In this new post to his blog Chad Lung walks you through the process of getting Lighttpd (web server), PHP and MySQL installed on a Ubuntu-based system. His specific installation is 10.10, but the instructions can be translated easily to most common versions.
Sometimes you don't want Apache for your web server whatever your reasons might be. There are other options like Nginx and Lighttpd, today I'll setup Lighttpd along with PHP (via FastCGI) and MySQL.
The Ubuntu package manager (apt-get/aptitude) takes a lot of the work out of it for you, installing the packages and dependencies. A few minimal changes to some configuration files for FastCGI and configuring the Lighttpd server and you'll be up and running in no time.