Nginx HTTP Server on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Server

I have been testing Ubuntu 18.04 recently on my Windows 10 test machine running VMware Workstation 14 Pro. I got Nginx installed and tested and by the way, Ubuntu 18.04 comes with the latest version of Nginx HTTP Server.

While Apache2 HTTP Server is still the king of web servers and still runs majority of the websites and blogs in use today, Nginx is rapidly gaining tractions… and probably the second most popular web server installed, not very far behind Apache2.

Some of the many reasons Nginx is rapidly catching up to Apache2 are the ways its manages resources, its speed, simplicity and can be used as a reverse-proxy. It’s pretty good!

For those wanting to test Nginx on Ubuntu 18.04 , the steps below will give you few details.

Installing Nginx on Ubuntu is simple. In fact, it only takes a single command line to accomplished. Configuring Nginx is where it becomes a bit difficult for new users and students.

The post below shows you how to install Nginx, an alternative to Apache2 on Ubuntu

Step 1: Updating Ubuntu Server

One of the things to do before installing Nginx web server is to update Ubuntu. This can be done by running the commands below

sudo apt update

Step 2: Installing Nginx on Ubuntu Server

After updating your server, run the commands below to install Nginx

sudo apt install nginx

The above commands tell Ubuntu to fetch Nginx’s packages from its repositories and install.

Step 3: Managing Nginx Web Server

After you install Nginx server, it might be better to learn some of the basic commands used to manage it. The lines below show you how to stop, start, restart and reload Nginx

— Stops the server:  sudo systemctl stop nginx.service

— Start the server:  sudo systemctl start nginx.service

— Restarts the server: sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

— Reload config changes no stops:  sudo systemctl reload nginx.service

Step 4: Configure Nginx Server

Nginx.conf is the main configuration file. It puts the pieces together by including all remaining configuration files when starting up the web server.

When Nginx is install on Ubuntu servers, the default document root directory is located at /var/www/html. Just as with Apache2 server on Ubuntu.

Any file you place in the root directory ending in .html and properly formatted with HTML syntax will be served to web clients from that directory. This is the default location the server looks to server documents saved in .html/.htm

The majority of Nginx configurations files are stored in /etc/nginx directory. In this directory is where you’ll find the server configuration setting files, root directory controls and many of the different configuration settings files to control the server.

Two important locations you’ll spend most of your time are /etc/nginx/sites-available and /etc/nginx/sites-enabled

The sites-available directory contains all the available sites. This is the location you create new site configuration files, and sites-enabled directory contains all sites that are enabled. By default, sites are not enabled until you run a commands to enable them.

The first default site configuration file is /etc/nginx/sites-available/default

This file contains the basic Nginx test settings configurations. You can keep the default site config and continue to use it or copy the it create a new site config file from it…  Make sure to enable the new site though.

Step 5: Enabling and Disabling Nginx Sites

After creating Nginx sites on Ubuntu something to remember is to always enable the sites. With Apache2, we showed you how to do that. Sites can be enabled by running the a2ensite and disable by running the a2dissite commands.

Nginx does not have these available. So to enable a site named on Ubuntu for Nginx, just create a symbolic link from the sites-available to the sites-enabled directory.

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/ /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

To disable the site, just delete it from the sites-enabled directory.

sudo rm /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

After enabling or disabling a site, restart Nginx server.

sudo systemctl restart nginx.service

To test if Nginx is installed and working, open your browser and browse to the server IP or hostname and you should see Nginx default page if it was installed properly.

Nginx Ubuntu install

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