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Nginx-1.5.6 with ngx_pagespeed (Google Pagespeed module) and ngx_cache_purge

So I got tired of fiddling around with repositories offering builds that compiled ngx_pagespeed with Nginx. I was getting a lot of errors, was using older versions of Nginx and was not able to make the dotdeb repository work.

I was wary of compiling, because I’m a creature of habit, and I like my Nginx installed as a service and other minor pleasures of life (I still haven’t learned to make init scripts :p)

What I have basically done is compiled the latest Nginx (1.5.6 – as of writing this post) along with these two modules I wanted in the place of the Nginx package.

So far, all seems to be working well, and I’m hitting pagespeed scores of 98+ without any noticeable strain on the server. So, for what it is worth, here is what I did.

Step 0: Install dependencies for compiling

Time to become root (better than typing “sudo” for each line.

sudo bash

Enter your password to become root@whatever:~#

Install dependencies for compiling.

apt-get install build-essential zlib1g-dev libpcre3 libpcre3-dev

Step 1: Get the latest ngx_pagespeed

The ngx_pagespeed page gives you the code to install the beta package. I just grabbed the current master download from the button on the right (right-click and copy link 😉 )

You could choose either. I’m not certain the server won’t explode because of whatever I’m doing. So play safe if you want. I just wanted all the fixes already.

This is if you use the recommended beta:

$ cd ~
$ wget
$ unzip # or unzip release-
$ cd ngx_pagespeed-release-
$ wget
$ tar -xzvf # expands to psol/

What I did was:

$ cd ~
$ wget
$ unzip
$ cd ngx_pagespeed-master/
$ wget
$ tar -xzvf # expands to psol/

Step 2: Get the latest ngx_cache_purge

You know the drill by now. Just giving the steps I did:

$ cd ~
$ wget
$ tar -xvf ngx_cache_purge-2.1.tar.gz

I could have used the master here as well, but I wasn’t having too many errors with it, so it seemed an unnecessary risk (yeah, I know kinda late in the day to be cautious).

Now for the tricky part.

Step 3: Configuring Nginx for compiling

What we are going to do in this step is configure the source to build right on top of the existing Nginx package.

$ # check for the latest version
$ wget
$ tar -xvzf nginx-1.5.6.tar.gz
$ cd nginx-1.5.6/

This assumes you have a Nginx server running (you don’t need to stop it yet. I’ll tell you when) that you want to replace and a preference for organizing the files “as usual” in the Ubuntu/Debian way. I had the added greed of not wanting to invent anything I could recycle – like the lazy habit of “service nginx restart” for example. If not, you could probably install it anywhere. There may be easier ways of doing this.

Remember I am NOT an expert, I am simply a determined person trying to get what I want and making do with my limited knowledge.

Ok. Let’s proceed. Get the configuration of your existing nginx package (for the paths). You could also skip to next step without going through this reasoning and method and only return here if there is a problem.

nginx -V

You want to copy this to a text file somewhere for easy reference.

Now, you have to create the command for configuring using the paths here.

./configure --prefix=/usr/share/nginx --sbin-path=/usr/sbin/nginx --conf-path=/etc/nginx/nginx.conf --error-log-path=/var/log/nginx/error.log --http-log-path=/var/log/nginx/access.log

If you run this command, you will find some alerts going “Not found” in the checking. This is normal, since you don’t need all the things it checks for (indeed some are found on other Operating Systems altogether), but it is a good idea to keep an eye on what’s missing, in case there is a problem…. and there is.

This command will give you all the “Not founds” from that lengthy output. It is the same command, using grep to catch the lines:

./configure --prefix=/usr/share/nginx --sbin-path=/usr/sbin/nginx --conf-path=/etc/nginx/nginx.conf --error-log-path=/var/log/nginx/error.log --http-log-path=/var/log/nginx/access.log | grep 'not found'

The rest seems ok to my inexperienced eye, but “checking for nobody group … not found” is a problem. So we set the user and group to www-data by adding this to our configure line.

--user=www-data --group=www-data

Then we add our modules from steps 1 and 2.

 --add-module=$HOME/ngx_pagespeed-master  --add-module=$HOME/ngx_cache_purge-2.1

And we have our complete line.

Step 4: Configure the build

$ ./configure --prefix=/usr/share/nginx --sbin-path=/usr/sbin/nginx --conf-path=/etc/nginx/nginx.conf --error-log-path=/var/log/nginx/error.log --http-log-path=/var/log/nginx/access.log --user=www-data --group=www-data --with-http_ssl_module --with-http_gzip_static_module --with-http_image_filter_module --with-http_spdy_module --add-module=$HOME/ngx_pagespeed-master  --add-module=$HOME/ngx_cache_purge-2.1

I have no idea what you will do if you get errors. Comment here, and I’ll see if I have ideas. This should build smoothly on a standard Ubuntu server (I tried on three, all three worked).

Hopefully all went well, and we make the build.

$ make

Now for the other tricky part.

Step 5: Stop your existing Nginx server

Find out where the Nginx files and folders are

$ whereis nginx
nginx: /usr/sbin/nginx /etc/nginx /usr/share/nginx

Check and doublecheck that these are the same folders we are configuring. Not the end of the world if you get it wrong, but you’ll probably get errors with the init script and will have to either make a new one or hack it. Sure they are the right folders?

Now stop the server.

$ service nginx stop

Move your configuration folder somewhere safe.

$ mv /etc/nginx ~

Delete the existing install (we have simply stopped the server, not removed the package). Remember the locations we got in the whereis? add them all to a delete command. (yes, I know we moved the configuration folder somewhere safe, just doing a lazy copy-paste)

$ rm -rf /usr/sbin/nginx /etc/nginx /usr/share/nginx

Step 6: Install the compiled Nginx in the place of the files we removed

Time to install the make we did earlier.

$ make install

Step 7: Add a line to fastcgi_params

Edit the new fastcgi_params file /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params and add

fastcgi_param  SCRIPT_FILENAME    $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;

This line gets added when you install from a package. The source doesn’t have it. No idea why.

If you don’t do this, you’ll get blank pages and a lot of frustration trying to figure out why your server isn’t working. Then you’ll get superstitious over masquerading builds as packages and so on. (Don’t ask how I know) So don’t forget.

Step 8: Return the configuration files to their respective places in /etc/nginx

Move or copy or create the files in sites-available, symlink them to sites-enabled, and so on. The usual stuff.

If you don’t return your original nginx.conf here and choose to use the new one, please remember to add in the http block:

        # Virtual Host Configs
        include /etc/nginx/conf.d/*.conf;
        include /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/*;

Your earlier package installed by Ubuntu/Debian would have configured the folders automatically, but the source does not have this structure, so you will have to include the files (or paste their contents here – messy) or returning the server blocks into position will *still* not load them and leave you puzzled.

Tweak to taste. The old files worked as they were, for me. I was able to start my new server with a downtime of less than 2 minutes after I had these steps lined up and ready to copy-paste.

Start/restart server.

If there are problems with emerg not being able to bind to port, just do

pkill nginx

and start it

service nginx start


My pageload time went from 20+seconds for first page load (I wish I had a screenshot) to under 1s for first pageload right off the bat – this is before configuring pagespeed, and frankly, with this performance, I’ll leave pagespeed unconfigured if it so much as whimpers.

So maybe it was all for nothing, unless you count installing Nginx-1.5.6 with the conveniences of a package before it hit the repositories 😉

Note: When it is time for an update, there may be issues. I have no idea what will happen, but worst comes worst, I can

apt-get remove nginx


apt-get install nginx



unless a better option has hit the repositories by then.

I will also post urgent updates here if anything goes wrong. So far as I can see, this is working as a dream.

Also note: There may be changes in performance over the next couple of days as I fiddle around trying to configure stuff. Not a reflection of end result if you suddenly find the blog slow. Work in progress.

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4 thoughts on “Nginx-1.5.6 with ngx_pagespeed (Google Pagespeed module) and ngx_cache_purge

  1. Nick Meisher

    Thank You. I am new to Linux comand line and this actually made sense to me for once since you explained it like a human and not some know it all geek trying to impress Einstein’s ghost. Thanks again. Nick

  2. Vaclav

    Had problem with official Google ngx_pagespeed install instructions, wandered through the internet and wondered, if someone can give me better advice a here you are! It finally works! Thanks a lot.


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