thttpd-2.25b-patched/libhttpd.c     2005-01-09 00:26:04.867255248 +0100

Remove the highlighted parts so that the file begins as follows:

--- libhttpd.c     2003-12-25 20:06:05.000000000 +0100
+++ libhttpd.c     2005-01-09 00:26:04.867255248 +0100

Next go to the /usr/src/packages/SPECS/ directory and edit thttpd.spec:

cd /usr/src/packages/SPECS/
vi thttpd.spec

Add the lines Patch13: thttpd-2.25b-ipreal.patch and %patch13:

Patch0:         %{name}-%{version}-configure.patch
Patch1:         %{name}-%{version}-dirs.patch
Patch2:         %{name}-%{version}-time_h.patch
Patch3:         %{name}-%{version}-newautoconf.patch
Patch4:         %{name}-%{version}-sec.patch
Patch5:         %{name}-%{version}-static.patch
Patch6:         %{name}-%{version}-pie.patch
Patch7:         %{name}-%{version}-syslogtocern.diff
Patch8:         %{name}-%{version}-overflow.diff
Patch9:         %{name}-%{version}-chown.diff
Patch10:        %{name}-%{version}-zerolen.patch
Patch11:        %{name}-%{version}-strcpy.patch
Patch12:        thttpd-2.25b-getline.patch
Patch13:        thttpd-2.25b-ipreal.patch
%setup -q -a 1

Now we build our Thttpd rpm package as follows:

rpmbuild -ba thttpd.spec

Our Thttpd rpm package is created in /usr/src/packages/RPMS/x86_64 (/usr/src/packages/RPMS/i386 if you are on an i386 system), so we go there:

cd /usr/src/packages/RPMS/x86_64
ls -l

server1:/usr/src/packages/RPMS/x86_64 # ls -l
total 296
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 303014 Oct 1 14:36 thttpd-2.25b-192.1.3.x86_64.rpm
server1:/usr/src/packages/RPMS/x86_64 #

Install the Thttpd package as follows:

rpm -ivh thttpd-2.25b-192.1.3.x86_64.rpm

Then we make a backup of the original /etc/thttpd.conf file and create a new one as follows:

mv /etc/thttpd.conf /etc/thttpd.conf_orig
vi /etc/thttpd.conf

# BEWARE : No empty lines are allowed!
# This section overrides defaults
# This section _documents_ defaults in effect
# port=80
# nosymlink         # default = !chroot
# novhost
# nocgipat
# nothrottles
# host=
# charset=iso-8859-1

This will make Thttpd listen on port 8000 on; its document root is /srv/www.

Create the system startup links for Thttpd...

systemctl enable  thttpd.service

... and start it:

  systemctl start thttpd.service 

Next create /etc/nginx/proxy.conf:

vi /etc/nginx/proxy.conf
proxy_redirect          off;
proxy_set_header        Host            $host;
proxy_set_header        X-Real-IP       $remote_addr;
proxy_set_header        X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
client_max_body_size    10m;
client_body_buffer_size 128k;
proxy_connect_timeout   90;
proxy_send_timeout      90;
proxy_read_timeout      90;

Now open your vhost configuration file...

vi /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

... and add a location /cgi-bin {} section to the server {} container:

server {
   location /cgi-bin {
      include proxy.conf;

Reload nginx:

systemctl reload nginx.service

Because Thttpd's document root is /srv/www, location /cgi-bin translates to the directory /srv/www/cgi-bin (this is true for all your vhosts, which means each vhost must place its CGI scripts in /srv/www/cgi-bin; this is a drawback for shared hosting environments; the solution is to use a CGI wrapper as described in chapter 3 instead of Thttpd).

Create the directory...

mkdir /srv/www/cgi-bin

... and then place your CGI scripts in it and make them executable. For testing purposes I will create a small Hello World Perl script (instead of hello_world.cgi you can also use the extension .pl ->

vi /srv/www/cgi-bin/hello_world.cgi
#!/usr/bin/perl -w

     # Tell perl to send a html header.
     # So your browser gets the output
     # rather then <stdout>(command line
     # on the server.)
print "Content-type: text/html\n\n";

     # print your basic html tags.
     # and the content of them.
print "<html><head><title>Hello World!! </title></head>\n";
print "<body><h1>Hello world</h1></body></html>\n";
chmod 755 /srv/www/cgi-bin/hello_world.cgi

Open a browser and test the script:

If all goes well, you should get the following output:

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