Ubuntu Feisty - installing nginx

Nginx is a popular server for those who do not need the bulk and extra services that Apache may offer.

Unfortunately, Ubuntu Feisty comes with an older version of nginx (0.4.13). As such, let's look at installing nginx from source.


At the time of writing, the latest stable version is 0.5.32. You can check the latest versions and change logs at the main nginx site.


As we are not using the package manager to install nginx, we need to take care of some dependencies.

Not many are needed and include pcre, ssl and zlib packages:

sudo aptitude install libpcre3 libpcre3-dev libpcrecpp0 libssl-dev zlib1g-dev


Now we can download the source code. Move into your sources directory:

cd ~/sources/

And then download the source code:

wget http://sysoev.ru/nginx/nginx-0.5.32.tar.gz


Unpack the downloaded tar file and move into the newly created directory:

tar -zxvf nginx-0.5.32.tar.gz
cd nginx-0.5.32/


There are quite a few compile time options that are available to use.

Have a look at the Install Options page of the nginx wiki for full details.

We're going to use just two options to customise the install. The first of which is:


By default, nginx will be installed in /usr/local/nginx which, although a good place, does mean the main nginx binary will be found in /usr/local/nginx/sbin/nginx.

Not a location we are likely to find in our default search paths. So instead of adding new directories to our path (which may cause errors later on) we simply define where to put the binary.

The second option is:


Probably self explanatory, but this will enable the ssl module to be compiled so we can parse https requests.


Let's go ahead and compile nginx using those two options:

./configure --sbin-path=/usr/local/sbin --with-http_ssl_module

There will be a nice summary at the end of the compile which includes such items as:

nginx path prefix: "/usr/local/nginx"
nginx binary file: "/usr/local/sbin"
nginx configuration file: "/usr/local/nginx/conf/nginx.conf"

Keep a note of the output as it does contain some useful paths and locations for various files.


Ok, let's go ahead and 'make' and then 'make install':

sudo make install


Done. We can test the install by starting nginx:

sudo /usr/local/sbin/nginx

and navigating to our Slice IP address (assuming you have no other server running):

You will be greeted with the standard welcome page:

Nginx Welcome Screen


If you have used Apache or some other web server, you may be used to using a script to start and stop it such as you might find in '/etc/init.d'.

Unfortunately, nginx doesn't come with a script like that (the next article will deal with creating such a script).

You may have noticed that one of the paths noted in the compile summary was:

nginx pid file: "/usr/local/nginx/logs/nginx.pid"

Let's make use of that to stop nginx:

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

That will use the output of the pid file to kill the nginx process - note the use of backslashes (`) and not single quotes (') in the command.


Although quite detailed, we have installed the latest version of nginx from source and compiled it with some custom options to make life slightly easier.

We also know how to start and stop nginx by hand. As mentioned, the next article will deal with creating an init script so we have more control over the server.

Once done, we will then look at configuring nginx, setting up vhosts and proxying to a backend (such as a cluster of mongrels).


Article Comments:

Sebastian commented Thu Oct 25 23:07:58 UTC 2007:

Thanks! Great article!

George Anderson commented Wed Nov 07 05:32:17 UTC 2007:

Does this tutorial hold for Gutsy too? Thx.

Rupert commented Sat Nov 10 10:25:38 UTC 2007:

George: it's just worked for me on a brand new Gutsy slice (as did setting up the init script described in the next article)

Michael Koukoullis commented Mon Nov 19 15:47:36 UTC 2007:

This worked like a dream on a new Gutsy slice :)

John Griffiths commented Sun Dec 02 01:43:01 UTC 2007:

worked fine here!

anyone have any problems with the nginx + cap + deprec recipies at...


about to run them on my gutsy box, updated for 5.33, hope it works,

Cleaner416 commented Mon Mar 31 22:03:15 UTC 2008:

I have an existing nginx installation running beautifully on my slice - I installed it vi apt-get. (So it lives in /usr/sbin and /etc/nginx)

I would like override this installation so I can compile in the fair balancing module ... is it as simple as adding --prefix=/etc/nginx to the config?

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