Install PHP-FPM and Apache on Debian 8 (Jessie)

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PHP-FPM is an implementation of the FastCGI protocol for PHP. This guide covers installing PHP-FPM for Apache on Debian 8 (Jessie).

Benefits over mod_php

While the mod_php module lets Apache run php scripts directly, it comes with the overhead of being loaded by every Apache process. For sites or servers that rely heavily on PHP this can be a benefit, but for largely static sites it makes more sense to only load php when needed.

PHP-FPM also offers more security, since scripts are not run as the Apache user. When running multiple sites, you can even set site-specific users to run php scripts, helping prevent one site’s compromise from affecting the others.

Before You Begin

  1. Ensure that you have followed the Getting Started and Securing Your Server guides, and the Linode’s hostname is set.

  2. Update your system:

    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
This guide is written for a non-root user. Commands that require elevated privileges are prefixed with sudo. If you’re not familiar with the sudo command, you can check our Users and Groups guide.

Install Apache and PHP-FPM

  1. Due to the PHP-FPM’s licensing, it’s not available in Debian’s main repository. Open the sources.list file and add contrib and non-free to each source line:

    File: /etc/apt/sources.list
    deb jessie main contrib non-free
    deb-src jessie main contrib non-free
    deb jessie/updates main contrib non-free
    deb-src jessie/updates main non-free
    # jessie-updates, previously known as 'volatile'
    deb jessie-updates main contrib non-free
    deb-src jessie-updates main contrib non-free
  2. Update apt-get, and install Apache, the mod-fastcgi module, and PHP-FPM:

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install apache2 libapache2-mod-fastcgi php5-fpm
  3. Optional If you need support for MySQL in PHP, install the php5-mysql package:

    sudo apt-get install php5-mysql
  4. You can now configure virtual hosting in accordance with the needs of your server. Once your site(s) is set up, you can configure Apache to pass PHP scripts to the CGI process.

Configure PHP-FPM

  1. Enable the mod_actions module:

    sudo a2enmod actions
  2. Make a backup of the fastcgi.conf file:

    sudo cp /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/fastcgi.conf /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/fastcgi.conf.backup
  3. Replace the contents of fastcgi.conf with the following:

    File: /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/fastcgi.conf
    <IfModule mod_fastcgi.c>
        AddType application/x-httpd-fastphp5 .php
        Action application/x-httpd-fastphp5 /php5-fcgi
        Alias /php5-fcgi /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5-fcgi
        FastCgiExternalServer /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5-fcgi -socket /var/run/php5-fpm.sock -pass-header Authorization
        <Directory /usr/lib/cgi-bin>
            Require all granted
  4. Confirm that you’ve properly copied the correct configuration:

    sudo apache2ctl configtest

    Disregard other output; if you see Syntax OK, you can proceed.

  5. Restart the Apache daemon to enable your new configuration:

    sudo systemctl restart apache2
  6. To confirm that PHP is working, create an info.php file in one of your web directories:

    File: /var/www/
    <?php phpinfo(); ?>

    Navigate to and look for the Server API line:

    The Server API Line.

Configure PHP Pools

This is a separate and optional configuration scenario from that described above where specific Unix users are created to execute PHP code and to control system resources per site. Instead of the www-data user owning all of Apache’s processes and sites, the configuration below allows each site to be run by Apache under its own system user (site1 under user1, site2 under user2, etc.).

This is particularly useful when running multiple client sites because you can give each customer write permissions in a respective web directory without affecting the security of the web server as a whole. The example below assumes two websites, each with its own Apache virtual host, and one system user for each website to which you want to assign a PHP pool. For more information see our Users and Groups guide.

  1. Make a copy of www.conf for each pool:

    cd /etc/php5/fpm/pool.d/
    sudo cp www.conf {site1.conf,site2.conf}
  2. For each pool, adjust the pool name, user and group, and socket name:

    File: /etc/php5/fpm/pool.d/site1.conf
    ; Start a new pool named 'www'.
    ; the variable $pool can we used in any directive and will be replaced by the
    ; pool name ('www' here)
    ; Unix user/group of processes
    ; Note: The user is mandatory. If the group is not set, the default user's group
    ;       will be used.
    user = site1
    group = site1
    ; The address on which to accept FastCGI requests.
    ; Valid syntaxes are:
    ;   ''    - to listen on a TCP socket to a specific IPv4 address on
    ;                            a specific port;
    ;   '[ip:6:addr:ess]:port' - to listen on a TCP socket to a specific IPv6 address on
    ;                            a specific port;
    ;   'port'                 - to listen on a TCP socket to all IPv4 addresses on a
    ;                            specific port;
    ;   '[::]:port'            - to listen on a TCP socket to all addresses
    ;                            (IPv6 and IPv4-mapped) on a specific port;
    ;   '/path/to/unix/socket' - to listen on a unix socket.
    ; Note: This value is mandatory.
    listen = /var/run/
    In the file excerpt above, three sequential dots - ... - denote that there is more in this file than is being shown. The three sequential dots are not a literal section to be copied.
  3. Restart the PHP-FPM service:

    systemctl restart php5-fpm.service

    If this is not successful, ensure that you’ve created a Linux system user for each one defined in your pools. If successful, you should see a similar output for sudo systemctl status php5-fpm.service:

    ● php5-fpm.service - The PHP FastCGI Process Manager
       Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/php5-fpm.service; enabled)
       Active: active (running) since Wed 2016-01-27 20:24:51 UTC; 2s ago
      Process: 28423 ExecStartPre=/usr/lib/php5/php5-fpm-checkconf (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
     Main PID: 28428 (php5-fpm)
       Status: "Ready to handle connections"
       CGroup: /system.slice/php5-fpm.service
               ├─28428 php-fpm: master process (/etc/php5/fpm/php-fpm.conf)
               ├─28432 php-fpm: pool
               ├─28433 php-fpm: pool
               ├─28434 php-fpm: pool
               ├─28435 php-fpm: pool
               ├─28436 php-fpm: pool www
               └─28437 php-fpm: pool www
  4. Add the <IfModule mod_fastcgi.c> block to each virtual host block:

    File: /etc/apache2/sites-available/
    <VirtualHost *:80>
    <IfModule mod_fastcgi.c>
        AddType application/x-httpd-fastphp5 .php
        Action application/x-httpd-fastphp5 /php5-fcgi
        Alias /php5-fcgi /usr/lib/cgi-bin/
        FastCgiExternalServer /usr/lib/cgi-bin/ -socket /var/run/ -pass-header Authorization
  5. Test the new configuration with sudo apache2ctl configtest. If there are no errors, reload Apache:

    sudo systemctl reload apache2
  6. You can confirm the user with the info.php file described above, by checking the Environment section:

More Information

You may wish to consult the following resources for additional information on this topic. While these are provided in the hope that they will be useful, please note that we cannot vouch for the accuracy or timeliness of externally hosted materials.

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