NGINX is one of the most popular web servers on the planet. It’s reliable, scalable, and easy to use. But did you know, if you install NGINX from the default Ubuntu Server 18.04 repositories, the version you get is out of date? You don’t want that. In fact, you probably want the most up-to-date stable release of the software.

How do you install such a version on the LTS release of Ubuntu Server? Let me show you how.

SEE: How to reduce user account lockouts and password resets (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

What you need

The only things you’ll need to make this work are a running instance of Ubuntu Server 18.04 and a user account with sudo privileges. With those items at the ready, let’s install.

Adding the repository

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be installed from source, as there is an official NGINX repository where the latest version can be found. To add this repository, create a new .list file with the command:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list.d/nginx.list

In that file, paste the following two lines:

deb [arch=amd64] bionic nginx
deb-src bionic nginx

Save and close the file.

Before installation, the NGINX public key must be added. To do this, issue the following commands:

sudo apt-key add nginx_signing.key

Update and install

Once you have the key installed, update apt with the command:

sudo apt-get update

On the off-chance you already have an older version of NGINX installed, remove it (and it’s components) with the command:

sudo apt remove nginx nginx-common nginx-full nginx-core

If you did have NGINX installed (and your website server blocks configured), you might want to make a backup of your configuration file with the command:

sudo cp /etc/nginx/nginx.conf /etc/nginx/nginx.conf.old

Now it’s time to install the latest version of NGINX. Do so with the command:

sudo apt-get install nginx -y

After the installation completes, start and enable NGINX with the commands:

sudo systemctl start nginx
sudo systemctl enable nginx

To find out which version of NGINX was installed, issue the command:

nginx -v

You should see that (at least as of this writing), the version number is 1.17 (Figure A), which is the latest version (as opposed to 1.14 installed from the standard repositories).

Change process user and server blocks location

There’s two small caveats to installing the latest version. Out of the box, the version from the NGINX repository sets nginx as the default process user. As an administrator (especially on Ubuntu Server), you are most likely accustomed to www-data being the web server process user. To set www-data as the default process users, open the NGINX configuration with the command:

sudo nano /etc/nginx/nginx.conf

Locate the line:

user nginx;

Change that option to:

user www-data;

Next we need to configure NGINX so that it will continue to read server block files from the sites-enabled directory (as this version of NGINX only reads them from /etc/nginx/conf.d/). To do this, add the following line to the http section of the configuration file (under the include /etc/nginx/conf.d/*.conf; line):

include /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/*;

Save and close the configuration file. Reload NGINX (which will only re-read the configuration files, not restart the server) with the command:

sudo systemctl reload nginx

NGINX is now ready to rock.

Easy installation

NGINX is one of the easiest to manage web servers on the planet, and getting the latest version installed helps to back up that opinion. Don’t find yourself running an outdated version, especially considering getting the latest-greatest is such an easy task.