Building the ngx_postgres Module on Debian

I stumbled across a nifty little module for nginx calledngx_postgres.  It allows you to access a Postgres database directly through nginx and HTTP with little more than a configuration file that creates a REST mapping to your tables.  Interesting idea so I thought I’d give it a spin and see if it could be useful, however there were a couple of “gotchas” in setting it up that I thought I’d document.

First adding modules to nginx requires recompiling nginx so you’ve got to get your hands a little dirty to get it going.  I’m currently running Debian 6 in a hosted environment so I’ll give you the blow by blow based on my config.

Build Process

The first thing we’ll do is cd to /usr/src and grab the source for nginx by issuing the command…

cd /usr/src/
apt-get source nginx

Also make sure you have the following packages installed…

  • fakeroot
  • debhelper
  • dpkg-dev
  • autotools-dev
  • libssl-dev
  • libpq5
  • libpq-dev

You’ll also need git installed so that you can grab the sources for the nginx modules you’ll need.  Along with ngx_postgres, you’ll also need rds-json-nginx-module, form-input-nginx-module and ngx_devel_kit to help with the json production.

cd nginx-x.x.xx/modules
git clone
git clone
git clone
git clone

Next you’ll need to see if there are any other dependencies you’ll need for the build which is quite easy on Debian using…

apt-get build-dep nginx

After you know you’ve got everything you’ll need for the build you can modify the ./configure parameters of the build to include the two new modules.  Use your editor of choice to modify the rules file.  Something like vim ../debian/rules

You’ll need to add the –add-module lines to ./configure for the new modules.

--add-module=$(MODULESDIR)/ngx_postgres \
--add-module=$(MODULESDIR)/rds-json-nginx-module \
--add-module=$(MODULESDIR)/ngx_devel_kit \
--add-module=$(MODULESDIR)/form-input-nginx-module \

That’s it. Now run


After a couple of minutes you should have a few .deb files in /usr/src for your enjoyment.  Install the appropriate .deb using dpkg and you’re ready to get ndx_postgres working.

nginx/ndx_postgres Setup

So the build part was pretty straightforward and didn’t take very long but getting it setup and working without any instructions was a bit more challenging.  There are a few configuration examples that come with ngx_postgres that you’ll need to read through to get a feel how a configuration is created and mapped to your tables.

Once you’ve established a basic configuration file for your database tables save the file in the /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/ directory.  The important thing to note is that by default you already have a file in this directory called default. This file does the obvious and creates the default site for a basic nginx installation.  What I didn’t realize was that ngx_postgres wouldn’t work with the default site enabled.  I spent at least an hour going through everything until I finally tried disabling the default file from sites-enabled.  After disabling the default site for nginx.  Everything should start working fine… assuming you’ve formatted your ndx_postgres configuration correctly :) .

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