Minimal local nginx setup using Docker

If you have not installed Docker, see our guide at How to install docker and docker-compose on Ubuntu in 30 seconds

1. Create your nginx config file (my-nginx.conf). This is a template that reverse proxys TechOverflow:

server {
    listen 80 default_server;
    listen [::]:80 default_server;

    location / {
        proxy_http_version 1.1;

3. Start nginx using docker:

docker run -it -p 80:80 --rm -v $(pwd)/my-nginx.conf:/etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf nginx:latest

4. Go to http://localhost and see the result!

Explanation of the docker command:

  • docker run -it: Create a new docker container and run it in interactive mode (i.e. it will not run in the background, once you kill the command, nginx will exit)
  • -p 80:80: Makes port 80 of the nginx server (the standard HTTP port) available on the host’s port 80. The first 80 is the host port whereas the second port 80 is the container’s port.
  • --rm: Once the container is stopped, delete it!
  • -v $(pwd)/my-nginx.conf:/etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf: Map my-nginx.conf in the current directory ($(pwd)) to /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf on the container.
  • nginx:latest: In the container run the official nginx image from DockerHub in the latest version.

Explanation of the nginx config file:

  • server { ... }: Everything inside this blog will belong together. You can
  • listen 80 default_server; Listen on port 80 (the standard HTTP port) and make this the default server, i.e. respond to any domain name that does not have any other server configured.
  • listen [::]:80 default_server; Same as the previous line, but for IPv6. [::] means: Listen on all IPv6 addresses.
  • location / { ... }: Everything inside this block is valid for any URL starting with / i.e. any URL at all. In clauses like location /app { ... } the content of the clause would be valid for URLs starting with /app only, e.g. http://localhost/app/ or http://localhost/app/dashboard.
  • proxy_pass; Redirect requests to the current location (/) to the server using a reverse proxy.
  • proxy_http_version 1.1; This sets the HTTP version that nginx uses to make the requests to This is not always neccessary but might increase compatibility.