How to Install Nginx on Ubuntu 18.04

Endrit Qerreti

Endrit Qerreti

In this tutorial you will learn how to install and setup Nginx on Ubuntu 18.04

What is Nginx?

Nginx (pronounced "engine X", /ˌɛndʒɪnˈɛks/ EN-jin-EKS), stylized as NGINX, nginx or NginX, is a web server that can also be used as a reverse proxy, load balancer, mail proxy and HTTP cache. The software was created by Igor Sysoev and publicly released in 2004.

Step 1 - Update your Server

Before we start installing nginx, updating your system is required, so to update your system simply run the command below

sudo apt update

Step - 2 Install Nginx

Once you have updated your server, install nginx via this command

sudo apt install nginx

Step 3 - Configure the firewall (ufw)

To make sure nginx is running correctly and connections to port 80/443 are allowed you must configure them via ufw command.

To get a list of nginx profiles type the following command below

sudo ufw app list

and it should show you an output as the screenshot below

Each profile is different so please choose the right profile you need for your server

1) Nginx Full - This profile allows you to open both ports 80 and 443, port 80 means unencrypted connections and 443 means encrypted/ssl connections.

2) Nginx HTTP - This profile allows you to open only port 80

3) Nginx HTTPS - This profile allows you to open only port 443 (Secure/encrypted connections)

To allow Nginx Full

sudo ufw allow 'Nginx Full'

To allow Nginx HTTP

sudo ufw allow 'Nginx HTTP'

To allow Nginx HTTPS

sudo ufw allow 'Nginx HTTPS'

Step 4 - Test Nginx

Once nginx has been installed on your system it will automatically start, however to check whether nginx process has been started or not you can do so with this command

systemctl status nginx 

If nginx is running, it should show you the Active state in green as shown in the screenshot below

Then simply go to your server's IP address and you should see the default index of nginx on your browser

The index.html file is located at /var/www/html

Step 5 - Managing Nginx after installation

Now that nginx is running, in this step we are going to show you some useful commands that you can use to manage nginx

Start Nginx

This command will start nginx

sudo systemctl start nginx

Stop Nginx

This command will stop nginx

sudo systemctl stop nginx

Restart Nginx

This command will stop and start nginx again

sudo systemctl restart nginx

Reload Nginx

In cases where you are doing only configuration changes you can use the command reload, this command allows you reload nginx without having to stop and start nginx process again.

for example, if you run a website under nginx, your visitors won't get disconnected during the reload

Disable Nginx from starting when server boots

If you want nginx process to not start automatically once server boots type

sudo systemctl disable nginx

Enable Nginx when server boots

If you want Nginx process to start automatically once server boots type

sudo systemctl enable nginx

Step 6 - Create Server Blocks

By default nginx has only one server block enabled and the index.html file is located at /var/www/html, so it will serve any content that's inside the "html" folder. One server block means only one website, so if you want to host more than one website you'll need to create another server block, to do this is very easy just follow the steps below

Note: is your domain url, so make sure to replace it with the correct url when setting up server blocks.

Create the folder where your website content will be

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/

We need to assign ownership

sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /var/www/

Give the right permission

sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/

Create an index file

To make sure that nginx is serving the right content you can create an index file on /var/www/

nano /var/www/

and then simply paste

        <title>Welcome to!</title>
        <h1>Success!  The server block is working!</h1>

Create the configuration file on /etc/nginx/sites-available

type the following command

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/

now simply copy and paste the following server block configuration

server {
        listen 80;
        listen [::]:80;

        root /var/www/;
        index index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;


        location / {
                try_files $uri $uri/ =404;

and press CTRL + X to save it

Step 7 - Enable Server Block

Once you have created the server block located at /etc/nginx/sites-available/, you need to enable it by typing this command

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

The command above is to make sure the server block is enabled when server boots

Step 8 - Reload and Restart Nginx

To make sure that server block/s and nginx has been configured correctly type the command

sudo nginx -t 

Then simply restart nginx

sudo systemctl restart nginx


By now you should know how to Install and manage Nginx on Ubuntu/Debian operating systems.