I'm relatively new to the world of unix command line web server management/administration.

Many hosts with control panel administration options allow you to change how PHP is run with a simple option.

The most common options being:

  • apache module
  • CGI application
  • FastCGI application

My question is simply, how do you change this via the command line? I know there are many configuration files for apache.

The closest thing I have found is this question, however the directory structure does not seem to match for my OS (Ubuntu 12.04).

I'm quite bewildered how there does not seem to be a clear guide that I can find that details this process for something that seems to be so common. Forgive me if this exists... if so, please point me in the right direction.

  • The closest thing I have found is this question on SO That website is not Stack Overflow. Nov 17, 2013 at 2:40
  • 1
    This on fastcgi explains it pretty well.
    – Matt Green
    Nov 17, 2013 at 2:44
  • 1
    @ta.speot.is forgivaness, pleaassuh.. Thanks Matt, of course I looked at fastcgi.com, but I found those instructions a little difficult to follow. Nov 17, 2013 at 3:17
  • @ta.speot.is, Simple typo. He meant "SE" not "SO".
    – Pacerier
    Jun 25, 2015 at 5:14

4 Answers 4


Thanks for previous answers they got me most of the way, but to get things working I had to combine instructions from a few places, so thought I would write up a complete set of commands.

FYI I'm running Ubuntu 14.04, Apache 2.4, and also had modphp running by default, previous instructions also left out the need to disable modphp.

I also found http://blog.starcklin.com/2013/08/install-mod-fastcgi-and-php5-fpm-on-ubuntu/ to be very informative and straightforward.

Just run the following commands in a terminal one after the other.

First install the necessary packages (I leave out php5 as this assumes it's already installed, add it back in for a first time install). Also note from Apache 2.4 up you can use the event-mpm instead of worker see http://www.vps.net/blog/2013/04/08/apache-mpms-prefork-worker-and-event/. My example shows worker, but just replace the word worker with event if you'd rather use that.

sudo apt-get install apache2-mpm-worker

sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-fastcgi php5-fpm

Now enable mods you need, and disable those you don't.

sudo a2dismod php5 mpm_prefork

sudo a2enmod actions fastcgi alias mpm_worker

Create the php5.fcgi file and give the webserver permission to use it.

sudo touch /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5.fcgi

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /usr/lib/cgi-bin

Create a global config for php5-fpm

sudo nano /etc/apache2/conf-available/php5-fpm.conf

paste in the following (we'll use a socket instead of IP address)

<IfModule mod_fastcgi.c> 
   AddHandler php5.fcgi .php 
   Action php5.fcgi /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 -idle-timeout 3600 
   <Directory /usr/lib/cgi-bin>
       Require all granted

Enable the php5-fpm conf

sudo a2enconf php5-fpm

Restart apache and fpm

sudo service apache2 restart && sudo service php5-fpm restart

As per other instructions paste the following into a new browseable php file on your webserver.

<?php phpinfo();

Open the file you just edited in a web browser, If you see "FPM/FastCGI" next to Server API, you are now serving PHP with FastCGI!

  • 4
    This is a lifesaver. Instructions for the older apache did not work on Ubuntu 14.04, and apache 2.4; but this one worked like a charm. +100 !! Sep 27, 2014 at 9:40
  • I followed this exactly, yet I get the error 'You don't have permission to access /php5.fcgi/index' ... And in the error log, 'client denied by server configuration: /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5.fcgi' ... Any ideas? Jun 10, 2015 at 20:14
  • Figured it out ... I was using the old 'order deny,allow' configuration for root for some reason ... All fixed now :D Jun 10, 2015 at 20:56
  • I got following error after installation of packages and configuration "apache2: syntax error on line 216 of /etc/apache2/apache2.conf: Syntax error on line 9 of /etc/apache2/conf-enabled/php5-fpm.conf: Expected </Directory> but saw </IfModule>"
    – Farooq
    Apr 23, 2016 at 4:53
  • Made a GitHub Gist for this gist.github.com/efarem/4a8fc03dc69d81998f6e518620f63421 May 24, 2016 at 15:14

I finally found a nice tutorial geared at doing just this. I will outline the steps I took as I already had my LAMP stack installed but the full tutorial can be found here.

Note for the new:

In the tutorial, it begins by switching to the root user with:

sudo su

In my case I simply prefixed those commands sudo instead of switching users, so I will be documenting my steps that way.


Step one: Install the Apache Worker MPM (Multi-Procesing Modules)

sudo apt-get install apache2-mpm-worker

This replaces the prefork I had installed which is the default when installing Apache.

Step 2: Install PHP5 and necessary modules

sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-fastcgi php5-fpm php5

At this point you may get an error installing 'libapache2-mod-fastcgi':

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Package libapache2-mod-fastcgi is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or is only available from another source

E: Package 'libapache2-mod-fastcgi' has no installation candidate

This part is not in the above tutorial

To reconcile this, the multiverse repository must be added to the apt sources.

To do this:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

To which I appended the following lines:

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu precise multiverse
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu precise-updates multiverse
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu precise-security multiverse

precise in this case refers to my version of Ubuntu "Precise Pangolin".

So now, save those changes and back to terminal:

sudo apt-get update

and again:

sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-fastcgi php5-fpm php5

which will (should) now work.

Now enable these Apache modules:

sudo a2enmod actions fastcgi alias

restart apache

sudo service apache2 restart

Step 3: Apache configuration

To make Apache work with PHP-FPM, we need the following configuration:

<IfModule mod_fastcgi.c>
    AddHandler php5-fcgi .php
    Action php5-fcgi /php5-fcgi
    Alias /php5-fcgi /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5-fcgi
    FastCgiExternalServer /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5-fcgi -host -pass-header Authorization
    <Directory /usr/lib/cgi-bin>
        Require all granted 
    #directory statement mult be on multiple lines


If you're using an older version of Apache (2.3.x or older), leave out the line

   <Directory /usr/lib/cgi-bin> Require all granted </Directory>

You can check your installed version with the command

apache2 -version

You can put it in the global Apache configuration (so it's enabled for all vhosts), for example in /etc/apache2/conf.d/php5-fpm.conf (this file does not exist, so you must create it), or you can place it in each vhost that should use PHP-FPM.

I choose to go the global route, so:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/conf.d/php5-fpm.conf

paste in the code block above, and save, exit. This new file will be automatically loaded by Apache's default configuration which loads all files in the /etc/apache2/conf.d/ directory.

restart Apache:

sudo service apache2 restart

Now create the following PHP file in the document root /var/www:

sudo nano /var/www/info.php


<?php phpinfo();

save & exit.

Now we call that file in a browser (e.g. http://your-server-ip/info.php)

Under Server API at the top you should see FPM/FastCGI.


For more information like how to change PHP-FPM to use a unix socket instead of the default TCP port or how to configure this for individual virtual hosts instead of all of them, see the source tutorial linked at the top.

  • I had to add this before </IfModule>: <Directory /usr/lib/cgi-bin> Require all granted </Directory> May 12, 2014 at 4:29
  • @RimuAtkinson is correct, by default all directories will be forbidden in newer versions, so you'll have to specifically grant access to the cgi-bin directory. This should be added to the answer, as without it you'll get a 403.
    – johnrom
    Jul 15, 2014 at 19:27
  • Thanks for this howto! Note that the Require all granted thing is only required since Apache 2.4. If I put it in the configuration file with Apache 2.2, it fails.
    – leemes
    Aug 7, 2014 at 18:11
  • I've added a note. (Feel free to fine-edit it; it's your post. ;)) For details, see stackoverflow.com/a/22040167/592323
    – leemes
    Aug 7, 2014 at 18:30
  • 1
    This answer does not work on ubuntu 14.04. Refer answer by JDawgg to do it in 14.04. Sep 27, 2014 at 9:41

In Ubuntu 14.04 after doing the steps of the accepted answer, edit /etc/apache2/conf-available/php5-fpm.conf

<IfModule mod_fastcgi.c>
    AddHandler php5-fcgi .php
    Action php5-fcgi /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 -idle-timeout 3600
    <Directory /usr/lib/cgi-bin>
        Require all granted

Then execute

#sudo a2enconf php5-fpm
#sudo apache2 restart

In case of somebody is doing this on Ubuntu 16.04 and has downgraded from php 7 to php 5.6 (Ondrej), you have to replace some lines (based on JDawgg's answer):

sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-fastcgi php5-fpm to:

sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-fastcgi php5.6-fpm 

sudo a2dismod php5 mpm_prefork to:

sudo a2dismod php5.6 mpm_prefork

sudo nano /etc/apache2/conf-available/php5-fpm.conf to:

sudo vim /etc/apache2/conf-available/php5.6-fpm.conf

Installation process of php5.6-fpm already created the file, so there is no need to create one. However, I removed all existing text on that file as it was meant for mod_php5.

<IfModule mod_fastcgi.c> 
   AddHandler php5.fcgi .php 
   Action php5.fcgi /php5.fcgi 
   Alias /php5.fcgi /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5.fcgi 
   FastCgiExternalServer /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5.fcgi -socket /var/run/php/php5.6-fpm.sock -pass-header Authorization -idle-timeout 3600 
   <Directory /usr/lib/cgi-bin>
       Require all granted

I changed path from /var/run/php5-fpm.sock to /var/run/php/php5.6-fpm.sock as the file was located there.

sudo a2enconf php5-fpm to:

sudo a2enconf php5.6-fpm

sudo service apache2 restart && sudo service php5-fpm restart to:

sudo service apache2 restart && sudo service php5.6-fpm restart

I hope this helps other newbies like me :)

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