Setup Mass Dynamic Virtual Hosts on Nginx

Apache has a handy feature that allows you to dynamically serve a domain without having to create a virtualhost for each time, called Dynamic Virtual Hosts. Nginx doesn't have this feature built in, but it does gives you the tools you need to to set it up in no time. Here is a guide to how I got it working on my server after I transitioned my site from Apache to Nginx.

My Requirements

There are a few example of how to setup dynamic virtual hosts on Nginx, but none of them did exactly what I wanted. Here were my requirements:

  1. Serve a domain i.e. from /var/www/ without having to update the server config or restarting Nginx.
  2. Redirect www requests to non-www.
  3. Include PHP Fastcgi config.


To setup this in nginx all you have to do is edit your default nginx server config file (usually /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default) in a text editor (I use VIM) to look like the below (changing where necessary to suit your setup):

# www Redirect to non-www

server {
  # don't forget to tell on which port this server listens
  listen 80;

  # listen on the www host
  server_name ~^(www\.)(?<domain>.+)$;

  # and redirect to the non-www host (declared below)
  return 301 $scheme://$domain$request_uri;

# Nginx Dynamic Hosts

server {

  listen 80;

  # catch all non-www domains
  server_name ~(?<domain>.+)$;

  root /var/www/$domain/public_html/;
  access_log /var/log/nginx/$domain/logs/access.log;

  location / {
    index index.html index.htm index.php;

  location ~ [^/]\.php(/|$) {
    fastcgi_split_path_info ^(.+?\.php)(/.*)$;
    fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
    fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php5-fpm.sock;
    fastcgi_index index.php;
    include fastcgi_params;

you can easily override this default server config on a case by case basis by creating a new server block where you explicitly define the server_name. Nginx will load this server config before a server_name matched with regular expressions (As defined in the docs):

server {
  # don't forget to tell on which port this server listens
  listen 80;

  # explicitly list the server_name



The above examples were built based on the information from NGINX dynamically configured mass virtual hosting and Nginx HTTP server boilerplate configs.