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Nginx Plus vs open source Nginx

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Nginx is the second most popular Web server, with about 15% market share amongst active websites. Apache is in first place, with Microsoft’s IIS right behind Nginx. That’s from the September 2015 Web Server Survey from Netcraft.

Like Apache, Nginx is open source software. However, unlike Apache, Nginx has a commercial edition – Nginx Plus, which is developed and supported by Nginx, Inc.

As is wont with such software, Nginx Plus has a few features that are not available in open source Nginx. And a few features that are default in a binary install of Nginx Plus can only be enabled at compile time for open source Nginx.

The following table shows a comparison of core features of both editions of Nginx.

Nginx Plus vs open source Nginx

Core FeaturesOpen source NginxNginx Plus
TCP load balancingOptional, enabled at compile timeBuilt-in
Load-balancing methodsRound Robin, generic Hash, IP Hash, Least ConnectionsRound Robin, generic Hash, IP Hash, Least Connections, Least Time
SSL decryption and encryptionYesYes
DNS configurationStatic (at configuration load)Dynamic (DNS configuration can be regularly refreshed)
Dynamic load balancing configurationNoYes
Passive health checksYesYes
Application-aware health checksNoYes
Slow-Start for recovered serversNoYes
TCP load balancing metrics and health check dataNoYes
Access Control Lists (ACLs)YesYes
Bandwidth limitingYesYes
Client connection limitsYesYes
Binding to a specific addressYesYes
Server (upstream) connection limitsNoYes

source: TCP Load Balancing in NGINX Plus R7

Nginx is supported on all Unix-like operating systems, but because of the ports tree in the BSDs, those few features that are only available at compile time are more readily available to users in, say, FreeBSD than on Linux distributions. So all things being equal, I’ll rather install Nginx on FreeBSD than on, say, Ubuntu server.

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