How to Install and Configure Nginx on CentOS 8

January 31, 2020

Introduction

Nginx (pronounced Engine X) is a popular, open-source HTTP web server, used for hosting high-traffic websites. It’s faster and requires fewer resources than other web servers.

The software uses a scalable event-driven (asynchronous) architecture, approaching requests one at a time. Apart from a web server, it also works as a reverse proxy, mail proxy, HTTP cache, and a load balancer.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to install Nginx on CentOS 8.

Tutorial on how to install Nginx on CentOS 8.

Prerequisites

  • A CentOS 8 operating system
  • A server IP or domain to connect to your Nginx web server
  • A user with root privileges
  • SELinux set up properly

Install Nginx on CentOS 8

Before any installation, always update the local repository to ensure you are downloading the latest software. Use the command:

sudo yum update

You can inspect the Nginx package before adding it to your system. Request to see the RPM metadata included in every RPM package:

sudo yum info nginx

Nginx version information.

Next, install Nginx on CentOS 8 with the command:

sudo yum install nginx

The output shows you a list of Nginx packages that have been installed, as in the image below.

Output confirming Nginx has been successfully installed on your CentOS 8.


Note: Nginx is a well-known web server alternative to Apache. If you are still unsure which one would be best for your website, you may want to check out this quick comparison between Apache and Nginx.


Start Nginx on Centos 8

Although you have installed Nginx, the service will not start automatically.

Start the service by typing:

sudo systemctl start nginx

To enable the service to start running upon boot time use:

sudo systemctl enable nginx

If you check the service status, the output should show you Nginx is active (running):

sudo systemctl status nginx

Nginx service is active and running on your system.

Stop, Reload or Restart Nginx

Stop Nginx using the command:

sudo systemctl stop nginx

Restart Nginx (stop and start the service again) with the command:

sudo systemctl restart nginx

Reload the configuration files without stopping the service:

sudo systemctl reload nginx

Adjust Firewall

Nginx includes firewalld service files that specify the service uses ports 80 (HTTP) and 443 (HTTPS) for web traffic. Therefore, you need to open and enable these ports to allow permanent access.

Open port HTTP and HTTPS with the commands:

sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-service=http --add-service=https
sudo firewall-cmd --reload
sudo firewall-cmd --list-services --zone=public

Test the Firewall

Use Netstat to list all open ports and verify whether you have successfully opened 80 and 443:

netstat -tulpn

Double-check Nginx is working by visiting your public IP address (or domain name).

To see the IP address of your server, type the following command in the terminal:

ip addr

Find the IP address and copy it.

Command for checking your IP address and output with IP number.

Then, open a web browser and paste the IP address (or domain name) in the URL bar. This should open the Nginx Welcome Page, confirming you have successfully installed and set up the server.

Confirm Nginx HTTP server is running by navigating to the Nginx test page.

Configure Nginx

You don’t need to configure Nginx upon installation. However, you should know the location of the configuration files and the Nginx root directory in case you need to modify the configuration.

    • Nginx configuration directory: /etc/nginx
    • Nginx root directory: /usr/share/nginx/html
    • Master/Global configuration file: /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

If you wanted to change the Global configuration file, you would open it (etc/nginx/nginx.conf) with a text editor and apply the changes.

An example of a Nginx configuration file.

One common use case is editing the Nginx configuration file to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS.

Conclusion

You should now know how to install Nginx on CentOS 8.

Nginx is part of the LEMP stack, a collection of open-source software used for developing web applications and websites. LEMP is a popular alternative to the traditional LAMP stack. The only difference between the two is that the first uses Nginx, while the second one uses Apache as its web server.

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Sofija Simic
Sofija Simic is an aspiring Technical Writer at phoenixNAP. Alongside her educational background in teaching and writing, she has had a lifelong passion for information technology. She is committed to unscrambling confusing IT concepts and streamlining intricate software installations.
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