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How To Install Nginx on Ubuntu 16.04

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.

In this tutorial, we’ll discuss how to install and manage Nginx on your Ubuntu 16.04 machine.


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.

Install Nginx

Nginx packages are available in Ubuntu default software repositories. The installation is a matter of simply executing the following commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nginx

Once the installation is completed, check the status and the version of the Nginx service, with:

sudo systemctl status nginx

● nginx.service - A high performance web server and a reverse proxy server
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/nginx.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Sun 2018-01-05 15:44:04 UTC; 1min 59s ago
 Main PID: 1291 (nginx)
   CGroup: /system.slice/nginx.service
           ├─1291 nginx: master process /usr/sbin/nginx -g daemon on; master_process on
           └─1293 nginx: worker process
sudo nginx -v
nginx version: nginx/1.10.3 (Ubuntu)

Open http://YOUR_IP in your browser of choice, and you should be able to see the default Nginx welcome page as shown below:

Install Nginx from the Nginx PPA repository

The Nginx packages from the Ubuntu repositories are often outdated. To install the latest Nginx version, you can use the official Nginx PPA repository.

Before adding the repository install the software-properties-common package:

sudo apt install software-properties-common

After the installation is complete, add the Nginx PPA repository using the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nginx/stable

Update the packages list and install Nginx:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nginx

If you check the Nginx version you will see that you have the latest stable version of Nginx:

sudo nginx -v
nginx version: nginx/1.12.2


Manage the Nginx service with systemctl

You can manage the Nginx service 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. You can have as many server block files as you need.
  • Nginx server block files are stored in /etc/nginx/sites-available directory. The configuration files found in this directory are not used by Nginx unless they are linked to the /etc/nginx/sites-enabled directory.
  • To activate a server block you need to create a symlink (a pointer) from the configuration file sites in a sites-available directory to the sites-enabled directory.
  • It is a good idea to follow a standard naming convention, for example if your domain name is then you the configuration file should be named /etc/nginx/sites-available/
  • The /etc/nginx/snippets directory contains configuration snippets that can be included in the server block files. If you use repeatable configuration segments then you can refactor 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>


Congratulations, you have successfully installed Nginx on your Ubuntu 18.04 server. You’re now ready to start deploying your applications and use Nginx as a web or proxy server. 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 the following guide:

Secure Nginx with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 16.04