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I'm running Gentoo Linux, and I'm trying to get Lighttpd+PHP+FastCGI working. I discovered that Lighttpd doesn't have a FastCGI process manager. So, you're supposed to use spawn-fcgi. I have Lighttpd and PHP working. My problem is that I do not know how to setup spawn-fcgi and lighttpd to use my web-app.

This is what I've installed:

  • Lighttpd
  • PHP (with CGI USE flag)
  • spawn-fcgi

The application I am trying to communicate with is just the fcgi docs' example, tiny.c:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
void main(void)
    int count = 0;
    printf("Content-type: text/html\r\n"
        "<title>CGI Hello!</title>"
        "<h1>CGI Hello!</h1>"
        "Request number %d running on host <i>%s</i>\n",
        ++count, getenv("SERVER_NAME"));

I have it compiled and working from the console:

nick@blozup ~/zwave $ ./tiny.fcgi

Content-type: text/html <title>FastCGI Hello!</title>
<h1>FastCGI Hello!</h1>Request number 1 running on host <i>(null)</i>

Bear with me here, I have no idea what I'm doing...

First I tried just placing the compiled tiny.fcgi in a web directory (cgi-bin, specifically, which didn't work, then just in the root web directory). The closest I got was a 403 forbidden error message. I made sure the permissions were liberal, no luck.

After reading some more, I realized that I needed to use spawn-fcgi. So I installed it and symlinked my application, and copied the default config, and edited for my application:

ln -s /etc/init.d/spawn-fcgi /etc/init.d/spawn-fcgi.fcgi
cp /etc/conf.d/spawn-fcgi /etc/conf.d/spawn-fcgi.fcgi

File /etc/conf.d/spawn-fcgi.fcgi :

# Copyright 1999-2009 Gentoo Foundation
# Distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License v2
# $Header: /var/cvsroot/gentoo-x86/www-servers/spawn-fcgi/files/spawn-fcgi.confd,v 1.6 2009/09/28 08:38:02 bangert Exp $


# The FCGI process can be made available through a filesystem socket or
# through a inet socket. One and only one of the two types must be choosen.
# Default is the inet socket.

# The filename specified by
# FCGI_SOCKET will be suffixed with a number for each child process, for
# example, fcgi.socket-1.
# Leave empty to use an IP socket (default). See below. Enabling this,
# disables the IP socket.

# When using FCGI_PORT, connections will only be accepted from the following
# address. The default is Use to bind to all addresses.

# The port specified by FCGI_PORT is the port used
# by the first child process. If this is set to 1234 then subsequent child
# processes will use 1235, 1236, etc.

# The path to your FastCGI application. These sometimes carry the .fcgi
# extension but not always. For PHP, you should usually point this to
# /usr/bin/php-cgi.

# The number of child processes to spawn. The default is 1.

# If you want to run your application inside a chroot then specify the
# directory here. Leave this blank otherwise.

# If you want to run your application from a specific directiory specify
# it here. Leave this blank otherwise.

# The user and group to run your application as. If you do not specify these,
# the application will be run as root:root.

# Additional options you might want to pass to spawn-fcgi

# If your application requires additional environment variables, you may
# specify them here. See PHP example below.

Then I started the process, and it is running now:

blozup zwave # /etc/init.d/spawn-fcgi.fcgi start
Starting....                                                     [OK]
blozup zwave # ps aux | grep tiny root
5809  0.0  0.0   2236   504 ?        Ss   17:47   0:00 /home/nick/zwave/tiny.fcgi

and a socket has been created at: /var/run/lighttpd/tiny.socket-1

Now What?

How do I get lighttpd to connect to this? and how do I access that from a URL?

I know lighttpd needs to use that socket, but when I edit the mod_fastcgi.conf file:

fastcgi.server += (".fcgi" =>
        ( "localhost" =>
                "socket" => "/var/run/lighttpd/fcgi.socket-1",
                "bin-path" => "/usr/bin/cgi-fcgi",
                "max-procs" => 1

I get this error:

2012-06-13 18:50:18: (mod_fastcgi.c.1389) --- fastcgi spawning
port: 0
socket /var/run/lighttpd/fcgi.socket-1
current: 0 / 1
2012-06-13 18:50:18: (mod_fastcgi.c.1103) the fastcgi-backend /usr/bin/cgi-fcgi failed to start:
2012-06-13 18:50:18: (mod_fastcgi.c.1107) child exited with status 1 /usr/bin/cgi-fcgi
2012-06-13 18:50:18: (mod_fastcgi.c.1110) If you're trying to run your app as a FastCGI backend, make sure you're using the FastCGI-enabled version.
If this is PHP on Gentoo, add 'fastcgi' to the USE flags.
2012-06-13 18:50:18: (mod_fastcgi.c.1397) [ERROR]: spawning fcgi failed.

I don't know where to go from here. I couldn't find much on how to setup the lighttpd web server to spawn anything but PHP. Would this all just be a lot easier with Apache?

share|improve this question
You need to speak the FCGI protocol to lighttpd over a unix socket. I don't see where this is happening here. – Keith Jun 14 '12 at 2:40
Well, there is a socket at /var/run/lighttpd/tiny.socket-1, my FCGI application has created that. I just don't know how to get Lighttpd to "open" that socket. I figured it was in the config file and had something to do with cgi-fcgi. In mod_fcgi.conf I specified that same socket: "socket" => "/var/run/lighttpd/fcgi.socket-1", but either cgi-fcgi is the wrong program to call, or I'm calling it wrong. – Nick Jun 14 '12 at 13:17
I've removed the bin-path line in mod_fastcgi.conf, keeping the socket, and the server starts. The only indication I get that it has opened that socket in the logs, is: "all handlers for /tiny.fcgi? on tiny.fcgi are down." Now I am getting 500/503 errors in lighttpd. – Nick Jun 14 '12 at 14:36
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Well, it was the bin-path setting that I was getting hung up on. My application resides now at:


The socket is created at:

/var/run/lighttpd/tiny.socket-1 (the '-1' is created by spawn-fcgi, and it's chmod'd so lighttpd can r/w to it)

The mod_fcgi.conf file:

server.modules += ("mod_fastcgi")

fastcgi.debug = 1

fastcgi.server = ( ".php" =>
        "socket" => "/var/run/lighttpd/lighttpd-fastcgi-php-" + PID + ".socket",
        "bin-path" => "/usr/bin/php-cgi",
    "/cgi-bin/" =>
        "socket" => "/var/run/lighttpd/tiny.socket-1",
#       "bin-path" => "/home/nick/zwave/tiny.fcgi",
        "check-local" => "disable",
        "max-procs" => 1

And now it's working!

So, no bin-path if you are calling your own apps that already have a socket. The spawn-fcgi starts those processes, not Lighttpd.

share|improve this answer

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