Nginx and HHVM

HHVM is a faster alternative to PHP, in that it runs in a virtual machine and uses just-in-time (JIT) compilation to achieve better performance over standard PHP.

Installation on Debian or Ubuntu is relatively straightforward, in that HHVM already provide packages available to use.

Install apt sources on Debian 7 (wheezy):

wget -O - | sudo apt-key add -
echo deb wheezy main | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/hhvm.list

Install apt sources on Ubuntu 14.04 (trusty):

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

Now install the required packages:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install hhvm libgmp-dev libmemcached-dev

Start HHVM automatically on boot:

sudo update-rc.d hhvm defaults

Please see Prebuilt Packages for HHVM on HHVM wiki for more installation options.

Assuming you already have nginx installed, you can then run a script to enable support for nginx and/or apache2 depending on whether they are installed or not:

sudo /usr/share/hhvm/

For nginx, this will place a file at /etc/nginx/hhvm.conf which you can use to include in your nginx server definitions to provide support for PHP requests.

In order to get SilverStripe working, you need to add some custom nginx configuration.

Create /etc/nginx/silverstripe.conf and add this configuration:

fastcgi_buffer_size 32k;
fastcgi_busy_buffers_size 64k;
fastcgi_buffers 4 32k;

location / {
    try_files $uri /index.php?$query_string;

error_page 404 /assets/error-404.html;
error_page 500 /assets/error-500.html;

location ^~ /assets/ {
    try_files $uri =404;
location ~ /\.. {
    deny all;
location ~ web\.config$ {
    deny all;

The above script passes all non-static file requests to /index.php in the webroot which relies on hhvm.conf being included prior so that php requests are handled.

Now in your nginx server configuration you can then include the hhvm.conf and silverstripe.conf files to complete the configuration required for PHP/HHVM and SilverStripe.

e.g. /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/mysite:

server {
    listen 80;
    root /var/www/mysite/public;

    error_log /var/log/nginx/mysite.error.log;
    access_log /var/log/nginx/mysite.access.log;

    include /etc/nginx/hhvm.conf;
    include /etc/nginx/silverstripe.conf;

For more information on nginx configuration, please see the nginx installation page.

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