Setting up PHP with Lighttpd


Lighttpd supports PHP through both CGI and FastCGI.


In all our tests it has shown better performance than Apache 1.3.x + mod_php4. See for the results.

Does it support opcode cachers?

like APC, TurckMM, XCache and friends

YES! Even if their docs say they do not work in CGI. Under lighttpd, PHP is usually run as FastCGI which supports those opcode cachers like mod_php4 in Apache.

(more to add)

You might be interested in reading the Support for FASTCGI mode? thread from eAccelerator Open Discussion Forum.



PHP in CGI Mode

DevelWin32 is recommended to build your own native _WIN32 lighttpd.

Alternatively, install the out-dated, third-party, unmaintained, not-recommended Lighttpd for Windows. Then you need to edit C:\lighttpd\etc\lighttpd.conf, uncomment the "mod_cgi" line and add this line:

cgi.assign = ( ".php" => "c:/php/php-cgi.exe" )

Be careful, there cannot be any space in the path to PHP-CGI in the above snippet. Save lighttpd.conf and restart lighttpd. Open your browser and go to http://localhost/, you should have a welcome page. You can put your PHP files in C:\lighttpd\htdocs - To test PHP, just create a file named index.php, save it in the Lighttpd root directory (C:\lighttpd\htdocs) and paste this content into this file:


Accessing http://localhost/, you should get a page that lists all PHP variables and information.
Please note that FastCGI doesn't work on Windows at this time. Good luck!
Update: DevelWin32 _WIN32 prototype supports FastCGI.

PHP in Fast CGI Mode

DevelWin32 is recommended to build your own native _WIN32 lighttpd.
Alternatively, download the out-dated, third-party, unmaintained, not-recommended Lighttpd for Windows from

Download the latest PHP for Windows (VC9, Non Thread Safe) from

Unpack the distribution so you have a directory structure similar to this:

c:\PHP (be sure to rename php.ini-production to php.ini)

Open c:\LightTPD\lighttpd.conf and uncomment the line "mod_fastcgi".

WARNING ABOUT PORT: Many guides suggest setting PHP to port 9000. The XDebug extension uses port 9000 by default.

Around line 150 of lighttpd.conf (you can search for "fastcgi module"), uncomment the following lines and alter them to match the following:

#### fastcgi module
## read fastcgi.txt for more info
## for PHP don't forget to set cgi.fix_pathinfo = 1 in the php.ini
## ... and PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS = 0 environment variable in system properties
fastcgi.server             = ( ".php" =>
                               ( "localhost" =>
                                   "host" => "",
                                   "port" => 9123

## map multiple extensions to the same fastcgi server     = ( ".php3" => ".php",
                               ".php4" => ".php",
                               ".php5" => ".php",
                               ".phps" => ".php",
                               ".phtml" => ".php" )

Host and port points to the ip address and port where the fastcgi daemon (in this case, PHP-CGI) will be listening.

There's also a bug in the Windows version that requires another edit in lighttpd.conf. Around line 50, change the following lines:

#### include important configuration files
## include path variables
include "variables.conf" 
## include mimetype mapping file
include "mimetype.conf" 
## include virtual hosts (optional)
#include "vhosts.conf"

#### include important configuration files
## include path variables
include "c:/lighttpd/conf/variables.conf" 
## include mimetype mapping file
include "c:/lighttpd/conf/mimetype.conf" 
## include virtual hosts (optional)
#include "c:/lighttpd/conf/vhosts.conf" 

Next start the php-cgi daemon from the php directory:

c:\php\php-cgi.exe -b

And then (re)start the LightTPD web server.
cd c:\lighttpd && lighttpd.exe -f conf\lighttpd.conf -m modules

You can put your PHP files in C:\lighttpd\htdocs. Lighttpd builds for Windows have an index.php in this folder for testing purposes.

Accessing http://localhost/, you should get a page that lists all PHP variables and information.

If not, you may have to explicitly set the docroot.

Once you have tested the configuration, you should stop PHP and Lighttpd with the following command BEFORE proceeding:

taskkill /f /IM lighttpd.exe && taskkill /f /IM php-cgi.exe

Starting PHP-FastCGI and Lighttpd with a batch file

If all is OK you could write a batch file to start/stop the server and the PHP daemon at the same time. Please note that you should have the RunHiddenConsole.exe in your path, also this files should be placed in c:\LightTPD


ECHO Starting PHP FastCGI...
cd c:\php
RunHiddenConsole.exe c:\PHP\php-cgi.exe -b
ECHO Starting LightTPD...
cd c:\lighttpd
lighttpd.exe -v
lighttpd.exe -f conf\lighttpd.conf -m modules


ECHO Stopping LightTPD...
taskkill /f /IM lighttpd.exe
ECHO Stopping PHP FastCGI...
taskkill /f /IM php-cgi.exe

Running PHP-FastCGI and Lighttpd as services

The first thing that's needed is the WinSW binary from

The "winsw-{VERSION}-bin.exe" needs to be saved to the folder containing php-cgi.exe (usually c:\php), and needs to be renamed "pwinsw.exe".

Pwinsw.exe then needs to be copied to the Lighttpd folder (usually c:\lighttpd) and renamed to lwinsw.exe (Letter L, not I).

In the PHP folder, create an xml file "pwinsw.xml" with the following content:

  <env name="PHPRC" value="c:\php" />
  <env name="PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS" value="0" />

In the PHP folder, also create a batch file "php-stop.cmd" with the following content:
taskkill /f /IM php-cgi.exe

In the Lighttpd folder, create an xml file "lwinsw.xml" (Letter L, not letter I) with the following content:


In the Lighttpd folder, also create a batch file "lighttpd-stop.cmd" with the following content:
taskkill /f /IM lighttpd.exe

Open a command prompt and run the following command:

c:\lighttpd\lwinsw.exe install && c:\php\pwinsw.exe install && net start Lighttpd && net start PHP

If there are any services named "Lighttpd" or "PHP", or if both copies of winsw.exe are named "winsw.exe" and not "lwinsw.exe" and"pwinsw.exe", this step will fail.

At this point, the Lighttpd and PHP services should now be installed.

Start Lighttpd: net start lighttpd
Stop Lighttpd: net stop lighttpd
Check Lighttpd status: c:\lighttpd\lwinsw.exe status

Start PHP: net start PHP
Stop PHP: net stop PHP
Check PHP status: c:\PHP\pwinsw.exe status

You can now visit http://localhost/ and you should see the PHP information page.

Unix Systems

'''Startingpoint:''' Lighttpd is already [wiki:TutorialInstallation installed and working]

First of all you need a PHP which is providing FastCGI support. Depending on your
distribution you might already have it:

!Arch Linux



$ cd /usr/ports/lang/php5
# make install clean

Be sure to check the "Build FPM version" option in the configuration screen. If you don't see the configuration screen, you're either using an old version of ports tree, or need to execute "make config". If you're using PHP 4 or an early version of PHP 5, you may have to use www/php4-cgi or a similar port instead of the new master port.


Download the self-executable setup wizard, double-click the file, and follow the instructions of the setup wizard. You will have a "www" directory under your home directory to put your web pages. You'll have the possibility to launch lighttpd at system startup automatically, and to support one or several users. Once you're done, just open http://localhost/ in your favorite browser and you should see the welcome screen.


Make sure the USE flag 'cgi' is enabled.

$ emerge -av dev-lang/php

If it is not, add the USE flag your /etc/make.conf or just to the dev-lang/php ebuild.

# echo dev-lang/php cgi >> /etc/portage/package.use

XCache is also in the official tree (as of 2007-02-03), so emerge dev-php5/xcache should simply work out-of-the-box as well.

Debian / Ubuntu

Debian/Ubuntu provides a fastcgi enabled version.

# apt-get install php4-cgi

If you're using php5-cgi, all you need is change your "bin-path" at your configuration (Debian uses /usr/bin/php4-cgi as default).

pkgsrc (NetBSD, DragonFlyBSD and others)


PKG_OPTIONS.php = fastcgi

to your mk.conf. PHP can found in www/php4 and lang/php5. The fastcgi binary is located in /usr/pkg/libexec/cgi-bin/php


Download a source tar-ball from and configure it with at least this settings:

$ ./configure \
   --enable-fastcgi \
   --enable-discard-path \

If you want to have the same PHP as you are using in a mod_php configuration somewhere else call

<?php phpinfo(); ?>
  • copy the configure options from the output of the script
  • remove the `--with-apxs@` and `--with-apxs2`@ options
  • add the three options from above.
    Build PHP now by callings `@make` and `make install`@ and see if you can find a php binary which is responding:

$ php -v
PHP 5.0.3 (cgi-fcgi) (built: Dec 21 2004 12:59:18)
Copyright (c) 1997-2004 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v2.0.3, Copyright (c) 1998-2004 Zend Technologies
    with eAccelerator v0.9.3, Copyright (c) 2004-2005 eAccelerator, by eAccelerator

or something like this. The `(cgi-fcgi)` is the important part. The binary might also be called `@php-cgi`@.
so do something like php-cgi -v to see the (cgi-fcgi) banner.

$ php-cgi -v
PHP 4.4.2 (cgi-fcgi) (built: Jul 21 2006 15:45:58)
Copyright (c) 1997-2006 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v1.3.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2004 Zend Technologies

If you still can't find it follow this hint:

$ ls sapi/cgi/php*


Add this line:

cgi.fix_pathinfo = 1

to your php.ini, and make sure mod_fastcgi is loaded in your lighttpd.conf:

server.modules = (

Then add this basic section to the same file:

fastcgi.server = ( ".php" => (( 
                     "bin-path" => "/path/to/php-cgi",
                     "socket" => "/tmp/php.socket" 

A little bit more advance is this setting which tries the tune some more options. If you need PATH_INFO the broken-scriptfilename is
for you.

fastcgi.server = ( ".php" => (( 
                     "bin-path" => "/path/to/php-cgi",
                     "socket" => "/tmp/php.socket",
                     "max-procs" => 2,
                     "bin-environment" => ( 
                       "PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN" => "16",
                       "PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS" => "10000" 
                     "bin-copy-environment" => (
                       "PATH", "SHELL", "USER" 
                     "broken-scriptfilename" => "enable" 

It is important to set '''"max-procs"''' to 1 if you're using any php opcode cacher, unless you know what you're doing. Increase PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN if you want more childs serving the request.

Please read the configuration section for more background

Per directory PHP Config

If you're used to use Apache .htaccess files to set PHP options for each directory, see HowToPhpHtaccess :

''When using a cgi version of php (plain old cgi or fast-cgi) apache can't pass
any php settings from htaccess files it parses. This can be solved by giving
each user its own php.ini file, but I didn't like that solution.
This extension parses these configuration files (in most cases .htaccess) and
changes the settings. It will search all directories for a configuration file
from the docroot until the directory where the request scripts is found. A cache
is implemented to minimize the performance impact.''

htscanner (windows DLLs are available at
You can use the htscanner extension to solve this problem when you move from mod_php to fast-cgi. You can find the extension here (windows DLLs are available here
See the README file for more information.

See Also

External links

Updated by gstrauss over 1 year ago · 91 revisions