10 Most Used Nginx Commands Every Linux User Must Know

Nginx (pronounced Engine x) is a free, open-source, high-performance, scalable, reliable, full-featured and popular HTTP and reverse proxy server, a mail proxy server, and a generic TCP/UDP proxy server.

Nginx is well known for its simple configuration, and low resource consumption due to its high performance, it is being used to power several high-traffic sites on the web, such as GitHub, SoundCloud, Dropbox, Netflix, WordPress and many others.

Read Also: 3 Useful Hacks Every Linux User Must Know

In this guide, we will explain some of the most commonly used Nginx service management commands that, as a developer or system administrator, you should keep at your fingertips. We will show commands for both Systemd and SysVinit.

All of these following list of Nginx popular commands must be executed as a root or sudo user and should work on any modern Linux distribution such as CentOS, RHEL, Debian, Ubuntu and Fedora.

Install Nginx Server

To install Nginx web server, use your default distribution package manager as shown.

$ sudo yum install epel-release && yum install nginx   [On CentOS/RHEL]
$ sudo dnf install nginx                               [On Debian/Ubuntu]
$ sudo apt install nginx                               [On Fedora]

Check Nginx Version

To check the version of Nginx web server installed on your Linux system, run the following command.

$ nginx -v

nginx version: nginx/1.12.2

The above command simply displays the version number. If you want to view version and configure options then use the -V flag as shown.

$ nginx -V
Show Nginx, Compiler and Configuration Parameters
nginx version: nginx/1.12.2
built by gcc 4.8.5 20150623 (Red Hat 4.8.5-16) (GCC) 
built with OpenSSL 1.0.2k-fips  26 Jan 2017
TLS SNI support enabled
configure arguments: --prefix=/usr/share/nginx --sbin-path=/usr/sbin/nginx --modules-path=/usr/lib64/nginx/modules --conf-path=/etc/nginx/nginx.conf --error-log-path=/var/log/nginx/error.log --http-log-path=/var/log/nginx/access.log --http-client-body-temp-path=/var/lib/nginx/tmp/client_body --http-proxy-temp-path=/var/lib/nginx/tmp/proxy --http-fastcgi-temp-path=/var/lib/nginx/tmp/fastcgi --http-uwsgi-temp-path=/var/lib/nginx/tmp/uwsgi --http-scgi-temp-path=/var/lib/nginx/tmp/scgi --pid-path=/run/nginx.pid --lock-path=/run/lock/subsys/nginx --user=nginx --group=nginx --with-file-aio --with-ipv6 --with-http_auth_request_module --with-http_ssl_module --with-http_v2_module --with-http_realip_module --with-http_addition_module --with-http_xslt_module=dynamic --with-http_image_filter_module=dynamic --with-http_geoip_module=dynamic --with-http_sub_module --with-http_dav_module --with-http_flv_module --with-http_mp4_module --with-http_gunzip_module --with-http_gzip_static_module --with-http_random_index_module --with-http_secure_link_module --with-http_degradation_module --with-http_slice_module --with-http_stub_status_module --with-http_perl_module=dynamic --with-mail=dynamic --with-mail_ssl_module --with-pcre --with-pcre-jit --with-stream=dynamic --with-stream_ssl_module --with-google_perftools_module --with-debug --with-cc-opt='-O2 -g -pipe -Wall -Wp,-D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=2 -fexceptions -fstack-protector-strong --param=ssp-buffer-size=4 -grecord-gcc-switches -specs=/usr/lib/rpm/redhat/redhat-hardened-cc1 -m64 -mtune=generic' --with-ld-opt='-Wl,-z,relro -specs=/usr/lib/rpm/redhat/redhat-hardened-ld -Wl,-E'

Check Nginx Configuration Syntax

Before you actually start the Nginx service, you can check whether its configuration syntax is correct. This is especially useful if you have made changes or added a new configuration to the existing configuration structure.

To test the Nginx configuration, run the following command.

$ sudo nginx -t

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

You can test the Nginx configuration, dump it and exit using the -T flag as shown.

$ sudo nginx -T
Show Nginx Configuration Settings
nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful
# configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf:
# For more information on configuration, see:
#   * Official English Documentation: http://nginx.org/en/docs/
#   * Official Russian Documentation: http://nginx.org/ru/docs/

user nginx;
worker_processes auto;
error_log /var/log/nginx/error.log;
pid /run/nginx.pid;

# Load dynamic modules. See /usr/share/nginx/README.dynamic.
include /usr/share/nginx/modules/*.conf;

events {
    worker_connections 1024;
}

http {
    log_format  main  '$remote_addr - $remote_user [$time_local] "$request" '
                      '$status $body_bytes_sent "$http_referer" '
                      '"$http_user_agent" "$http_x_forwarded_for"';

    access_log  /var/log/nginx/access.log  main;

    sendfile            on;
    tcp_nopush          on;
    tcp_nodelay         on;
    keepalive_timeout   65;
    types_hash_max_size 2048;

    include             /etc/nginx/mime.types;
    default_type        application/octet-stream;

    # Load modular configuration files from the /etc/nginx/conf.d directory.
    # See http://nginx.org/en/docs/ngx_core_module.html#include
    # for more information.
    include /etc/nginx/conf.d/*.conf;

    server {
        listen       80 default_server;
        listen       [::]:80 default_server;
        server_name  _;
        root         /usr/share/nginx/html;

        # Load configuration files for the default server block.
        include /etc/nginx/default.d/*.conf;

        location / {
        }

        error_page 404 /404.html;
            location = /40x.html {
        }

        error_page 500 502 503 504 /50x.html;
            location = /50x.html {
        }
    }

....

Start Nginx Service

To start the Nginx service, run the following command. Note that this process may fail if the configuration syntax is not OK.

$ sudo systemctl start nginx #systemd
OR
$ sudo service nginx start   #sysvinit

Enable Nginx Service

The previous command only starts the service for the meantime, to enable it auto-start at boot time, run the following command.

$ sudo systemctl enable nginx #systemd
OR
$ sudo service nginx enable   #sysv init

Restart Nginx Service

To restart the Nginx service, an action which will stop and then start the service.

$ sudo systemctl restart nginx #systemd
OR
$ sudo service nginx restart   #sysv init

View Nginx Service Status

You can check the Nginx service’s status as follows. This command shows the run time status information about the service.

$ sudo systemctl status nginx #systemd
OR
$ sudo service nginx status   #sysvinit
Show Nginx Status Information
Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/nginx.service to /usr/lib/systemd/system/nginx.service.
[[email protected] ~]# systemctl status nginx
● nginx.service - The nginx HTTP and reverse proxy server
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/nginx.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Tue 2019-03-05 05:27:15 EST; 2min 59s ago
 Main PID: 31515 (nginx)
   CGroup: /system.slice/nginx.service
           ├─31515 nginx: master process /usr/sbin/nginx
           └─31516 nginx: worker process

Mar 05 05:27:15 tecmint.com systemd[1]: Starting The nginx HTTP and reverse proxy server...
Mar 05 05:27:15 tecmint.com nginx[31509]: nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
Mar 05 05:27:15 tecmint.com nginx[31509]: nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful
Mar 05 05:27:15 tecmint.com systemd[1]: Failed to read PID from file /run/nginx.pid: Invalid argument
Mar 05 05:27:15 tecmint.com systemd[1]: Started The nginx HTTP and reverse proxy server.

Reload Nginx Service

To tell Nginx to reload its configuration, use the following command.

$ sudo systemctl reload nginx #systemd
OR
$ sudo service nginx reload   #sysvinit

Stop Nginx Service

If you want to stop the Nginx service for once reason or the other, use the following command.

$ sudo systemctl stop nginx #systemd
OR
$ sudo service nginx stop   #sysvinit

Show Nginx Command Help

To get an easy reference guide of all Nginx commands and options, use following command.

$ systemctl -h nginx
Nginx Help Commands and Options
systemctl [OPTIONS...] {COMMAND} ...

Query or send control commands to the systemd manager.

  -h --help           Show this help
     --version        Show package version
     --system         Connect to system manager
  -H --host=[[email protected]]HOST
                      Operate on remote host
  -M --machine=CONTAINER
                      Operate on local container
  -t --type=TYPE      List units of a particular type
     --state=STATE    List units with particular LOAD or SUB or ACTIVE state
  -p --property=NAME  Show only properties by this name
  -a --all            Show all loaded units/properties, including dead/empty
                      ones. To list all units installed on the system, use
                      the 'list-unit-files' command instead.
  -l --full           Don't ellipsize unit names on output
  -r --recursive      Show unit list of host and local containers
     --reverse        Show reverse dependencies with 'list-dependencies'
     --job-mode=MODE  Specify how to deal with already queued jobs, when
                      queueing a new job
     --show-types     When showing sockets, explicitly show their type
  -i --ignore-inhibitors
...

You might also like to read these following Nginx related articles.

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Secure, Harden and Improve Performance of Nginx Web Server
  2. Amplify – NGINX Monitoring Made Easy
  3. ngxtop – Monitor Nginx Log Files in Real Time in Linux
  4. How to Install Nginx with Virtual Hosts and SSL Certificate
  5. How to Hide Nginx Server Version in Linux

That’s all for now! In this guide, we have explained some of the most commonly used Nginx service management commands that you should know, including starting, enabling, restarting and stopping Nginx. If you have any additions or questions to ask, use the feedback form below.

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Aaron Kili

Aaron Kili is a Linux and F.O.S.S enthusiast, an upcoming Linux SysAdmin, web developer, and currently a content creator for TecMint who loves working with computers and strongly believes in sharing knowledge.

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5 Responses

  1. Tiago says:

    Thanks bro!

    I was able to solve, through these tips, error 521 in CloudFlare. The site was down for 3 days.

    Thank you)

  2. Lasse says:

    This whole article has literally nothing to do with nginx, it reads more like a systemd tutorial.

  3. Oli says:

    This article looks mostly like an introduction to systemd’s systemctl. And the last command doesn’t even show the “Nginx Command Help”, it’s the help of systemctl.

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