NGINX vs Passenger

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Passenger vs nginx: What are the differences?

Introduction

In web development, both Passenger and Nginx are widely used to serve web applications. While they have similar purposes, there are key differences between the two. This article will highlight and explore six of these differences in detail.

  1. Architecture: Passenger operates as a module within the Apache or Nginx web servers, integrating directly into their architecture. In contrast, Nginx is a standalone web server that can also act as a reverse proxy server for other applications.

  2. Ease of Configuration: Nginx offers a straightforward configuration process, utilizing simple text files that can be easily understood and modified. Passenger, on the other hand, requires more advanced configuration due to its integration with Apache or Nginx.

  3. Performance: Nginx is renowned for its high-performance capabilities, thanks to its event-driven, non-blocking architecture that allows it to handle a large number of concurrent connections efficiently. Passenger, while efficient, may experience performance limitations under extremely high traffic scenarios.

  4. Load Balancing: Nginx comes with built-in load balancing features, making it easier to distribute incoming traffic across multiple servers or application instances. Passenger does not include these load balancing capabilities inherently and often requires additional configuration or tools to achieve the same functionality.

  5. Application Support: Passenger is specifically designed to serve Ruby, Python, and Node.js web applications, providing built-in support for these languages. Nginx, on the other hand, is a more general-purpose web server that can host applications written in various programming languages.

  6. Resource Footprint: Due to its lightweight architecture, Nginx generally requires fewer system resources, such as memory and CPU, compared to Passenger. This makes Nginx a more suitable choice for environments with limited resources or when running on smaller server instances.

In summary, the key differences between Passenger and Nginx lie in their architecture, configuration process, performance, load balancing capabilities, supported languages, and resource usage. Understanding these distinctions enables developers to make informed decisions when selecting the appropriate web server for their specific needs.

Advice on NGINX and Passenger

I am diving into web development, both front and back end. I feel comfortable with administration, scripting and moderate coding in bash, Python and C++, but I am also a Windows fan (i love inner conflict). What are the votes on web servers? IIS is expensive and restrictive (has Windows adoption of open source changed this?) Apache has the history but seems to be at the root of most of my Infosec issues, and I know nothing about nginx (is it too new to rely on?). And no, I don't know what I want to do on the web explicitly, but hosting and data storage (both cloud and tape) are possibilities. Ready, aim fire!

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Replies (1)
Simon Aronsson
Developer Advocate at k6 / Load Impact · | 4 upvotes · 667.1K views
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I would pick nginx over both IIS and Apace HTTP Server any day. Combine it with docker, and as you grow maybe even traefik, and you'll have a really flexible solution for serving http content where you can take sites and projects up and down without effort, easily move it between systems and dont have to handle any dependencies on your actual local machine.

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Needs advice
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From a StackShare Community member: "We are a LAMP shop currently focused on improving web performance for our customers. We have made many front-end optimizations and now we are considering replacing Apache with nginx. I was wondering if others saw a noticeable performance gain or any other benefits by switching."

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Replies (3)
Recommends
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I use nginx because it is very light weight. Where Apache tries to include everything in the web server, nginx opts to have external programs/facilities take care of that so the web server can focus on efficiently serving web pages. While this can seem inefficient, it limits the number of new bugs found in the web server, which is the element that faces the client most directly.

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Leandro Barral
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I use nginx because its more flexible and easy to configure

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Christian Cwienk
Software Developer at SAP · | 1 upvotes · 635.3K views
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I use Apache HTTP Server because it's intuitive, comprehensive, well-documented, and just works

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Decisions about NGINX and Passenger
Daniel Calvo
Co-Founder at Polpo Data Analytics & Software Development · | 8 upvotes · 236.7K views

For us, NGINX is a lite HTTP server easy to configure. On our research, we found a well-documented software we a lot of support from the community.

We have been using it alongside tools like certbot and it has been a total success.

We can easily configure our sites and have a folder for available vs enabled sites, and with the nginx -t command we can easily check everything is running fine.

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Grant Steuart
  • Server rendered HTML output from PHP is being migrated to the client as Vue.js components, future plans to provide additional content, and other new miscellaneous features all result in a substantial increase of static files needing to be served from the server. NGINX has better performance than Apache for serving static content.
  • The change to NGINX will require switching from PHP to PHP-FPM resulting in a distributed architecture with a higher complexity configuration, but this is outweighed by PHP-FPM being faster than PHP for processing requests.
  • The NGINX + PHP-FPM setup now allows for horizontally scaling of resources rather vertically scaling the previously combined Apache + PHP resources.
  • PHP shell tasks can now efficiently be decoupled from the application reducing main application footprint and allow for scaling of tasks on an individual basis.
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Pros of NGINX
Pros of Passenger
  • 1.4K
    High-performance http server
  • 893
    Performance
  • 730
    Easy to configure
  • 607
    Open source
  • 530
    Load balancer
  • 288
    Free
  • 288
    Scalability
  • 225
    Web server
  • 175
    Simplicity
  • 136
    Easy setup
  • 30
    Content caching
  • 21
    Web Accelerator
  • 15
    Capability
  • 14
    Fast
  • 12
    High-latency
  • 12
    Predictability
  • 8
    Reverse Proxy
  • 7
    The best of them
  • 7
    Supports http/2
  • 5
    Great Community
  • 5
    Lots of Modules
  • 5
    Enterprise version
  • 4
    High perfomance proxy server
  • 3
    Reversy Proxy
  • 3
    Streaming media delivery
  • 3
    Streaming media
  • 3
    Embedded Lua scripting
  • 2
    GRPC-Web
  • 2
    Blash
  • 2
    Lightweight
  • 2
    Fast and easy to set up
  • 2
    Slim
  • 2
    saltstack
  • 1
    Virtual hosting
  • 1
    Narrow focus. Easy to configure. Fast
  • 1
    Along with Redis Cache its the Most superior
  • 1
    Ingress controller
  • 43
    Nginx integration
  • 36
    Great for rails
  • 21
    Fast web server
  • 19
    Free
  • 15
    Lightweight
  • 14
    Scalable
  • 13
    Rolling restarts
  • 10
    Multithreading
  • 9
    Out-of-process architecture
  • 6
    Low-bandwidth
  • 2
    Virtually infinitely scalable
  • 2
    Deployment error resistance
  • 2
    Mass deployment
  • 2
    High-latency
  • 1
    Many of its good features are only enterprise level
  • 1
    Apache integration
  • 1
    Secure
  • 1
    Asynchronous I/O
  • 1
    Multiple programming language support

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Cons of NGINX
Cons of Passenger
  • 10
    Advanced features require subscription
  • 0
    Cost (some features require paid/pro)

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What is NGINX?

nginx [engine x] is an HTTP and reverse proxy server, as well as a mail proxy server, written by Igor Sysoev. According to Netcraft nginx served or proxied 30.46% of the top million busiest sites in Jan 2018.

What is Passenger?

Phusion Passenger is a web server and application server, designed to be fast, robust and lightweight. It takes a lot of complexity out of deploying web apps, adds powerful enterprise-grade features that are useful in production, and makes administration much easier and less complex.

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Blog Posts

What are some alternatives to NGINX and Passenger?
HAProxy
HAProxy (High Availability Proxy) is a free, very fast and reliable solution offering high availability, load balancing, and proxying for TCP and HTTP-based applications.
lighttpd
lighttpd has a very low memory footprint compared to other webservers and takes care of cpu-load. Its advanced feature-set (FastCGI, CGI, Auth, Output-Compression, URL-Rewriting and many more) make lighttpd the perfect webserver-software for every server that suffers load problems.
Traefik
A modern HTTP reverse proxy and load balancer that makes deploying microservices easy. Traefik integrates with your existing infrastructure components and configures itself automatically and dynamically.
Caddy
Caddy 2 is a powerful, enterprise-ready, open source web server with automatic HTTPS written in Go.
Envoy
Originally built at Lyft, Envoy is a high performance C++ distributed proxy designed for single services and applications, as well as a communication bus and “universal data plane” designed for large microservice “service mesh” architectures.
See all alternatives