Edit on GitHub
Report issue
Page history

Author(s): @{[ username ]}  Published: {[ TutorialCtrl.tutorial.date_published | date:'mediumDate' ]}

title: Setting Up LEMP on Compute Engine description: Learn how to set up a LEMP stack on a virtual machine. author: steveperry-53 tags: Compute Engine, LEMP date_published: 2017-02-15

This page shows you how to get a LEMP stack running on a virtual machine. Follow the steps in this tutorial to configure LEMP on a Debian, Ubuntu, or CentOS instance. Generally, these instructions will be similar on other operating systems.

Alternatively, you can use the Google Cloud Launcher to deploy a LEMP stack automatically.

For this tutorial, the LEMP stack has the following components:

  • Linux
  • MySQL
  • PHP


  • Create a virtual machine instance.
  • Connect to your instance using SSH.
  • Deploy the LEMP stack on your instance.
  • Transfer files.
  • Set up DNS mapping.


  • Select or create a Google Cloud Platform project.
  • Enable billing for your project.


This tutorial uses billable components of Cloud Platform, including:

  • Google Compute Engine

Use the Pricing Calculator to generate a cost estimate based on your projected usage.

Creating a virtual machine instance

You can use these steps to deploy the LEMP stack using the Google Cloud Platform Console:

  1. In the Cloud Platform Console, go to the VM Instances page.
  2. Click the Create instance button.
  3. Set Name to lemp-tutorial.
  4. Set Machine type to f1-micro.
  5. In the Boot disk section, click Change to begin configuring your boot disk.
  6. In the OS images tab, choose a Debian 7.x, Ubuntu 14.04, or CentOS 6.x version.
  7. Click Select.
  8. In the Firewall section, select Allow HTTP traffic and Allow HTTPS traffic.
  9. Click the Create button to create the instance.

Give the instance a few seconds to start up.

Deploying the LEMP stack on Compute Engine

Now that your virtual machine instance is running, configure the LEMP stack.

Connect to your instance

You can connect directly to your instance using SSH from Cloud Platform Console or using the gcloud compute ssh command, which is part of the Cloud SDK. This tutorial demonstrates the steps in the Cloud Platform Console.

  1. In the Cloud Platform Console, go to the VM Instances page.
  2. In the list of virtual machine instances, click the SSH button in the row of the instance to which you want to connect.

Make a note of the IP address of your VM instance. You can see this address in the External IP column.

Install nginx and PHP on your instance

By creating an instance, you already have the "Linux" part of LEMP. Next, install nginx and PHP.

  1. Install nginx and PHP:

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install -y nginx php5-fpm
  2. Edit the default nginx configuration file:

    sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/default
  3. Uncomment selected lines in the PHP section, as shown here:

    # pass the PHP scripts to FastCGI server listening on
    location ~ \.php$ {
    #       fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+\.php)(/.+)$;
    #       # NOTE: You should have "cgi.fix_pathinfo = 0;" in php.ini
    #       # With php5-cgi alone:
    #       fastcgi_pass;
    #       # With php5-fpm:
            fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php5-fpm.sock;
    #       fastcgi_index index.php;
            include fastcgi_params;
  4. Restart the nginx service:

    sudo service nginx restart

Test nginx and PHP

  1. For this step, you need the external IP address of your instance. You can look up the address in the VM Instances page in the Cloud Platform Console.

    In a browser, enter your external IP address to verify that nginx is running:


    You should see Welcome to nginx!

  2. Create a test file in the default web server root:

    • Debian 7

      sudo sh -c 'echo "" > /usr/share/nginx/www/phpinfo.php'
    • Ubuntu 14.04 or CentOS 6

      sudo sh -c 'echo "" > /usr/share/nginx/html/phpinfo.php'
  3. Browse to the test file to verify that nginx and PHP are working together:


    You should see the standard PHP info page that provides information about your current nginx environment.

If the page failed to load (HTTP 404), verify:

  • In the Cloud Platform Console, HTTP traffic is allowed for your instance.
  • The URL uses the correct IP address and file name.

Install MySQL on your instance

Install MySQL and related PHP components:


sudo apt-get install mysql-server php5-mysql php-pear

CentOS 6

  1. Install MySQL and related components:

    sudo yum -y install httpd mysql-server php php-mysql
  2. Start the MySQL service

    sudo service mysqld start
  3. Optional: Set the MySQL service to start automatically:

    sudo chkconfig mysqld on

Configure MySQL

Now that you have MySQL installed, you should run the mysql_secure_installation command to improve the security of your installation. This performs steps such as setting the root user password if it is not yet set, removing the anonymous user, restricting root user access to the local machine, and removing the test database.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

Transferring files

There are several ways to transfer files to your VM instance that runs your web server, including FTP and the gcloud command. For full details, see Transferring files to Linux Instances. This tutorial uses the gcloud command, which is part of the Cloud SDK. Copy files to your instance using the copy-files command. The following example copies a file from your workstation to the home directory on the instance.

gcloud compute scp [LOCAL_FILE_PATH] lemp-tutorial:/var/www/html

Replace [LOCAL_FILE_PATH] with the path to the file on your workstation.

You can also copy files from an instance to your local workstation by reversing the source and destination variables. The following example copies a file from your instance to your workstation.

gcloud compute scp lemp-tutorial:/var/www/html [LOCAL_FILE_PATH]

Replace [LOCAL_FILE_PATH] with the path where you want to put the file on your workstation.

Setting up DNS

After you have set up your software stack and transferred your files, you might want to map your own domain name to your site. If you want complete control of your own DNS system, you can use Google Cloud DNS to serve as your domain name service (DNS) provider. If you need instructions that are specific to Cloud DNS, see the quickstart.

This tutorial walks you through the more-common scenario of setting up DNS through a third-party provider, such as your domain registrar.

If you have an existing DNS provider that you want to use, you need to create a couple of records with that provider. This lesson assumes that you are mapping example.com and www.example.com to point to your website hosted on Compute Engine.

For the example.com domain name, create an A record with your DNS provider. For the www.example.com sub-domain, create a CNAME record for www to point it to the example.com domain. The A record maps a host name to an IP address. The CNAME record creates an alias for the A record. This lesson assumes you want example.com and www.example.com to map to the same IP address.

  1. Get your external IP address for your instance. You can look up the IP address from the VM instances page in the Cloud Platform Console.
  2. Sign in to your provider's DNS management interface and find the domain that you want to manage. Refer to your DNS provider's documentation for specific steps.
  3. Create an A record and set the value to your external IP address. The name or host field can be set to @, which represents the naked domain. For more information, the Google Apps support page provides help for completing various DNS tasks.
  4. Create a CNAME record, set the name to www, and set the value to @ or to your hostname followed by a period: example.com.. Read the Google Apps support for help creating the A record with various providers.
  5. If appropriate for your provider, increment the serial number in your SOA record to reflect that changes have been made so that your records will propagate.

Verify your DNS changes

If your domain name registrar, such as Google Domains, is also your DNS provider, you're probably all set. If you use separate providers for registration and DNS, make sure that your domain name registrar, has the correct name servers associated with your domain.

After making your DNS changes, the record updates will take some time to propagate depending on your time-to-live (TTL) values in your zone. If this is a new hostname, the changes should go into effect quickly because the DNS resolvers will not have cached previous values and will contact the DNS provider to get the necessary information to route requests.

Cleaning up

After you've finished the LEMP tutorial, you can clean up the resources you created on Google Cloud Platform so you won't be billed for them in the future. The following sections describe how to delete or turn off these resources.

Deleting the project

The easiest way to eliminate billing is to delete the project you created for the tutorial. If you don't want to delete the project, delete the individual instances, as described in the next section.

Warning: Deleting a project has the following consequences:

  • If you used an existing project, you'll also delete any other work you've done in the project.
  • You can't reuse the project ID of a deleted project. If you created a custom project ID that you plan to use in the future, you should delete the resources inside the project instead. This ensures that URLs that use the project ID, such as an appspot.com URL, remain available.

If you are exploring multiple tutorials and quickstarts, reusing projects instead of deleting them prevents you from exceeding project quota limits.

To delete the project:

  1. In the Cloud Platform Console, go to the Projects page.
  2. In the project list, select the project you want to delete and click Delete project. After selecting the checkbox next to the project name, click the trash can icon.
  3. In the dialog, type the project ID, and then click Shut down to delete the project.

Deleting instances

To delete a Compute Engine instance:

  1. In the Cloud Platform Console, go to the VM Instances page.
  2. Click the checkbox next to your lemp-tutorial instance.
  3. Click the Delete button at the top of the page to delete the instance.

Next steps

  • By default, the web server document root is owned by the root user. You might want to configure your document root for another user or want to change the directory location in the NGINIX configuration file. The web server document root is at /usr/share/nginx/www, and the nginx configuration file is at /etc/nginx/sites-available.

  • Learn more about serving websites on Cloud Platform.

See more by @{[ username ]} and more tagged {[ tag ]}{[ $last ? '' : ', ' ]}

Submit a Tutorial

Share step-by-step guides


Request a Tutorial

Ask for community help


GCP Tutorials

Tutorials published by GCP


Except as otherwise noted, the content of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License, and code samples are licensed under the Apache 2.0 License. For details, see our Site Policies. Java is a registered trademark of Oracle and/or its affiliates.