Viability of nginx instead of hardware load balancer?

David Murphy david at
Tue Sep 15 19:19:38 MSD 2009

Not sure if this is possible ( as I haven't tried it) but what about
building  nginx on Damn Small Linux and having a boot cd  or ramdisk, or
even  boot flash.  You could literally take   something like  a    PowerEdge
1425 or so and have a kicking minimalistic   LB  hardware running on nginx. 

Technically if you were so inclined, you could even  write  DSL and nginx
to a prom chip so its  100% automated, I'm better if nginx  does everything
you need it would be a lot cheaper than the hardware normal route with the
same if not better stability. 

Personally what I would do is  (assuming you have ESX), run 2  VM's  both
running  nginx on dedicated NICs. Then one your switching set up an
active/active fail over to those nice ( and have the VM's on separate ESX
You would then have a fully redundant LB system so if nginx on one node
crashes   the fail over would route all traffic  to  the other  LB. 

This might require a little  coding to nginx, to cause on OPPS on errors ,
so that  the node would reboot.

Just  my thoughts.
-----Original Message-----
From: owner-nginx at [mailto:owner-nginx at] On Behalf Of John
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 9:41 AM
To: nginx at
Subject: Viability of nginx instead of hardware load balancer?

I'm working on a project where it's critical to minimize the possibility of
a single point of failure, and where there will be quite high traffic.
Currently in another version of the system we're using nginx as a remote
proxy server for Tomcat, but the current plan is to use a hardware load
balancer in front of a Tomcat cluster (or a cluster of 
nginx+Tomcat instances). I'm wondering, though, given the extraordinary
performance and reliability of nginx, whether we might be able to omit the
hardware load-balancer and use instead a couple of dedicated minimal nginx
servers with failover between them. If anyone has gone down this path and
has some good ideas and/or useful experience, I'd be keen to hear from them.

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