Install Nginx, PHP-FPM, MySQL and phpMyAdmin on OS X Mavericks or Yosemite

Recently I've got a new MacBook Pro and decided to set it up from scratch, because I use the same Time Machine backup to migrate from since about four years. Perfect time to get rid of the web server/LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) stack and replace it with Nginx and PHP-FPM as FastCGI implementation. Below you can read how to setup Nginx, PHP-FPM, MySQL and phpMyAdmin on OS X 10.9 / Mavericks.

Updated for Yosemite users: Updated the guide for 10.10 since Yosemite is officially released. The steps are basically the same as for Mavericks.


First of all, get the latest Xcode version (6.1) via the Mac App Store:

Download (via Mac App Store)

As soon as you've finished the download, open Xcode in your /Applications folder and agree to the licence.

Open a new Terminal window and install the Xcode Command Line Tools:

xcode-select --install

Confirm the installation dialog with Install.

Back in Xcode, hit ⌘ + , to access the Preferences and navigate to the Locations tab. Set the Command Line Tools to the latest version available , Xcode 6.1 (61A1052c) in my example: → Preferences → Location | Command Line Tools

Make sure you use at least Xcode 6.1!


Now we need to install Homebrew, which is a package manager for OS X. You probably already heard about apt-get or aptitude on Linux distributions to install packages or depencies for a specific application. brew works the same, just on Mac operating systems. It will also make sure that you will get the latest updates of the installed packages as well, so you don't need to worry about outdated versions or vulnerable security flaws and exploits either.

First, we need to download and install Homebrew using the following command:

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Check for any conflicts or problems (If you have confilcts, sort them out before you continue with this guide):

brew doctor

Update and upgrade its formulas in case you already had Homebrew installed before:

brew update && brew upgrade


Because Homebrew doesn't have a default formula for PHP-FPM, we need need to add this first:

brew tap homebrew/dupes
brew tap homebrew/php

Now install it with the following arguments:

brew install --without-apache --with-fpm --with-mysql php56

Homebrew is downloading now the PHP-FPM source code and compiling it for you. Give it some time, it can take several minutes.

Setup PHP CLI binary

If you want to use the PHP command line binary, you need to update the $PATH environment variable of your shell profile:

# If you use Bash    
echo 'export PATH="/usr/local/sbin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bash_profile
. ~/.bash_profile

# If you use ZSH
echo 'export PATH="/usr/local/sbin:$PATH"' >> ~/.zshrc
. ~/.zshrc

Setup auto start

Create a folder for our LaunchAgents and symlink the start/stop service:

mkdir -p ~/Library/LaunchAgents
ln -sfv /usr/local/opt/php56/homebrew.mxcl.php56.plist ~/Library/LaunchAgents/

And start PHP-FPM:

launchctl load -w ~/Library/LaunchAgents/homebrew.mxcl.php56.plist

Make sure PHP-FPM is listening on port 9000:

lsof -Pni4 | grep LISTEN | grep php

The output should look something like this:

php-fpm   69659  frdmn    6u  IPv4 0x8d8ebe505a1ae01      0t0  TCP (LISTEN)
php-fpm   69660  frdmn    0u  IPv4 0x8d8ebe505a1ae01      0t0  TCP (LISTEN)
php-fpm   69661  frdmn    0u  IPv4 0x8d8ebe505a1ae01      0t0  TCP (LISTEN)
php-fpm   69662  frdmn    0u  IPv4 0x8d8ebe505a1ae01      0t0  TCP (LISTEN)    


Next step is to install MySQL:

brew install mysql

Setup auto start

ln -sfv /usr/local/opt/mysql/*.plist ~/Library/LaunchAgents

And start the database server:

launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents/homebrew.mxcl.mysql.plist

Secure the installation

To seure our MySQL server, we'll exececute the provided secure_mysql_installation binary to change the root password, remove anonymous users and disbale remote root logins:


> Enter current password for root (enter for none):

Press enter since you don't have one set.

> Change the root password? [Y/n]

Press enter, choose a root password, add it in your 1Password keychain and enter it here.

> Remove anonymous users? [Y/n]

Yes. They are not necessary.

> Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n]

Yes. No need to log in as root from any other IP than

> Remove test database and access to it? [Y/n]

Yes. We don't need the testing tables.

> Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n]

Reload the privilege table to ensure all changes made so far will take effect.

Test connection

mysql -uroot -p

Enter your root password and you should see the MySQL console:

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.


Quit the session with \q:

mysql> \q


Install autoconf, which is needed for the installation of phpMyAdmin:

brew install autoconf


# If you use Bash
echo 'PHP_AUTOCONF="'$(which autoconf)'"' >> ~/.bash_profile && . ~/.bash_profile
# If you use ZSH
echo 'PHP_AUTOCONF="'$(which autoconf)'"' >> ~/.zshrc && . ~/.zshrc

Let's start with the installation of phpMyAdmin:

brew install phpmyadmin


Install the default Nginx with:

brew install nginx

Setup auto start

Since we want to use port 80 have to start the Nginx process as root:

sudo cp -v /usr/local/opt/nginx/*.plist /Library/LaunchDaemons/
sudo chown root:wheel /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.nginx.plist

Test web server

Start Nginx for the first with:

sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.nginx.plist

The default configuration is set that it will listen on port 8080 instead of the HTTP standard 80. Ignore that for now:

curl -IL

The output should look like:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: nginx/1.6.2
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2014 19:07:47 GMT
Content-Type: text/html
Content-Length: 612
Last-Modified: Mon, 19 Oct 2014 19:01:32 GMT
Connection: keep-alive
ETag: "5444dea7-264"
Accept-Ranges: bytes

Stop Nginx again:

sudo launchctl unload /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.nginx.plist

More configuration


Create some folders which we are going to use in the configurtion files:

mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/nginx/logs
mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available
mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-enabled
mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/nginx/conf.d
mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/nginx/ssl
sudo mkdir -p /var/www

sudo chown :staff /var/www
sudo chmod 775 /var/www

Remove the current default nginx.conf (which is also available as /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf.default in case you want to take a look) and download my custom one via curl from GitHub:

rm /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf
curl -L -o /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf

The configuration is simple and as lightweight as possible: worker settings, log format/paths and some includes. None of unnecessary (and probably commented out) stuff out of the nginx.conf.default.


Download my PHP-FPM configuration from GitHub:

curl -L -o /usr/local/etc/nginx/conf.d/php-fpm

Create default virtual hosts

curl -L -o /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available/default
curl -L -o /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available/default-ssl
curl -L -o /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available/phpmyadmin

Clone my example virtual host (including 404, 403 and a phpinfo() rewrite) using git:

git clone /var/www
rm -rf /var/www/.git

And remove /var/www/.git folder so your future projects won't get tracked by git.

Setup SSL

Create folder for our SSL certificates and private keys:

mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/nginx/ssl

Generate 4096bit RSA keys and the self-sign the certificates in one command:

openssl req -new -newkey rsa:4096 -days 365 -nodes -x509 -subj "/C=US/ST=State/L=Town/O=Office/CN=localhost" -keyout /usr/local/etc/nginx/ssl/localhost.key -out /usr/local/etc/nginx/ssl/localhost.crt
openssl req -new -newkey rsa:4096 -days 365 -nodes -x509 -subj "/C=US/ST=State/L=Town/O=Office/CN=phpmyadmin" -keyout /usr/local/etc/nginx/ssl/phpmyadmin.key -out /usr/local/etc/nginx/ssl/phpmyadmin.crt

Enable virtual hosts

Now we need to symlink the virtual hosts we want to enable into the sites-enabled folder:

ln -sfv /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available/default /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default
ln -sfv /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available/default-ssl /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default-ssl
ln -sfv /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-available/phpmyadmin /usr/local/etc/nginx/sites-enabled/phpmyadmin

Start Nginx again:

sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/homebrew.mxcl.nginx.plist

Final tests

Thats it, everything should be up and running. Click on the links below to ensure that:

Control the services

Because your probably need to restart the one or other service sooner or later, you probably want to set up some aliases:

curl -L -o /tmp/.bash_aliases
cat /tmp/.bash_aliases >> ~/.bash_aliases

# If you use Bash
echo "source ~/.bash_aliases" >> ~/.bash_profile
# If you use ZSH
echo "source ~/.bash_aliases" >> ~/.zshrc

You can either open a new Terminal window/session or enter the following command to reload the shell configuration in your current one:

source ~/.bash_profile
# or
source ~/.zshrc

Now you can use short aliases instead of typing in launchctl arguments and plist paths.


You can start, stop and restart Nginx with:


To quickly tail the latest error or access logs:


Check config:

sudo nginx -t


Start, start and restart PHP-FPM:


Check config:

php-fpm -t


Start, start and restart your MySQL server:



Here are some of the frequently asked questions out of the comment section below. In case you have any issue or problem, try to check below if you find your problem listed.

Nginx: [emerg] mkdir() "/usr/local/var/run/nginx/client_body_temp"

Upgraded to Yosemite and now Nginx doesn't start anymore? Try to reinstall the brew formula:

brew reinstall --force nginx
PHP-FPM: lsof -Pni4 | grep LISTEN | grep php doesn't return anything

Make sure your $PATH variable is properly set:

echo $PATH | grep php56

If that command doesn'T return anything you probably forgot to adjust your .zshrc/.bash_profile. Make sure to add this line at the end:

export PATH="$(brew --prefix homebrew/php/php56)/bin:$PATH"
git: Could not resolve host:

Probably an outage of my private hosted GitLab server. To fix this, simply try to get in contact with me. Either via Twitter, E-Mail IRC (frdmn@freenode/espernet) or the comment section below. I'll try to respond as soon as possible and fix potential issues.

curl: Failed to connect to localhost port 80: Connection refused

This is an IPv6 related issue, originating in the /etc/hosts file of your Mac. To fix this, find the line "fe80::1%lo0 localhost" and comment it out. Or just use this one liner:

sudo sed -i "" 's/^fe80\:\:/\#fe80\:\:/g' /etc/hosts
brew: configure: error: Can not find OpenSSL's <evp.h>

Make sure Xcode as well as Xcode's CLI tools as installed and up to date!

Mavericks: Compilation error while building PHP / missing zlib
$ sudo ln -s /Applications/ /usr/include

Let me know in case you stuck at some point or you have some suggestions!

Jonas Friedmann


Jonas Friedmann

24 year old network administrator, OS X user, Linux enthusiast, allergic to animals with hair/fur

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