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lighttpd (pronounced ‘lighty’) is a small, lightweight, fully-featured HTTP web server. From its web page:

Security, speed, compliance, and flexibility — all of these describe lighttpd (pronounced lighty) which is rapidly redefining efficiency of a webserver; as it is designed and optimized for high performance environments. With a small memory footprint compared to other web-servers, effective management of the CPU load, and advanced feature set (FastCGI, SCGI, Auth, Output-Compression, URL-Rewriting and many more) lighttpd is the perfect solution for every server that is suffering load problems.

lighttpd comes with FastCGI baked in, so you won’t need to install any additional modules. It also uses a very simple configuration file syntax, that you can understand and edit without having to take a 4-week course.


Most variants of UNIX have their own package management system: apt-get on Debian, rpm on Red Hat and Fedora, emerge on Gentoo, port on FreeBSD, et cetera. If this is the case for your system, the package manager will definitely be the quickest and easiest way of installing lighttpd.

Compilation (including Mac OS X)

On Mac OS X, lighttpd must be compiled, since there are no official OS X binaries. You can use a system like MacPorts if you wish (perhaps the most convenient method). Instructions on compilation and installation can be found on HiveLogic. That post uses the 1.4.11 release of lighttpd, but you’ll want to use the latest stable version available.

lighttpd uses the standard autoconf routine: ./configure && make && make install. The only external dependency is the PCRE (Perl-compatible Regular Expressions) library, which can be found at