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Installing NGINX, PHP, and MySQL on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS using php-cgi

Nginx (pronounced Engine-X) is a fast & lightweight HTTP and HTTPS web server (it can also act as a reverse proxy, and perform load balancing).

(Note: this is a updated version of a similar how to located here, but this article is using php-cgi package instead of php-fpm, and using only default Ubuntu repository’s).

Its small memory footprint requirements make it great for systems with small amounts of memory, such as low end cloud servers. Nginx is great for serving static files to users, and is cable of handling more than 10,000 simultaneous connections, but it lacks the embedded module support for PHP as Apache does.

Thankfully you can use the php5-cgi package to add PHP support to Nginx, and end up with a PHP enabled web server running on a low footprint setup. Nginx essentially offloads processing of .php files to the PHP fast cgi package, which in turn passes the interpreted script information back to Nginx, to return back to the end user.

The how to article below describes installing the usual components for the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP), however the Apache part is exchanged for Nginx.

Make sure the apt sources are up to date before installing:

$ sudo apt-get update

MySQL Configuration

Install MySQL:

$ sudo apt-get install -y mysql-server mysql-client

You will be asked to enter a “root” password for the MySQL server. Generate a strong password, type it in, and keep note of it for future reference.

PHP Configuration

To use PHP with Nginx, you require the PHP5-CGI package. Install PHP with php5-cgi and any other modules that you may require:

$ sudo apt-get install -y php5-cgi php5-mysql php5-curl php5-gd php5-idn php-pear php5-imagick \
php5-imap php5-mcrypt php5-memcache php5-mhash php5-ming php5-ps php5-pspell php5-recode \
php5-snmp php5-sqlite php5-tidy php5-xmlrpc php5-xsl php5-json

Note: You can modify the above command to add/remove individual PHP packages if needed. The php5-cgi package is however required when used with Nginx.

Download and set up the php-fastcgi init script for Ubuntu, using the following commands:

$ cd /etc/init.d
$ sudo wget -O php-fastcgi http://www.networkinghowtos.com/wp-content/uploads/scripts/php-fastcgi
$ sudo chmod +x php-fastcgi
$ sudo update-rc.d -f php-fastcgi defaults

The source for this file and more details can be found on the following page:
http://www.networkinghowtos.com/howto/ubuntu-php-fastcgi-init-script/

Start (or Restart) PHP Fast CGI:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/php-fastcgi restart

NGiNX Configuration

Install Nginx:

$ sudo apt-get install -y nginx

Edit the Nginx configuration file so that it knows what to do with .PHP files:

$ sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/default

There will be a section with the heading starting with “pass the PHP scripts to FastCGI server” as seen below:

        # pass the PHP scripts to FastCGI server listening on 127.0.0.1:9000
        #
        #location ~ \.php$ {
                #fastcgi_pass   127.0.0.1:9000;
                #fastcgi_index  index.php;
                #fastcgi_param  SCRIPT_FILENAME  /scripts$fastcgi_script_name;
                #includefastcgi_params;
        #}

Uncomment the lines as shown below, and modify the “fastcgi_param” line to reflect your website folder path. In my example I am using /var/www.

Also take note of the space added to the “include” line. For some reason the example code in the config file was missing the space. Add this space (or tab) as per the below example.

        # pass the PHP scripts to FastCGI server listening on 127.0.0.1:9000
        #
        location ~ \.php$ {
                fastcgi_pass   127.0.0.1:9000;
                fastcgi_index  index.php;
                fastcgi_param  SCRIPT_FILENAME  /var/www$fastcgi_script_name;
                include fastcgi_params;
        }

Save and exit the editor.

Please note that there could be potential security issues with this generic base configuration (particularly if you are running a publicly accessible website, and allow file uploads). If you would like further information on this, please read the blog post at https://nealpoole.com/blog/2011/04/setting-up-php-fastcgi-and-nginx-dont-trust-the-tutorials-check-your-configuration/ and also read through the Nginx documentation.

Start Nginx:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/nginx start

Conclusion and Testing

Create a .php file containing the following PHP code and save it in your website folder and call it test.php (/var/www/test.php in my example.):

<?php
   phpinfo();
?>

Load up your site in a browser, and add the file /test.php to the url, and make sure it comes up with the usual PHP information page, and not just the source code for the .php file you created.

You should now have a working Nginx, PHP, and MySQL stack. Read the Nginx documentation for more detailed configuration options.

The Nginx documentation can be found on the Nginx website at http://nginx.org/



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