How to Install a CGI Script – The Complete Beginner’s Guide

Looking to install CGI scripting? This complete beginner’s guide is used for those with minimal experience to install CGI scripts. We will cover the full guide to installing CGI scripts and how to get you started.

What is a CGI script?

Short for Common Gateway Interface, CGI is a small, software program that offers a reliable way for web servers to communicate within the browser. This program provides communication in ways that is not possible through HTML by itself.

With more CGI scripts are written in Perl, it is a common programming language that is used to produce CGI scripts. A Perl script is a standard text file that is written in Perl language with a .cgi extension. These are server-side scripts that are executed with the output of the shown script on the browser.

Key facts you should know…

Check Support

Before you look for characters, check to see if the web host supports the site and if you have the authority to use them. Some hosts don’t allow it. If you see a folder called CGI-bin when uploading HTML files, then you may be allowed to use GCI scripts.

On the other hand, some hosts will allow you to request that they produce a CGI-bin for you as it is not always provided by default. Other hosts may want to test and approve scripts before giving you the permission to use them.

Use a Text Editor

While you won’t have much to edit, you will still need a text editor to write the script based on your website needs. If anything, a text editor will work better than a word processor as a word processor will add formatting to the file and break the script. Whichever you plan to use, it is important that you can save the file as a plain text.

Find an FTP Program

You will need an FTP program, which comes with the variety of a commercial Pro version or a free lite version. Either option will work as long as it is uploading in ASCII mode. Use common sense to help you get through the installation as CGI can be time-consuming and frustrating.


If you have your CGI-bin, there’s a good chance that there may also be a CGI script. You can find out by looking at your web host’s FAQ page, site’s control panel, support documents, or set-up message. One of the most common errors for webmasters is installing CGI scripts with a wrong path.

Check Script for Instructions

If you’ve already got the script open to use the path must be correct or else the server will not work. While you’ve got the script open, check for feedback regarding any variables that require configuring. Occasionally, you may find more than one. Comments are lines that begin with # – the pound sign.


Once you have determined the script for the server, it is time to upload the CGI script. When it comes to uploading the CGI scripts, be sure to use them in ASCII mode. As the CGI script is a text file, it must only be loaded in ASCII mode. Technically, the scripts can be executed from any directory as most hosts will allow it from the CGI-bin. After you upload the script, you are not finished. You must use the correct permission for the files the CGI script uses.

Understand the Appropriate Permission for Files

There are three types of data access with three different permissions per group. The UNIX servers will allow you to set different access levels. While you don’t have to thoroughly understand this step necessarily, it is important to know what permissions the script has.

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Group – the group consists of added users on the server. You will be allowed to remove their permission when necessary.

User – the user group only consists of the file owner in the group – which is your hosting account.

Other – this group consists of all other aspects on the server.


Read – this allows users the ability to read and understand the data given in the file.

Write – the write permission will allow users the ability to transcribe and write a new date and remove old data from the archive.

Execute – the execute permission will allow users the ability to submit the file, only when the program or script is executable.

Ensure that your script will work before linking for public use. If the script is broken, it can cause the user’s device to skip four years.