Lighttpd Setup CGI-BIG CGI For Perl Programs

Posted on in Categories CentOS, Debian Linux, FreeBSD, Gentoo Linux, lighttpd, Linux, Perl, programming, RedHat/Fedora Linux, UNIX last updated July 29, 2006
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Lighttpd has mod_cgi module that allows you running Perl and other server side programs via cgi-bin directory. The Common Gateway Interface (CGI) is a standard protocol for interfacing external application software with an information server.

Step #1: Create a CGI cgi-bin Directory

First you need to create a cgi-bin directory for your domain. Assuming that your domain hosted at /home/lighttpd/ (DocumentRoot), create cgi-bin as follows:
# mkdir -p /home/lighttpd/

Step # 2: Load mod_cgi Module

Open lighttpd configuration file using a text editor such as vi:
# vi /etc/lighttpd/ligttpd.conf

Now append or modify text as follows so that support for mod_cgi get loaded:

server.modules += ( "mod_cgi" )

Find out your virtual server configuration and append the following:

$HTTP["url"] =~ "/cgi-bin/" {
      cgi.assign = ( ".pl" => "/usr/bin/perl" )

Here is complete my config code:

$HTTP["host"]  =~ "" {
  server.document-root = "/home/lighttpd/"
  accesslog.filename         = "/var/log/lighttpd/"
  $HTTP["url"] =~ "/cgi-bin/" {
      cgi.assign = ( ".pl" => "/usr/bin/perl" )

Step # 3:Restart the Lighttpd

Restart lighttpd webserver, enter:
# /etc/init.d/lighttpd restart

Step # 4: Test It

Create a file/perl program in /home/lighttpd/

print "Content-Type: text/plain", "\n\n";
print "Hi there! This is a sample perl program!!!", "\n";

Save and execute the program (

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

23 comment

  1. @nobody and @twit Friendly The “so slow perl” is probably due to your inability to program it properly. The only thing faster then perl is mod_perl! Why don’t you use PHP. It’s a dumbed down version of perl and might be more to your speed.

    Can anyone explain why it gives a 500 Internal Server Error?

  2. I just installed lightppd on Mandriva Linux 2008, and added following to /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf, and restarted lighttpd:

    server.modules += ( “mod_cgi” )
    $HTTP[“host”] =~ “” {
    server.document-root = “/var/www/html”
    accesslog.filename = “/var/log/lighttpd/access.log”
    $HTTP[“url”] =~ “/cgi-bin” {
    cgi.assign = ( “.pl” => “/usr/bin/perl” )

    /var/www/cgi-bin/ is 755.

    Clicking on gives “404 – Not Found”. Would you happen to know why? /var/log/lighttpd/error.log does not show anything, but /var/log/lighttpd/access.log has an entry: – [02/Aug/2009:13:53:29 -0700] “GET /cgi-bin/ HTTP/1.1” 404 345 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/2009042315 Firefox/3.0.10”

    I have tried replacing with localhost in the line ‘$HTTP[“host”] =~ “” {‘, but that did not help either.

  3. I just turned ON the debug and noticed that it was trying to run /var/www/html/cgi-bin/, instead of /var/www/cgi-bin/ Changing server.document-root = “/var/www/html” to “/var/www” fixed it.

    1. I had this same problem, too. Indeed, the author’s configuration file should replace this entry:

      server.document-root = “/home/lighttpd/”

      with this one:

      server.document-root = “/home/lighttpd/”

  4. I have lighttpd running fine with cgi scripts form localhost/cgi-bin.
    I would like to use however, cgi scripts from any directory (i.e. globally), a desire which echoes an earlier post. I can’t find informaton on this, and cannot figure it out.
    Any ideas?

  5. Does not show how to specify the cgi-bin.

    e.g in Apache I have the cgi-bin located elsewhere (on a separate partition)
    DocumentRoot /www/
    ScriptAlias /cgi-bin/ /www/cgi-bin/

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