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      How To Move an Nginx Web Root to a New Location on Ubuntu 20.04


      On Ubuntu, the Nginx web server stores its documents in /var/www/html, which is typically located on the root filesystem with the rest of the operating system. Sometimes, though, it’s helpful to move the document root to another location, such as a separate mounted filesystem. For example, if you serve multiple websites from the same Nginx instance, putting each site’s document root on its own volume allows you to scale in response to the needs of a specific site or client.

      In this guide, you will move an Nginx document root to a new location.


      To complete this guide, you will need:

      We will use the domain name your_domain in this tutorial, but you should substitute this with your own domain name.

      • A new location for your document root. In this tutorial, we will use the /mnt/volume-nyc3-01 directory for our new location. If you are using Block Storage on DigitalOcean, this guide will show you how to create and attach your volume. Your new document root location is configurable based on your needs, however. If you are moving your document root to a different storage device, you will want to select a location under the device’s mount point.

      Step 1 — Copying Files to the New Location

      On a fresh installation of Nginx, the document root is located at /var/www/html. By following the prerequisite guides, however, you created a new document root, /var/www/your_domain/html. You may have additional document roots as well. In this step, we will establish the location of our document roots and copy the relevant files to their new location.

      You can search for the location of your document roots using grep. Let’s search in the /etc/nginx/sites-enabled directory to limit our focus to active sites. The -R flag ensures that grep will print both the line with the root directive and the full filename in its output:

      • grep -R "root" /etc/nginx/sites-enabled

      If you followed the prerequisite tutorials on a fresh server, the result will look like this:


      /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/your_domain: root /var/www/your_domain/html; /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default: root /var/www/html; /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default: # deny access to .htaccess files, if Apache's document root /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default:# root /var/www/your_domain;

      If you have pre-existing setups, your results may differ from what’s shown here. In either case, you can use the feedback from grep to make sure you’re moving the desired files and updating the appropriate configuration files.

      Now that you’ve confirmed the location of your document root, you can copy the files to their new location with rsync. Using the -a flag preserves the permissions and other directory properties, while -v provides verbose output so you can follow the progress of the sync:

      Note: Be sure there is no trailing slash on the directory, which may be added if you use tab completion. When there’s a trailing slash, rsync will dump the contents of the directory into the mount point instead of transferring it into a containing html directory.

      • sudo rsync -av /var/www/your_domain/html /mnt/volume-nyc3-01

      You will see output like the following:


      sending incremental file list created directory /mnt/volume-nyc3-01 html/ html/index.html sent 318 bytes received 39 bytes 714.00 bytes/sec total size is 176 speedup is 0.49

      With our files in place, let’s move on to modifying our Nginx configuration to reflect these changes.

      Step 2 — Updating the Configuration Files

      Nginx makes use of both global and site-specific configuration files. For background about the hierarchy of configuration files, take a look at “How To Configure The Nginx Web Server On a Virtual Private Server”. We will modify the server block file for our your_domain project: /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/your_domain.

      Note: Remember to replace your_domain with your domain name, and remember that you will be modifying the server block files that were output when you ran the grep command in Step 1.

      Start by opening /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/your_domain in an editor:

      • sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/your_domain

      Find the line that begins with root and update it with the new root location. In our case this will be /mnt/volume-nyc3-01/html:


      server {
              root /mnt/volume-nyc3-01/html;
              index index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;
              . . .
      . . .

      Keep an eye out for any other places that you see the original document root path outputted by grep in Step 1, including in aliases or rewrites. You will also want to update these to reflect the new document root location.

      When you’ve made all of the necessary changes, save and close the file.

      Step 3 — Restarting Nginx

      Once you’ve finished making the configuration changes, you can restart Nginx and test the results.

      First, make sure the syntax is correct:

      If everything is in order, it should return:


      nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

      If the test fails, track down and fix the problems.

      Once the test passes, restart Nginx:

      • sudo systemctl restart nginx

      When the server has restarted, visit your affected sites and ensure they’re working as expected. Once you’re comfortable that everything is in order, don’t forget to remove the original copy of the data:

      • sudo rm -Rf /var/www/your_domain/html

      You have now successfully moved your Nginx document root to a new location.


      In this tutorial, we covered how to change the Nginx document root to a new location. This can help you with basic web server administration, like effectively managing multiple sites on a single server. It also allows you to take advantage of alternative storage devices such as network block storage, which can be helpful in scaling a web site as its needs change.

      If you’re managing a busy or growing web site, you might be interested in learning how to set up Nginx with HTTP/2 to take advantage of its high transfer speed for content.

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      Build a Scalable Virtual Classroom on DigitalOcean


      About the Talk

      See how BigBlueButton scaled their global infrastructure quickly and reliably by leveraging the DigitalOcean cloud platform and open source community to meet the rapid growth of virtual classrooms during the pandemic.

      What You’ll Learn

      • How to build a scalable virtual classroom
      • How to connect teachers and students online in ways that are synchronized, collaborative, and fun
      • How DigitalOcean can help you scale

      This Talk Is Designed For

      • Any company that provides online training
      • Anyone that wants to easily integrate an open source based virtual classroom into their product


      BigBlueButton on Ubuntu 16.04

      About the Presenter

      Fred Dixon is the project manager for BigBlueButton. He also moonlights as the CEO of Blindside Networks.

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      From 0 to 3 Million+ Deployments: Scaling App Platform on Kubernetes


      About the Talk

      Get a better understanding of how your builds run on DigitalOcean App Platform, and how to scale efficiently when your user base expands.

      App Platform, a new DigitalOcean managed-service offering, was released in October 2020 and has already been deployed over 3 million times. This immense growth didn’t come without its challenges around infrastructure, observability, and release velocity.

      Kamal and Nick share techniques and strategies that have helped DigitalOcean overcome these problem areas and the benefits received from each solution.

      About the Presenters

      Kamal Nasser
      Kamal Nasser is a Senior Software Engineer at DigitalOcean. When not automating and playing with modern software and technologies, you’ll likely find him penning early 17th century calligraphy.

      Nick Tate
      Nicholas Tate is a Tech Lead on the App Platform team at DigitalOcean. He has worked on the DigitalOcean Managed Kubernetes team and before that, on multi-cloud Kubernetes at Containership. He loves everything and anything related to cloud native infrastructure and enjoys playing guitar.

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