Build / Cross Compile lighttpd for ARM Linux with pcre

This is a record of how I built lighttpd with pcre for ARM. Most examples of cross compiling lighttpd for ARM do not include pcre, but to get the best out of lighttpd you really do need pcre built in. So we first need to get and cross compile pcre and then lighttpd.

Build pcre for ARM

In this example I assume that you create the build directories in you home directory, e.g. /home/youruser/ , you will need to change this in the following commands to match your actual directory set-up.

cd /home/youruser
mkdir buid_pcre
cd build_pcre

tar -xzf pcre-8.21.tar.gz

cd pcre-8.21

./configure --host=arm-linux-gnueabi CC=arm-linux-gnueabi-gcc \
AR=arm-linux-gnueabi-ar STRIP=arm-linux-gnueabi-strip \
RANLIB=arm-linux-gnueabi-ranlib \

make install

This should build pcre and install the output files into the following directory:


Change this path to suit your own needs.

Build lighttpd for ARM

Now that we have build pcre we can build lighttpd as follows, there is a bit of trickery involved for getting it to build with pcre, but happily this article showed me the way (thanks)!

cd /home/youruser
mkdir build_lighttpd
cd build_lighttpd


tar -zxvf lighttpd-1.4.32.tar.gz

cd lighttpd-1.4.32

./configure -prefix=/home/youruser/build_lighttpd/_install \ 
-host=arm-linux-gnueabi CC=arm-linux-gnueabi-gcc \
RANLIB=arm-linux-gnueabi-ranlib STRIP=arm-linux-gnueabi-strip\
--enable-shared --without-mysql --without-zlib --without-bzip2 \
--disable-ipv6 \
PCRECONFIG=/home/youruser/build_lighttpd/build_pcre/_install/bin/pcre-config \
PCRE_LIB=/home/youruser/build_lighttpd/build_pcre/_install/lib/libpcre.a \
CFLAGS="$CFLAGS -DHAVE_PCRE_H=1 -DHAVE_LIBPCRE=1 -I/home/youruser/build_lighttpd/build_pcre/_install/include"

make install

Again remember to change: /home/youruser/ in each case.

If the build succeded, all the files that you need to install lighttpd on your target ARM device should be under: /home/youruser/build_lighttpd/_install

Here is an article which talks about how to manually install lighttpd.

But at a very minimum you need to:

(a) Download and edit the config file – lighttpd.conf
(b) Copy the pcre libs to /usr/lib or similar – ,
(c) Copy on the lighttpd binary from: /home/youruser/build_lighttpd/_install/sbin
(d) Copy on the lib folder from /home/youruser/build_lighttpd/_install/lib
(e) Run lighttpd specifying the paths to config file and lib folder, for example:

lighttpd -D -f /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf -m /usr/lib

Thanks to the following articles for the build info!

5 replies
  1. Jungwoo Ku
    Jungwoo Ku says:

    Hello Kevein,

    During building pcre for ARM, after executing ‘make’, I found as follwing error:

    “./.libs/ could not read symbols: File in wrong format”

    How can I fix it?

    • Kevin Godden
      Kevin Godden says:



      I wonder at what stage did you hit this error? is it when you try to build lighttpd? It sounds like pcre has been compiled for your host target rather than for your target ARM device, or perhaps lighttpd isn’t being built for ARM but pcre has. Maybe first try to double check the cross-compile options for both builds to make sure that you are targeting ARM and using the correct flavour of gcc etc.


      Good Luck!



  2. Jungwoo Ku
    Jungwoo Ku says:

    Hello Kevin,

    Thank you for your kind reply.
    I met the error when I built “pcre”.
    After configuration, I exectued “make”.
    Because of the error, I did not try to build “lighttpd”.

    Thank you,

    Best regards,
    Jungwoo(Jason) Ku

  3. Arun
    Arun says:

    Im also facing the same error when I try to make pcre My configuration commands is as following gave the following
    ./configure –host=arm-linux-gnueabihf CC=/opt/linux-devkit/sysroots/i686-arago-linux/usr/bin/arm-linux-gnueabihf-gcc AR=/opt/linux-devkit/sysroots/i686-arago-linux/usr/bin/arm-linux-gnueabihf-ar STRIP=/opt/linux-devkit/sysroots/i686-arago-linux/usr/bin/arm-linux-gnueabihf-strip RANLIB=/opt/linux-devkit/sysroots/i686-arago-linux/usr/bin/arm-linux-gnueabihf-ranlib –prefix=/home/mistral/build_gen_pcre/_install

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