February 24

Nginx and PHP as Different Users (Pooling)

So, after having installed a few WordPress sites on my server (namely this one), I ran into some permissions errors.  I couldn’t get plugins nor any updates to install.

The problem first appeared simply as a prompt to enter FTP credentials.  That was bizarre, so I hunted to find why that was.  I realized it was a permissions issue by reading this page (among others).

I scoured the Internet for answers (in other words, I tried a lot of different search terms in Google) for a way to make Nginx, the webserver software I used, to run as the proper user.  I’d setup different users for different websites, so just changing the webserver’s default user/group wasn’t the answer.

My first solution, albeit an ugly one, was to give everybody read+write+execute permissions on my WP folders.  That was an ugly kludge, but it worked.  And so it sat for some time.

Then I finally found how.  Through some bit of serendipity, I found an article on Apache and suExec.  I changed the term to Nginx with suExec, and found the answer… sort of.

Nginx, PHP-FPM, and Pooling

So the key was the “pooling” part of PHP-FPM that I’d basically ignored.  I had read the configuration file, but didn’t really understand it.

But after reading this article about pooling with Nginx and PHP-FPM, I found the answer.

So PHP-FPM can be configured to run different pools.  Basically, that means that there are multiple main processes for PHP, and they can run as different users.

Easy.  Added a new pool, changed it’s name and the user, and the new process (well, processes) appeared, with the correct user.  But how could I attach that to my website, so it ran as the correct user (instead of www-data)?

It’s All In The Socket

The bit of magic that makes Nginx hand off the PHP work to the correct pool is the socket.  The new pool needed to have a unique socket, then the affected websites needed to be reconfigured to use the socket corresponding to the appropriate pool.

I went back and changed my new pool to have a unique socket name, then restarted the php5-fpm process.  I then went and changed my website’s configuration file to use the corresponding socket.

Before restarting Nginx, I changed the permissions on my website’s folder to no longer be world readable/writable.  Then I attempted to delete an old plugin: as expected, I got a permissions error.  Restarted Nginx, then tried again, and it worked.   Woot!

Category: Nginx, PHP | Comments Off on Nginx and PHP as Different Users (Pooling)