Nginx HTTP Server : Downloading Nginx

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This approach of the download process will lead us to discover the various resources at the disposal of server administrators websites, communities, and wikis all relating to Nginx. We will also quickly discuss the different version branches available to you, and eventually select the most appropriate one for your setup.

Websites and resources

Although Nginx is a relatively new and growing project, there are already a good number of resources available on the World Wide Web (WWW) and an active community of administrators and developers.

The official website, which is at, is rather simple and does not provide much information or documentation, other than links for downloading the latest versions. On the contrary, you will find a lot of interesting documentation and examples on the official wiki

The wiki provides a large variety of documentation and configuration examples it may prove very useful to you in many situations. If you have specific questions though, you might as well use the forums An active community of users will answer your questions in no time. Additionally, the Nginx mailing list, which is relayed on the Nginx forum, will also prove to be an excellent resource for any question you may have. And if you need direct assistance, there is always a bunch of regulars helping each other out on the IRC channel #Nginx on Freenode.

Another interesting source of information the blogosphere. A simple query on your favorite search engine should return a good amount of blog articles documenting Nginx, its configuration, and modules.

It's now time to head over to the official website and get started with downloading the source code for compiling and installing Nginx. Before you do so, let us have a quick summary of the available versions and the features that come with them.

Version branches

Igor Sysoev, a talented Russian developer and server administrator, initiated this open source project early in 2002. Between the first release in 2004 and the current version, which now serves over 6.55 percent of websites on the Internet, steady progress was made. The features are plenty and render the application both powerful and flexible at the same time.

There are currently three version branches on the project:

  • Stable version: This version is usually recommended, as it is approved by both developers and users, but is usually a little behind the development version above. The current latest stable version is 0.7.66, released on June 07, 2010.

  • Development version: This is the the latest version available for download. Although it is generally solid enough to be installed on production servers, you may run into the occasional bug. As such, the stable version is recommended, even though you do not get to use the latest features. The current latest development version is 0.8.40, released on June 07, 2010.

  • Legacy version: If for some reason you are interested in looking at the older versions, you will find two of them. There's a legacy version and a legacy stable version, respectively coming as 0.5.38 and 0.6.39 releases.

A recurrent question regarding development versions is "are they stable enough to be used on production servers?" Cliff Wells, founder and maintainer of the wiki website and community, believes so "I generally use and recommend the latest development version. It's only bit me once!". Early adopters rarely report critical problems.


As of the stable version 0.7.66, Nginx offers an impressive variety of features, which, contrary to what you may think, are not all related to serving HTTP content. Here is a list of the main features of the web branch, quoted from the official website

  • Handling of static files, index files, and autoindexing; open file descriptor cache.

  • Accelerated reverse proxying with caching; simple load balancing and fault tolerance.

  • Accelerated support with caching of remote FastCGI servers; simple load balancing and fault tolerance.

  • Modular architecture. Filters include Gzipping, byte ranges, chunked responses, XSLT, SSI, and image resizing filter. Multiple SSI inclusions within a single page can be processed in parallel if they are handled by FastCGI or proxied servers.

  • SSL and TLS SNI support (TLS with Server Name Indication (SNI), required for using TLS on a server doing virtual hosting).

Nginx can also be used as a mail proxy server:

  • User redirection to IMAP/POP3 backend using an external HTTP authentication server

  • User authentication using an external HTTP authentication server and connection redirection to an internal SMTP backend

  • Authentication methods:




  • SSL support

  • STARTTLS and STLS support

Nginx is compatible with many computer architectures and operating systems like Windows, Linux, Mac OS, FreeBSD, and Solaris. The application runs fine on 32 and 64 bit architectures.

Downloading and extracting

Once you have made your choice as to which version you will be using, head over to and find the URL of the file you wish to download. Position yourself in your home directory, which will contain the source code to be compiled, and download the file using wget.

[ ~]$ mkdir src && cd src
    [ src]$ wget


We will be using version 0.7.66, the latest stable version as of June 07, 2010. Once downloaded, extract the archive contents in the current folder:

[ src]$ tar zxf nginx-0.7.66.tar.gz

You have successfully downloaded and extracted Nginx. Now, the next step will be to configure the compilation process in order to obtain a binary that perfectly fits your operating system.

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