Lighttpd 1.4 on Unix systems

This section contains notes and hints specific to Lighttpd 1.4 installs of PHP on Unix systems.

Please use the » Lighttpd trac to learn how to install Lighttpd properly before continuing.

Fastcgi is the preferred SAPI to connect PHP and Lighttpd. Fastcgi is automagically enabled in php-cgi in PHP 5.3, but for older versions configure PHP with --enable-fastcgi. To confirm that PHP has fastcgi enabled, php -v should contain PHP 5.2.5 (cgi-fcgi) Before PHP 5.2.3, fastcgi was enabled on the php binary (there was no php-cgi).

Letting Lighttpd spawn php processes

To configure Lighttpd to connect to php and spawn fastcgi processes, edit lighttpd.conf. Sockets are preferred to connect to fastcgi processes on the local system.

Example #1 Partial lighttpd.conf

server.modules += ( "mod_fastcgi" )

fastcgi.server = ( ".php" =>
    "socket" => "/tmp/php.socket",
    "bin-path" => "/usr/local/bin/php-cgi",
    "bin-environment" => (
      "PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN" => "16",
      "PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS" => "10000"
    "min-procs" => 1,
    "max-procs" => 1,
    "idle-timeout" => 20

The bin-path directive allows lighttpd to spawn fastcgi processes dynamically. PHP will spawn children according to the PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN environment variable. The "bin-environment" directive sets the environment for the spawned processes. PHP will kill a child process after the number of requests specified by PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS is reached. The directives "min-procs" and "max-procs" should generally be avoided with PHP. PHP manages its own children and opcode caches like APC will only share among children managed by PHP. If "min-procs" is set to something greater than 1, the total number of php responders will be multiplied PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN (2 min-procs * 16 children gives 32 responders).

Spawning with spawn-fcgi

Lighttpd provides a program called spawn-fcgi to ease the process of spawning fastcgi processes easier.

Spawning php-cgi

It is possible to spawn processes without spawn-fcgi, though a bit of heavy-lifting is required. Setting the PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN environment var controls how many children PHP will spawn to handle incoming requests. Setting PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS will determine how long (in requests) each child will live. Here's a simple bash script to help spawn php responders.

Example #2 Spawning FastCGI Responders


# Location of the php-cgi binary

# PID File location

# Binding to an address
# Binding to a domain socket



echo $! > "$PHP_PID"

Connecting to remote FCGI instances

Fastcgi instances can be spawned on multiple remote machines in order to scale applications.

Example #3 Connecting to remote php-fastcgi instances

fastcgi.server = ( ".php" =>
   (( "host" => "", "port" => 1030 ),
    ( "host" => "", "port" => 1030 ))

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