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Installing Cherokee With PHP5 And MySQL Support On Debian Squeeze

Cherokee is a very fast, flexible and easy to configure Web Server. It supports the widespread technologies nowadays: FastCGI, SCGI, PHP, CGI, TLS and SSL encrypted connections, virtual hosts, authentication, on the fly encoding, load balancing, Apache compatible log files, and much more. This tutorial shows how you can install Cherokee on a Debian Squeeze server with PHP5 support (through FastCGI) and MySQL support.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

In this tutorial I use the hostname with the IP address These settings might differ for you, so you have to replace them where appropriate.


2 Installing MySQL 5

First we install MySQL 5 like this:

apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client

You will be asked to provide a password for the MySQL root user – this password is valid for the user root@localhost as well as, so we don’t have to specify a MySQL root password manually later on:

New password for the MySQL “root” user: <– yourrootsqlpassword
Repeat password for the MySQL “root” user: <– yourrootsqlpassword


3 Installing Cherokee

Cherokee is available as a Debian package, therefore we can install it like this:

apt-get install cherokee

Now direct your browser to, and you should see the Cherokee placeholder page:


Cherokee can be configured through a web-based control panel which we can start as follows:

cherokee-admin -b

(By default cherokee-admin binds only to (localhost), which means you can only connect to it from the same system. With the -b parameter you can specify the network address to listen to. If no IP is provided, it will bind to all interfaces.)

Output should be similar to this one:

root@server1:~# cherokee-admin -b

User:              admin
One-time Password: 1Kkcc58atG8DNIM7

Web Interface:
URL:               http://localhost:9090/

[11/04/2011 12:14:18.622] (error) rrd_tools.c:120 – Could not find the rrdtool binary.
Cherokee Web Server 1.0.8 (Jan 11 2011): Listening on port ALL:9090, TLS
disabled, IPv6 enabled, using epoll, 4096 fds system limit, max. 2041
connections, caching I/O, single thread

You need the username and password to log into the web interface which can be found on


This is how the web interface looks:


To stop cherokee-admin, type CTRL+C on the shell.


4 Installing PHP5

We can make PHP5 work in Cherokee through FastCGI. Fortunately, Debian provides a FastCGI-enabled PHP5 package which we install like this:

apt-get install php5-cgi


5 Configuring PHP5

We must modify /etc/php5/cgi/php.ini and uncomment the line cgi.fix_pathinfo=1:

vi /etc/php5/cgi/php.ini

; cgi.fix_pathinfo provides *real* PATH_INFO/PATH_TRANSLATED support for CGI.  PHP's
; previous behaviour was to set PATH_TRANSLATED to SCRIPT_FILENAME, and to not grok
; what PATH_INFO is.  For more information on PATH_INFO, see the cgi specs.  Setting
; this to 1 will cause PHP CGI to fix its paths to conform to the spec.  A setting
; of zero causes PHP to behave as before.  Default is 1.  You should fix your scripts

Then we restart Cherokee:

/etc/init.d/cherokee restart

6 Enabling PHP5 In Cherokee

PHP is not enabled in Cherokee by default. To enable it, we need to start Cherokee’s web-based control panel…

cherokee-admin -b

… and log into it (

Now go to vServers, pick the default vhost and go to the Behavior tab; click the Rule Management button:


In the left column, you should now see all currently existing rules:


Click the New button next to Behavior to add a new rule:


An overlay window pops up; select Languages from the left column, then choose PHP and click the Add button:


Next, click the Create button in the Configuration Assistant window:



You should now see a new rule for PHP in the left column (with the status NON FINAL). You can change the default PHP settings if you like (this is not necessary, the default settings should be fine in most cases). The FastCGI settings are on the Handler tab:


To finalize the setup, click the box that says NON FINAL


… and it should change to FINAL:


In the upper right corner there should now be a Save link – click it to save the new configuration…


… and then click the Graceful restart button (Cherokee needs to be restarted to make the changes effective):


PHP should now be listed on the Behavior tab (there should be a check in the Final column):


Press CTRL+C on the command line to stop the control panel.


7 Testing PHP5 / Getting Details About Your PHP5 Installation

The document root of the default web site is /var/www. We will now create a small PHP file (info.php) in that directory and call it in a browser. The file will display lots of useful details about our PHP installation, such as the installed PHP version.

vi /var/www/info.php


Now we call that file in a browser (e.g.


As you see, PHP5 is working, and it’s working through FastCGI, as shown in the Server API line. If you scroll further down, you will see all modules that are already enabled in PHP5. MySQL is not listed there which means we don’t have MySQL support in PHP5 yet.


8 Getting MySQL Support In PHP5

To get MySQL support in PHP, we can install the php5-mysql package. It’s a good idea to install some other PHP5 modules as well as you might need them for your applications. You can search for available PHP5 modules like this:

apt-cache search php5

Pick the ones you need and install them like this:

apt-get install php5-mysql php5-curl php5-gd php5-idn php-pear php5-imagick php5-imap php5-mcrypt php5-memcache php5-ming php5-ps php5-pspell php5-recode php5-snmp php5-sqlite php5-tidy php5-xmlrpc php5-xsl

Now restart Cherokee:

/etc/init.d/cherokee restart

Now reload in your browser and scroll down to the modules section again. You should now find lots of new modules there, including the MySQL module:


  • Cherokee:
  • PHP:
  • MySQL:
  • Debian: