How to Install Nginx on CentOS 8

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Nginx pronounced “engine x” is an open-source, high-performance HTTP and reverse proxy server responsible for handling the load of some of the largest sites on the Internet. It can be used as a standalone web server, load balancer, content cache, and reverse proxy for HTTP and non-HTTP servers.

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

This tutorial explains how to install and manage Nginx on CentOS 8.

Prerequisites

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

Installing Nginx on CentOS 8

Starting with CentOS 8, the Nginx package is available in the default CentOS repositories.

Installing Nginx on CentOS 8 is as simple as typing:

sudo yum install nginx

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

sudo systemctl enable nginx
sudo systemctl start nginx

To verify that the service is running, check its status:

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 Sun 2019-10-06 18:35:55 UTC; 17min ago
   ...

Adjusting the Firewall

FirewallD is the default firewall solution on Centos 8.

During the installation, Nginx creates a firewalld service files with predefined rules for allowing access to HTTP (80) and HTTPS (443) ports.

Use the following commands to open the necessary ports permanently:

sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-service=http
sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-service=https
sudo firewall-cmd --reload

Now, you can test your Nginx installation, by opening http://YOUR_IP in your web browser. You should see the default Nginx welcome page, which should look like the image below:

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.
  • Creating a separate configuration file for each domain makes the server easier to maintain.
  • The 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 want.
  • It is a good practice to follow a standard naming convention. For example, if the domain name is mydomain.com then the configuration file should be named mydomain.com.conf
  • If you use repeatable configuration segments in your domain server blocks, it is a good idea to refactor those segments into snippets.
  • 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 8 server. You’re now ready to start deploying your applications and use Nginx as a web or proxy server.

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

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to leave a comment.