Installing and configuring NGINX + PHP (php-fpm) on a Linux server

+1 vote
I’m going to drop Apache and for the first time install Nginx on the server in conjunction with php-fpm. Please, post a detailed instruction.
And what is your opinion – is it true that nginx + php-fpm works much faster than Apache?
asked Jul 23, 2016 in System administration by Ivan Adams

1 Answer

0 votes

Good day to you!
Yes, to my mind, Nginx is several times faster than Apache server. But some people may object – the efficiency of Apache can be enhanced and it will become fast as well. This is true, but don’t forget that Nginx can also be boosted greatly. I will definitely write a separate detailed article on efficiency boosting.

A bit of theory about Nginx + php-fpm

In Apache web-server, php is a plugin module, such a conjunction works slowly and uses up lots of resources. Due to ineffectual architecture, in most cases Apache cannot process more than 200-300 requests per second, even using a very fat server. In Nginx another kind of architecture is used – Nginx web-server itself processes only the statics requests (pictures, css and others), and delegates php processing to another software server – php-fpm. Php-fpm (FastCGI Process Manager) – is completely independent software; it can be installed on the same server as Nginx (for small projects) or moved to a separate server. Large projects are usually handled, using several servers with Nginx, php-fpm and databases. 

By substituting Apache for Nginx + php-fpm, you can accelerate users’ requests processing and greatly save on “hardware”. A web project with traffic up to 10000 unique visitors per day can easily live on the cheapest virtual server by DigitalOcean for 5$ monthly. By the way, if you click this link - DigitalOcean, you will get 10$ for your registration, which means 2 months of free use of the virtual server. There are no additional conditions for that.

But let’s get down to business. I will describe the installation and setting up process through the example of CentOS 6.x, which is, however, not very different from other Linux installation packages.

Nginx installation:

1. Installation of Nginx repository: standard Linux distros on default include no Nginx distro, therefore add it to the system. 

vi /etc/yum.repos.d/nginx.repo

Then, press i to switch to the edit mode of vi editing program and insert:

name=nginx repo

Then press ":wq" and Enter to save and exit. That’s it, now Nginx is available for automatic installation via yum package manager. If you use other Linux distro – proceed to this page to get the instruction, exactly suitable for your system. 

2. Nginx installation from repository: now just execute the installation command.

yum install nginx

Php-fpm installation:

PHP-fpm is available by default in any modern distros, therefore just execute its installation:

yum install php-fpm

At that, the server itself and all the optional packages will be installed. If something fails to install, you can assemble php-fpm from source codes yourself, you can find detailed instructions here.

Setting up and starting Nginx + php-fpm:

1. Let’s start from php-fpm: open the configuration file

vi /etc/php-fpm.d/www.conf

and spell the operation via socket in there (in this case, it will operate faster):

listen = /var/run/php5-fpm.sock

change the existing line "listen =" or add a new and delete the old one.

2. Now let’s move to Nginx: create the configuration file for your first web site (change site1 for the site’s name, however, it will work in any case)

vi /etc/nginx/conf.d/site1.conf

There is the entry-level configuration below, you can just copy it. Everything you need to change is highlighted in red. In this configuration, static files upload and access to a single php-file - index.php is set up. All the modern CMS can be started, using a single file, thus, this configuration will be suitable for the majority of tasks. If you need to start other php-files, spell them out separately. In this very configuration the site’s files should be located in the folder /home/mysite/public_html/

server {
        listen [server IP address]:80;
        error_log /var/log/nginx/helpdesk_zone_error.log warn;
        root /home/helpdesk_zone/public_html;
        access_log /var/log/nginx/helpdesk_zone-access.log;
        charset utf-8;
        index index.php;
        location ~ .*(gif|jpg|jpeg|png|ico|swf|txt|pdf|doc|docx|exe|xls|xlsx|strings|zip|rar|7z)$ {
            expires 1y;
        location ~ .*(html|htm|js|css)$ {
            expires 1y;

        location ~ ^/index.php {
                fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php5-fpm.sock;
                fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME /home/helpdesk_zone/public_html/index.php;
                include /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;
                fastcgi_param SCRIPT_NAME /index.php;


Now, place your first site’s files to the folder /home/site1/public_html/ and we are ready for the start.

3. Starting nginx + php-fpm:

service nginx start
service php-fpm start​

If you have done everything correct and made no mistakes, you will get the following result: 

First start of Nginx and php-fpm

If you have any questions left or need details – please, ask a question or leave a comment.
I’m always pleased to help you!
Good luck!

answered Jul 23, 2016 by Expert Brian (5,370 points)
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