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While the LAMP stack (Linux + Apache + MySQL + PHP) is very popular for powering WordPress, it is also possible to use Nginx. WordPress supports Nginx, and some large WordPress sites, such as WordPress.com, are powered by Nginx.

When talking about Nginx, it is important to know that there are multiple ways to implement Nginx. It can be setup as a reverse-proxy in front of Apache, which is a very powerful setup that allows you to use all of the features and power of Apache, while benefitting from the speed of Nginx. Most websites that report using Nginx as the server (based on stats gathered from HTTP response headers), are actually Apache running with Nginx as the reverse proxy. (The HTTP response headers showing “Nginx” are being reported by the reverse-proxy, not the server itself.)

This guide is referring to a standalone Nginx setup, where it is used as the primary server instead of Apache. It should be noted that Nginx is not a completely interchangeable substitute for Apache. There are a few key differences affecting WordPress implementation that you need to be aware of before you proceed:

  • With Nginx there is no directory-level configuration file like Apache’s .htaccess or IIS’s web.config files. All configuration has to be done at the server level by an administrator, and WordPress cannot modify the configuration, like it can with Apache or IIS.
  • Pretty Permalinks functionality is slightly different when running Nginx.
  • Since Nginx does not have .htaccess-type capability and WordPress cannot automatically modify the server configuration for you, it cannot generate the rewrite rules for you.
  • Without modifications to your install, “index.php” will be to be added to your Permalinks. (There are ways to mitigate this with plugins (see below) and/or adding custom code to your child theme’s functions.php.)
  • However, if you do want to have some (limited) .htaccess capability, it is technically possible to do add by installing the htscanner PECL extension for PHP. (However, this is not a perfect solution so be sure to test and debug thoroughly before using on a live site.)

This guide is not going to cover how to install and configure Nginx, so this assumes that you have already installed Nginx and have a basic understanding of how to work with and debug it.