My idea is to have a Pi running and controlling some LED lights.

I have a Python script that controls the LED lights.

How does another computer (Windows based) send a signal to the Pi to switch the appropriate lights off and on?

I was thinking that a web-based approach using PHP would work best. How do I interface PHP and Python?

(clarified 6.12.2014)


(assuming you run raspbian)

You can very easily install a LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) server on your raspberry pi, there are numerous tutorials online, but it basically boils down to this:

On your Raspbian Pi, execute the following commands (you will need internet access):

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install apache2 php5 libapache2-mod-php5

For MySQL, also install

sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client php5-mysql

And then reboot:

sudo reboot

You will find a file called index.html in you /var/www/ directory. Here you can start your first test: On a remote computer, open a web browser and point it to your RPi's IP Address (you can get that by using ifconfig). You should see a message like "It works." (This is the content of the index.html!).

Now for your case of accessing a python script: Of course, you should be able to call a python script directly as a CGI-Script. Anyhow, I'd suggest (as this has worked well for me) to use a php script to call your python script. This could be something like this:

File: /var/www/5_on.php

echo shell_exec('sudo /path/to/your/python/script.py 5 on');

As you can see, this calls a python script on your pi, giving along command line arguments you can retrieve via (python):

import sys
print sys.argv[1] + sys.argv[2] #sys.argv[0] will habe the name of the script

Of course, instead of having a seperate php file for every on/off/gpio combination, you can use $_GET and call the php script with


and using (as /var/www/gpio.php):

echo shell_exec('sudo /path/to/your/python/script.py '.$_GET['number'].' '.$_GET['on']);

Be careful, tough, as this may pose a security risk!

Now, for executing the python script, you will need (to be able to access gpio) sudo rights. If you don't want your www-data-user to have full root permissions (also not suggested), you can allow a single file to be executed as root, by editing the /etc/sudoers file with the command visudo: Add at the bottom:

%www-data ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /path/to/your/python/script.py

Also, don't forget to add the executable bit (sudo chmod +x) and the shebang (first line of your script should be #!/usr/bin/env python) to your python script! It might also be necessary for your script to belong to www-data:

sudo chown www-data:www-data /path/to/your/python/script.py

Now you can call http://ip.of.your.rpi/gpio.php?number=5&on=on from your windows server (I don't know the exact commands for that, but on linux I'd use curl or wget).

I hope I didn't forget anything, if I did, feel free to add more information!

  • security risk isn't an issue. The application/pi's will be running internally. Thanks for the detail.
    – John M
    Jun 10 '14 at 16:19

Yes the internet was invented on Unix. The r-pi runs Gnu and Gnu is Unix (Gnu = Gnu's not UNIX = Gnu is not UNIX, but it is Unix).

You don't need a web server, here is a simple solution in python. There where no security considerations (this is not secure, unless your network is).

This runs a server that you connect to from the other system, I assumed that the other end is active and will want to connect to a listening (passive) server.

import socket
import sys

port = 2003 # choose a better port
while True:
    socket, info = listener.accept() 
    for line in f: 
        #interperate the lines and do something
        print line

Here is a minimum at the other end. It connects and sends a message.

import socket
s = socket.create_connection(('raspbery-pi',port))

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