How to Setup Highly Available NGINX with KeepAlived in Linux

As we know NGINX is a highly rated web server which can also be used as reverse proxy, load balancer and HTTP cache. In this article, we will demonstrate how to setup highly available (HA) NGINX web server with keepalived in Linux. Keepalived works on VRRP (Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol) which allows one static IP to be fail-over between two Linux systems.

Following are my lab details for NGINX HA:

  • Node 1 – – – minimal CentOS 8 / RHEL 8
  • Node 2 – – – minimal CentOS 8 / RHEL 8
  • Virtual IP (VIP) –
  • sudo user pkumar
  • Firewalld enbled
  • SELinux Running

Let’s jump into the Installation and configuration steps,

Step 1) Install NGINX Web Server from command line

NGINX package is available in the default CentOS 8 / RHEL 8 repositories, so run below dnf command on both the nodes to install nginx web sever

$ sudo dnf install -y nginx

For CentOS 7 / RHEL 7

NGINX package is not available in default CentOS 7 / RHEL 7 repositories, so to install it first we have to enable epel repository. Run the following command on both the nodes

$ sudo yum install epel-release -y
$ sudo yum install -y nginx

For Ubuntu / Debian

For Debian based Linux distributions, nginx web server package is available in default package repositories, so to install nginx, run

$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install -y nginx

Step 2) Configure Custom index.html file for both nodes

Let’s create custom index.html file for both the nodes so that we can easily identify which server is serving the web site while accessing via virtual ip.

For node 1, run following echo command,

[[email protected] ~]$ echo "<h1>This is NGINX Web Server from Node 1</h1>" | sudo tee /usr/share/nginx/html/index.html

For node 2, run

[[email protected] ~]$ echo "<h1>This is NGINX Web Server from Node 2</h1>" | sudo tee /usr/share/nginx/html/index.html

Step 3) Allow NGINX port in firewall and start its service

In case firewall is enabled and running on both the nodes then allow port 80 by executing following commands,

For CentOS / RHEL System

$ sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=http
$ sudo firewall-cmd –reload

For Ubuntu / Debian System

$ sudo ufw allow 'Nginx HTTP'

Start and enable nginx service by running beneath command commands on both the nodes,

$ sudo systemctl start nginx
$ sudo systemctl enable nginx

Test NGINX Web server of both the nodes by running following curl command from outside,

$ curl
<h1>This is NGINX Web Server from Node 1</h1>
$ curl
<h1>This is NGINX Web Server from Node 2</h1>

Perfect, above command’s output confirm that nginx is running and accessible from outside with system’s ip address.

Step 4) Install and Configure Keepalived

For CentOS / RHEL systems, keepalived package and its dependencies are available in the default package repositories, so its installation is straight forward, just run below command on both the nodes.

$ sudo dnf install -y keepalived       // CentOS 8/ RHEL 8
$ sudo yum install -y keepalived      // CentOS 7 / RHEL 7

For Ubuntu / Debian System,

$ apt install -y keepalived

Once the keepalived is installed then configure it by editing its configuration file ‘/etc/keepalived/keepalived.conf’. We will keep node 1 as master node and node 2 as backup node.

Take backup of configuration file,

[[email protected] ~]$ sudo cp /etc/keepalived/keepalived.conf /etc/keepalived/keepalived.conf-org

Replace the content of keepalived.conf with below:

[[email protected] ~]$ echo -n | sudo tee /etc/keepalived/keepalived.conf
[[email protected] ~]$ sudo vi /etc/keepalived/keepalived.conf

Paste the following contents

global_defs {
  # Keepalived process identifier
  router_id nginx
} # Script to check whether Nginx is running or not
vrrp_script check_nginx {
  script "/bin/"
  interval 2
  weight 50
} # Virtual interface - The priority specifies the order in which the assigned interface to take over in a failover
vrrp_instance VI_01 {
  state MASTER
  interface enp0s3
  virtual_router_id 151
  priority 110   # The virtual ip address shared between the two NGINX Web Server which will float
  virtual_ipaddress {
  track_script {
  authentication {
    auth_type AH
    auth_pass secret


Now create a script with the following contents which will check whether nginx service is running or not. Keepalived will always check the output of script, if it finds that nginx service is stopped or not responding then it will move virtual ip address on backup node.

[[email protected] ~]$ sudo vi /bin/
if [ -z "`pidof nginx`" ]; then
  exit 1

save & close the file and set the required permission with chmod command,

[[email protected] ~]$ sudo chmod 755 /bin/

Now copy the keepalived.conf and files from node 1 to node 2 using following scp command.

[[email protected] ~]$ scp /etc/keepalived/keepalived.conf [email protected]:/etc/keepalived/
[[email protected] ~]$ scp /bin/ [email protected]:/bin/

Once files are copied then login to Node 2 and make couple of changes in keepalived.conf file. Change State from MASTER to BACKUP and lower the priority by setting it as 100. After making the changes, keepalived.conf on Node 2 would look like below,


In Case OS firewall is running then allow VRRP by the running following commands,

Note – Execute these commands on both the nodes

For CentOS / RHEL Systems

$ sudo firewall-cmd --add-rich-rule='rule protocol value="vrrp" accept' --permanent
$ sudo firewall-cmd --reload

For Ubuntu / Debian Systems

Allow VRRP by executing followings, from the master node (Node 1), run

$ sudo ufw allow to comment 'VRRP Broadcast'
$ sudo ufw allow from comment 'VRRP Router'

From the Backup / Slave Node (Node 2)

$ sudo ufw allow to comment 'VRRP Broadcast'
$ sudo ufw allow from comment 'VRRP Router'

Now finally start keepalived service by running beneath systemctl commands from both the nodes,

$ sudo systemctl start keepalived
$ sudo systemctl enable keepalived

Verify the keepalived service by running below:

$ sudo systemctl status keepalived


Perfect, now verify VIP (virtual ip address) status on master node, in our case VIP is

$ ip add show


Above output confirms VIP is configure on master node on its enp0s3 interface. So, lets do keepalived and nginx testing in the next step.

Step 5) Keepalived and NGINX Testing

To perform the testing, try access nginx web server with virtual IP (, currently it should show us node 1 nginx page.

Open the wen browser and type ‘’ and hit enter,


Now try to stop the NGINX service on node 1 and see whether virtual IP is switched from Node 1 to Node 2 and then try to access nginx web page with VIP ( and this time it should show us nginx page from node 2.

[[email protected] ~]$ sudo systemctl stop nginx
[[email protected] ~]$ ip add show


Login to node 2 and run ip command to see verify the virtual IP address,

[[email protected] ~]$ ip add show


Now, let’s try to access web page using virtual ip,


Great, above confirms that we have successfully setup highly available NGINX Web server with keepalived. That’s all from this article, please do share your feedback, comments and suggestions.

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