Deploy WordPress with nginx, spawn-fcgi and systemd

sysadmin WordPress wordpress PHP php Nginx nginx fcgi systemd

It’s a bit weird to post this now that I’ve switched to Octopress, but this is how I deployed the previous WordPress version of this blog.

I’m assuming you have Nginx, PHP and spawn-fcgi installed and set up (you can install all of them with Yum); and of course, WordPress and MySQL (read How to install WordPress for instructions).

The first thing we need is to spawn PHP processes that we can hook nginx to. We also want those processes to automatically start on boot, so we’ll create a systemd service file. You need the following information:

  • /path/to/wordpress: the path to your WordPress installation.
  • wordpressUser: the system user that you want the processes to run as.
  • wordpressGroup: the system group that you want the processes to run as.
  • /path/to/pid/ where you want to put the PID file.
  • /path/to/socket/ where you want to put the socket file.
  • The number of processes you want to spawn (I used 3).

Note that the name of the file determines the name of the service. That’s the name you’ll have to use with the systemctl command to control the service. I chose wordpress.service.

# File: /etc/systemd/system/wordpress.service
Description=Wordpress Blog

# Clean PID file on startup. Note the -f:
# don't fail if there is no PID file.
ExecStartPre=/bin/rm -f /path/to/pid/
# Spawn 3 processes (-F 3) with spawn-fcgi.
ExecStart=/bin/spawn-fcgi -u wordpressUser -g wordpressGroup -F 3 -d /path/to/wordpress -s /path/to/socket/file.sock -M 0770 -P /path/to/pid/ -- /bin/php-cgi


You can now enable your service to start on boot and start it with:

systemctl enable wordpress.service
systemctl start wordpress.service

If you check your processes with ps -ef or systemctl status wordpress.service, you should see 3 php-cgi processes running. Then all you need to do is point nginx to your WordPress path and socket file. This was my configuration:

# File: /etc/nginx/conf.d/wordpress.conf

# Upstream to backend connection(s) for php
upstream wordpress {
  server unix:/path/to/socket/file.sock;

server {
  listen *:80;

  root /path/to/wordpress;

  # This should be in your http block and if
  # it is, it's not needed here.
  index index.php;

  location = /favicon.ico {
    log_not_found off;
    access_log off;

  location = /robots.txt {
    allow all;
    log_not_found off;
    access_log off;

  location / {
    # This is cool because no php is touched
    # for static content.
    try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php;

  location ~ \.php$ {
    # You should have "cgi.fix_pathinfo = 0;" in "php.ini".
    include fastcgi.conf;
    fastcgi_intercept_errors on;
    fastcgi_pass wordpress;

  location ~* \.(js|css|png|jpg|jpeg|gif|ico)$ {
    expires max;
    log_not_found off;

If your main nginx configuration doesn’t already load everything in /etc/nginx/conf.d, add a line to include the new configuration.

# File: /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
http {
  # ...
  include /etc/nginx/conf.d/wordpress.conf;

Be forewarned! My PHP processes regularly died about twice a month and I do not know whether that was due to the above configurations or to something else. I did not have enough time to investigate the issue and now that I’ve switched to Octopress, I’ll probably never know.