Setting up Laravel applications with Caddy 2

Jorge González's Avatar
Jorge González
📅

Managing web servers can be kind of tricky, and with an increasing number of applications in one server, managing all of their configuration files can start to feel like a burden 🥴.

Maybe just my point of view, maybe not at all...

In the last few days, I started looking for a way to migrate from Nginx to a Caddy web server for all my Laravel applications, just because of two things:

  1. Caddy is HTTPS-first, so I don’t need to worry about certbot trying to renew domains that are no longer available in my private server, nor failing to manage recently added domains that I forgot to tell certbot about. Caddy manages this for me automatically 💖.
  2. Caddy’s configuration files are way easier to understand than Nginx’s, even without previous knowledge of the properties of a Caddyfile, you can easily grasp what a config file is doing just by reading it.

Surprisingly to me, Caddy just got its v2 upgrade a few months ago, which is full of new awesome features, and the cherry of the cake for me is that their traditional Caddyfiles just got way easier to read! So much was done right for this update!

Also surprising to me was the lack of Laravel templates available for Caddy 2, which is not a big deal, but I hoped to find a good template as a starting point after all these months that Caddy 2 has been available.

Instead, I found Mattias’ Laravel template for Caddy v1 (thanks Mattias!), which seemed pretty solid to me, so I saved a copy and started to work 👨‍💻.

Getting Started with Caddy

First of all, you need to install Caddy on your server (obviously), you can find a pretty detailed guide on Caddy’s Documentation. So just go and surf the documentation before coming back.

PHP + Caddy = ❤️

So, managing PHP applications with Caddy is dead simple, and even Laravel is a dead simple framework for PHP, so a pretty good match can come out of this 👀.

Let’s take a moment and think of what we need to tell Caddy about our Laravel application:

  1. It should use HTTPS.
  2. It should serve static files if possible.
  3. If no static files are found, then it should properly route incoming requests to PHP-FPM.

Well, this seems like a good starting point. So, I present to you the Caddy 2 template I use for Laravel:

my-website.com {
    # Resolve the root directory for the app
    root * /var/www/my-website/public

    # Provide Zstd and Gzip compression
    encode zstd gzip

    # Allow caddy to serve static files
    file_server

    # Enable PHP-FPM
    php_fastcgi unix//run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock
}

A fun thing about this is that Caddy does support the Zstd Compression Algorithm, however, no browsers actually support it. Anyhow, supported algorithms are requested from the client, so we're prepared for the time when browsers start supporting zstd.

As you can see, integrating Laravel with Caddy is dead simple. Just define the root directory, present our PHP-FPM socket to Caddy and finally tell Caddy to serve static files when possible.

But wait... What about HTTPS? Where do I define port 443? How do I configure my Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates? Well... SURPRISE!!! Caddy automatically handles SSL certificates for you! 😍. No need to define port 443, no need to have a folder with certificates, all is handled automatically by Caddy and it’s internal Let’s Encrypt integration 🥳.

Up to this point, everything should be OK for you, you can start copy-pasting this template for all your websites! 🚀

Let's make this easier...

Okay, hold on a sec... Didn't I say that it is a burden to manage multiple configuration files? Yeah, I did... But we can actually abstract this template into a Caddy Snippet which can help us to re-use this template without copy-pasting anything!

Supposing that you're interested enough, I hope you already took a look at the link above, if not, go check it out!

Now, back to our snippet... In my setup, I have a /etc/caddy/snippets/ directory where I place all my snippets, so I can easily import them before hand:

# Caddyfile
import snippets/*

And that's it, all available snippets in the directory will be available for us, now, we can create our laravel-app snippet:

# snippets/laravel-app
# {args.0} represents the root url of the app. Example: "jorgeglz.io".
# {args.1} represents the root path to the app. Example: "/var/www/my-site.com"

(laravel-app) {
    {args.0} {
        # Resolve the root directory for the app
        root * {args.1}/public

        # Provide Zstd and Gzip compression
        encode zstd gzip

        # Enable PHP-FPM
        php_fastcgi unix//run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock

        # Allow caddy to serve static files
        file_server
    }
}

Cool! Now we can start referencing this snippet for all our Laravel apps:

import snippets/*

# Use the "laravel-app" snippet for our site:
import laravel-app my-site.com /var/www/my-site.com

And with this, we're good to go!

Just beware that modifying the snippet will update the configuration for all your applications, so keep it as simple as you can 😉.