Edd Mann Developer

Installing Nginx/Apache, MySQL, PHP 5.5 (LAMP) stack on CentOS 6.4

With the wide-spread appeal and flexibility of an VPS and Vagrant, a shift from mear FTP access to setting up a fresh installation from scratch has taken effect. Tools like Puppet and Chef are great for certain use-cases (i.e. large deployments, dev-ops teams) but to start with the terminal is your best-friend. In this post I will take you through the process of setting up a trival LAMP stack on CentOS 6.4, with the option to use either Apache or Nginx. Both will take advantage of the features PHP-FPM provides you, via FastCGI.

The first step is to make sure we are currently the ‘root’ user (this saves on tedious sudoing through the installation). We then add the EPEL and Remi YUM repositories, providing us with easy access to updated MySQL and PHP pre-compiled builds.

$ sudo su -
$ rpm -Uvh http://download.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/6/x86_64/epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm
$ rpm -Uvh http://rpms.famillecollet.com/enterprise/remi-release-6.rpm


Installation of the MySQL server and client is the next step, followed by configuring the associated daemon to run on start-up. It is then good practise to run the ‘secure installation’ script, which guides you through changing the root password etc.

$ yum --enablerepo=remi install -y mysql mysql-server
$ chkconfig --levels 235 mysqld on
$ /etc/init.d/mysqld start
$ /usr/bin/mysql_secure_installation


Next we are going to install PHP 5.5 along with a host of useful packages (i.e. the new Zend OPcache). Running the second command is useful if you wish to find other available packages. Finally, we run a couple of commands which use ‘sed’ to quickly alter highlighted configuration in PHP.

$ yum --enablerepo=remi-php55,remi install -y \
    php php-fpm php-common php-cli php-opcache php-pecl-xdebug \
    php-pear php-mysqlnd php-pdo php-gd php-mbstring \
    php-mcrypt php-xml
$ yum --enablerepo=remi-php55 list php-* # list available modules
$ sed -i "s/^\;date\.timezone.*$/date\.timezone = \"Europe\/London\"/g" /etc/php.ini
$ sed -i "s/^\expose_php.*$/expose_php = Off/g" /etc/php.ini
$ sed -i "s/^\upload_max_filesize.*$/upload_max_filesize = 10M/g" /etc/php.ini
$ sed -i "s/^\post_max_size.*$/post_max_size = 10M/g" /etc/php.ini

We are then tasked with configuring the previously installed PHP-FPM, along with adding it to run on start-up. If you wish to install Nginx you must also execute the last two commands, which correct the desired user/group settings used.

$ chkconfig --levels 235 php-fpm on
$ sed -i "s/^\listen.*$/listen = \/tmp\/php5-fpm.sock/g" /etc/php-fpm.d/www.conf
# if you wish to use nginx, also execute
$ sed -i "s/^\user.*$/user = nginx/g" /etc/php-fpm.d/www.conf
$ sed -i "s/^\group.*$/group = nginx/g" /etc/php-fpm.d/www.conf

Option 1: Nginx

I am a huge fan of Nginx and would definitely recommend it over Apache even if just for its exceptional low-memory footprint. First we must add the YUM repository and then install/configure Nginx to run at start-up.

$ rpm -Uvh http://nginx.org/packages/centos/6/noarch/RPMS/nginx-release-centos-6-0.el6.ngx.noarch.rpm
$ yum install -y nginx
$ chkconfig --levels 235 nginx on

We can then replace the inital configuration file provided at ‘/etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf’ with the one below. This is a trivial configuration that should help you get up-and-running, I would recommend however, that you take a look at the great work here for more ideas.

# /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf

server {
    listen 80;
    server_name localhost;
    charset utf-8;
    root /srv/www/;
    index index.php index.html index.htm;
    location ~ \.php$ {
        fastcgi_pass            unix:/tmp/php5-fpm.sock;
        fastcgi_index           index.php;
        fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+\.php)(.*)$;
        include                 /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;
        fastcgi_param           SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;

Option 2: Apache

Alternatively, you may prefer the extra modules and familiarity of Apache. Below we are simply installing the Apache package provided in the official repository, along with enabling it at start-up.

$ yum install -y httpd
$ chkconfig --levels 235 httpd on

We have to go through one extra step to successfully get Apache to use PHP-FPM. To achieve this we must install the ‘mod_fastcgi’ module along with safely disabeling a couple of default configuration files.

$ rpm -Uvh http://pkgs.repoforge.org/rpmforge-release/rpmforge-release-0.5.3-1.el6.rf.x86_64.rpm
$ yum --enablerepo=rpmforge-extras install -y mod_fastcgi
$ mv /etc/httpd/conf.d/php.conf /etc/httpd/conf.d/php.conf.old # disable mod_php
$ mv /etc/httpd/conf.d/fastcgi.conf /etc/httpd/conf.d/fastcgi.conf.old
$ mkdir /usr/lib/cgi-bin/

We can then create a new file ‘/etc/httpd/conf.d/default.conf’ with the contents below to get up-and-running. This configuration is very trivial, I would recommend that you take a look at the great work here for more ideas.

# /etc/httpd/conf.d/default.conf

# FastCGI
User apache
Group apache
LoadModule fastcgi_module modules/mod_fastcgi.so
FastCgiIpcDir /var/run/mod_fastcgi
FastCgiWrapper Off
FastCgiConfig -idle-timeout 20 -maxClassProcesses 1
FastCgiExternalServer /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5-fcgi -socket /tmp/php5-fpm.sock -pass-header Authorization
AddHandler php5-fcgi .php
Action php5-fcgi /php5-fcgi
Alias /php5-fcgi /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5-fcgi

# Default VirtualHost
NameVirtualHost *:80
<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName "*"
    DocumentRoot /srv/www/
    DirectoryIndex index.php index.html index.htm
    <Directory /srv/www/>
        Options All
        AllowOverride All

Web Directory

I tend to store my web content under ‘/srv/www’, and the example configuration files use this preference. If you have another preference remember to update the configuration files accordingly.

$ mkdir /srv/www
$ echo "<?php phpinfo();" > /srv/www/index.php


It is very important to have a well configured firewall that meets you business-domain needs, the below configuration is a good start. I will not go through each line but this helps handle common script-kiddie attacks along with accepting activity on ports 80/443/22 (http, https and ssh).

$ iptables -F
$ iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --tcp-flags ALL NONE -j DROP # null packets
$ iptables -A INPUT -p tcp ! --syn -m state --state NEW -j DROP # syn-flood attacks
$ iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --tcp-flags ALL ALL -j DROP # xmas packets
$ iptables -A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT # allow localhost interface
$ iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 80 -j ACCEPT  # http
$ iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 443 -j ACCEPT # https
$ iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m tcp --dport 22 -j ACCEPT # ssh
$ iptables -I INPUT -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT # vps, run s/w updates
$ iptables -P OUTPUT ACCEPT # allow outgoing
$ iptables -P INPUT DROP # block other
$ iptables-save | sudo tee /etc/sysconfig/iptables
$ service iptables restart
$ iptables -L -n # display rules


Who in the PHP world can now live without Composer?

$ cd /tmp
$ curl -sS https://getcomposer.org/installer | php
$ mv composer.phar /usr/local/bin/composer

3, 2, 1, Go…

$ /etc/init.d/php-fpm start
$ /etc/init.d/httpd start # apache
$ /etc/init.d/nginx start # nginx

I hope that this brief overview has helped you get accustom with configuring a base installation, allowing you to take advantage of the flexibility gains. I have purposely omitted detailed discussion on logging and advanced web-server configuration, as I feel they deserve their own posts and hope to fulfil this in the near future.