Install Lighttpd HTTP Server on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with MariaDB and PHP 7.1 Support

In many cases, you’re going to see webmasters using Apache2 or Nginx with PHP and MariaDB to create a LAMP or LEMP stack. Well, this post shows you how to use an alternative HTTP server called Lighttpd HTTP server instead.

Lighttpd is a  secure, fast and flexibly HTTP server with a small memory footprint compared to other web-servers. Its event-driven architecture is optimized for a large number of parallel connections (keep-alive) which is important for high performance dynamic applications.

Also, if you’re going to be developing any PHP based application, you’re mostly going to need PHP server scripts installed. PHP is an open source server scripting language for creating dynamic, powerful web applications and websites.

PHP is a widely-used, free, and efficient alternative to competitors such as Microsoft’s ASP.

This brief tutorial is going to show students and new users how to setup Lighttpd HTTP server environment with PHP 7.1 and MariaDB support. With this setup, you can run WordPress, Drupal or Joomla CMS platforms easily.

When you’re ready to setup Lighttpd environment with PHP 7.1 support, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Install Lighttpd HTTP Server

sudo apt install lighttpd

After installing Lighttpd, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable Lighttpd service to always startup when the server boots up.

sudo systemctl stop lighttpd.service
sudo systemctl start lighttpd.service
sudo systemctl enable lighttpd.service

Step 2: Install MariaDB Database Server

OrangeHRM also requires a database server. and MariaDB database server is a great place to start. To install it run the commands below.

sudo apt install mariadb-server mariadb-client

After installing, the commands below can be used to stop, start and enable MariaDB service to always start up when the server boots.

sudo systemctl stop mysql.service
sudo systemctl start mysql.service
sudo systemctl enable mysql.service

After that, run the commands below to secure MariaDB server.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

When prompted, answer the questions below by following the guide.

  • Enter current password for root (enter for none): Just press the Enter
  • Set root password? [Y/n]: Y
  • New password: Enter password
  • Re-enter new password: Repeat password
  • Remove anonymous users? [Y/n]: Y
  • Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n]: Y
  • Remove test database and access to it? [Y/n]:  Y
  • Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n]:  Y

Restart MariaDB server

sudo systemctl restart mysql.service

Step 3: Install PHP FastCGI  and Related Modules

PHP 7.1 isn’t available on Ubuntu default repositories… in order to install it, you will have to get it from third-party repositories.

Run the commands below to add the below third party repository to upgrade to PHP 7.1

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ondrej/php

Then update and upgrade to PHP 7.1

sudo apt update

After that, run the commands below to install PHP7.1-FastCGI and related PHP modules. PHP-FastCGI is a version for Lighttpd web servers while PHP is Apache2. Nginx is PHP-FPM. There are many PHP modules that perform different functions. however, there are some important ones that are always needed when developing PHP based websites.

sudo apt install php7.1-cgi php7.1-mcrypt php7.1-cli php7.1-mysql php7.1-gd php7.1-imagick php7.1-recode php7.1-tidy php7.1-xmlrpc

The line above will allow PHP to function with many popular PHP based websites and applications.

After installing PHP7.1-FastCGI, you can enable PHP-FastCGI modules by running the commands below

sudo sudo lighttpd-enable-mod fastcgi 
sudo lighttpd-enable-mod fastcgi-php

If  the commands above fail, install the package below.

sudo apt install libterm-readline-gnu-perl

Then run the commands to enable the modules again, this time they should work.

sudo /etc/init.d/lighttpd force-reload

Step 4: Configure Lighttpd PHP-FastCGI Settings

Now that Lighttpd and PHP0-FastCGI are installed, you may want to configure Lighttpd to use PHP server scripting properly. The default Lighttpd PHP-FastCGI configuration file is located at /etc/php/7.1/cgi/php.ini

Open PHP Lighttpd configuration file by running the commands below

sudo nano /etc/php/7.1/cgi/php.ini

Then edit the file to suit your environments. Some important lines to consider:

file_uploads = On
allow_url_fopen = On
memory_limit = 256M
upload_max_filesize = 100M

Next, open the Lighttpd site configuration file. by default it’s stored at /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf

Use the main configuration file to setup advanced server global settings.

Lighttpd PHP-FastCGI configuration file is stored at /etc/lighttpd/conf-available/15-fastcgi-php.conf

Run the commands below to open Lighttpd PHP-FastCGI default site configuration file

sudo nano /etc/lighttpd/conf-available/15-fastcgi-php.conf

Then confirm that PHP-FastCGI is configured as shown in the highlighted portion below.

# -*- depends: fastcgi -*-
# /usr/share/doc/lighttpd/fastcgi.txt.gz 

## Start an FastCGI server for php (needs the php7.1-cgi package)
fastcgi.server += ( ".php" =>
                "bin-path" => "/usr/bin/php-cgi7.1",
                "socket" => "/var/run/lighttpd/php.socket",
                "max-procs" => 1,
                "bin-environment" => (
                        "PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN" => "4",
                        "PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS" => "10000"
                "bin-copy-environment" => (
                        "PATH", "SHELL", "USER"
                "broken-scriptfilename" => "enable"

Restart Lighttpd services

sudo systemctl restart lighttpd.service

Step 5: Test PHP-CGI Setup

At this point, Lighttpd and PHP-FastCGI should be installed and ready. to test your Lighttpd PHP settings, create a blank file with the line below:

sudo nano /var/www/html/phpinfo.php

Then add the line in the file and save.

<?php phpinfo( ); ?>

Save the file and open your browser and browse to the server name or IP address followed by phpinfo.php

You should see something similar to the image below. if you do, then you’re all good!

lighttpd ubuntu


Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed and configured Lighttpd and PHP on Ubuntu servers

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