From ArchWiki

"lighttpd (pronounced /lighty/) is a secure, fast, standards compliant, and very flexible web server that has been optimized for high-performance environments. lighttpd supports a wide variety of features while using memory and CPU efficiently, making lighttpd an ideal web server for all systems, small and large."


Install the lighttpd package.


Basic setup

The lighttpd configuration file is: /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf. By default it should produce a working test page.

To check your lighttpd.conf for bugs you can use this command (helps finding misconfigurations very quickly):

$ lighttpd -tt -f /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf

The default configuration file specifies /srv/http/ as the document directory served. To test the installation, create a dummy file:

Hello world!

Then start/enable the lighttpd.service and point your browser to localhost, where you should see the test page.

Example configuration files are available in /usr/share/doc/lighttpd/.

Basic logging

lighttpd can write out both errors and access to log files. The error log is enabled by default (controlled by the server.errorlog option). To enable the access log, edit /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf as follows:

server.modules += (

accesslog.filename = "/var/log/lighttpd/access.log"

Enabling https via SSL

Warning: Users planning to implement SSL/TLS should know that some variations and implementations are vulnerable to attacks. See the OpenSSL article for details.

Self-signed SSL Certificates can be generated assuming openssl is installed on the system as follows:

# mkdir /etc/lighttpd/certs
# openssl req -x509 -nodes -days 7300 -newkey rsa:2048 -sha256 -keyout /etc/lighttpd/certs/server.pem -out /etc/lighttpd/certs/server.pem
# chmod 600 /etc/lighttpd/certs/server.pem

Modify /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf adding the following lines to enable https:

server.modules += ( "mod_openssl" )

$SERVER["socket"] == ":443" {
   ssl.engine                  = "enable" 
   ssl.pemfile                 = "/etc/lighttpd/certs/server.pem" 

See lighttpd TLS configuration for details.

Let's Encrypt

Alternatively, generate a certificate signed by Let's Encrypt.

Edit /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf by adding the following lines:

$SERVER["socket"] == ":443" {
    ssl.engine                  = "enable"
    ssl.privkey                 = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/domain/privkey.pem" 
    ssl.pemfile                 = "/etc/letsencrypt/live/domain/fullchain.pem"  

See bootstrap Let's Encrypt in the lighttpd documentation for details.

Redirect http requests to https

You should add "mod_redirect" in server.modules array in /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf:

server.modules += ( "mod_redirect" )

$HTTP["scheme"] == "http" {
  url.redirect = ("" => "https://${url.authority}${url.path}${qsa}")

$SERVER["socket"] == ":443" {
  ssl.engine = "enable" 
  ssl.pemfile = "/etc/lighttpd/certs/server.pem" 
  server.document-root = "..." 

To redirect all hosts for part of the site (e.g. secure or phpmyadmin):

$HTTP["url"] =~ "^/secure" {
  $HTTP["scheme"] == "http" {
    url.redirect = ("" => "https://${url.authority}${url.path}${qsa}")

Password protecting a directory

A passwd file which is lighttpd's equivalent to the system's /etc/passwd is needed for user authentication. The setup requires a specific format and md5sum hashed password but users can quickly and easily create an entry using the following as an example:

$ user=foo
$ password=b@R102
$ realm='Password Required'
$ hash=`echo -n "$user:$realm:$password" | md5sum | cut -b -32`

# echo "$user:$realm:$hash" >> /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.user

Modify /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf adding the following lines to enable the directory protection:

server.modules += ( "mod_auth", "mod_authn_file" )

auth.backend                = "htdigest"
auth.backend.htdigest.userfile = "/etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.user"

# note this entry is relative to the server.document-root
auth.require = ( "/secret" =>
    "method" => "basic",
    "realm" => "Password Required",
    "require" => "valid-user"
Note: The realm entered into /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf must match the value chosen in /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.user for authentication to work.


Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts just need to enable the CGI module; include the configuration file and make sure your chosen programming language interpreter is installed. (i.e. for python you would install python)

Create the file /etc/lighttpd/conf.d/cgi.conf and add the following to it:

server.modules += ( "mod_cgi" )

cgi.assign                 = ( ".pl"  => "/usr/bin/perl",
                               ".cgi" => "/usr/bin/perl",
                               ".rb"  => "/usr/bin/ruby",
                               ".erb" => "/usr/bin/eruby",
                               ".py"  => "/usr/bin/python",
                               ".php" => "/usr/bin/php-cgi" )

index-file.names           +=( "",   "",
                               "index.rb",   "default.rb",
                               "index.erb",  "default.erb",
                               "",   "",
                               "index.php",  "default.php" )

For PHP scripts, you will need to make sure the following is set in /etc/php/php.ini

cgi.fix_pathinfo = 1

In your lighttpd configuration file, /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf add:

include "conf.d/cgi.conf"


Install fcgi. Now you have lighttpd with fcgi support. If that was what you wanted, you are all set. People that want Ruby on Rails, PHP or Python should continue.

Note: New default user and group: Instead of group nobody lighttpd now runs as user/group http by default.

First, copy the example configuration file from /usr/share/doc/lighttpd/config/conf.d/fastcgi.conf to /etc/lighttpd/conf.d

The following needs adding to the configuration file, /etc/lighttpd/conf.d/fastcgi.conf

server.modules += ( "mod_fastcgi" )

index-file.names += ( "dispatch.fcgi" ) #dispatch.fcgi if rails specified

server.error-handler-404   = "/dispatch.fcgi" #too
fastcgi.server = (
    ".fcgi" => (
      "localhost" => ( 
        "socket" => "/run/lighttpd/rails-fastcgi.sock",
        "bin-path" => "/path/to/rails/application/public/dispatch.fcgi"

Then in /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf:

include "conf.d/fastcgi.conf"

For PHP or Ruby on Rails, see the next sections.


Using php-cgi

Install php and php-cgi (see also PHP and LAMP).

Check that php-cgi is working php-cgi --version

PHP 5.4.3 (cgi-fcgi) (built: May  8 2012 17:10:17)
Copyright (c) 1997-2012 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v2.4.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2012 Zend Technologies

If you get a similar output, php is installed correctly.

Create a new configuration file:

# Make sure to install php and php-cgi. See:                                                             

server.modules += ("mod_fastcgi")

# FCGI server
# ===========
# Configure a FastCGI server which handles PHP requests.
index-file.names += ("index.php")
fastcgi.server = ( 
    # Load-balance requests for this path...
    ".php" => (
        # ... among the following FastCGI servers. The string naming each
        # server is just a label used in the logs to identify the server.
        "localhost" => ( 
            "bin-path" => "/usr/bin/php-cgi",
            "socket" => "/tmp/php-fastcgi.sock",
            # breaks SCRIPT_FILENAME in a way that PHP can extract PATH_INFO
            # from it 
            "broken-scriptfilename" => "enable",
            # Launch (max-procs + (max-procs * PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN)) procs, where
            # max-procs are "watchers" and the rest are "workers". See:
            "max-procs" => "4", # default value
            "bin-environment" => (
                "PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN" => "1" # default value

Make lighttpd use the new configuration file by appending the following line to your lighttpd configuration file:

include = "conf.d/fastcgi.conf"
Note: Remember that the order in which the modules are loaded is important. The correct order is listed in /usr/share/doc/lighttpd/config/modules.conf.

Reload lighttpd.

  • If you receive errors like No input file found when attempting to access php files, there are several possible explanations. See this FAQ for more information.
  • Make sure that no other module (e.g. mod_cgi) will try to handle the .php extension.
Using php-fpm

For dynamic management of PHP processes, you can install php-fpm and then start and enable php-fpm.service.

Note: You can configure the number of servers in the pool and tweak other configuration options by editing the file /etc/php/php-fpm.conf. More details on php-fpm can be found on the php-fpm website. Remember that when you make changes to /etc/php/php.ini, you will need to restart php-fpm.service.

In /etc/lighttpd/conf.d/fastcgi.conf add:

server.modules += ( "mod_fastcgi" )

index-file.names += ( "index.php" ) 

fastcgi.server = (
    ".php" => (
      "localhost" => ( 
        "socket" => "/run/php-fpm/php-fpm.sock",
        "broken-scriptfilename" => "enable"


In /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf add

server.modules += ("mod_scgi")

$HTTP["url"] =~ "^/uwsgi/" {
    scgi.protocol = "uwsgi"
    scgi.server   = (
        "/uwsgi/foo" => ((
            "socket"            => "/path/to/socket",
            "check-local"       => "disable"
        "/uwsgi/bar" => ((
            "host"              => "",
            "port"              => "8080",
            "check-local"       => "disable"

You can than start the uwsgi application either as a systemd unit or direct. Here is a neat guide from digitalocean on how to setup a flask application from the scratch.

Output compression

Copy example configuration file:

# mkdir /etc/lighttpd/conf.d
# cp /usr/share/doc/lighttpd/config/conf.d/deflate.conf /etc/lighttpd/conf.d/

Add following in /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf:

include "conf.d/deflate.conf"

Finally, reload lighttpd.service, and it will dynamically compress plain text and html content.

Note: You can not do this (copy deflate.conf) and add a needed content in /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf instead.

It is also possible to select the type of content that should be compressed. Modify /etc/lighttpd/conf.d/deflate.conf on the parameter deflate.mimetypes:

deflate.mimetypes           = ("text/plain", "text/html", "text/javascript", "text/css", "text/xml")

You can also create a cache directory to store compressed files:

# mkdir /var/cache/lighttpd/compress
# chown http:http /var/cache/lighttpd/compress

Then uncomment and modify the deflate.cache-dir option in /etc/lighttpd/conf.d/deflate.conf:

deflate.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress"

See also