Nginx + PHP + MySQL on Windows in 6 minutes

The last time I posted a tutorial on Nginx, there wasn’t a native port of the server available. Riez Opuz posted a link to his Xenstack project on that post that prompted me to write the rest of what I’ve been putting off. It’s a good way to tweak the stack to your own needs.

I tried to leave this as “in 5 minutes”, but then I remembered how long it would take to download MySQL… Even on broadband.

Kevin Worthington had very kindly provided a Cygwin build that ran on Windows, however Nginx now has a Windows build that we can use and this time, we can add MySQL to the list as well. To keep everything compatible, we’ll be using the 32 bit versions for all downloads.

Once you’ve also downloaded Nginx (0.8.53 at the time of this post), head on to the PHP libraries and remember to download the Windows Libraries only (5.3.3 as of today) and select the thread safe version. The first steps are the same with the exception of the download link to MySQL and we need the no-install download.

Make sure to follow this directory structure!

Extract the Nginx files to C:\nginx
Extract PHP to C:\nginx\php
Extract MySQL to C:\nginx\mysql

First, let’s configure MySQL

MySQL no-install is a freakin’ huge download so feel free to delete mysql-test, Embedded, sql-bench and folders named debug once unzipped. If you want to minimize the folder even more, you can optionally delete any .pdb files. This would come in handy if you want to deploy the whole ensamble on a thumb drive or package it for a demo application and are really penny-pinching the available storage space.

Once the cleanup is complete, copy my-medium.ini in C:\nginx\mysql\ into my.ini. I think the medium configuration takes care of most uses and, for a moderately busy site, it fares pretty well.

Always try to copy exising files before making changes instead of outright renaming them. This way, if something goes wrong with the new configuration, we still have the original handy to start over..

Open up the newly copied my.ini file and change the [client] block to match the following.


[client]
#password	= your_password
port		= 3306
socket		= c:/nginx/mysql/tmp/mysql.sock

Note the Unix style forward-slashes.

Now in the [mysqld] block in the same file, change to match the following :


[mysqld]
port		= 3306
socket		= c:/nginx/mysql/tmp/mysql.sock
basedir		= c:/nginx/mysql
datadir		= c:/nginx/mysql/data
bind-address	= localhost
enable-named-pipe
skip-external-locking
key_buffer_size = 16M
max_allowed_packet = 1M
table_open_cache = 64
sort_buffer_size = 512K
net_buffer_length = 8K
read_buffer_size = 256K
read_rnd_buffer_size = 512K
myisam_sort_buffer_size = 8M

Now let’s try and run our MySQL server

Start a new command line window…
Note: If you’re running Windows Vista or above with UAC enabled, you need to right click on the command line link and select “Run as administrator”.. If you get a message saying “Install/Remove of the Service Denied!” when trying to start MySQL later on, then you probably have UAC running, so this step is very important.

Navigate to C:\nginx\mysql\bin\ and run :

mysqld --install-manual

There should be a slight delay followed by a “Service successfully installed”. We then must run :

net start mysql

…And if there are no errors noted, then Congratulations!

Before we proceed, we need to run some housekeeping operations. In the same command line window, run :

mysqladmin -u root password newpassword

Where newpassword is your new MySQL root password. This is an important step toward securing your installation.

Now that we’ve changed our root password enter the following :

mysql -u root -p

Which will give you a password prompt. Enter your newpassword created before. Once you’re logged in, you’re at the MySQL console.

If you need to change your root password at a future date, run mysql as above type the following :

update mysql.user set password=PASSWORD('new-newpassword') where user='root';

Note that passwords are encoded before storage in the database, so we need to run the PASSWORD function on our new-newpassword. Once that’s done, be sure to run :

flush privileges;

Now we need to remove all the junk that came with the server.

Delete the test databases and anonymous users (Always remember the semicolon at the end!) :

delete from mysql.user where user='root' and host!='localhost';
drop database test;
delete from mysql.db where db='test' or db='test\_%';

And finally flush privileges and quit :

flush privileges; quit;

Now if we need to, we can stop MySQL by running the following (in C:\nginx\mysql\bin\ as an Administrator of course):

net stop mysql

And if we need to remove it from our services entirely, run the following :

mysqld --remove

Onward to setting up PHP

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nginx + PHP on Windows in 5 minutes

Update November 7, 2010

There’s now an updated version of this tutorial which also covers incorporating MySQL.


If you’ve ever needed a very fast, stable, no frills, web server to serve up some pages on a home system, then look no further than nginx. The server is rock solid and gets the job done. And the setup and configuration is unmatched in simplicity for other servers of similar capability.

Nginx is native to the UNIX platform, so you’ll need to get a precompiled version or install Cygwin. I opted for the former because there’s already a package available by Kevin Worthington that works very nicely.

Download the stable package and install it. Because of the Cygwin configuration, it will install to c:\nginx.

Then download the latest PHP Windows binaries (not the installer) and extract all files to c:\nginx\php. We will be using php-cgi.exe because of the nginx fast-cgi capability. Make sure the path is c:\nginx\php\php-cgi.exe during the installation.

Almost there…

Go into c:\nginx\conf and uncomment or modify the following lines in nginx.conf.

location ~ .php$ {
  root           html;
  fastcgi_pass   127.0.0.1:9000;
  fastcgi_index  index.php;
  fastcgi_param  SCRIPT_FILENAME c:/nginx/html/$fastcgi_script_name;
  include        fastcgi_params;
}

Then, in the same folder, edit start-nginx.bat to include the following line :

@ECHO OFF
c:\nginxnginx.exe
c:\nginx\php\php-cgi.exe -b 127.0.0.1:9000 -c c:\nginx\php\php.ini
ping 127.0.0.1 -n 1>NUL
echo Starting nginx
echo .
echo .
echo .
ping 127.0.0.1 >NUL
EXIT

Now edit stop-nginx.bat and add the following lines :


@ECHO OFF
taskkill /f /IM nginx.exe
taskkill /f /IM php-cgi.exe
EXIT

It’s not a perfect solution, but works for non-production applications.

That should be it!

If you need to hide that ugly command prompt during startup, just create two files in conf (alongside start-nginx.bat) and enter the following code :

In launch.js :


var objShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell");
var result = objShell.Run("cmd.exe /c start-nginx.bat", 0);

// Give some startup time
WScript.Sleep(3000);

// Navigate to homepage
objShell.Run("http://localhost");

In shutdown.js :


var objShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
var result = objShell.Run("cmd.exe /c stop-nginx.bat", 0)

Now to startup nginx with fast-cgi PHP, just double-click launch.js. To stop, double-click shutdown.js.

You can make yourself a HTML Application to run these JavaScripts and build a basic control panel at a future date.

Update 12/08

Changed the php.ini file location to an absolute path.

Changed the stop-nginx.bat commands to taskkill instead of multiple process -k lines (you can never tell how many instances there may be of php-cgi.exe, so it’s impractical to do it the old way).

Note: Copying entire blocks is recommended as parts of the code is hidden by my display theme. However all the text is there. Hightlighting the whole thing will ensure that no parts are left behind.