Installing Varnish

With open source software, you can choose to install binary packages or compile stuff from source-code. To install a package or compile from source is a matter of personal taste. If you don’t know which method too choose read the whole document and choose the method you are most confortable with.

Source or packages?

Installing Varnish on most relevant operating systems can usually be done with with the systems package manager, typical examples being:


From source:
cd /usr/ports/varnish && make install clean
Binary package:
pkg_add -r varnish


We try to keep the lastest version available as prebuildt RPMs (el4 & el5) on SourceForge.

Varnish is included in the EPEL repository. Unfortunatly we had a syntax change in Varnish 2.0.6->2.1.X. This means that we can not update Varnish in EPEL so the latest version there is Varnish 2.0.6.

EPEL6 should have Varnish 2.1 available once it releases.


Varnish is distributed with both Debian and Ubuntu. In order to get Varnish up and running type sudo apt-get install varnish. Please note that this might not be the latest version of Varnish.

Other systems

You are probably best of compiling your own code. See Compiling Varnish from source.

If that worked for you, you can skip the rest of this document for now, and and start reading the much more interesting Using Varnish instead.

Compiling Varnish from source

If there are no binary packages available for your system, or if you want to compile Varnish from source for other reasons, follow these steps:

First get a copy of the sourcecode using the svn command. If you do not have this command, you need to install SubVersion on your system. There is usually a binary package, try substituting “subversion” for “varnish” in the examples above, it might just work.

To fetch the current (2.1) production branch::

svn co

To get the development source code::

svn co

Build dependencies on Debian / Ubuntu

In order to build Varnish from source you need a number of packages installed. On a Debian or Ubuntu system these are:

  • autotools-dev
  • automake1.9
  • libtool
  • autoconf
  • libncurses-dev
  • xsltproc
  • groff-base
  • libpcre3-dev
  • pkg-config

Build dependencies on Red Hat / Centos

To build Varnish on a Red Hat or Centos system you need the following packages installed:

  • automake
  • autoconf
  • libtool
  • ncurses-devel
  • libxslt
  • groff
  • pcre-devel
  • pkgconfig

Configuring and compiling

Next, configuration: The configuration will need the dependencies above satisfied. Once that is taken care of::

cd varnish-cache
sh configure

The configure script takes some arguments, but more likely than not, you can forget about that for now, almost everything in Varnish are runtime parameters.

Before you install, you may want to run the regression tests, make a cup of tea while it runs, it takes some minutes:

(cd bin/varnishtest && ./varnishtest tests/*.vtc)

Don’t worry of a single or two tests fail, some of the tests are a bit too timing sensitive (Please tell us which so we can fix it) but if a lot of them fails, and in particular if the b00000.vtc test fails, something is horribly wrong, and you will get nowhere without figuring out what.


And finally, the true test of a brave heart:

make install

Varnish will now be installed in /usr/local. The varnishd binary is in /usr/local/sbin/varnishd and its default configuration will be /usr/local/etc/varnish/default.vcl.

You can now proceed to the Using Varnish.