Installing CakePHP can be as simple as slapping it in your web server’s document root, or as complex and flexible as you wish. This section will cover the three main installation types for CakePHP: development, production, and advanced.

  • Development: easy to get going, URLs for the application include the CakePHP installation directory name, and less secure.
  • Production: Requires the ability to configure the web server’s document root, clean URLs, very secure.
  • Advanced: With some configuration, allows you to place key CakePHP directories in different parts of the filesystem, possibly sharing a single CakePHP core library folder amongst many CakePHP applications.


A development installation is the fastest method to setup Cake. This example will help you install a CakePHP application and make it available at We assume for the purposes of this example that your document root is set to /var/www/html.

Unpack the contents of the Cake archive into /var/www/html. You now have a folder in your document root named after the release you’ve downloaded (e.g. cake_1.3.0). Rename this folder to cake_1_3. Your development setup will look like this on the file system:

  • /var/www/html
    • /cake_1_3
      • /app
      • /cake
      • /vendors
      • /.htaccess
      • /index.php
      • /README

If your web server is configured correctly, you should now find your Cake application accessible at


A production installation is a more flexible way to setup Cake. Using this method allows an entire domain to act as a single CakePHP application. This example will help you install Cake anywhere on your filesystem and make it available at Note that this installation may require the rights to change the DocumentRoot on Apache webservers.

Unpack the contents of the Cake archive into a directory of your choosing. For the purposes of this example, we assume you choose to install Cake into /cake_install. Your production setup will look like this on the filesystem:

  • /cake_install/
    • /app
      • /webroot (this directory is set as the DocumentRoot directive)
    • /cake
    • /vendors
    • /.htaccess
    • /index.php
    • /README

Developers using Apache should set the DocumentRoot directive for the domain to:

DocumentRoot /cake_install/app/webroot

If your web server is configured correctly, you should now find your Cake application accessible at

Advanced Installation

There may be some situations where you wish to place CakePHP’s directories on different places on the filesystem. This may be due to a shared host restriction, or maybe you just want a few of your apps to share the same Cake libraries. This section describes how to spread your CakePHP directories across a filesystem.

First, realize that there are three main parts to a Cake application:

  1. The core CakePHP libraries, in /cake.
  2. Your application code, in /app.
  3. The application’s webroot, usually in /app/webroot.

Each of these directories can be located anywhere on your file system, with the exception of the webroot, which needs to be accessible by your web server. You can even move the webroot folder out of the app folder as long as you tell Cake where you’ve put it.

To configure your Cake installation, you’ll need to make some changes to following files.

  • /app/webroot/index.php
  • /app/webroot/test.php (if you use the Testing feature.)

There are three constants that you’ll need to edit: ROOT, APP_DIR, and CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH.

  • ROOT should be set to the path of the directory that contains your app folder.
  • APP_DIR should be set to the (base)name of your app folder.
  • CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH should be set to the path of your CakePHP libraries folder.

Let’s run through an example so you can see what an advanced installation might look like in practice. Imagine that I wanted to set up CakePHP to work as follows:

  • The CakePHP core libraries will be placed in /usr/lib/cake.
  • My application’s webroot directory will be /var/www/mysite/.
  • My application’s app directory will be /home/me/myapp.

Given this type of setup, I would need to edit my webroot/index.php file (which will end up at /var/www/mysite/index.php, in this example) to look like the following:

// /app/webroot/index.php (partial, comments removed)

if (!defined('ROOT')) {
    define('ROOT', DS.'home'.DS.'me');

if (!defined('APP_DIR')) {
    define ('APP_DIR', 'myapp');

if (!defined('CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH')) {
    define('CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH', DS.'usr'.DS.'lib');

It is recommended to use the DS constant rather than slashes to delimit file paths. This prevents any missing file errors you might get as a result of using the wrong delimiter, and it makes your code more portable.

Additional Class Paths

It’s occasionally useful to be able to share MVC classes between applications on the same system. If you want the same controller in both applications, you can use CakePHP’s bootstrap.php to bring these additional classes into view.

In bootstrap.php, define some specially-named variables to make CakePHP aware of other places to look for MVC classes:

    'plugins' => array('/full/path/to/plugins/', '/next/full/path/to/plugins/'),
    'models' =>  array('/full/path/to/models/', '/next/full/path/to/models/'),
    'views' => array('/full/path/to/views/', '/next/full/path/to/views/'),
    'controllers' => array('/full/path/to/controllers/', '/next/full/path/to/controllers/'),
    'datasources' => array('/full/path/to/datasources/', '/next/full/path/to/datasources/'),
    'behaviors' => array('/full/path/to/behaviors/', '/next/full/path/to/behaviors/'),
    'components' => array('/full/path/to/components/', '/next/full/path/to/components/'),
    'helpers' => array('/full/path/to/helpers/', '/next/full/path/to/helpers/'),
    'vendors' => array('/full/path/to/vendors/', '/next/full/path/to/vendors/'),
    'shells' => array('/full/path/to/shells/', '/next/full/path/to/shells/'),
    'locales' => array('/full/path/to/locale/', '/next/full/path/to/locale/'),
    'libs' => array('/full/path/to/libs/', '/next/full/path/to/libs/')

Also changed is the order in which boostrapping occurs. In the past app/config/core.php was loaded after app/config/bootstrap.php. This caused any App::import() in an application bootstrap to be un-cached and considerably slower than a cached include. In 1.3 core.php is loaded and the core cache configs are created before bootstrap.php is loaded.

Apache and mod_rewrite (and .htaccess)

While CakePHP is built to work with mod_rewrite out of the box–and usually does–we’ve noticed that a few users struggle with getting everything to play nicely on their systems.

Here are a few things you might try to get it running correctly. First look at your httpd.conf (Make sure you are editing the system httpd.conf rather than a user- or site-specific httpd.conf).

  1. Make sure that an .htaccess override is allowed and that AllowOverride is set to All for the correct DocumentRoot. You should see something similar to:

    # Each directory to which Apache has access can be configured with respect
    # to which services and features are allowed and/or disabled in that
    # directory (and its subdirectories).
    # First, we configure the "default" to be a very restrictive set of
    # features.
    <Directory />
        Options FollowSymLinks
        AllowOverride All
    #    Order deny,allow
    #    Deny from all
  2. Make sure you are loading up mod_rewrite correctly. You should see something like:

    LoadModule rewrite_module libexec/apache2/

    In many systems these will be commented out (by being prepended with a #) by default, so you may just need to remove those leading # symbols.

    After you make changes, restart Apache to make sure the settings are active.

    Verify that you your .htaccess files are actually in the right directories.

    This can happen during copying because some operating systems treat files that start with ‘.’ as hidden and therefore won’t see them to copy.

  3. Make sure your copy of CakePHP is from the downloads section of the site or our GIT repository, and has been unpacked correctly by checking for .htaccess files.

    Cake root directory (needs to be copied to your document, this redirects everything to your Cake app):

    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
       RewriteEngine on
       RewriteRule    ^$ app/webroot/    [L]
       RewriteRule    (.*) app/webroot/$1 [L]

    Cake app directory (will be copied to the top directory of your application by bake):

    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
        RewriteEngine on
        RewriteRule    ^$    webroot/    [L]
        RewriteRule    (.*) webroot/$1    [L]

    Cake webroot directory (will be copied to your application’s web root by bake):

    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
        RewriteEngine On
        RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
        RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
        RewriteRule ^(.*)$ index.php?url=$1 [QSA,L]

    For many hosting services (GoDaddy, 1and1), your web server is actually being served from a user directory that already uses mod_rewrite. If you are installing CakePHP into a user directory (, or any other URL structure that already utilizes mod_rewrite, you’ll need to add RewriteBase statements to the .htaccess files CakePHP uses (/.htaccess, /app/.htaccess, /app/webroot/.htaccess).

    This can be added to the same section with the RewriteEngine directive, so for example your webroot .htaccess file would look like:

    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
        RewriteEngine On
        RewriteBase /path/to/cake/app
        RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
        RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
        RewriteRule ^(.*)$ index.php?url=$1 [QSA,L]

    The details of those changes will depend on your setup, and can include additional things that are not Cake related. Please refer to Apache’s online documentation for more information.

Pretty URLs and Lighttpd

While lighttpd features a rewrite module, it is not an equivalent of Apache’s mod_rewrite. To get ‘pretty URLs’ while using Lighty, you have two options. Option one is using mod_rewrite, the second one is by using a LUA script and mod_magnet.

Using mod_rewrite

The easiest way to get pretty URLs is by adding this script to your lighty config. Just edit the URL, and you should be okay. Please note that this doesn’t work on Cake installations in subdirectories.

$HTTP["host"] =~ "^(www\.)?$" {
        url.rewrite-once = (
                # if the request is for css|files etc, do not pass on to Cake
                "/(css|files|img|js)/(.*)" => "/$1/$2",
                "^([^\?]*)(\?(.+))?$" => "/index.php?url=$1&$3",
        evhost.path-pattern = "/home/%2-%1/www/www/%4/app/webroot/"

Using mod_magnet

To use pretty URLs with CakePHP and Lighttpd, place this lua script in /etc/lighttpd/cake.

-- little helper function
function file_exists(path)
  local attr = lighty.stat(path)
  if (attr) then
      return true
      return false
function removePrefix(str, prefix)
  return str:sub(1,#prefix+1) == prefix.."/" and str:sub(#prefix+2)

-- prefix without the trailing slash
local prefix = ''

-- the magic ;)
if (not file_exists(lighty.env["physical.path"])) then
    -- file still missing. pass it to the fastcgi backend
    request_uri = removePrefix(lighty.env["uri.path"], prefix)
    if request_uri then
      lighty.env["uri.path"]          = prefix .. "/index.php"
      local uriquery = lighty.env["uri.query"] or ""
      lighty.env["uri.query"] = uriquery .. (uriquery ~= "" and "&" or "") .. "url=" .. request_uri
      lighty.env["physical.rel-path"] = lighty.env["uri.path"]
      lighty.env["request.orig-uri"]  = lighty.env["request.uri"]
      lighty.env["physical.path"]     = lighty.env["physical.doc-root"] .. lighty.env["physical.rel-path"]
-- fallthrough will put it back into the lighty request loop
-- that means we get the 304 handling for free. ;)

If you run your CakePHP installation from a subdirectory, you must set prefix = ‘subdirectory_name’ in the above script.

Then tell Lighttpd about your vhost:

$HTTP["host"] =~ "" {
        server.error-handler-404  = "/index.php"

        magnet.attract-physical-path-to = ( "/etc/lighttpd/cake.lua" )

        server.document-root = "/var/www/cake-1.2/app/webroot/"

        # Think about getting vim tmp files out of the way too
        url.access-deny = (
                "~", ".inc", ".sh", "sql", ".sql", ".tpl.php",
                ".xtmpl", "Entries", "Repository", "Root",
                ".ctp", "empty"

Pretty URLs on nginx

nginx is a popular server that, like Lighttpd, uses less system resources. It’s drawback is that it does not make use of .htaccess files like Apache and Lighttpd, so it is necessary to create those rewritten URLs in the site-available configuration. Depending upon your setup, you will have to modify this, but at the very least, you will need PHP running as a FastCGI instance.

server {
    listen   80;
    rewrite ^(.*)$1 permanent;

server {
    listen   80;

    access_log /var/www/;
    error_log /var/www/;

    location / {
        root   /var/www/;
        index  index.php index.html index.htm;
        if (-f $request_filename) {
        rewrite ^(.+)$ /index.php?url=$1 last;

    location ~ .*\.php[345]?$ {
        include /etc/nginx/fcgi.conf;
        fastcgi_index   index.php;
        fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME /var/www/$fastcgi_script_name;

URL Rewrites on IIS7 (Windows hosts)

IIS7 does not natively support .htaccess files. While there are add-ons that can add this support, you can also import htaccess rules into IIS to use CakePHP’s native rewrites. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Use Microsoft’s Web Platform Installer to install the URL Rewrite Module 2.0.
  2. Create a new file in your CakePHP folder, called web.config
  3. Using Notepad or another XML-safe editor, copy the following code into your new web.config file...
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
            <rule name="Redirect static resources" stopProcessing="true">
            <match url="^(ico|img|css|files|js)(.*)$" />
            <action type="Rewrite" url="app/webroot/{R:1}{R:2}" appendQueryString="false" />
            <rule name="Imported Rule 1" stopProcessing="true">
            <match url="^(.*)$" ignoreCase="false" />
            <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll">
                        <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsDirectory" negate="true" />
                        <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsFile" negate="true" />
            <action type="Rewrite" url="index.php?url={R:1}" appendQueryString="true" />
            <rule name="Imported Rule 2" stopProcessing="true">
              <match url="^$" ignoreCase="false" />
              <action type="Rewrite" url="/" />
            <rule name="Imported Rule 3" stopProcessing="true">
              <match url="(.*)" ignoreCase="false" />
              <action type="Rewrite" url="/{R:1}" />
            <rule name="Imported Rule 4" stopProcessing="true">
              <match url="^(.*)$" ignoreCase="false" />
              <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAll">
                        <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsDirectory" negate="true" />
                        <add input="{REQUEST_FILENAME}" matchType="IsFile" negate="true" />
              <action type="Rewrite" url="index.php?url={R:1}" appendQueryString="true" />

It is also possible to use the Import functionality in IIS’s URL Rewrite module to import rules directly from CakePHP’s .htaccess files in root, /app/, and /app/webroot/ - although some editing within IIS may be necessary to get these to work. When Importing the rules this way, IIS will automatically create your web.config file for you.

Once the web.config file is created with the correct IIS-friendly rewrite rules, CakePHP’s links, css, js, and rerouting should work correctly.

Fire It Up

Alright, let’s see CakePHP in action. Depending on which setup you used, you should point your browser to or At this point, you’ll be presented with CakePHP’s default home, and a message that tells you the status of your current database connection.

Congratulations! You are ready to create your first CakePHP application.

Not working? If you’re getting timezone related error from PHP uncomment one line in app/config/core.php.

 * If you are on PHP 5.3 uncomment this line and correct your server timezone
 * to fix the date & time related errors.