How to Install Lighttpd with PHP, MariaDB and PhpMyAdmin in Ubuntu

Lighttpd is an open-source web server for Linux machines, very fast and very small in size, it doesn’t require a lot of memory and CPU usage which makes it one of the best servers for any project that needs speed in deploying web pages.

Lighttpd Features

  1. Support for FastCGI, SCGI, CGI interfaces.
  2. Support for using chroot.
  3. Support for mod_rewrite.
  4. Support for TLS/SSL using OpenSSL.
  5. A Very small size: 1MB.
  6. Low CPU and RAM usage.
  7. Licensed under the BSD license.

This article explains how to install Lighttpd, MariaDB, PHP with PhpMyAdmin on Ubuntu 20.04.

Step 1: Installing Lighttpd on Ubuntu

Fortunately, Lighttpd is available to install from the official Ubuntu repositories, So if you want to install Lighttpd, you only have to run the following command.

$ sudo apt install lighttpd
Install Lighttpd in Ubuntu
Install Lighttpd in Ubuntu

Once, Lighttpd installed, you can go to your website or IP address and you will see this page which confirms the installation of Lighttpd on your machine.

Check Lighttpd in Ubuntu
Check Lighttpd in Ubuntu

Before, heading up for further installation, I would like to tell you that the following are the important things about Lighttpd you should know before continuing.

  1. /var/www/html – is the default root folder for Lighttpd.
  2. /etc/lighttpd/ – is the default folder for Lighttpd configuration files.

Step 2: Installing PHP on Ubuntu

Lighttpd web server won’t be usable without PHP FastCGI support. Additionally, you also need to install the ‘php-mysql‘ package to enable MySQL support.

# sudo apt install php php-cgi php-mysql
Install PHP in Ubuntu
Install PHP in Ubuntu

Now to enable the PHP module, run the following commands in the terminal.

$ sudo lighty-enable-mod fastcgi 
$ sudo lighty-enable-mod fastcgi-php

After enabling modules, reload the Lighttpd server configuration by running the below command.

$ sudo service lighttpd force-reload

Now to test if PHP is working or not, let’s create a ‘test.php‘ file in /var/www/test.php.

$ sudo vi /var/www/html/test.php

Press the “i” button to start editing, and add the following line to it.

<?php phpinfo(); ?>

Press ESC key, and write:x and press Enter key to save the file.

Now go to your domain or IP address and call test.php file, like You will see this page which means that PHP is installed successfully.

Check PHP Info in Ubuntu
Check PHP Info in Ubuntu

Step 3: Installing MariaDB in Ubuntu

MariaDB is a fork from MySQL, it is also a good database server to use with Lighttpd, to install it on Ubuntu 20.04 run these series of commands in the terminal.

$ sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
$ sudo apt-key adv --fetch-keys ''
$ sudo add-apt-repository 'deb [arch=amd64,arm64,ppc64el] focal main'
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install mariadb-server
Install MaraiDB in Ubuntu
Install MariaDB in Ubuntu

Once installed, you can run the security script to secure the MariaDB installation as shown.

$ sudo mysql_secure_installation

The script will be prompted to enter the root password or set it up. Thereafter, answer Y for every subsequent prompt.

Secure MariaDB Installation
Secure MariaDB Installation

Installing PhpMyAdmin in Ubuntu

PhpMyAdmin is a powerful web interface to manage databases online, almost every system admin use it because it is very easy to manage databases using it. To install it on Ubuntu 20.04, run the below command.

$ sudo apt install phpmyadmin
Install PhpMyAdmin in Ubuntu
Install PhpMyAdmin in Ubuntu

During installation, it will show you the below dialog, choose NO.

Configure PhpMyAdmin
Configure PhpMyAdmin

Now choose ‘Lighttpd‘.

PhpMyAdmin Configure Webserver
PhpMyAdmin Configure Webserver

We are almost done here, just run this simple command to create a symlink in /var/www/ to the PHPMyAdmin folder in /usr/share/.

$ sudo ln -s /usr/share/phpmyadmin/ /var/www

Now go to http://localhost/phpmyadmin and it will ask you to enter the root password, that you’ve set above during MariaDB installation.

PhpMyAdmin Web Access
PhpMyAdmin Web Access

That’s it, all of your server components are up and running now, You can start deploying your web projects.

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Ravi Saive
I am an experienced GNU/Linux expert and a full-stack software developer with over a decade in the field of Linux and Open Source technologies

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  1. I had to alter the very last command line. Otherwise, I’d end up with “404”.


    $ sudo ln -s /usr/share/phpmyadmin/ /var/www


    $ sudo ln -s /usr/share/phpmyadmin/ /var/www/html/

    The rest of the tutorial worked fine for me on my Raspberry Pi

  2. Dear All,

    Seems I have the same 404 issues.

    What I have found out: could it have something to do with the access rights? Something that you have no access to the link?

    /www has rwx rwx r-x owner: www-data, group: www-data, oct 40775

    /www/~phpmyadmin has: rwx r-x r-x owner: root, group: root, oct 40775
    usr/share/phpmyadmin has rwx rwx r-x owner root, group root, oct 40775


    • This is an add on to my reported 404 issues.

      After some tries, I have found out, that when accessing via ssh there is access to maria DB, but not when accessing locally

      1st via ssh (access to mariadb):

      odroid@odroid:~$ sudo mysqladmin -u root -p version
      [sudo] Passwort für odroid: 
      Enter password: 
      mysqladmin  Ver 9.1 Distrib 10.3.22-MariaDB, for debian-linux-gnu on aarch64
      Copyright (c) 2000, 2018, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.
      Server version		10.3.22-MariaDB-1ubuntu1
      Protocol version	10
      Connection		Localhost via UNIX socket
      UNIX socket		/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
      Uptime:			15 hours 18 min 5 sec
      Threads: 7  Questions: 66  Slow queries: 0  Opens: 32  Flush tables: 1  Open tables: 26  Queries per second avg: 0.001

      2nd locally (no access to mariadb):

      odroid@odroid:~$ sudo mysqladmin -u -root -p version
      [sudo] Passwort für odroid: 
      Enter password: 
      mysqladmin: connect to server at 'localhost' failed
      error: 'Access denied for user '-root'@'localhost' (using password: YES)'

      The often reported issue, that Lighttpd is not running dependent on a parallel installed and running apache server is really annoying.

      A running lighttpd can be easily checked out with:

      $ sudo systemctl status lighttpd
      ...a parallel running apache2 server has cost me hours!

      Dear Ravi,
      Your introduction is very very very good!
      Big ThanX

  3. Hi Ravi,

    I have removed apache2 and put a renewing installation halted.

    So now I keep having the lighttpd placeholder website.

    But the issue with the error “404 Not Found” is still there.

    Why is this so hard to get? I really would like to test lighttpd, but phpmyadmin is a bit of a hard part.

    • @Bepo,

      Try to remove phpmyadmin completely, and re-install it and during the web server configuration select ‘lighttpd‘. See section: Installing PhpMyAdmin in Ubuntu in the article.

  4. I followed the steps as shown, but when installing php the webserver site changes from Lighttpd to Apache. Also when installing PHPMyAdmin the window to choose between Apache and Lighttpd comes before asking for configuring PHPMyAdmin. I accidentally chose Apache, but that shouldn’t be a problem I assume. Everything went smooth, but when going to http://localhost/phpmyadmin I just get

    404 Not Found

    Any idea? Is it possible to run the installation again, without reinstalling Linux? I am actually a Windows user, who tries the step over. :-)

    Thank you

    • @Bepo,

      It seems you already have Apache2 installed on the system. First, remove the Apache or Nginx on the system and then install Lighttpd web server.

      • It was a fresh installed Linux Mint.

        The same happened again, this time with a fresh installed Ubuntu 20.04.

        As soon as I run the command to install PHP.

        $ sudo apt install php php-cgi php-mysql

        and then refresh localhost then I get the Apache placeholder site. I also have lots of error messages running the command above. Is there are change to post you the messages?

        • @Bepo,

          On the Step 1: Installing Lighttpd on Ubuntu – did you get Lighttpd web page?

          The second step “Step 2: Installing PHP on Ubuntu” seems installing apache2 while installing PHP packages..

          Try to remove apache2 and restart lighttpd.

          $ sudo apt purge apache2
          $ sudo systemctl restart lighttpd
          • Okay, reinstalled Linux Mint 20. Started from scratch.

            Ran your command to uninstall Apache2. Works fine.

            But when doing the phpmyadmin all is messed up again. Even when following every step you did, I get

            404 Not Found

            when opening http://localhost/phpmyadmin.

            Restarted Linux, same result.

            Why can’t I get this done??

          • @Bepo,

            It seems apache2 is installing by defaut, for time being remove and hold the apache2 package for installation.

            $ sudo apt purge apache2
            $ sudo apt-mark hold apache2

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