When you need a web server in a hurry. http://unix4lyfe.org/darkhttpd/
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When you need a web server in a hurry.


  • Simple to set up:
    • Single binary, no other files, no installation needed.
    • Standalone, doesn't need inetd or ucspi-tcp.
    • No messing around with config files - all you have to specify is the www root.
  • Written in C - efficient and portable.
  • Small memory footprint.
  • Event loop, single threaded - no fork() or pthreads.
  • Generates directory listings.
  • Supports HTTP GET and HEAD requests.
  • Supports Range / partial content. (try streaming music files or resuming a download)
  • Supports If-Modified-Since.
  • Supports Keep-Alive connections.
  • Supports IPv6.
  • Can serve 301 redirects based on Host header.
  • Uses sendfile() on FreeBSD, Solaris and Linux.
  • Can use acceptfilter on FreeBSD.
  • At some point worked on FreeBSD, Linux, OpenBSD, Solaris.
  • ISC license.
  • suckless.org says darkhttpd sucks less.
  • Small Docker image (<100KB)


  • Can log accesses, including Referer and User-Agent.
  • Can chroot.
  • Can drop privileges.
  • Impervious to /../ sniffing.
  • Times out idle connections.
  • Drops overly long requests.


  • Only serves static content - no CGI.

How to build darkhttpd

Simply run make:


If cc is not on your PATH as an alias to your C compiler, you may need to specify it. For example,

CC=gcc make

How to run darkhttpd

Serve /var/www/htdocs on the default port (80 if running as root, else 8080):

./darkhttpd /var/www/htdocs

Serve ~/public_html on port 8081:

./darkhttpd ~/public_html --port 8081

Only bind to one IP address (useful on multi-homed systems):

./darkhttpd ~/public_html --addr

Serve at most 4 simultaneous connections:

./darkhttpd ~/public_html --maxconn 4

Log accesses to a file:

./darkhttpd ~/public_html --log access.log

Chroot for extra security (you need root privs for chroot):

./darkhttpd /var/www/htdocs --chroot

Use default.htm instead of index.html:

./darkhttpd /var/www/htdocs --index default.htm

Add mimetypes - in this case, serve .dat files as text/plain:

$ cat extramime
text/plain  dat
$ ./darkhttpd /var/www/htdocs --mimetypes extramime

Drop privileges:

./darkhttpd /var/www/htdocs --uid www --gid www

Use acceptfilter (FreeBSD only):

kldload accf_http
./darkhttpd /var/www/htdocs --accf

Run in the background and create a pidfile:

./darkhttpd /var/www/htdocs --pidfile /var/run/httpd.pid --daemon

Web forward (301) requests for some hosts:

./darkhttpd /var/www/htdocs --forward example.com http://www.example.com \
  --forward secure.example.com https://www.example.com/secure

Web forward (301) requests for all hosts:

./darkhttpd /var/www/htdocs --forward example.com http://www.example.com \
  --forward-all http://catchall.example.com

Commandline options can be combined:

./darkhttpd ~/public_html --port 8080 --addr

To see a full list of commandline options, run darkhttpd without any arguments:


How to run darkhttpd in Docker

First, build the image.

docker build -t darkhttpd .

Then run using volumes for the served files and port mapping for access.

For example, the following would serve files from the current user's dev/mywebsite directory on http://localhost:8080/

docker run -p 8080:80 -v ~/dev/mywebsite:/var/www/htdocs:ro darkhttpd