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 comfortable 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 latest version available as prebuilt RPMs (el5) on <>. See the RedHat installation instructions <> for more information.

Varnish is included in the EPEL repository. Unfortunately we had a syntax change in Varnish 2.0.6->2.1.X. This means that we can not update Varnish in EPEL 5 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. If you need a later version of Varnish, please follow the installation instructions for Debian <> or Ubuntu <>.

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:

We recommend downloading a release tarball, which you can find on <>.

Alternatively, if you want to hack on Varnish, you should clone our git repository by doing.

git clone git://

Please note that a git checkout will need some more build-dependencies than listed below, in particular the Python Docutils and Sphinx.

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


  • libjemalloc-dev

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


  • jemalloc-devel

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 run time parameters.

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

make check

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.