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FastCGI Developer's Kit README

Copyright (c) 1996 Open Market, Inc. See the file "LICENSE.TERMS" for information on usage and redistribution of this file, and for a DISCLAIMER OF ALL WARRANTIES.


Basic Directions


make install


nmake -f Makefile.nt

(or use the MSVC++ project files in the Win32 directory)


For more detail regarding changes, please consult the cvs log available on

  • [*nix] Install a default SIGTERM handler if one hasn't been installed. Based on a patch by [stephan dot jaeger at ewetel dot de]

  • WIN: Don't stomp on a byte we don't own in OS_FcgiConnect(). Jay Sprenkle [jsprenkle at]

  • MacOSX: define environ as (*_NSGetEnviron()) (available in crt_externs.h). Rasmus Andersson [rasmus at]

  • cgi-fcgi.c: Close the file descriptor opened for "-f" handling. Kornél Pál [kornelpal at]


  • [WIN32] Raise SIGTERM from the ShutdownRequestThread to emulate the Unix behaviour. Dan []

  • Fix fcgi_streambuf::underflow() such that when there is no buffer the character isn't removed. AIDA Shinra

  • Add attach() and detach() support.


  • When closing connections, shutdown() the send side of TCP sockets to prevent a TCP RST from trashing the receipt of data on the client (when the client continues to send data to the application).

  • [WIN32] force an exit from the ShutdownRequestThread when a shutdown is signaled and NamedPipes are in use.

  • Use streamsize and char_type in the C++ API.

  • [WIN32] Eliminate the (partial and broken) use of OverlappedIO - this was causing a loose spin in acceptNamedPipe().

  • Fix a bug that caused an assert to pop when an async file descriptor was numbered greater than 16. Kevin Eye []

  • Update the echo-cpp example to show the restoral of the original streambufs. Trub, Vladimir []

  • Fix a bug a that caused the lib to crash under certain circumstances when an error occurred on a read

  • Test for iostreams that support a streambuf assigment operator

  • (WIN32) Fixed initialization of the accept mutex when OpenSocket() was used. Niklas Bergh []


  • Added support for shared libraries.

  • Added support for a graceful shutdown via an event under Win32.

  • Added default signal handlers for PIPE, USR1, and TERM.

  • Fix some minor bugs in the 0S_ layer.

  • Fixed the C++ streambuf implementation.

Changes with devkit 2.1.1

  • Fixed an unintentional sign extension during promotion in Java's Takayuki Tachikawa

  • Cleaned up warnings in examples (mostly main() complaints).

  • Removed examples/tiny-cgi.c (it wasn't a FastCGI application?!).

  • Remove some debugging code and clean up some gcc warnings in cgi-fcgi.c.

  • Add multithread support to the fcgiapp lib and an example multithreaded application, threaded.c. Based on work by Dennis Payne and Gene Sokolov

  • Remove the printf() and #include of stdio.h from examples/echo2.c.

  • Remove the static initialization of _fcgi_sF[] because on glibc 2.x based systems stdin/stdout/stderr are no longer static.

  • Flush FastCGI buffers at application exit.

What's New: Version 2.0b2, 04 April 1997

Some additional bug fixes, mostly on NT port. The following list of the bugs that have been and fixed:

  1. Updated build_no_shell.bat to create a FcgiBin directory under the top level of the FastCGI kit and copy all executables and the FastCGI dll there. This makes it easier to use.
  2. Corrected the Unix version of OS_SpawnChild so that it didn't close the listenFd when forking off child processes. This code would affect the cgi-fcgi application on Unix. The problem is that it could only start one fastcgi process. Any other processes would not get the listen file descriptor and they would die.
  3. Corrected cgi-fcgi.c so that it properly handled large posts. The bug was introduced with the asynchronous I/O model implemented for the Windows NT port. The problem was not clearing a bit indicating that a read had completed. This caused the application to stall.
  4. Corrected OS_DoIo, the function used for scheduling I/O for cgi-fcgi. It had a bug where it wasn't creating a copy of the file descriptors used for I/O. This would cause the master list of FDs to watch to be reset and thus would hang the application because we would no longer watch for I/O on those file descriptors. (This problem was specific to Unix and only happened with the cgi-fcgi application.)
  5. Cleaned up several compilation warnings present on OSF.

What's New: Version 2.0b1, 24 March 1997

This "beta" release adds the functionality of "cgi-fcgi" to the Windows NT platform and allows for creation of FastCGI applications running in Win32 environment. There is almost no new documentation provided, but will become part of this kit in the official release.

  1. Added FastCGI libraries running on Windows NT 3.51+
  2. Rename errno to FCGI_errno in the FCGX_Stream, which was causing problems on some Linux platforms and NT.
  3. Fixed a parenthesis problem in FCGI_gets

What's New: Version 1.5.1, 12 December 1996

This release introduces mostly bug fixes, without any additional functionality to the kit.

  1. Conditional compilation for the hp-ux compiler.
  2. Loop around the accept() call to eliminate "OS Error: Interrupted System Call" message from appearing in the error logs.
  3. Casting of the FCGI_Header to (char*, which eliminates the assertion failure "bufPtr->size>0".

What's New: Version 1.5, 12 June 1996


Added a white paper on FastCGI application performance to the doc directory. Generally brought the other docs up to date.

Rearranged the kit to put more emphasis on running FastCGI-capable servers and less on running cgi-fcgi. Added examples/conf/om-httpd.config, a config file that demonstrates all of the example apps. (Would like to have similar configs for NCSA and Apache.)

Added the tiny-authorizer and sample-store applications to the examples. These are explained in the index.html.

In addition to everything else it does, sample-store demonstrates
a bug in the Open Market WebServer 2.0: When an Authorizer
application denies access, the server tacks some extra junk onto
the end of the page the application returns.  A little ugly but
not fatal.

C libraries:

Added the functions FCGX_Finish and FCGI_Finish. These functions finish the current request from the HTTP server but do not begin a new request. These functions make it possible for applications to perform other processing between requests. An application must not use its stdin, stdout, stderr, or environ between calling FCGI_Finish and calling FCGI_Accept. See doc/FCGI_Finish.3 for more information. The application examples/sample-store.c demonstrates the use of FCGI_Finish.

Added conditional 'extern "C"' stuff to the .h files fcgi_stdio.h, fcgiapp.h, and fcgiappmisc.h for the benefit of C++ applications (suggested by Jim McCarthy).

Fixed two bugs in FCGX_VFPrintF (reported by Ben Laurie). These bugs affected processing of %f format specifiers and of all format specifiers containing a precision spec (e.g "%12.4g").

Fixed a bug in FCGX_Accept in which the environment variable FCGI_WEBSERVER_ADDRS was being read rather than the specified FCGI_WEB_SERVER_ADDRS. Fixed a bug in FCGX_Accept in which the wrong storage was freed when FCGI_WEB_SERVER_ADDRS contained more than one address or if the address check failed.

Changed FCGX_Accept to avoid depending upon accept(2) returning the correct value of sin_family in the socketaddr structure for an AF_UNIX connection (SCO returns the wrong value, as reported by Paul Mahoney).

Changed the error retry logic in FCGX_Accept. FCGX_Accept now returns -1 only in case of operating system errors that occur while accepting a connection (e.g. out of file descriptors). Other errors cause the current connection to be dropped and a new connection to be attempted.


Changed FCGI.xs to make it insensitive to Perl's treatment of environ (we hope). Changed FCGI::accept so the initial environment variables are not unset on the first call to FCGI::accept (or on subsequent calls either). Added the echo-perl example program. Added a workaround for the "empty initial environment bug" to tiny-perl-fcgi. Changed the example Perl scripts to use a new symbolic link ./perl, avoiding the HP-UX 32 character limit on the first line of a command interpreter file.

Because the FastCGI-enabled Perl interpreter uses the C fcgi_stdio library, it picks up all the changes listed above for C. There's a new Perl subroutine FCGI::finish.


Fixed a bug in tclFCGI.c that caused the request environment variables to be lost. Changed FCGI_Accept so the initial environment variables are not unset on the first call to FCGI_Accept (or on subsequent calls either). Added the echo-tcl example program. Fixed another bug that caused Tcl to become confused by file opens; as a side effect of this change, writes to stdout/stderr that occur in an app running as FastCGI before FCGI_Accept is called are no-ops rather than crashing Tcl. Changed the example Tcl scripts to use a new symbolic link ./tclsh, avoiding the HP-UX 32 character limit on the first line of a command interpreter file.

Because the FastCGI-enabled Tcl interpreter uses the C fcgi_stdio library, it picks up all the changes listed above for C; there's a new Tcl command FCGI_Finish.


Fixed a sign-extension bug in that caused bad encodings of names and values in name-value pairs for lengths in [128..255]. Made small cleanups in the Java example programs to make them more consistent with the other examples.

What's New: Version 1.4, 10 May 1996

Includes Java classes and Java examples.

What's New: Version 1.3.1, 6 May 1996

New, simplified, license terms. Includes an expanded whitepaper that describes FastCGI support in Open Market's Secure WebServer 2.0. Includes Open Market FastCGI 1.0 Programmer's Guide. Includes "FastCGI: A High-Performance Gateway Interface", a position paper presented at the workshop "Programming the Web - a search for APIs", Fifth International World Wide Web Conference, 6 May 1996, Paris, France.

What's New: Version 1.3, 29 April 1996

First public release; new license terms on all files.

Changed cgi-fcgi.c to use SO_REUSEADDR when creating the listening socket; this avoids the need to wait through the TIME_WAIT state on all the TCP connections made by the previous instance of an external application you are restarting.

What's New: Version 1.2.2, 15 April 1996

Partially fixed a bug in Perl's FCGI::accept (source file FCGI.xs). The per-request environment variables were being lost. Now the per-request environment variables show up correctly, except that if the Perl application has an empty initial environment, the environment variables associated with the first request are lost. Therefore, when starting Perl, always set some environment variable using the AppClass -initial-env option, or by running cgi-fcgi in a non-empty environment.

What's New: Version 1.2.1, 22 March 1996

Fixed a bug in FCGI_Accept. If your application running as FastCGI opened a file before calling FCGI_Accept, it would decide that it was really running as CGI. Things went downhill quickly after that!

Also added advisory locking to serialize calls to accept on shared listening sockets on Solaris and IRIX, to work around problems with concurrent accept calls on these platforms.

What's New: Version 1.2, 20 March 1996

  1. This version of the kit implements the most recent draft of the protocol spec. Enhancements to the protocol include a BEGIN_REQUEST record that simplifies request ID management and transmits role and keep-alive information, and a simplified end-of-stream indication.

    The protocol spec has been revised to describe exactly what's been implemented, leaving out the features that we hope to introduce in later releases.

    At the application level, the visible change is the FCGI_ROLE variable that's available to applications. This allows an application to check that it has been invoked in the expected role. A single application can be written to respond in several roles. The FCGI_Accept.3 manpage contains more information.

  2. We introduced the new "module" prefix FCGX in order to simplify the relationship between fcgi_stdio and fcgiapp.

    A growing number of functions are provided in both fcgi_stdio and fcgiapp versions. Rather than inventing an ad hoc solution for each naming conflict (as we did with FCGI_accept and FCGI_Accept), we've bitten the bullet and systematically renamed all the fcgapp primitives with the prefix FCGX_. In fcgi_stdio, we've renamed FCGI_accept to FCGI_Accept. So all functions that are common in the two libraries have the same name modulo the different prefixes.

    The Accept function visible in Tcl is now called FCGI_Accept, not FCGI_accept.

    The Accept function visible in Perl is now FCGI::accept. All lower case names for functions and all upper case names for modules appears to be a Perl convention, so we conform.

  3. The kit now fully supports the Responder, Authorizer, and Filter roles.

    The Filter role required a new function, FCGI_StartFilterData. FCGI_StartFilterData changes the input stream from reading FCGI_STDIN data to reading FCGI_DATA data. The manpage gives full details.

    Another new function, FCGI_SetExitStatus, is primarily for the Responder role but is available to all. FCGI_SetExitStatus allows an application to set a nonzero "exit" status before completing a request and calling FCGI_Accept again. The manpage gives full details.

    These two new functions are provided at both the fcgi_stdio interface and the basic fcgiapp interface. Naturally, the fcgiapp versions are called FCGX_StartFilterData and FCGX_SetExitStatus.

  4. The fcgiapp interface changed slightly in order to treat the streams and environment data more symmetrically.

    FCGX_Accept now returns an environment pointer, rather than requiring a call to FCGX_GetAllParams to retrieve an environment pointer. FCGX_GetParam takes an explicit environment pointer argument. FCGX_GetAllParams is eliminated. See the documentation in the header file for complete information.

    fcgiapp also added the procedure FCGX_IsCGI, providing a standardized test of whether the app was started as CGI or FastCGI.

  5. We've ported the kits to vendor-supported ANSI C compilers on Sun (Solaris 2.X), HP, and Digital platforms. GCC can be selected on these platforms by performing SETENV CC gcc before running configure.

What's New: Version 1.1, 30 Jan 1996

  1. More platforms: Digital UNIX, IBM AIX, Silicon Graphics IRIX, Sun SunOS 4.1.4.

  2. Perl and Tcl: Simple recipes for producing Perl and Tcl interpreters that run as FastCGI applications. No source code changes are needed to Perl and Tcl. Documented in separate documents, accessible via the index page.

Version 1.0, 10 Jan 1996