Setup Nginx Reverse Proxy over Apache on Debian or Ubuntu

Published on: Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 1:31 am EST
Debian Linux Guides Ubuntu Web Servers

Nginx is a lightweight web server that has been proven to serve static files faster than Apache. This tutorial will guide you how to install Nginx as reverse proxy over Apache web server.

Requirements

You have installed Apache on your server. Apache is already running a site on port 80.

Change Apache listening port

Edit /etc/apache2/ports.conf to make Apache listening to port 8080 instead of default port 80.

Find following line:

NameVirtualHost *:80
Listen 80

Change it to:

NameVirtualHost *:8080
Listen 8080

Do not forget to your existing vhost listening port in /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/*

Change:

<VirtualHost *:80>

To:

<VirtualHost *:8080>

Disable Unuse modules in Apache

Since HTTP requests is now handled by Nginx, we can disable KeepAlive in Apache. Edit /etc/apache2/apache2.conf and change:

KeepAlive Off

Also, run following commands to disable unused modules.

a2dismod deflate
a2dismod cgi
a2dismod autoindex
a2dismod negotiation
a2dismod ssl

Install forward module

Install mod_rpaf in Apache to forward visitor IP to Apache. Otherwise, your scripts will read REMOTE_ADDR values as server IP.

apt-get install libapache2-mod-rpaf

Stop Apache service

/etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Setup Nginx

Install Nginx.

apt-get install nginx

Remove default vhost to prevent conflicts.

rm -rf /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/*

Create a new default vhost:

cat >/etc/nginx/sites-available/000-default <<EOF
server {
    access_log off;

    location / {
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
        proxy_pass http://127.0.0.1:8080;
    }
}
EOF

ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/000-default /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/000-default

Create vhost for existing website to forward request to Apache:

cat >/etc/nginx/sites-available/domain.com <<EOF
server {
    server_name www.domain.com domain.com;
    root /var/www/domain.com/;

    access_log off;

    # Static contents
    location ~* ^.+.(jpg|jpeg|gif|png|ico|css|zip|tgz|gz|rar|bz2|doc|xls|exe|pdf|ppt|txt|tar|mid|midi|wav|bmp|rtf|js)$ {
        expires max;
    }

    # Dynamic content, forward to Apache
    location / {
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
        proxy_pass http://127.0.0.1:8080;
    }
}
EOF

ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/domain.com /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/domain.com

Restart Nginx and it's done.

/etc/init.d/nginx restart

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