Nginx is a high-performance, open-source web server and reverse proxy server software. Originally developed by Igor Sysoev in 2002, Nginx has gained widespread popularity due to its efficiency, speed, and scalability. It is commonly used to serve web content, handle HTTP requests, and act as a load balancer or reverse proxy for various web applications.
Key features and characteristics of Nginx include:
- Web Server: Nginx can function as a stand-alone web server, serving static content such as HTML files, images, and stylesheets. Its efficient event-driven architecture allows it to handle many concurrent connections with minimal resource consumption.
- Reverse Proxy: Nginx excels at acting as a reverse proxy server, which means it can sit in front of one or more web application servers and distribute incoming client requests to those servers. This helps balance the load among multiple backend servers, ensuring high availability and reliability for websites and applications.
- Load Balancer: Nginx can be configured as a load balancer to distribute incoming traffic across multiple backend servers evenly. It performs load balancing based on various algorithms, such as round-robin, least connections, or IP hashing, improving the overall performance and fault tolerance of web applications.
- HTTP Server: Nginx is a powerful HTTP server that can handle tasks like URL rewriting, access control, and serving secure connections through HTTPS. It also supports features like server blocks (virtual hosts) for hosting multiple websites on a single server.
- Caching: Nginx includes a caching module that can store and serve static or dynamic content from memory, reducing the load on backend servers and improving user response times.
- Reverse Proxy for WebSocket: Nginx is capable of proxying WebSocket connections, allowing real-time, bidirectional communication between clients and web servers, which is particularly useful for chat applications and online gaming.
- Extensibility: Nginx is highly extensible through the use of modules. Users can add functionality and customize its behavior by including third-party or custom modules.
Nginx is known for its ability to handle many concurrent connections efficiently, making it a popular choice for high-traffic websites and applications. It is also frequently used with other web technologies like PHP, Node.js, Ruby, and Python to improve web server performance and scalability. Overall, Nginx has become a critical component of modern web infrastructure, providing robust and flexible solutions for web hosting, load balancing, and proxying needs.