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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 that powers some of the largest sites on the Internet.

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

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

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.

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 of the Nginx service by typing:

sudo systemctl status nginx

The output should show you that the Nginx service is active and running:

● 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

To check the Nginx version type:

sudo nginx -v
nginx version: nginx/1.10.3 (Ubuntu)

Adjust the Firewall

Assuming you are using UFW to manage your firewall, you’ll need to open HTTP (80) and HTTPS (443) ports.

You can do that by enabling the ‘Nginx Full’ profile which includes rules for both ports:

sudo ufw allow 'Nginx Full'

To verify the firewall status type:

sudo ufw status

The output will look something like below:

Status: active

To                         Action      From
--                         ------      ----
22/tcp                     ALLOW       Anywhere
Nginx Full                 ALLOW       Anywhere
22/tcp (v6)                ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)
Nginx Full (v6)            ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)

Test the Installation

To verify that Nginx works as expected open http://YOUR_IP in your browser of choice, and you will be presented with 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, use the official Nginx PPA repository.

Follow the steps below to install the latest version of Nginx on Ubuntu 16.04:

  1. First install the software-properties-common package:

    sudo apt install software-properties-common
  2. Add the Nginx PPA repository using the following command:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nginx/stable
  3. Update the packages list and install Nginx:

    sudo apt update
    sudo apt install nginx
  4. After the installation is complete, check the Nginx version with:

    sudo nginx -v

    The output will look something like this:

    nginx version: nginx/1.12.2

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 the Nginx service, type:

    sudo systemctl start nginx
  • Restart the Nginx service:

    sudo systemctl restart nginx
  • To reload the Nginx service after you made some configuration changes:

    sudo systemctl reload nginx
  • To disable the Nginx service to start at boot:

    sudo systemctl disable nginx
  • Re-enable the Nginx service to start at boot 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 mydomain.com then your configuration file should be named /etc/nginx/sites-available/mydomain.com.conf
  • 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>

Conclusion

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