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Nginx and Perl-FastCGI on Debian 5 (Lenny)

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Warning

This document is an older, unmaintained guide. There may be a new guide available for this software.

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.

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 VPS over SSH.

Contents

Set the Hostname

Before you begin installing and configuring the components described in this guide, please make sure you've followed our instructions for setting your hostname. Issue the following commands to make sure it is set properly:

hostname
hostname -f

The first command should show your short hostname, and the second should show your fully qualified domain name (FQDN).

Install Required Packages

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
/etc/init.d/nginx start

Configure Virtual Hosting

In this guide, the domain "example.com" is used as an example site. You should substitute your own domain name in the configuration steps that follow. First, create directories to hold content and log files:

mkdir -p /srv/www/www.example.com/public_html
mkdir /srv/www/www.example.com/logs
chown -R www-data:www-data /srv/www/www.example.com

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

File:/etc/nginx/sites-available/www.example.com

server {
    listen   80;
    server_name www.example.com example.com;
    access_log /srv/www/www.example.com/logs/access.log;
    error_log /srv/www/www.example.com/logs/error.log;

    location / {
        root   /srv/www/www.example.com/public_html;
        index  index.html index.htm;
    }

    location ~ \.pl$ {
        gzip off;
        include /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;
        fastcgi_pass  127.0.0.1:8999;
        fastcgi_index index.pl;
        fastcgi_param  SCRIPT_FILENAME  /srv/www/www.example.com/public_html$fastcgi_script_name;
    }
}

Issue the following commands to enable the site:

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

You may wish to create a test HTML page under /srv/www/www.example.com/public_html/ 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 FastCGI Wrapper

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 http://library.linode.com/assets/671-fastcgi-wrapper.sh
wget -O init-deb.sh http://library.linode.com/assets/670-init-deb.sh
mv /opt/fastcgi-wrapper /usr/bin/fastcgi-wrapper.pl
mv /opt/init-deb.sh /etc/init.d/perl-fastcgi
chmod +x /usr/bin/fastcgi-wrapper.pl
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 "test.pl" in your site's "public_html" directory with the following contents:

File:/srv/www/www.example.com/public_html/test.pl

#!/usr/bin/perl

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

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

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

Make the script executable by issuing the following command:

chmod a+x /srv/www/www.example.com/public_html/test.pl

When you visit http://www.example.com/test.pl 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.

Creative Commons License

This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Last edited by Matthew Cone on Monday, October 8th, 2012 (r3131).