How to install Nginx on Ubuntu 20.04 step by step

The web server software Nginx can be installed on Ubuntu in just a few steps. Learn how installation works and what the server requirements are.

What are the requirements of a Nginx web server?

For Nginx you need a server running Linux as the operating system. Ubuntu has proven to be a simple and stable distribution. What capacity your Ubuntu server needs depends on your project. Even a small hardware configuration can be enough for a simple website. Nginx is known to save resources without sacrificing performance.

To start with we recommend:

  • 100 GB storage
  • 6 GB RAM
  • 1 CPU core

When you buy a Cloud Server FLEX plan from IONOS, you can configure the hardware as you please. Once your requirements increase, simply adjust your configuration.

Tip

Sometimes a cloud server isn’t the right choice for your project. With IONOS, you can also get affordable dedicated server hosting, where only you have access to the hardware, and a vServer (VPS) with full virtualization.

For others to find your web server online, you’ll need a domain too.

Domain Check
  • .com
  • .org
  • .net

A step-by-step guide for installing Nginx on Ubuntu 20.04

You can install and configure Nginx on Ubuntu in just a few steps.

Step 1: Download and install software

Before installing Nginx, first update the package management of your system:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
bash

Install Nginx on your system:

sudo apt install nginx
bash

Now confirm the installation process.

Step 2: Release port

In order to access your web server externally, you’ll need to configure your firewall. Within Ubuntu, the uncomplicated firewall (ufw) program is responsible for this. For the most restrictive setting possible, choose the following command:

sudo ufw allow 'Nginx HTTP'
bash

This will open port 80. You may have to repeat this in the host settings. In the IONOS Cloud Panel, you can do this via the firewall.

IONOS Cloud Panel: Firewall settings with Port 80 shared
Enable port 80 in the server settings so that visitors can access your web server.

Step 3: Test, start and stop server

Check if installation of the web server was successful. To do this, enter the following command into terminal:

systemctl status nginx
bash

In the output, you should see that the status of the server is active. Additionally, you can call the server in the browser. To do this, enter the IP address of the server in the address bar of the browser.

Welcome message of a Nginx web server in the browser
As long as everything worked, you’ll see the Nginx greeting.

You can also start the server manually:

sudo nginx 
bash

Besides this command, there are others you can use to control your Nginx web server:

  • stop: Stops the running web server immediately
  • quit: Stops the running web server after processes have been executed
  • reload: Reloads the configuration file

The commands can be formulated using the following pattern:

sudo nginx stop
bash

Step 4: Create test page

Nginx has automatically generated a welcome message website under Ubuntu 20.04. You can find the HTML document for this via /var/www/html/. You can now create more HTML documents in this folder and build your own website. However, it’s better to leave the folder untouched and build a new folder for your own domain. To do this, execute the following command:

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/example.com/html
bash

In this example, we use the domain name example.com. Replace all instances with your own domain name and assign the rights:

sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /var/www/example.com/html
sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/example.com
bash

In the new folder, create your first HTML document – the start page of your project:

sudo nano /var/www/example.com/html/index.html
bash

You can design the page as you see fit. Here’s a simple example that you can fill with your own content:

<html>
    <head>
        <title>Example</title>
    </head>
    <body>
        <h1>Test</h1>
        <p>Welcome to your first website<p>
    </body>
</html>
bash

Save and close the document.

The web server will display the default greeting, so, you need to tell Nginx that the new content should be invoked. To do this, create a new configuration file in the Nginx folder:

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/example.com
bash

Insert a server block into this file:

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

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

        server_name example.com www.example.com;

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

Be sure to specify the correct port here. If you’ve followed our instructions, then you’ll have enabled port 80. Save and close the file.

You’ve just created a configuration file in the sites-available folder. Now, you need to create a shortcut in the sites-enabled folder. This folder is used by Nginx at startup to determine which site to serve.

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/example.com /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/
bash

Relaunch the server:

sudo systemctl restart nginx
bash

If you open your domain in the browser, your new website should be displayed.

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