Install HHVM, Nginx on Ubuntu 14.04 - Make WordPress Fly

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A guide to installing nginx and HHVM on Ubuntu 14.04

Installing HHVM and Nginx on Ubuntu 14.04 is the next step in the “Make WordPress Fly” series. This tutorial assumes you have completed the prerequisites, read Part 1 and completed Part 2 of this guide. At this point you have a reasonably secure box with MariaDB installed and configured. In this (Part 3) of the “Make WordPress Fly” guide we will start out by preparing our system for Nginx. The first step is to reconnect to your VM via SSH.

ssh -p port [email protected]

Installing Nginx on Ubuntu 14.04

After reconnecting we are going to install some prerequisites in this order to make sure HHVM plays nicely with Nginx and WordPress.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install php5-gd libssh2-php

After that process completes it is time to install Nginx. Installing Nginx on Ubuntu 14.04 is a very easy process. Ubuntu official repos come with a Nginx package but I prefer using launchpad repo maintained by Nginx team. We will also install the Naxsi WAF (Web Application Firewall) to provide some added security. You can choose not load Naxsi later as it slows down cached requests per second by around 3%. However, a full fledged WAF is worth a 3% requests per second hit.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nginx/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nginx-naxsi

If you prefer to use Nginx package in Ubuntu repo, you can simply run following command:

sudo apt-get install nginx-naxsi

That concludes the process of installing Nginx. We will configure it further in later parts of this tutorial series based on whether you use WordPress Multisite or a single install.

Installing HHVM on Ubuntu 14.04

Let’s move on to installing HHVM on Ubuntu 14.04. We’ll need to prepare the HHVM repositories. Using sudo or as root user it is recommended to run sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade first, or you may receive errors. Then we are ready to add the repositories and install HHVM.

wget -O - | sudo apt-key add -
echo deb trusty main | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/hhvm.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install hhvm

Now that HHVM is installed there are a few simple configurations to apply. HHVM comes bundled with a script that makes setting it up with Ubuntu very easy. If you are already using Nginx with PHP-FPM, you’ll have to modify the configuration file to disable the use of PHP-FPM. This file is normally located at /etc/nginx/sites-available/default Look for the following section and make sure it’s all commented (by adding a # at the beginning of each line)

# pass the PHP scripts to FastCGI server listening on
#location ~ \.php$ {
#       fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+\.php)(/.+)$;
#       # NOTE: You should have "cgi.fix_pathinfo = 0;" in php.ini
#       # With php5-cgi alone:
#       fastcgi_pass;
#       # With php5-fpm:
#       fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php5-fpm.sock;
#       fastcgi_index index.php;
#       include fastcgi_params;

After doing this, execute the following script:


Executing this script configures Nginx to start using HHVM to process the PHP code. It’ll also restart the Nginx server so you don’t have to do anything else. Then you may want to tweak the max_upload_size of HHVM by editing /etc/hhvm/php.ini. Otherwise HHVM is now setup and working.

Verifying that HHVM is Working Correctly With Nginx and Ubuntu 14.04

It is important verify that HHVM is working with Nginx. You can verify this by creating a file in /usr/share/nginx/html called test.php. Paste this inside:


echo  defined('HHVM\_VERSION')?'Using HHVM':'Not using HHVM';


Visit to view the output. This will verify that HHVM is handling PHP. Now just make sure that HHVM and Nginx run by default at startup.

sudo update-rc.d nginx defaults
sudo update-rc.d hhvm defaults

You are ready to move on to the next part of this tutorial.