darkhttpd  1.14
About: darkhttpd is a lightweight, single-threaded HTTP/1.1 server for static content.
  Fossies Dox: darkhttpd-1.14.tar.gz  ("unofficial" and yet experimental doxygen-generated source code documentation)  

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darkhttpd Documentation

Some Fossies usage hints in advance:

  1. To see the Doxygen generated documentation please click on one of the items in the steelblue colored "quick index" bar above or use the side panel at the left which displays a hierarchical tree-like index structure and is adjustable in width.
  2. If you want to search for something by keyword rather than browse for it you can use the client side search facility (using Javascript and DHTML) that provides live searching, i.e. the search results are presented and adapted as you type in the Search input field at the top right.
  3. Doxygen doesn't incorporate all member files but just a definable subset (basically the main project source code files that are written in a supported language). So to search and browse all member files you may visit the Fossies darkhttpd-1.14.tar.gz contents page and use the Fossies standard member browsing features (also with source code highlighting and additionally with optional code folding).



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