Samir Parikh / Blog

Originally published on 03 January 2019

Last updated on 09 October 2019


Nginx is a lightweight, open-source web server that features fast performance suitable for serving static pages such as those on this site. Let's get started on installing it on FreeBSD based on this tutorial from Digital Ocean.

Installation and Initial Configuration

The first thing we will do is to install both nginx and rsync which will be used to sync the static html files from our local client over to our hosted server:

$ sudo pkg install nginx rsync

Enable the nginx service by adding the following line to /etc/rc.conf:


Start the service:

$ sudo service nginx start

Make a backup of the current nginx.conf file:

$ cd /usr/local/etc/nginx
$ sudo cp nginx.conf nginx.conf_YYYYMMDD.bak

Create a new directory under /usr/local/www where your site's files will be served from:

$ sudo mkdir /usr/local/www/example

Configure nginx to serve files from that directory. Within the /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf file, update the line with the root directive such that it looks like the following:

root /usr/local/www/example;

Note: Do not forget the semicolon (;) at the end of the line.

If you have a domain name which is pointing back to your server, you need to update the server_name in the server block:


http {
    include       mime.types;
    default_type  application/octet-stream;

    #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  logs/access.log  main;

    sendfile        on;
    #tcp_nopush     on;

    #keepalive_timeout  0;
    keepalive_timeout  65;

    #gzip  on;

    server {
        #server_name  localhost;

        #charset koi8-r;

        #access_log  logs/host.access.log  main;

        location / {
            #root   /usr/local/www/nginx;
            root   /usr/local/www/example;
            index  index.html index.htm;

        #error_page  404              /404.html;

Restart nginx for the changes to take effect:

$ sudo service nginx restart

Finally, change the owner of the directory to your own user to that you can write to it:

$ sudo chown -R username:username /usr/local/www

You can now upload your site's files to /usr/local/www/example which you can then view at Be sure to include an index.html file which will serve as the site's home page.

Redirect www Requests to Main Domain

If you want to redirect requests from to, you will need to make further configuration changes to your /usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf file. Right below the comment line that says #gzip on;, add the following server block to redirect www requests to the main domain:

server {
        return 301 $scheme://$request_uri;

Please see this section of the nginx wiki for more details on the configuration of this server block. Be sure to restart the nginx service in order for the changes to take effect.

Configure nginx to Serve Blog from Subdomain

If you want to serve your blog posts from a separate subdomain (e.g., you will have to make further modifications to the /usr/local/etc/nginx.conf file. Right below the section you added to redirect www requests, but before the main server block, add another server block which will handle requests for the blog site (e.g.

server {
        listen 80;
        root /usr/local/www/example/blog;
        index index.html;

Restart the nginx service for the changes to take effect.

Make sure you create the appropriate directory from where the blog pages will be served:

$ sudo mkdir /usr/local/www/example/blog

In the main server block itself, be sure to update the server_name and root lines:

root /usr/local/www/example;

Custom 404 "Page Not Found" Page

If you want to use a custom 404 "Page Not Found" page for your site, you can follow the directions over at this Digital Ocean article. I created a custom file (404-page-not-found.html) that I then dropped into /usr/local/www/example. You can then add the following lines under both the and server blocks:

error_page 404 /404-page-not-found.html;
location = /404-page-not-found.html {
    root /usr/local/www/example;

Finally, be sure to restart the nginx service for your changes to take effect:

$ sudo service nginx restart