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server {
  listen        80;
  server_name   test.local;

  access_log /var/log/nginx/access.log;
  error_log  /var/log/nginx/error.log;
  root       /var/www/testsite;

  location ~ \.php$ {
        fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+\.php)(/.+)$;
        fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php5-fpm.sock;
        include /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;

Requests to php files just return the code as plain text. Headers do mention PHP, so I presume nginx is talking to PHP properly ..

I've looked over it all too many times now, I feel I must be staring right at the problem. Can anyone help?

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You did try everything...except a wildcard * – RobotHumans Dec 13 '13 at 16:31
Are you accessing or ? – v010dya Dec 14 '13 at 5:15

See if your files are starting with < ? .

If so, and you want to keep them like that, you will need to edit /etc/php5/fpm/php.ini and set short_open_tag from Off to On and restart php-fpm.

sudo nano /etc/php5/fpm/php.ini

Search for short_open_tag and set it to On.

Restart php-fpm

sudo service php5-fpm restart
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