Nginx and Perl-FastCGI on Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic)

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The nginx web server is a fast, lightweight server designed to efficiently handle the needs of both low and high traffic websites. Although commonly used to serve static content, it’s quite capable of handling dynamic pages as well. This guide will help you get nginx up and running with Perl and FastCGI on your Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) Linode.

It is assumed that you’ve already followed the steps outlined in our getting started guide. These steps should be performed via a root login to your Linode over SSH.

Basic System Configuration

Issue the following commands to set your system hostname, substituting a unique value for “hostname.” :

echo "hostname" > /etc/hostname
hostname -F /etc/hostname

Edit your /etc/hosts file to resemble the following, substituting your Linode’s public IP address for, your hostname for “hostname,” and your primary domain name for “” :

12 localhost.localdomain localhost hostname

Install Required Packages

Make sure you have the “universe” repositories enabled in /etc/apt/sources.list. Your file should resemble the following:

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## main & restricted repositories
deb karmic main restricted
deb-src karmic main restricted

deb karmic-security main restricted
deb-src karmic-security main restricted

## universe repositories
deb karmic universe
deb-src karmic universe

deb karmic-updates universe
deb-src karmic-updates universe

deb karmic-security universe
deb-src karmic-security universe

Issue the following commands to update your system and install the nginx web server and compiler tools (Perl should already be installed):

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade
apt-get install nginx build-essential psmisc wget libfcgi-perl curl
echo "console output" >> /etc/init.d/nginx
/etc/init.d/nginx start

Configure Your Site

In this guide, we’ll be using the domain “” as our example site. You should substitute your own domain name in the configuration steps that follow. First, we’ll need to create directories to hold our content and log files:

mkdir -p /srv/www/
mkdir /srv/www/
chown -R www-data:www-data /srv/www/

Next, you’ll need to define the site’s virtual host file:

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server {
    listen   80;
    access_log /srv/www/;
    error_log /srv/www/;

    location / {
    root   /srv/www/;
    index  index.html index.htm;

    location ~ \.pl$ {
    gzip off;
    include /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;
    fastcgi_param  SCRIPT_FILENAME  /srv/www/$fastcgi_script_name;

Issue the following commands to enable the site:

cd /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/
ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/
/etc/init.d/nginx restart

You may wish to create a test HTML page under /srv/www/ and view it in your browser to verify that nginx is properly serving your site (Perl will not work yet). Please note that this will require an entry in DNS pointing your domain name to your Linode’s IP address (found on the “Remote Access” tab in the Linode Manager).

Configure spawn-fcgi

Install the Perl module for FastCGI using the CPAN Minus interface for CPAN. Install CPAN Minus and FCGI by issuing the following sequence of commands:

cd /opt/
curl > cpanm
chmod +x cpanm
ln -s /opt/cpanm /usr/bin/
cpanm --self-upgrade --sudo
cpanm --sudo FCGI

Issue the following command sequence to download the FastCGI wrapper script (credit: Denis S. Filimonov) and an init script to control the FastCGI process, set the permissions, launch the wrapper for the first time, and ensure that FastCGI launches at startup:

cd /opt/
wget -O fastcgi-wrapper
wget -O
mv /opt/fastcgi-wrapper /usr/bin/
mv /opt/ /etc/init.d/perl-fastcgi
chmod +x /usr/bin/
chmod +x /etc/init.d/perl-fastcgi
update-rc.d perl-fastcgi defaults
/etc/init.d/perl-fastcgi start

Test Perl with FastCGI

Create a file called “” in your site’s “public_html” directory with the following contents:

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print "Content-type:text/html\n\n";
print <<EndOfHTML;
<html><head><title>Perl Environment Variables</title></head>
<h1>Perl Environment Variables</h1>

foreach $key (sort(keys %ENV)) {
    print "$key = $ENV{$key}<br>\n";

print "</body></html>";

Make the script executable by issuing the following command:

chmod +x /srv/www/

When you visit in your browser, your Perl environment variables should be shown. Congratulations, you’ve configured the nginx web server to use Perl with FastCGI for dynamic content!

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.

See Also

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This guide is published under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license.