Home » How can I use environment variables in Nginx.conf

How can I use environment variables in Nginx.conf


From the official Nginx docker file:

Using environment variables in nginx configuration:

Out-of-the-box, Nginx doesn’t support using environment variables
inside most configuration blocks.

But envsubst may be used as a
workaround if you need to generate your nginx configuration
dynamically before nginx starts.

Here is an example using docker-compose.yml:

image: nginx
 - ./mysite.template:/etc/nginx/conf.d/mysite.template
 - "8080:80"
 - NGINX_HOST=foobar.com
command: /bin/bash -c "envsubst < /etc/nginx/conf.d/mysite.template > /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf && nginx -g 'daemon off;'" 

The mysite.template file may then contain variable references like
this :

listen ${NGINX_PORT};


But you know this caused to its Nginx variables like this:

proxy_set_header        X-Forwarded-Host $host;

damaged to:

proxy_set_header        X-Forwarded-Host ;

So, to prevent that, i use this trick:

I have a script to run Nginx, that used on the docker-compose file as command option for Nginx server, i named it run_nginx.sh:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
export DOLLAR='$'
envsubst < nginx.conf.template > /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
nginx -g "daemon off;"

And because of defined new DOLLAR variable on run_nginx.sh script, now content of my nginx.conf.template file for Nginx itself variable is like this:

proxy_set_header        X-Forwarded-Host ${DOLLAR}host;

And for my defined variable is like this:

server_name  ${WEB_DOMAIN} www.${WEB_DOMAIN};

Also here, there is my real use case for that.

The official nginx image recommends using envsubst, but as pointed out by others it will replace also $host and other variables, which is not desirable. But fortunately envsubst can take as a parameter the names of variables to replace.

To avoid a very complex command parameter to the container (as in the linked example), you can write a Docker entrypoint script which will fill in the environment variables before executing the command. The entrypoint script is also a good place for validating the parameters and setting default values.

Here is an example of an nginx container which takes in API_HOST and API_PORT parameters as environment variables.


resolver valid=10s;  # recover from the backend's IP changing

server {
  listen  80;

  location / {
    root  /usr/share/nginx/html;

  location /api {
    proxy_pass  http://${API_HOST}:${API_PORT};
    proxy_set_header  Host $http_host;


#!/usr/bin/env sh
set -eu

envsubst '${API_HOST} ${API_PORT}' < /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf.template > /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf

exec "$@"


FROM nginx:1.15-alpine

COPY nginx-default.conf.template /etc/nginx/conf.d/default.conf.template

COPY docker-entrypoint.sh /
ENTRYPOINT ["/docker-entrypoint.sh"]
CMD ["nginx", "-g", "daemon off;"]

Doing this with Lua is substantially easier than it sounds:

server {
    set_by_lua $server_name 'return os.getenv("NGINX_SERVERNAME")';

I found that here:



Apparently this requires installing the lua module: https://github.com/openresty/lua-nginx-module

Edit 2:

Note that with this approach you have to define env variable in Nginx:


You have to do this in toplevel context in nginx.conf or it won’t work! Not in server block or in config of some site in /etc/nginx/sites-available, because it is included by nginx.conf in http context (which is not top-level context).

Also note that with this approach if you try to make a redirect e.g.:

server {
    listen 80;
    server_name $server_name;
    return 301 https://$server_name$request_uri;

it won’t work as well:

2016/08/30 14:49:35 [emerg] 1#0: the duplicate "server_name" variable in /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default:8

And if you give a separate variable name to it:

set_by_lua $server_name_from_env 'return os.getenv("NGINX_SERVERNAME")';

server {
    listen 80;
    server_name $server_name_from_env;
    return 301 https://$server_name$request_uri;

nginx won’t interpret it and will redirect you to https://%24server_name_from_env/.

Related Solutions

Extract file from docker image?

You can extract files from an image with the following commands: docker create $image # returns container ID docker cp $container_id:$source_path $destination_path docker rm $container_id According to the docker create documentation, this doesn't run the...

Transfer files using scp: permission denied

Your commands are trying to put the new Document to the root (/) of your machine. What you want to do is to transfer them to your home directory (since you have no permissions to write to /). If path to your home is something like /home/erez try the following:...

What’s the purpose of DH Parameters?

What exactly is the purpose of these DH Parameters? These parameters define how OpenSSL performs the Diffie-Hellman (DH) key-exchange. As you stated correctly they include a field prime p and a generator g. The purpose of the availability to customize these...

How to rsync multiple source folders

You can pass multiple source arguments. rsync -a /etc/fstab /home/user/download bkp This creates bkp/fstab and bkp/download, like the separate commands you gave. It may be desirable to preserve the source structure instead. To do this, use / as the source and...

Benefits of Structured Logging vs basic logging

There are two fundamental advances with the structured approach that can't be emulated using text logs without (sometimes extreme levels of) additional effort. Event Types When you write two events with log4net like: log.Debug("Disk quota {0} exceeded by user...

Interfaces vs Types in TypeScript

2019 Update The current answers and the official documentation are outdated. And for those new to TypeScript, the terminology used isn't clear without examples. Below is a list of up-to-date differences. 1. Objects / Functions Both can be used to describe the...

Get total as you type with added column (append) using jQuery

One issue if that the newly-added column id's are missing the id number. If you look at the id, it only shows "price-", when it should probably be "price-2-1", since the original ones are "price-1", and the original ones should probably be something like...

Determining if a file is a hard link or symbolic link?

Jim's answer explains how to test for a symlink: by using test's -L test. But testing for a "hard link" is, well, strictly speaking not what you want. Hard links work because of how Unix handles files: each file is represented by a single inode. Then a single...

How to restrict a Google search to results of a specific language?

You can do that using the advanced search options: http://www.googleguide.com/sharpening_queries.html I also found this, which might work for you: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/how-to-see-google-search-results-for-other-locations/25203/ Just wanted to add...

Random map generation

Among the many other related questions on the site, there's an often linked article for map generation: Polygonal Map Generation for Games you can glean some good strategies from that article, but it can't really be used as is. While not a tutorial, there's an...

How to prettyprint a JSON file?

The json module already implements some basic pretty printing in the dump and dumps functions, with the indent parameter that specifies how many spaces to indent by: >>> import json >>> >>> your_json = '["foo", {"bar":["baz", null,...

How can I avoid the battery charging when connected via USB?

I have an Android 4.0.3 phone without root access so can't test any of this but let me point you to /sys/class/power_supply/battery/ which gives some info/control over charging issues. In particular there is charging_enabled which gives the current state (0 not...

How to transform given dataset in python? [closed]

From your expected result, it appears that each "group" is based on contiguous id values. For this, you can use the compare-cumsum-groupby pattern, and then use agg to get the min and max values. # Sample data. df = pd.DataFrame( {'id': [1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1,...

Output of the following C++ Program [closed]

It works exactly like this non-recursive translation: int func_0() { return 2; } int func_1() { return 3; } int func_2() { return func_1() + func_0(); } // Returns 3 + 2 = 5 int func_3() { return func_2() + func_1(); } // Returns 5 + 3 = 8 int func_4() { return...

Making a circle out of . (periods) [closed]

Here's the maths and even an example program in C: http://pixwiki.bafsoft.com/mags/5/articles/circle/sincos.htm (link no longer exists). And position: absolute, left and top will let you draw: http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS2/visuren.html#choose-position Any further...

Should I use a code converter (Python to C++)?

Generally it's an awful way to write code, and does not guarantee that it will be any faster. Things which are simple and fast in one language can be complex and slow in another. You're better off either learning how to write fast Python code or learning C++...

tkinter: cannot concatenate ‘str’ and ‘float’ objects

This one line is more than enough to cause the problem: text="რეგულარი >> "+2.23+ 'GEL' 2.23 is a floating-point value; 'GEL' is a string. What does it mean to add an arithmetic value and a string of letters? If you want the string label 'რეგულარი...