lighttpd vs NGINX

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lighttpd vs nginx: What are the differences?

Introduction

In the world of web servers, two popular options that are often compared are lighttpd and nginx. Both are lightweight, high-performance servers that excel in delivering static content efficiently. However, there are key differences that set them apart in terms of architecture, features, and usability. Let's explore these differences in detail.

  1. Architecture: Lighttpd follows a traditional, single-process, event-driven architecture. It relies on multiple processes or threads to handle concurrent connections efficiently. On the other hand, nginx is designed with an asynchronous, event-driven architecture, utilizing a single master process and multiple worker processes, making it highly scalable and capable of handling a large number of simultaneous connections.

  2. Modules and Features: While both lighttpd and nginx provide an extensive collection of modules and features, nginx has gained popularity for its vast array of built-in modules, including load balancing, caching, SSL offloading, and WebSocket support. Lighttpd, on the other hand, focuses more on being a lean server, offering just the essential features, making it suitable for simple setups.

  3. Memory Usage: One major contrast between lighttpd and nginx is their memory usage. Lighttpd is known for its low memory footprint, making it an ideal choice for resource-constrained environments. In comparison, nginx requires more memory due to its advanced feature set and multi-process architecture. It's important to consider the available resources when choosing between the two.

  4. Configuration: When it comes to the configuration syntax, nginx utilizes a declarative and flexible approach, allowing easy customization and readability through its simple directives. Lighttpd, on the other hand, follows a more traditional configuration syntax with more rigid directives, which can be a bit challenging for beginners but provides more granular control for advanced users.

  5. Performance: Both servers are known for their efficient and high-performance nature, but nginx often outperforms lighttpd in handling concurrent connections, especially in scenarios with heavy traffic or under high loads. Its optimized I/O handling and asynchronous architecture greatly contribute to its superior performance characteristics.

  6. Community and Support: Nginx, being widely adopted by large enterprises, has a larger community and a vast amount of documentation and resources available. It offers commercial support from Nginx, Inc., while lighttpd, although having a smaller community, also provides active support and regular updates.

In summary, lighttpd and nginx differ in their architecture, modules/features, memory usage, configuration syntax, performance, and community/support. Choosing between the two depends on the specific requirements of the project, including the expected traffic, available resources, and level of customization needed.

Advice on lighttpd and NGINX

I am diving into web development, both front and back end. I feel comfortable with administration, scripting and moderate coding in bash, Python and C++, but I am also a Windows fan (i love inner conflict). What are the votes on web servers? IIS is expensive and restrictive (has Windows adoption of open source changed this?) Apache has the history but seems to be at the root of most of my Infosec issues, and I know nothing about nginx (is it too new to rely on?). And no, I don't know what I want to do on the web explicitly, but hosting and data storage (both cloud and tape) are possibilities. Ready, aim fire!

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Replies (1)
Simon Aronsson
Developer Advocate at k6 / Load Impact · | 4 upvotes · 664K views
Recommends
on
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I would pick nginx over both IIS and Apace HTTP Server any day. Combine it with docker, and as you grow maybe even traefik, and you'll have a really flexible solution for serving http content where you can take sites and projects up and down without effort, easily move it between systems and dont have to handle any dependencies on your actual local machine.

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Needs advice
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NGINXNGINX

From a StackShare Community member: "We are a LAMP shop currently focused on improving web performance for our customers. We have made many front-end optimizations and now we are considering replacing Apache with nginx. I was wondering if others saw a noticeable performance gain or any other benefits by switching."

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Replies (3)
Recommends
on
NGINXNGINX

I use nginx because it is very light weight. Where Apache tries to include everything in the web server, nginx opts to have external programs/facilities take care of that so the web server can focus on efficiently serving web pages. While this can seem inefficient, it limits the number of new bugs found in the web server, which is the element that faces the client most directly.

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Leandro Barral
Recommends
on
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I use nginx because its more flexible and easy to configure

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Christian Cwienk
Software Developer at SAP · | 1 upvotes · 632.3K views
Recommends
on
Apache HTTP ServerApache HTTP Server

I use Apache HTTP Server because it's intuitive, comprehensive, well-documented, and just works

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Decisions about lighttpd and NGINX
Daniel Calvo
Co-Founder at Polpo Data Analytics & Software Development · | 8 upvotes · 234.3K views

For us, NGINX is a lite HTTP server easy to configure. On our research, we found a well-documented software we a lot of support from the community.

We have been using it alongside tools like certbot and it has been a total success.

We can easily configure our sites and have a folder for available vs enabled sites, and with the nginx -t command we can easily check everything is running fine.

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Grant Steuart
  • Server rendered HTML output from PHP is being migrated to the client as Vue.js components, future plans to provide additional content, and other new miscellaneous features all result in a substantial increase of static files needing to be served from the server. NGINX has better performance than Apache for serving static content.
  • The change to NGINX will require switching from PHP to PHP-FPM resulting in a distributed architecture with a higher complexity configuration, but this is outweighed by PHP-FPM being faster than PHP for processing requests.
  • The NGINX + PHP-FPM setup now allows for horizontally scaling of resources rather vertically scaling the previously combined Apache + PHP resources.
  • PHP shell tasks can now efficiently be decoupled from the application reducing main application footprint and allow for scaling of tasks on an individual basis.
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Pros of lighttpd
Pros of NGINX
  • 7
    Lightweight
  • 6
    Easy setup
  • 2
    Simplicity
  • 2
    Full featured
  • 2
    Proxy
  • 2
    Virtal hosting
  • 2
    Open source
  • 1
    Available modules
  • 1
    Fast
  • 1
    Security
  • 1
    Ssl support
  • 1.4K
    High-performance http server
  • 893
    Performance
  • 730
    Easy to configure
  • 607
    Open source
  • 530
    Load balancer
  • 288
    Free
  • 288
    Scalability
  • 225
    Web server
  • 175
    Simplicity
  • 136
    Easy setup
  • 30
    Content caching
  • 21
    Web Accelerator
  • 15
    Capability
  • 14
    Fast
  • 12
    High-latency
  • 12
    Predictability
  • 8
    Reverse Proxy
  • 7
    The best of them
  • 7
    Supports http/2
  • 5
    Great Community
  • 5
    Lots of Modules
  • 5
    Enterprise version
  • 4
    High perfomance proxy server
  • 3
    Reversy Proxy
  • 3
    Streaming media delivery
  • 3
    Streaming media
  • 3
    Embedded Lua scripting
  • 2
    GRPC-Web
  • 2
    Blash
  • 2
    Lightweight
  • 2
    Fast and easy to set up
  • 2
    Slim
  • 2
    saltstack
  • 1
    Virtual hosting
  • 1
    Narrow focus. Easy to configure. Fast
  • 1
    Along with Redis Cache its the Most superior
  • 1
    Ingress controller

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Cons of lighttpd
Cons of NGINX
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 10
      Advanced features require subscription

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    - No public GitHub repository available -

    What is lighttpd?

    lighttpd has a very low memory footprint compared to other webservers and takes care of cpu-load. Its advanced feature-set (FastCGI, CGI, Auth, Output-Compression, URL-Rewriting and many more) make lighttpd the perfect webserver-software for every server that suffers load problems.

    What is NGINX?

    nginx [engine x] is an HTTP and reverse proxy server, as well as a mail proxy server, written by Igor Sysoev. According to Netcraft nginx served or proxied 30.46% of the top million busiest sites in Jan 2018.

    Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

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    What are some alternatives to lighttpd and NGINX?
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