FreeBSD · Installing Nginx

2019-01-15 ·

This article describes how to install and configure an Nginx server on FreeBSD.

Nginx is an open-source web server created by Igor Sysoev. Nginx can be also used as a reverse proxy, a load balancer or a HTTP cache. Nginx is the second most popular web server.

On FreeBSD, Nginx can be installed as a binary package using pkg, or from sources via the Ports Collection.

Install Nginx as binary

Install Nginx as a binary using pkg:

pkg install nginx

Install Nginx from sources

Installing nginx via the Ports Collection allows to include or exclude particular modules.

portsnap fetch update
cd /usr/ports/www/nginx/
make install clean

Enable Nginx at boot

FreeBSD uses the rc system of startup scripts for managing services. Those services will be started automatically at boot time as specified in /etc/rc.conf.

Every service available on the system has its corresponding script located in the /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ directory. These scripts define a variable called rcvar needed to enable each service.

In order to find out the rcvar of each service you can simply grep their directory:

grep rcvar /usr/local/etc/rc.d/*
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/avahi-daemon:rcvar=avahi_daemon_enable
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/avahi-dnsconfd:rcvar=avahi_dnsconfd_enable
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/cupsd:rcvar="cupsd_enable"
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/dbus:rcvar=dbus_enable
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/nginx:rcvar=nginx_enable
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/tcsd:rcvar=tcsd_enable
/usr/local/etc/rc.d/tpmd:rcvar="${name}_enable"

For Nginx the rcvar is nginx_enable.

Enable nginx to run at boot time:

sysrc nginx_enable="YES"

sysrc is a convenience tool for interacting with the /etc/rc.conf file.

Start Nginx

Use service to start Nginx:

service nginx start
Performing sanity check on nginx configuration:
nginx: the configuration file /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful
Starting nginx.

Restart Nginx

Use service to restart Nginx:

service nginx restart
Performing sanity check on nginx configuration:
nginx: the configuration file /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful
Stopping nginx.
Performing sanity check on nginx configuration:
nginx: the configuration file /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful
Starting nginx.

Stop Nginx

Use service to stop the Nginx server:

service nginx stop

Reload Nginx config

Use service to reload the configuration for the Nginx server:

service nginx reload
Performing sanity check on nginx configuration:
nginx: the configuration file /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

Nginx Essentials

  • Nginx configuration file: /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf
  • Nginx default document directory: /usr/local/www/nginx/
  • Nginx global error log file: /var/log/nginx-error.log
  • Nginx global access log file: /var/log/nginx-access.log

Create Nginx document directory

Create a directory in /usr/local/www/, e.g. for domain.com:

mkdir -p /usr/local/www/domain.com/html/

Set the ownership of the domain.com/ directory to the www user (the default Nginx user created during Nginx installation):

chown -R www:www /usr/local/www/domain.com/

Set the permissions for the document directory:

chmod -R 755 /usr/local/www/domain.com/

Finally, create a sample index.html HTML file in /usr/local/www/domain.com/html/:

touch /usr/local/www/domain.com/html/index.html

Add the following HTML content to this newly created index.html:

<html>
  <head><title>Title for Domain.com</title></head>
  <body>
    <h1>This is Domain.com</h1>
  </body>
</html>

Configure Nginx Virtual Hosts

Nginx's server block is similar to Apache's virtual host concept. This allows to serve the content for a specific domain or an IP address.

Create the directory for server blocks:

mkdir /usr/local/etc/nginx/servers/

Include the server blocks directory in nginx.conf located at /usr/local/etc/nginx/ within the http block:

http {
  ...
  include "servers/*.conf";
}

Add the server block configuration for a domain/ip of choice:

vi /usr/local/etc/nginx/servers/domain.com.conf

Put the following content in this newly created server block configuration:

server {
    access_log /var/log/nginx/domain.com.access.log;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/domain.com.error.log;
    listen       80;
    server_name  domain.com www.domain.com;

    location / {
        root   /usr/local/www/domain.com/html;
        index  index.html;
    }
}

If you made any mistakes within nginx.conf, you can always revert to the default Nginx configuration replacing it with the content of nginx.conf-dist which is located in the same directory, e.g.

cp /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf-dist /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf

Adjust Nginx config

Uncomment the user directive and replace its value from nobody to www.

user www;

Change worker_processes from 1 to auto:

worker_processes auto;

By setting auto Nginx will try to autdetect the best value for this directive dependeing on the number of CPU cores.

Test the configuration for syntax errors:

nginx -t
nginx: the configuration file /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

Finally, reload the configuration using service to make it live:

service nginx reload
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