Set up NGINX web server

1 Install

In order to install NGINX web server on Ubuntu, execute the following command:

sudo apt install nginx

Note: depending on the type of your Ubuntu installation, your OS might have Apache web server preinstalled. In that case, you might have problems starting NGINX because Apache is already listening on the port where NGINX wants to listen to.

In that case, you should stop Apache service and disable it from starting on boot:

sudo systemctl stop apache2
sudo systemctl disable apache2

In case you will need Apache, you need to stop NGINX first and then start Apache.

Optional: if you don’t need Apache at all, you can remove it to save some space:

sudo service apache2 stop
sudo apt purge apache2 apache2-utils apache2.2-bin
sudo apt autoremove
sudo rm -rf /etc/apache2

2 Configure

Once NGINX is installed, use files given in this directory to configure the installation. First you will need to clone this repository in order to copy configuration files and websites:

cd ~/projects
git clone

Then you will also need to find the location of configuration files and logs, which depends on the OS and package manager.

Copy the configuration files to the configuration directory:

sudo cp -r ~/projects/local-development-setup/nginx/* /etc/nginx

Don’t forget to edit file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf and change user and user group.

Now position into the directory for enabled sites and symlink all available site configurations:

cd /etc/nginx/sites-enabled
sudo ln -s ../sites-available/* ./

Ubuntu uses different directories for enabled vhosts and log files, so we need to update these:

cd /etc/nginx
find . -type f -exec sudo sed -i 's/\/opt\/local\/etc\/nginx/\/etc\/nginx/g' {} +
find . -type f -exec sudo sed -i 's/\/opt\/local\/var\/log/\/var\/log/g' {} +

Then we need to set permissions for this repository:

sudo chown -R brale:staff /var/log/nginx
sudo chmod -R u+X /var/log/nginx

4 Start the server

sudo service nginx start

Except start, you can also use commands such as: * status - to see if Nginx service is running * stop - to stop the Nginx service * restart - to restart the Nginx service (does stop then start)

To check if Nginx service is enabled to start after reboot, try:

sudo systemctl is-enabled nginx

To enable it to automatically start after a reboot:

sudo systemctl enable nginx

5 Installation of websites

Now you can install websites provided in websites directory in the root of the repository. Websites will be located in /var/www directory.

Then we need to set the permissions on this directory:

sudo chown -R brale:staff /var/www

Now you can copy the websites to the created directory:

cp -r ~/projects/local-development-setup/websites/* /var/www

Verify that everything works as expected by opening:

The first website is your homepage, which you can freely customize as you find fit. Second website will give you PHP info page, useful to see the details of the particular PHP installation.

You can change the top-level domain to choose which PHP version will be used to serve the website.

Testing your website on a different device

This setup works with multiple custom local domains, which is not trivial to directly expose on a local network, since it would need to involve a DNS server.

However, is possible to expose a specific website on your local IP, which you can then use to open the website on a different device connected to your local network, for example smartphone or a tablet. To do that, uncomment the configuration block found in:


Then adjust the IP and local website address as needed.

After restarting nginx server, you should be able to use the IP to open the website on a different device which is also connected to your local network.