Recently I got a new MacBook Pro and decided to set it up from scratch, because I've used the same Time Machine backup to migrate from about four years over and over again.

Perfect time to get rid of the LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) web server stack and replace it with Nginx and PHP-FPM. Below you can read a detailed guide how to setup Nginx, PHP-FPM, MySQL and phpMyAdmin on OS X 10.9 / Mavericks.

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


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

As soon as the download is finished, open in your /Applications folder and agree to the licence.

Open a new 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 then navigate to the Locations tab to 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 have at least Xcode 6.1!


Now you need to install Homebrew, a package manager for OS X — kind of like apt is one for Linux. brew works the same, just for Mac operating systems. It will make sure that you receive the latest updates of your installed packages, so you don't need to worry about outdated versions or vulnerable security flaws, etc.

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

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

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

brew doctor

Make sure the doctor responds with something along the lines:

Your system is ready to brew.

In case you already had Homebrew installed, update the existing Homebrew installation as well as the installed packages:

brew update && brew upgrade


Because Homebrew doesn't come with a formula for PHP-FPM by default, you need to tap (or register) a special PHP repository first:

brew tap homebrew/dupes
brew tap homebrew/php

Now you can install PHP using the following command. The arguments make sure it compiles with MySQL support and doesn't configure the default Apache:

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

Homebrew is now going to download and compile the PHP-FPM source code for you. Give it some time, it could take some minutes. ☕

Setup PHP CLI binary

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

If you use the default Bash shell:

echo 'export PATH="/usr/local/sbin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bash_profile && . ~/.bash_profile

If you use ZSH:

echo 'export PATH="/usr/local/sbin:$PATH"' >> ~/.zshrc && . ~/.zshrc

If you are not sure which one you use, run echo $SHELL in a window. Since I use ZSH it returns this:


Setup auto start

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

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

Now try to start PHP-FPM:

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

Assure PHP-FPM is running. To do so, check if there is an open listener 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 our MySQL server:

brew install mysql

And set up the start/stop service, so the MySQL server gets automatically started and stopped when the Mac is shutdown/powered on:

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

To start if manually for now, run:

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

Secure the installation

To secure our MySQL server, we'll execute the provided secure_mysql_installation binary to change the root password, remove anonymous users and disable 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]

Confirm using Enter to accept the suggested default answer (Y), choose a root password, add it to your 1Password keychain or just write it down and finally enter it here in the prompt.

> Remove anonymous users? [Y/n]

Yes - Enter. They are not necessary.

> Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n]

Enter — No need to log in as root from any other IP than

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

Enter — You don't need the testing tables.

> Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n]

Enter — Reload the privilege tables to ensure all of the changes made so far will take effect immediately.

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.


Since you now know that this works, you can log out and quit the session using \q:

mysql> \q


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

brew install autoconf

And set the $PHP_AUTOCONF environment variable:

If you use the default Bash shell:

echo 'PHP_AUTOCONF="'$(which autoconf)'"' >> ~/.bash_profile && . ~/.bash_profile

or if you use ZSH:

echo 'PHP_AUTOCONF="'$(which autoconf)'"' >> ~/.zshrc && . ~/.zshrc

Since now you're all set, you can finish this part with the actual installation of phpMyAdmin:

brew install phpmyadmin


Install the default Nginx with:

brew install nginx

Setup auto start

Since you want to use port 80 (default HTTP port), you have to run the Nginx process with root privileges:

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

(Only the root user is allowed to open listening ports < 1024)

Test web server

Start Nginx for the first with:

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

The default configuration currently active so it will listen on port 8080 instead of the HTTP default port 80. Ignore that for now:

curl -IL

The output should look like this:

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 these bunch of folders which we're going to use for the upcoming configuration:

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 nginx.conf (which is also available as /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf.default in case you want to restore the defaults) and download my custom 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 like in the nginx.conf.default.


Download my custom PHP-FPM configuration from GitHub:

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

Setup example 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 hosts (including 404/403 error pages and a phpinfo() status site) using git:

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

And remove the .git folder so your content won't get tracked by git.

Setup SSL

Create a folder for our SSL certificates and private keys:

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

Generate 4096 bit 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 you need to symlink the virtual hosts that you 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

And start Nginx again:

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

Final tests

Congratulations, that's it! Everything should be set up and running. Click on the links below to ensure that your virtual hosts show the correct content:

Virtual host Expected content
http://localhost "Nginx works" page
http://localhost/info phpinfo() status
http://localhost/nope "Not Found" page
https://localhost:443 "Nginx works" page (SSL)
https://localhost:443/info phpinfo() (SSL)
https://localhost:443/nope "Not Found" page (SSL)
https://localhost:306 phpMyAdmin (SSL)

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 the default Bash shell:

echo "source ~/.bash_aliases" >> ~/.bash_profile && . ~/.bash_profile

or if you use ZSH:

echo "source ~/.bash_aliases" >> ~/.zshrc &&  ~/.zshrc

Now you can use handy short aliases instead of typing the long launchctl commands:


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 from the comments. In case you encounter any issues or problems, check below to find a solution.

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 at all, 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 touch with me. Either via Twitter, E-Mail IRC ([email protected]/espernet) or the comment section below.

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 '

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

Mavericks: Compilation error while building PHP / missing zlib

Try to restore the /usr/include directory:

sudo ln -s /Applications/ /usr/include

Let me know in case you're stuck at some point or have general feedback or suggestions!