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gstrauss, 2021-07-14 18:45


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View source code in the lighttpd 1.4 git repository

source checkout

There are multiple options to obtain a lighttpd source tree. git is recommended.

  • git: (recommended)
    read-only: $ git clone
    developer: $ git clone git+ssh://
    # initial checkout
    git clone
    cd lighttpd1.4
    # subsequent updates (to obtain latest source)
    #cd lighttpd1.4
    git pull
  • svn: (alternative to git)
    # initial checkout
    svn checkout lighttpd1.4
    cd lighttpd1.4
    # subsequent updates (to obtain latest source)
    #cd lighttpd1.4
    svn update
  • source release/snapshot
    # download and extract tarball
    latest=$(curl -s
    tar -xJf $latest.tar.xz
    cd $latest

build prerequisites

lighttpd supports multiple build frameworks: automake, cmake, meson, and scons.

Ensure you have installed the latest development tools and packages available, e.g. for automake:
  • autoconf
  • automake
  • libtool
  • m4
A minimal lighttpd build typically leverages PCRE and pkg-config
  • pcre-devel / libpcre3-dev
  • pkg-config
Optional lighttpd modules may require one or more additional libraries, e.g. choices among TLS modules
  • openssl
  • gnutls
  • mbedtls
  • nss
  • wolfssl

Further details can be found in lighttpd INSTALL (Please read)
Depending on which features you want, other development libraries may be needed: OptionalLibraries
On most systems you need to install the development version of the library packages; the library itself will not be enough!
On debian you can also use apt-get to install all lighttpd build dependencies: apt-get build-dep lighttpd

build commands (examples)


#cd lighttpd1.4
./configure -C --prefix=/usr/local  # ./configure --help for additional options
make -j 4
make check
#sudo make install

#cd lighttpd1.4
cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/usr/local -Wno-dev .
make -j 4
make test
#sudo make install

#cd lighttpd1.4
meson setup --prefix /usr/local build
cd build
meson compile
meson test
#sudo meson install

#cd lighttpd1.4
scons -j 4 build_static=1 build_dynamic=0 prefix=/usr/local
#sudo scons -j 4 build_static=1 build_dynamic=0 prefix=/usr/local install

Examples commands for more fully-featured builds might reference lighttpd scripts/
Also, there are more options for running unit tests

distro packaging (external examples)

Debian: debian/control
Fedora: lighttpd.spec
OpenWRT: net/lighttpd/Makefile

running lighttpd from build tree

lighttpd can be run from the build tree, without needing to install it. This is useful for testing. In the shell in which you built lighttpd, chdir to the top of the source tree (if not already there).
Create a basic lighttpd.conf to listen on localhost port 8080 and serve files from /tmp (not recommended for production use!):

server.document-root = "/tmp" 
server.bind = "" 
server.port = 8080
mimetype.assign = (".txt" => "text/plain", ".html" => "text/html" )

Create a simple file to serve: echo "Hello World!" > /tmp/hello.txt
Run lighttpd in the foreground: src/lighttpd -D -f lighttpd.conf -m $PWD/src/.libs
In a different shell: curl
In the shell running lighttpd, press press Ctrl-C to cause lighttpd to exit.


lighttpd responds to the following signals:

  • SIGTERM - shut down immediately (terminate existing connections, then exit)
  • SIGINT - shut down gracefully (serve existing connections, then exit)
  • SIGUSR1 - reload gracefully (serve existing connections, then reload config)
  • SIGHUP - re-open log files (NOTE: does not reload lighttpd configuration)

(Note: SIGUSR1 behavior is available in lighttpd 1.4.46 and later)

graceful restart
The current recommended way to reload lighttpd config is to gracefully stop and then to restart lighttpd.

With lighttpd 1.4.46 and later, SIGUSR1 is the recommended method to gracefully handle configuration reloads and log rotation, though a graceful stop and then restart of lighttpd is still required for lighttpd configurations which chroot.


Depending on the operating system and distribution brand, there are many ways to set up lighttpd to run as a daemon when the system starts up, and to send signals to lighttpd for start/stop/restart/etc. Rather than attempting to maintain scripts for an unknown number of distros, here are links to a few, which can be used as examples.

sample systemd unit script lighttpd.service


As an alternative to init scripts you can setup a "supervised" lighttpd with daemontools or runit, see LighttpdUnderSupervise

Updated by gstrauss about 3 years ago · 21 revisions