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How To Install Nginx on CentOS 7

Nginx pronounced engine x is a free, open-source, high-performance HTTP and reverse proxy server responsible for handling the load of some of the largest sites on the Internet.

Nginx can be used as a standalone web server, and as a reverse proxy for Apache and other web servers.

Compared to Apache, Nginx can handle a much large number of concurrent connections and has a smaller memory footprint per connection.

This tutorial will teach you how to install and manage Nginx on your CentOS 7 machine.

Prerequisites

Before starting with the tutorial, make sure you are logged in as a user with sudo privileges and you don’t have Apache or any other service running on port 80 or 443.

Installing Nginx on CentOS

Follow the steps below to install Nginx on your CentOS server:

  1. Nginx packages are available in the EPEL repositories. If you don’t have EPEL repository already installed you can do it by typing:

    sudo yum install epel-release
  2. Install Nginx by typing the following yum command:

    sudo yum install nginx

    If this is the first time you are installing a package from the EPEL repository yum may prompt you to import the EPEL GPG key:

    Retrieving key from file:///etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-EPEL-7
    Importing GPG key 0x352C64E5:
    Userid     : "Fedora EPEL (7) <[email protected]>"
    Fingerprint: 91e9 7d7c 4a5e 96f1 7f3e 888f 6a2f aea2 352c 64e5
    Package    : epel-release-7-9.noarch (@extras)
    From       : /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-EPEL-7
    Is this ok [y/N]:

    If that’s the case, type y and hit Enter.

  3. Once the installation is complete, enable and start the Nginx service with:

    sudo systemctl enable nginx
    sudo systemctl start nginx

    Check the status of the Nginx service, with following command:

    sudo systemctl status nginx

    The output should look something like this:

    ● nginx.service - The nginx HTTP and reverse proxy server
      Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/nginx.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
      Active: active (running) since Mon 2018-03-12 16:12:48 UTC; 2s ago
      Process: 1677 ExecStart=/usr/sbin/nginx (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
      Process: 1675 ExecStartPre=/usr/sbin/nginx -t (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
      Process: 1673 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/rm -f /run/nginx.pid (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
    Main PID: 1680 (nginx)
      CGroup: /system.slice/nginx.service
              ├─1680 nginx: master process /usr/sbin/nginx
              └─1681 nginx: worker process
  4. If your server is protected by a firewall you need to open both HTTP (80) and HTTPS (443) ports.

    Use the following commands to open the necessary ports:

    sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-service=http
    sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-service=https
    sudo firewall-cmd --reload
  5. To verify your Nginx installation, open http://YOUR_IP in your browser of choice, and you should see the default Nginx welcome page as shown in the image below:

Manage the Nginx service with systemctl

You can manage the Nginx service same as any other systemd unit.

To stop the Nginx service, run:

sudo systemctl stop nginx

To start it again, type:

sudo systemctl start nginx

To restart the Nginx service:

sudo systemctl restart nginx

To reload the Nginx service after you made some configuration changes:

sudo systemctl reload nginx

If you want to disable the Nginx service to start at boot:

sudo systemctl disable nginx

And to re-enable it again:

sudo systemctl enable nginx

Nginx Configuration File’s Structure and Best Practices

  • All Nginx configuration files are located in the /etc/nginx/ directory.
  • The main Nginx configuration file is /etc/nginx/nginx.conf.
  • To make Nginx configuration easier to maintain it is recommended to create a separate configuration file for each domain.
  • New Nginx server block files must end with .conf and be stored in /etc/nginx/conf.d directory. You can have as many server blocks as you need.
  • It is a good idea to follow a standard naming convention, for example if your domain name is mydomain.com then your configuration file should be named /etc/nginx/conf.d/mydomain.com.conf
  • If you use repeatable configuration segments in your domains server blocks then it is a good idea to create a directory named /etc/nginx/snippets refactoring those segments into snippets and include the snippet file to the server blocks.
  • Nginx log files (access.log and error.log) are located in the /var/log/nginx/ directory. It is recommended to have a different access and error log files for each server block.
  • You can set your domain document root directory to any location you want. The most common locations for webroot include:
    • /home/<user_name>/<site_name>
    • /var/www/<site_name>
    • /var/www/html/<site_name>
    • /opt/<site_name>
    • /usr/share/nginx/html

Conclusion

Congratulations, you have successfully installed Nginx on your CentOS 7 server. You’re now ready to start deploying your applications and use Nginx as a web or proxy server. If you intend to host multiple domains on your CentOS server, you should learn how to create Nginx server blocks.

A secure certificate is a ‘must-have’ feature for all websites nowadays, to secure your website with a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, you can check out this tutorial on how to Secure Nginx with Let’s Encrypt on CentOS 7.

This post is a part of the Install LEMP Stack on CentOS 7 series.
Other posts in this series:

How To Install Nginx on CentOS 7