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How To Install Nginx on Ubuntu 18.04

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.

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 outline the steps required to install Nginx on an Ubuntu 18.04 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 web server running on port 80 or 443.

Installing Nginx

Nginx packages are available in the default Ubuntu repositories. The installation is pretty straightforward.

We’ll start by updating the packages list and then install Nginx:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nginx

Once the installation is completed, Nginx service will start automatically. You can check the status of the service with the following command:

sudo systemctl status nginx

The output will look something like this:

● 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 2018-04-29 06:43:26 UTC; 8s ago
     Docs: man:nginx(8)
  Process: 3091 ExecStart=/usr/sbin/nginx -g daemon on; master_process on; (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
  Process: 3080 ExecStartPre=/usr/sbin/nginx -t -q -g daemon on; master_process on; (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
 Main PID: 3095 (nginx)
    Tasks: 2 (limit: 507)
   CGroup: /system.slice/nginx.service
           ├─3095 nginx: master process /usr/sbin/nginx -g daemon on; master_process on;
           └─3097 nginx: worker process

Configuring 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 status type:

sudo ufw status

The output will look something like the following:

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

You can test your new Nginx installation open http://YOUR_IP in your browser of choice, and you will be presented with the default Nginx landing page as shown on the image below:

Managing Nginx Service

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

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 making configuration changes:

sudo systemctl reload nginx

By default Nginx service will start on boot. 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 recommended to follow the 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 follow this guide on securing Nginx with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 18.04.

If you intend to host multiple domains on your server, you can check this tutorial and learn how to create Nginx server blocks.

This post is a part of the how-to-install-lemp-stack-on-ubuntu-18-04 series.
Other posts in this series:

How To Install Nginx on Ubuntu 18.04