Speed up your website with Pagespeed mod

Last year, in September 2014, when I was working for one of my clients, I was asked to look for some options how quickly and easily speed up the loading of the webpages. At that time, the client hadn't any frontend developers. Nobody in team had solid knowledge about bower, gulp, less, sass and other cool toys of frontend guys. Basically we were team of pure backend php developers. So we had to sort out the performance issue very quickly without having the right skills. I was looking into solutions like caching, but that still, didn't optimised images, nor minimised the css and js files. At that time I've heard about how cool stuff is google doing in one of podcasts. One of the tools was google pagespeed mod. TL;DR I would like to share with you my experience with setting up the pagespeed mod and using it.


  • linux based server
  • no more than 1 hour setup time
  • Apache webserver
  • internet connection
  • drink
    drink = 'beer'
    if(your_age < 18)
        drink = 'coffee'


Let's jump into problem. Pagespeed is module which needs to be installed onto Apache server. My commands are run for centos, but I believe if you replace yum with apt-get for debian or brew for MacOs, it should be all the same. Install at, get the rpm package and install pagespeed:

    sudo yum install at
    wget https://dl-ssl.google.com/dl/linux/direct/mod-pagespeed-stable_current_x86_64.rpm
    sudo rpm -U mod-pagespeed-*.rpm

The installation should add these two files to your system:


One is for Apache version <=2.2 and the other one for Apache >=2.4. It depends on your version of apache which file you will be added to your httpd.conf You can check your apache version by running

    httpd -v

The rpm installation also adds 2 conf files located here


and finaly the minify command


Activate settings

PageSpeed is enabled automatically when you install it on Apache and all configuration for this module is in


Please note, that you should restart the apache server to load new updated configuration files.

    sudo service httpd restart
    sudo apachectl -k restart

Admin features are set up on the bottom of the conf file in directives like:

<Location /pagespeed_admin>
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from localhost
    Allow from
    SetHandler pagespeed_admin
<Location /pagespeed_global_admin>
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from localhost
    Allow from
    SetHandler pagespeed_global_admin

If you are running on localhost, you should be able to access it by typing in browser http://localhost/pagespeed_admin I installed pagespeed mod into my Vagrant devbox in Virtual machine and I couldn't access these admin pages straight away and was getting 404 page. My IP address to Virtual machine was and therefore I had to add to both of directives Allow from to fix 404 page. (restart apache again ;)

Locking access to admin pages

I assume that you don't want the admin pages to be visible on live server, therefore you should remove admin directives or do something else. There are many ways on how to do it. I simply locked access for certain user. Let’s start with creating user vagrant and storing password in file:

    sudo mkdir /usr/local/apache
    sudo mkdir /usr/local/apache/passwd
    sudo htpasswd -c /usr/local/apache/passwd/pagespeed_pwds vagrant

When asked, enter the new password and then confirm it. Great, now we have created file /usr/local/apache/passwd/pagespeed_pwds where we can store all users and passwords. We can create later more users and store their credentials in this file.

Go back to /etc/httpd/conf.d/pagespeed.conf and change both directives to this:

<Location /pagespeed_admin >
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from
    SetHandler pagespeed_admin
    AuthType Basic
    AuthName "Restricted Files"
    AuthBasicProvider file
    AuthUserFile /usr/local/apache/passwd/passwords
    Require user vagrant
<Location /pagespeed_global_admin >
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from
    SetHandler pagespeed_global_admin
    AuthType Basic
    AuthName "Restricted Files"
    AuthBasicProvider file
    AuthUserFile /usr/local/apache/passwd/passwords
    Require user vagrant

Don't forget to restart apache after each conf change.

Now go to browser http://localhost/pagespeed_global_admin/ and you will be able to login only with user vagrant using correct password

Pagespeed Admin Console

Configuring pagespeed modules

Ok, now we can see in admin what is active and what not, we also can see some statistics, but we will do some more changes to set up desired configuration. The pagespeed consists of many filters, or so called submodules, each of them adds some functionality to the whole pagespeed module. Some of these filters are in experimental or test phase, but some are already ready to be used. The ones which are stable, are added to core level. CoreFilters level is recommended as safe and contains a lot of filters. Full list of filters is available at the pagespeed website. Lets go back to /etc/httpd/conf.d/pagespeed.conf file and activate CoreFilters:

    ModPagespeedRewriteLevel CoreFilters

This will enable one of 3 levels of filters. We can use ModPagespeedDisableFilters {something} to remove any filters activated in that level. We don’t need to remove any filters, but we are going to add few additional filters to conf file:

    ModPagespeedEnableFilters make_google_analytics_async,include_js_source_maps
    ModPagespeedEnableFilters collapse_whitespace,elide_attributes
    ModPagespeedEnableFilters insert_image_dimensions,remove_comments
    ModPagespeedEnableFilters sprite_images,trim_urls

Some rewrite or optimisation processes can take more time than we want to wait. If the process is longer than 50 miliseconds, serve the original resource and process and cache the resource after serving for the next request:

    ModPagespeedRewriteDeadlinePerFlushMs 50

The resources made by modpagespeed should be delivered gziped? So we can simply turn that on, in our conf file:

    ModPagespeedFetchWithGzip on
    SetOutputFilter DEFLATE

If the SSL certificates are not used, comment out the following lines:

    ModPagespeedSslCertDirectory "/etc/pki/tls/certs"
    ModPagespeedSslCertFile /etc/pki/tls/cert.pem

Restart apache and we should be able to see these changes in admin as active.

Pagespeed activated filters

Let's now load page from our website:

Pagespeed in action

We can now see results loading our page: one css, one js, sprites gif, progressive jpegs, and many more. Enjoy the drink of your selection.

Tags: php, apache, module, pagespeed

Setting up XDebug for dev enviroment

I would like to describe how to set up xDebug to work in your phpStorm IDE. There are different options available depending on your preference - you can have xDebug always try to initiate a connection for your devbox, or you can use browser plugins and extensions to choose when xDebug should try to run.


  • sudo access to virtual host config files

Automatic connection

This method means that you don't need any browser extensions, cookies or bookmarklets, but may cause small performance issues because xDebug will try and initiate a connection to your computer on port 9000 every time you load a page on your dev. However, I have not noticed any degradation in performance, and it's unlikely to be a problem since devbox is usually on your own computer. If you often connect outside of your own devbox though it might not be the best option - but I have not tried it, so equally it may be fine. In order to get this to work, you have to edit your virtualhost configs on devbox. You can find the list of files you need to edit somewhere in

    cd /etc/apache2/conf/vhosts/

but the exact location depends on how you set up your virtual hosts, what operating system you use and so on. You need to add the following code to all your Virtual Host declarations where you wish to debug:

    php_value xdebug.remote_autostart 1 
    php_value xdebug.idekey xdebug-stefan

Note that there may be several Virtual Host blocks in each .conf file, so make sure you get them all. Your IDE Key can be anything, but it must be unique if more developers are connecting to same dev machine (for example staging machine). In my case I used IDE key xdebug-stefan . Once you are done editing your .conf files, you can use

    httpd configtest 

This command will check the conf files and points out all syntax error in them. It's good practice to test configuration before restarting server. Then assuming it says Syntax OK at the bottom run this:

    sudo httpd reload 

to reload the apache config or

    sudo httpd restart

to restart the apache server using saved confifg

Connection via browser plugin

You can also start xdebug with a GET parameter, a POST parameter or a COOKIE. The name of the parameter for GET and POST must be XDEBUG_SESSION_START, and the value should be your chosen IDE key. You can also use a cookie to track the debug session - details are here: http://xdebug.org/docs/remote#browser_session The easiest way to achieve these are through browser extensions, which can handle these items for you. For Firefox, I used "Easy XDebug (with moveable icon)". It allows you to set the IDE key within its settings, and adds an icon to the status bar (which you can move) to turn debugging on or off. This can be used when you don't want xdebug to attempt an automatic connection to the IDE. There are also bookmarklets you can use to initiate sessions - google is your friend!

IDE Setup

Find the debug toolbar. It has a dropdown list, a play button, a debug button, telephone handle and some other things.

Xdebug toolbar

Click the configurations dropdown list, and then click 'Edit Configurations...'

Configuration window

In the window that appears, click the green + in the top left, then 'PHP Remote Debug'. You'll get a new configuration appear in the list on the left.

Choose PHP Remote Debug

Click the '...' button next to the server dropdown. A new window pops up.

Server Pop up

Add a server details as shown in the image, where host should be your virtual host name

Fill Server Details

Press OK, and the server should be selected. Enter the IDE Key that you have set up in your Virtual Host config or browser extension, and press OK.

Confirm details


Select your debug configuration from the dropdown in the toolbar, then press the 'debug' button.

Start debug

The debug window will open.

Debug console

Set a breakpoint on the line of code that you want execution to stop at. You can only set breakpoints on certain lines - not on blank lines or comments for example.

Set first breakpoint

If you are using a browser extension, you need to enable it now (may work differently depending on what you are using) and reload the page. If using automatic connection, just reload the page.

Your PhpStorm debug window is now filled with the state of the application at your breakpoint:

Catched variables

When xDebug stops the program it will display temporary values of variables as seen on image.

Variable values

The left-hand side of the debugger shows the 'frames' - this is effectively a stacktrace, with a new frame created for each function call within the application. You can click on the different frames to see the state of the variables when each method was called.

The middle section shows the current variables. Objects, arrays and primitives are all shown with different icons, and you can expand objects and arrays to look inside them.

The right-hand side shows 'watches'. You can set up a watch for any variable in the system, including a variable deep within a nested array or object, for quick reference. You can also evaluate an expression here (such as adding a watch for '$total > 10.00' or something) which is pretty handy. I'm not using that and that tab is turned off on image.

Hovering over any of the buttons in the window will show you its purpose. The main toolbar functions are the 'step into', 'step over' and 'step out' buttons. Step Into will step into the function at the current execution point so you can debug that. Step over will just run the function and move to the next line in the calling function, so you can just see its output without debugging it. Step out will run the rest of the current function and step back out into whatever called it. There is a button to run up to your cursor as well, but this only works if your cursor is on a valid breakpoint location - eg, not blank lines, comments etc. Finally, the button on the far left (Show Execution Point) will show you where in the code the current execution point is.

Top tip: you can right click on a breakpoint and set a condition for it, so that it will only break when the condition is met. If you press the 'More' link, there is a whole window of other options such as logging messages to the console when the breakpoint is hit, only hitting the breakpoint if a different breakpoint has been hit already, removing the breakpoint once it has been hit etc. You can get to this breakpoint manager via a button on the left hand side of the debugger window as well.

Once you are done debugging, you can click the big red 'stop' button in the debugger to stop the script at that point, the Play button to continue running the script (to the end, or to the next breakpoint - whichever is sooner!). If you use 'play' to continue script execution, your debug session will not be ended, so you can reload again straight away to start debugging from the first breakpoint.

If you accidentally close the debug window, the debug session will not be ended, but you can bring it back up through the view menu, or Alt-5 if all else fails. Click the stop button to end the session. If the session is not ended, you'll not be able to start a new debugging session (though the existing session should still show any new debug information when you reload).

Debugging secure

With https, the origin of the connection is hidden from the server, so xdebug tries to connect back to the proxy server instead (.88), and the connection is refused. You can get around this by adding *.dev to your local addresses section in the connection setup, so that connections to your dev skip the proxy server. Everything else then works as before.


Debug Port

Later this year, I upgraded my php version to php 5.6. I was surprised that the above steps didn't work as before and found out that I had to change ports, because php5.6 is defaultly not listening on port 9000 even when the xdebug is installed.

Thanks to Luca there is easy solution on how to fix that https://twitter.com/Stefan_Kecskes/status/634037691479408640.

Tags: php, xdebug, phpstorm