nginx — Is Running but Not Serving Sites

We recently installed the (to this time) newest nginx version 1.17 on a new machine. The created configurations in sites-available were symlinked to sites-enabled, but nginx wasn’t serving any of the domains.

The crux here, nginx used the different directory conf.d to store a catch-all default configuration. This configuration matched all incoming requests and took over the handling for all requests and responses.

nginx Series Overview

How nginx Configurations Work

Nginx keeps configurations located in the sites-available directory private and won’t route them to the Internet. Adding a configuration to the sites-enabled directory will make it publicly available.

Nginx allows you to support more than one location for configuration files. A second way to configure domains: the conf.d directory.

The difference here: any file located in the conf.d directory will be picked up by nginx and routed to the Internet. If you’d want to take a domain offline, you have to remove the configuration from the conf.d folder.

Check Your nginx Configuration

Check whether you have a conf.d directory in /etc/nginx that contains a default configuration.

If the conf.d directory is present, you should check nginx’s configuration whether it includes the sites-enabled folder:

nano /etc/nginx/nginx.conf  

You’re interested in nginx’s virtual host configuration. Nginx will likely search the conf.d and sites-enabled directories for configurations. Depending on the order, nginx may find the “gotta catch ’em all“ config first.

The content of your nginx.conf file may look like this:

user www-data;  
worker_processes auto;  
pid /run/;

events {  
        worker_connections 768;

http {  
        sendfile on;
        tcp_nopush on;

        # Virtual Host Configs
        include /etc/nginx/conf.d/*.conf;
        include /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/*;  # <-- ensure this line if you want “sites-enabled” to work

If you placed your domain’s configuration files into the sites-available and sites-enabled directories, the default config from conf.d may overlay them.

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