Apache is described as the worlds most popular webserver, and part of the reason for that is the extensive flexibility it offers.
The flexibility allows many interesting, and useful, things to be done with the server, but the cost is a higher overhead in processing requests. This has lead to the rise of several alternative web-servers aiming to be more lightweight and flexible. (These include products such as nginx and lighttpd.)
Choosing the correct worker
The Apache webserver comes with several different “Multi-Processing Modules”, or MPMs. These are server-cores which work in a slightly different fashion.
NOTE: You can only use one MPM.
Although there are more, traditionally you have three main options to choose between:
- This is stable and reliable, working well with extensions which are not thread-safe.
- It performs reasonably well, at low-levels of concurrency.
- This module uses threading, which improves concurrency.
- A new thread is opened for new connections, so long-lived connections tend to tie up threads.
- This is similar to the worker MPM, but uses a single dedicated thread to cope with KeepAlive-requests, rather than allowing all threads to be tied up in that fashion, via long-lived requests.
apache2-mpm-event is relatively new, and thus less well known than the alternatives, it is the fastest of the big-three MPMs.
The most important caveat with the different MPM modules is that you cannot use
mod_php with either
apache2-mpm-event, instead you must handle your PHP code via a different mechanism (which turns out to be a speedup in its own right).
If you allow configuration files to be present beneath your DocumentRoot directory you cause Apache to constantly test for them.
For example if you have a
DocumentRoot set to
/var/www and a client requests the URL
http://example.com/a/long/path/ Apache will look for each of the following files:
This is clearly a lot of needless searching, and it is needless searching which will be constantly repeated by future HTTP-requests.
To disable this behaviour you need to do two things:
- Make any configuration settings which were previously present in a
.htaccessfile inside your main server configuration files – be that in a virtual host file, or in the global section.
- Disable the lookup of
To disable this behaviour simply set:
<Directory /> AllowOverride None </Directory> # # Assuming your DirectoryRoot is set to /var/www # <Directory /var/www/> AllowOverride None </Directory>
Tuning for PHP
As mentioned above the fastest general-purpose worker is the
apache2-mpm-event, and this isn’t compatible with PHP.
To solve this the recommended approach is to deploy the
On a Debian system you can install the PHP5 FPM module via:
# apt-get install php5-fpm
To further increase performance it is recommended that you connect to FPM via a Unix socket, rather than a network socket. So you should change
/etc/php5/fpm/pool.d/www.conf from :
listen = 127.0.0.1:9000
listen = /var/run/php5-fpm.sock
Once you’ve made that change you can restart via:
# /etc/init.d/php5-fpm restart
With the PHP-FPM part configured you now need to wire up Apache to use it, via the
fastcgi module. Again on a Debian system you can install that via:
# apt-get install libapache2-mod-fastcgi # a2enmod libapache2-mod-fastcgi
Once installed you can update the configuration file
/etc/apache2/mods-available/fastcgi.conf to read:
<IfModule mod_fastcgi.c> AddHandler php5-fcgi .php Action php5-fcgi /php5-fcgi Alias /php5-fcgi /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5-fcgi FastCgiExternalServer /usr/lib/cgi-bin/php5-fcgi -socket /var/run/php5-fpm.sock -pass-header Authorization </IfModule>
General Webserver Notes
We also have a page of general notes for webservers.
Author: Steve Kemp, of tweaked.io