Installing Nginx with Multiple Domains on Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

Installing Nginx on Ubuntu 18.04 / 19.10 with Multiple Domains

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1. Install Nginx

Let’s begin by updating the package lists and installing Nginx on Ubuntu 18.04 / 19.10. Below we have two commands separated by &&. The first command will update the package lists to ensure you get the latest version and dependencies for Nginx. The second command will then download and install Nginx.

sudo apt update && sudo apt install nginx

Once installed, check to see if the Nginx service is running.

sudo service nginx status

If Nginx is running correctly, you should see a green Active state below.

 nginx.service - A high performance web server and a reverse proxy server
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/nginx.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Mon 2018-05-14 23:03:47 UTC; 16s ago
     Docs: man:nginx(8)
  Process: 13003 ExecStart=/usr/sbin/nginx -g daemon on; master_process on; (code=exited, status
  Process: 12994 ExecStartPre=/usr/sbin/nginx -t -q -g daemon on; master_process on; (code=exite
 Main PID: 13006 (nginx)
    Tasks: 2 (limit: 1153)
   CGroup: /system.slice/nginx.service
           ├─13006 nginx: master process /usr/sbin/nginx -g daemon on; master_process on;
           └─13009 nginx: worker process

2. Configure Firewall

If you haven’t already done so, it is recommended that you enable the ufw firewall and add a rule for Nginx. Before enabling ufw firewall, make sure you add a rule for SSH, otherwise you may get locked out of your server if you’re connected remotely.

sudo ufw allow OpenSSH

If you get an error “ERROR: could find a profile matching openSSH”, this probably means you are not configuring the server remotely and can ignore it.

Now add a rule for Nginx.

sudo ufw allow 'Nginx HTTP'
Rule added
Rule added (v6)

Enable ufw firewall.

sudo ufw enable
Command may disrupt existing ssh connections. Proceed with operation (y|n)? y
Firewall is active and enabled on system startup

Now check the firewall status.

sudo ufw status
Status: active

To                         Action      From
--                         ------      ----
OpenSSH                    ALLOW       Anywhere
Nginx HTTP                 ALLOW       Anywhere
OpenSSH (v6)               ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)
Nginx HTTP (v6)            ALLOW       Anywhere (v6)

That’s it! Your Nginx web server on Ubuntu 18.04 / 19.10 should now be ready.

4. Test Web Server

Go to your web browser and visit your domain or IP. If you don’t have a domain name yet and don’t know your IP, you can find out with:

ip a | grep -Eo 'inet (addr:)?([0-9]*\.){3}[0-9]*' | grep -Eo '([0-9]*\.){3}[0-9]*' | grep -v '127.0.0.1'

Welcome to Nginx test page

You can find this Nginx default welcome page in the document root directory /var/www/html. To edit this file in nano text editor:

sudo nano /var/www/html/index.html

To save and close nano, press CTRL + X and then press y and ENTER to save changes.

Your Nginx web server is ready to go. You can now add your own html files and images the the /var/www/html directory as you please. However, you should acquaint yourself with and set up at least one Server Block for Nginx as most of our Ubuntu 18.04 / 19.10 guides are written with Server Blocks in mind.

Server Blocks allow you to host multiple web sites/domains on one server. Even you only ever intend on hosting one website or one domain, it’s still a good idea to configure at least one Server Block.

5. Configure Server Blocks

If you wish to host multiple sites/domains on Nginx, you should now set up your directory structures and Server Blocks. Even if you only want to host one site/domain, it’s a good idea to set up a directory and Server Block now because if you ever need to add a new domain later, it will makes things a lot easier for you.

For the purposes of this guide, we will make a Server Block for mytest1.com and another for mytest2.com. You can substitute these with your own registered domains, or if you don’t have any domains yet, you can still follow this guide and add mytest1.com and mytest2.com to your hosts file to trick your OS into resolving these domains in the browser. We’ll explain how to do this at the end of the guide.

5.1. Create Directories and Set Permissions

Let’s create two new directories in the /var/www/ directory for our two domains.

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/mytest1.com/public_html
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/mytest2.com/public_html

If we want our regular non-root user to be able to modify files in these directories, we must change the ownership.

sudo chown -R $(whoami):$(whoami) /var/www/mytest1.com/public_html
sudo chown -R $(whoami):$(whoami) /var/www/mytest2.com/public_html

The $(whoami) variable will take the value of the user you are currently logged in as.

We must also make sure the permissions for the general web directory /var/www and its contents are set to 755 so that pages can be served correctly.

sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www

5.2. Create Test Web Pages

We’ll now create a simple index.html web page for each domain using the echo command.

Don’t forget to replace mytest1.com with your own domain here if you have one.

sudo echo "Welcome to mytest1.com!" > /var/www/mytest1.com/public_html/index.html

Now do the same for mytest2.com.

sudo echo "Welcome to mytest2.com!" > /var/www/mytest2.com/public_html/index.html

5.3 Create the First Server Block

Nginx contains a default server block in /etc/nginx/sites-available/default which we can use as a template for our own server blocks.

Copy this file to a new file named after your domain. In this example, mytest1.com

sudo cp /etc/nginx/sites-available/default /etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest1.com

Now edit the file you just copied:

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest1.com

Scroll down and look for the line root /var/www/html;. (You can use CTRL + W to search).

Change this root to the path of the directory you created earlier. In our example, /var/www/mytest1.com/public_html

/etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest1.com
root /var/www/mytest1.com/public_html;

Now look for the line server_name _;. (You can use CTRL + W to search).

Change this to your domain name. In our example, mytest1.com. We will also add www. here as well.

/etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest1.com
server_name mytest1.com www.mytest1.com;

Save and close nano (Press CTRL + X and then press y and ENTER to save changes)

Ensure the Nginx config file syntax is valid before continuing to the next step. If there is an error in your syntax and you restart Nginx, you can crash the web server.

sudo nginx -t

If syntax is valid you should see:

nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

5.4 Create the Second Server Block

We will now create a server block for our other domain name, in this example, mytest2.com.

The only difference between this step and the last is the removal of default_server from the listen directive in the config file. You can only have one default_server – if you have two, the web server will not start.

Firstly, let’s copy the default server block in /etc/nginx/sites-available/default. Copy this file to a new file named after your domain. In this example, mytest2.com

sudo cp /etc/nginx/sites-available/default /etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest2.com

Now edit the file you just copied.

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest2.com

Scroll down to the listen directive.

/etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest2.com
        listen 80 default_server;
        listen [::]:80 default_server;

Only one server block can have the default_server specification. This tells Nginx which block to revert to if the server_name requested does not match any of the available server blocks.

Remove default_server from the listen directive so it looks likes this.

/etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest2.com
        listen 80;
        listen [::]:80;

Next, scroll down and look for the line root /var/www/html;. (You can use CTRL + W to search).

Change this root to the path of the directory you created earlier. In our example, /var/www/mytest2.com/public_html

/etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest2.com
root /var/www/mytest2.com/public_html;

Now look for the line server_name _;. (You can use CTRL + W to search).

Change this to your domain name. In our example, myest2.com. We will also add www. here as well.

/etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest2.com
server_name mytest2.com www.mytest2.com;

Save and close nano (Press CTRL + X and then press y and ENTER to save changes)

Ensure the Nginx config file syntax is valid before continuing to the next step. If there is an error in your syntax and you restart Nginx, you can crash the web server.

sudo nginx -t

If syntax is valid you should see:

nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

6. Create Symbolic Links

We will now create symbolic links from the sites-available directory to the sites-enabled directory, which Nginx reads during startup. Be sure to replace mytest1.com and mytest2.com with your own domains if you have them.

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest1.com /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/
sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/mytest2.com /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

We also have to remove the symbolic link for the default server block, otherwise it will interfere with our two new ones.

sudo rm /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default

Now restart Nginx.

sudo service nginx restart

7. Test Nginx

Assuming you have already configured DNS on your domain registrar to point your domains to the IP of your Nginx server, you should now be able to view these test web pages in the browser. If you don’t have any domains and just want to test mytest1.com and mytest2.com, continue to the next step.

Nginx web page test

8. Edit Hosts file (optional)

If you do not have any domains registered and instead just want to load mytest1.com and mytest2.com as a test, you can edit the hosts file in your OS to point these domains to your server.

To edit hosts file in Linux or Mac, run sudo nano /etc/hosts. In Windows, follow this guide to edit hosts. Once hosts files is open, enter two new lines

hosts
x.x.x.x mytest1.com
x.x.x.x mytest2.com

Replace x.x.x.x with your web server’s IP.

If you don’t know your web server’s IP, you can find out with:

ip a | grep -Eo 'inet (addr:)?([0-9]*\.){3}[0-9]*' | grep -Eo '([0-9]*\.){3}[0-9]*' | grep -v '127.0.0.1'

Once you’ve saved you hosts file, you should be able to access mytest1.com and mytest2.com in your browser.

What Next?

Now that you have your Nginx server tested and working, the next step is to install MySQL, PHP and phpMyAdmin.

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19 replies

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van
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van
van
14 days ago

thanks you so much

denny
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denny
denny
5 months ago

why cant it work on windows subsystem linux?

Reza
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Reza
Reza
2 months ago

I just did it on WSL with Ubuntu and it works like a charm…

Joe
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Joe
Joe
9 months ago

Great job! Simple. worked great. But next step nowadays is always to upgrade to https.

Gugi
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Gugi
Gugi
10 months ago

Thanks alot 🙂 without your Thread i will have little troubles configuring this 😉 works great !

J-Ice
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J-Ice
J-Ice
11 months ago

Success. Thank you!

Serdie
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Serdie
Serdie
1 year ago

Hi I do get this error

403 Forbidden
nginx/1.14.0 (Ubuntu)

I followed your steps. Can you please advice what could be wrong?
Thank you

crisdale
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crisdale
crisdale
2 years ago

Do you have any article for the caching Sir?

crisdale
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crisdale
crisdale
2 years ago

Thank You Sir. !

crisdale
Guest
crisdale
crisdale
2 years ago

Sir, I already added the server into the host of my server etc/hosts but still ” site cannot be reached”

127.0.0.1 localhost
127.0.1.1 MimicDigitalMarketing
144.202.103.234 mimic.com

The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts

::1 localhost ip6-localhost ip6-loopback
ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters

Thnx. Im Using vultr