Ubuntu LTS - adding an nginx init script

In the previous article we installed nginx from source. However, installing from source does not create an init script.

Let's create such a script so we can easily start, stop and restart nginx and, perhaps more importantly, ensure it automatically starts on a reboot.


I am assuming you have installed nginx from source using the options shown in the previous article.

If you have used other options or have place the nginx binary in a directory other than /usr/local/sbin/ then you may need to adjust the script shown below.


If you have nginx running then stop the process using:

sudo kill `cat /usr/local/nginx/logs/nginx.pid`

Init script

The script shown below is from an Ubuntu Feisty install and has been adapted to take into account our custom install of nginx.

Let's go ahead and create the script:

sudo nano /etc/init.d/nginx

Inside the blank file place the following:

#! /bin/sh

# Provides:          nginx
# Required-Start:    $all
# Required-Stop:     $all
# Default-Start:     2 3 4 5
# Default-Stop:      0 1 6
# Short-Description: starts the nginx web server
# Description:       starts nginx using start-stop-daemon


test -x $DAEMON || exit 0

# Include nginx defaults if available
if [ -f /etc/default/nginx ] ; then
        . /etc/default/nginx

set -e

case "$1" in
        echo -n "Starting $DESC: "
        start-stop-daemon --start --quiet --pidfile /usr/local/nginx/logs/$NAME.pid \
                --exec $DAEMON -- $DAEMON_OPTS
        echo "$NAME."
        echo -n "Stopping $DESC: "
        start-stop-daemon --stop --quiet --pidfile /usr/local/nginx/logs/$NAME.pid \
                --exec $DAEMON
        echo "$NAME."
        echo -n "Restarting $DESC: "
        start-stop-daemon --stop --quiet --pidfile \
                /usr/local/nginx/logs/$NAME.pid --exec $DAEMON
        sleep 1
        start-stop-daemon --start --quiet --pidfile \
                /usr/local/nginx/logs/$NAME.pid --exec $DAEMON -- $DAEMON_OPTS
        echo "$NAME."
      echo -n "Reloading $DESC configuration: "
      start-stop-daemon --stop --signal HUP --quiet --pidfile /usr/local/nginx/logs/$NAME.pid \
          --exec $DAEMON
      echo "$NAME."
        echo "Usage: $N {start|stop|restart|force-reload}" >&2
        exit 1

exit 0

You can also download the script from here (as it's a shell script, you may get a warning about it being a 'BIN' file, just save as normal and open in any text editor).

There's not really the space to go into the workings of the script but suffice to say, it defines where the main nginx binary is located so nginx can be started correctly.

It also defines where to find the nginx.pid file so the process and be correctly stopped and restarted.


As the init file is a shell script, it needs to have executable permissions.

We set them like so:

sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/nginx


Now we have the base script prepared, we need to add it to the default run levels:

sudo /usr/sbin/update-rc.d -f nginx defaults

The output will be similar to this:

Adding system startup for /etc/init.d/nginx ...
   /etc/rc0.d/K20nginx -> ../init.d/nginx
   /etc/rc1.d/K20nginx -> ../init.d/nginx
   /etc/rc6.d/K20nginx -> ../init.d/nginx
   /etc/rc2.d/S20nginx -> ../init.d/nginx
   /etc/rc3.d/S20nginx -> ../init.d/nginx
   /etc/rc4.d/S20nginx -> ../init.d/nginx
   /etc/rc5.d/S20nginx -> ../init.d/nginx


Start, Stop and Restart

Now we can start, stop and restart nginx just as with any other service:

sudo /etc/init.d/nginx start
sudo /etc/init.d/nginx stop
sudo /etc/init.d/nginx restart

The script will also be called on a reboot so nginx will automatically start.


Adding a process to the run levels like this saves a lot of frustration and effort, not only in manually starting and stopping the process, but it having it automatically start on a reboot.


Article Comments:

Šime commented Mon Nov 12 20:43:57 UTC 2007:

I also copy the logrotate script to the /etc/logrotate.d from the package here. You can extract .deb package with dpkg -x. Then you just copy the nginx logrotate.d script to appropriate place.

Ace Suares commented Mon Nov 24 02:18:08 UTC 2008:

Very clear and precise documentation. A great help!

Erik Hansson commented Tue Aug 25 00:06:31 UTC 2009:

Simply brilliant. :) For some reason, it's quite hard to find such information in an understandable form.


yosafat commented Fri Oct 02 17:04:04 UTC 2009:

thanks for this step-by-step guide. it really helps me :)

jessesanford commented Tue Jul 13 22:24:10 UTC 2010:

you should add the -m option to your calls to start-stop-daemon... it will allow the pid file to be created. nginx doesn't create it's own pid file in certain setups.


jessesanford commented Tue Jul 13 22:32:18 UTC 2010:

actually it turns out nginx must fork again because the pid created by start-stop-daemon is never correct. you should use the "pid" directive in the nginx.conf which just takes the path to the pid file location you want or you should use the --pid-path= configure switch when you compile nginx

Stewart Matheson commented Wed Sep 08 14:58:05 UTC 2010:


Just setup your script then and although it works on the server it does not work when i call it remotely using SSH. The terminal is not retuned. So for example

ssh me@somewhere "sudo /etc/init.d/nginx restart" will not free up the terminal. Any idea why this might be happening?