Step 10. Set up a proxy

You're almost through! At this point, you should be pretty familiar with now Netdata works and how to configure it to your liking.

In this step of the tutorial, we're going to add a proxy in front of Netdata. We're doing this for both improved performance and security, so we highly recommend following these steps. Doubly so if you installed Netdata on a publicly-accessible remote server.

❗ If you installed Netdata on the machine you're currently using (e.g. on localhost), and have been accessing Netdata at http://localhost:19999, you can skip this step of the tutorial. In most cases, there is no benefit to setting up a proxy for a service running locally.

❗❗ This tutorial requires more advanced administration skills than previous parts. If you're still working on your Linux administration skills, and would rather get back to Netdata, you might want to skip this step for now and return to it later.

What you'll learn in this step

In this step of the Netdata guide, you'll learn:

Let's dive in!

Wait. What's a proxy?

A proxy is a middleman between the internet and a service you're running on your system. Traffic from the internet at large enters your system through the proxy, which then routes it to the service.

A proxy is often used to enable encrypted HTTPS connections with your browser, but they're also useful for load balancing, performance, and password-protection.

We'll use Nginx for this step of the tutorial, but you can also use Caddy as a simple proxy if you prefer.

Required before you start

You need three things to run a proxy using Nginx:

  • Nginx and Certbot installed on your system
  • A fully qualified domain name
  • A subdomain for Netdata that points to your system

Nginx and Certbot

This step of the tutorial assumes you can install Nginx on your system. Here are the easiest methods to do so on Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, and CentOS systems.

sudo apt-get install nginx # Debian/Ubuntu
sudo dnf install nginx # Fedora
sudo yum install nginx # CentOS

Check out Nginx's installation instructions for details on other Linux distributions.

Certbot is a tool to help you create and renew certiciate+key pairs for your domain. Visit their instructions to get a detailed installation process for your operating system.

Fully qualified domain name

The only other true prerequisite of using a proxy is a fully qualified domain name (FQDN). In other words, a domain name like example.com, netdata.cloud, or github.com.

If you don't have a domain name, you won't be able to use a proxy the way we'll describe here.

Because we strongly recommend running Netdata behind a proxy, the cost of a domain name is worth the benefit. If you don't have a preferred domain registrar, try Google Domains, Cloudflare, or Namecheap.

Subdomain for Netdata

Any of the three domain registrars mentioned above, and most registrars in general, will allow you to create new DNS entries for your domain.

To create a subdomain for Netdata, use your registrar's DNS settings to create an A record for a netdata subdomain. Point the A record to the IP address of your system.

Once finished with the steps below, you'll be able to access your dashboard at http://netdata.example.com.

Connect Netdata to Nginx

The first part of enabling the proxy is to create a new server for Nginx.

Use your favorite text editor to create a file at /etc/nginx/sites-available/netdata, copy in the following configuration, and change the server_name line to match your domain.

upstream backend {
server 127.0.0.1:19999;
keepalive 64;
}
server {
listen 80;
# Change `example.com` to match your domain name.
server_name netdata.example.com;
location / {
proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Host $host;
proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Server $host;
proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
proxy_pass http://backend;
proxy_http_version 1.1;
proxy_pass_request_headers on;
proxy_set_header Connection "keep-alive";
proxy_store off;
}
}

Save and close the file.

Test your configuration file by running sudo nginx -t.

If that returns no errors, it's time to make your server available. Run the command to create a symbolic link in the sites-enabled directory.

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/netdata /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/netdata

Finally, restart Nginx to make your changes live. Open your browser and head to http://netdata.example.com. You should see your proxied Netdata dashboard!

Enable HTTPS in Nginx

All this proxying doesn't mean much if we can't take advantage of one of the biggest benefits: encrypted HTTPS connections! Let's fix that.

Certbot will automatically get a certificate, edit your Nginx configuration, and get HTTPS running in a single step. Run the following:

sudo certbot --nginx

See this error after running sudo certbot --nginx?

Saving debug log to /var/log/letsencrypt/letsencrypt.log
The requested nginx plugin does not appear to be installed`

You must install python-certbox-nginx. On Ubuntu or Debian systems, you can run sudo apt-get install python-certbot-nginx to download and install this package.

You'll be prompted with a few questions. At the Which names would you like to activate HTTPS for? question, hit Enter. Next comes this question:

Please choose whether or not to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS, removing HTTP access.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
1: No redirect - Make no further changes to the webserver configuration.
2: Redirect - Make all requests redirect to secure HTTPS access. Choose this for
new sites, or if you're confident your site works on HTTPS. You can undo this
change by editing your web server's configuration.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

You do want to force HTTPS, so hit 2 and then Enter. Nginx will now ensure all attempts to access netdata.example.com use HTTPS.

Certbot will automatically renew your certificate whenever it's needed, so you're done configuring your proxy. Open your browser again and navigate to https://netdata.example.com, and you'll land on an encrypted, proxied Netdata dashboard!

Secure your Netdata dashboard with a password

Finally, let's take a moment to put your Netdata dashboard behind a password. This step is optional, but you might not want anyone to access the metrics in your proxied dashboard.

Run the below command after changing user to the username you want to use to log in to your dashboard.

sudo sh -c "echo -n 'user:' >> /etc/nginx/.htpasswd"

Then run this command to create a password:

sudo sh -c "openssl passwd -apr1 >> /etc/nginx/.htpasswd"

You'll be prompted to create a password. Next, open your Nginx configuration file at /etc/nginx/sites-available/netdata and add these two lines under location / {:

location / {
auth_basic "Restricted Content";
auth_basic_user_file /etc/nginx/.htpasswd;
...

Save, exit, and restart Nginx. Then try visiting your dashboard one last time. You'll see a prompt for the username and password you just created.

Username/password
prompt

Your Netdata dashboard is now a touch more secure.

What's next?

You're a real sysadmin now!

If you want to configure your Nginx proxy further, check out the following:

And... you're almost done with the Netdata tutorial.

For some celebratory emoji and a clap on the back, head on over to our final step.

Next: The end. →

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