Setting up Nginx and CakePHP 2.0

Nginx is a pretty awesome web server (fast, and easy to configure… at least I prefer the syntax over some other popular web servers).

I figured to share the installation process of both CakePHP 2.0 and Nginx on Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty).

Let’s fire up the terminal…

(I presume you have some basic knowledge of *nix so I won’t go into details about the commands, etc.)

sudo apt-get install git

Next, let’s get a fresh version of cake 2:

cd /cake
git clone
git checkout 2.0
git pull

Git should tell us that we are “up-to-date”.

Alright, now we have to setup our environment.
The best way I found of going about it (after trying quite a few methods out there) is by the running the excellent set of scripts, which you can find here.
Pull the scripts from the git repo, in the similar way as shown above, into some reasonable local destination. Once you have the files locally, simply run:

sudo ./

After answering a few questions… our LEMP environment is ready!

Let’s see if Nginx is working as expected…
In the browser head over to localhost, at least at the time of this writing, you get a phpinfo() page served up by default.

So we are satisfied that Nginx is serving up PHP and now it’s time to setup a CakePHP 2.0 app.
When we’ve pulled CakePHP in the very beginning, it came with a skeleton app, which we will use for growing our new one.

Let’s copy it someplace easily accessible (assuming we are in the root of cake… you should see “app”, “vendors”, “lib” directories):

sudo cp -r app /web/

In order not to move cake anywhere, we’ll create a symbolic link to our lib.
(Presuming we are now in the “/web” directory):

sudo ln -s /cake/cakephp/lib lib

So at this point we have php, web server, cake core, skeleton app, mysql all ready to go.
The only remaining part is to tell the web server about our cake app. Similarly to Apache we can setup virtual hosts and rewrite rules in Nginx. I don’t know many details about setting up Nginx and all the rewrite rule tricks available, but as mentioned before, from the examples the syntax looks quite simple and one should be able to decipher the directives relatively easily.

… Being lazy and not wanting to go through the docs, I googled around and thanks to this post it was quite fast to setup a virtual host for the app.

After the installation Nginx will have a setting file in:
(This particular set of installation steps is applicable to Ubuntu, but hopefully you’ll know how to achieve the same procedure in your own OS).

If we review the file quickly it seems like a solid starting point, but we need to have some rewrite rules for cake to make pretty-urls work.
Well, once again thanks to aforementioned post, all we have to do is add the snippet below to our default config (hey, at least it’s working for me):

# rewrite rules for cakephp
  location / {
    root   /web/app/webroot;
    index  index.php index.html;
    try_files $uri $uri/ index.php;

    # If the file exists as a static file serve it
    # directly without running all
    # the other rewite tests on it
    if (-f $request_filename) {
    if (!-f $request_filename) {
      rewrite ^/(.+)$ /index.php?url=$1 last;

The root setting is pointing to our app’s webroot, of course… which in trun becomes the root of the virtual host (let’s just use localhost for now, otherwise you’d need to take a few additional steps, but that’s beyond the scope of this post).
Hopefully the code of the setting is not too hard to figure out.

So at this point we have a virtual host pointing to our app and all the settings in place, let’s restart the web server:

sudo /etc/init.d/nginx restart

… and if all goes well, once you visit localhost in your browser, you should see the CakePHP 2.0 welcome page.

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