Compiling NGINX with — with-http_auth_request_module on Centos 7

While looking at SSO solutions I decided to investigate a bit more options how I could use Nginx with solutions like Okta to protect my resources. One of interesting ones was using authentication proxy with Nginx.

The afore functionality is available through use of http_auth_request_module. However this module is not compiled by default. This got me the idea that would be nice to exercise going step by step through compiling Nginx with auth module Centos 7.

Yes – I do know that there are solutions on the market/internet which would save me from this – however I value the learning process in this challenge as well 🙂 If you have interesting links to alternatives please leave them in the comment section.

Getting the sources

Our journey begins with getting the sources. I have tried following the official Nginx documentation but I find it …. somehow not up to the task. Hence there are some modifications or additions that I did to get this through 🙂

mkdir nginx-from-source && cd $_

Once we have our new folder we can download the pre-reqs

Here we are taking Nginx version 1.19.0 – please be sure to check whats the latest version before running the command

   wget https://ftp.pcre.org/pub/pcre/pcre-8.44.tar.gz
   wget http://zlib.net/zlib-1.2.11.tar.gz
   wget http://www.openssl.org/source/openssl-1.1.1g.tar.gz
   wget https://nginx.org/download/nginx-1.19.0.tar.gz
   tar zxf nginx-1.19.0.tar.gz

Compile PCRE

tar -zxf pcre-8.44.tar.gz
cd pcre-8.44
sudo make install

Compile ZLIB

tar -zxf zlib-1.2.11.tar.gz
cd zlib-1.2.11
sudo make install

Compiling OpenSSL

OpenSSL deserves spot for bit more insights than just dry code. We will use never version than the one running on the box right now.


We will start off by installing required packages via yum and extracting the content of downloaded archive

yum group install 'Development Tools'
yum install perl-core zlib-devel -y
tar -xf openssl-1.1.1g.tar.gz 
cd openssl-1.1.1g

Configure & install OpenSSL

sudo ./config --prefix=/usr/local/ssl --openssldir=/usr/local/ssl shared zlib
sudo make
sudo make test
sudo make install

Configure shared libraries

Navigate to /etc/ld.so.conf.d and run the following

sudo echo "/usr/local/ssl/lib" >> /etc/ld.so.conf.d/openssl-1.1.1g.conf

ldconfig is used to create, update and remove symbolic links for the current shared libraries based on the lib directories present in the /etc/ld.so.conf

Reload with verbose

sudo ldconfig -v

Configure OpenSSL binary

Start with backing up the current OpenSSL

sudo mv /bin/openssl /bin/openssl.backup

Create script which will be executed on the system…

sudo vi /etc/profile.d/openssl.sh

… and set contents to

export PATH

Once done we need to make sure that the script is allowed to be executed

sudo chmod +x /etc/profile.d/openssl.sh

Next reload the profile to get the openSSL new binary with your PATH

source /etc/profile.d/openssl.sh

Verify openSSL version

 which openssl
 openssl version -a

If you reached this moment then we are ready to move on the next part 🙂

Compiling Nginx with extra modules

Create user under which the process will be running

useradd -s/sbin/nologin -d/usr/local/nginx -M nginx

Navigate to folder with nginx sources created during download of our pre-reqs and run the config command


The above compiles Nginx with extra modules. For a comprehensive list with detailed information about each of the extra modules please refer to official Nginx documentation.

Once the above command finishes run

  make install

When the above process finishes you should have nginx installed in /usr/local/nginx

Initial configuration of Nginx

In order to use Nginx we need to configure it. Right now our system knows nothing about running it.

Run vi /etc/systemd/system/nginx.service and set the content to

Description=The NGINX HTTP and reverse proxy server
After=syslog.target network-online.target remote-fs.target nss-lookup.target

ExecStartPre=/usr/local/nginx/nginx -t
ExecReload=/usr/local/nginx/nginx -s reload
ExecStop=/bin/kill -s QUIT $MAINPID


Now when you run systemctl status nginx you should see our service available.

Go ahead and run it! Type systemctl start nginx

At this moment you should have Nginx running with extra modules compiled!


openSSL pb7 certificate : unable to load certificate

Recently when working with certificates I received them in pb7 format. If you just try to take them as is u might get

unable to load certificate
140735207381436:error:0D0680A8:asn1 encoding routines:ASN1_CHECK_TLEN:wrong tag:tasn_dec.c:1319:
140735207381436:error:0D07803A:asn1 encoding routines:ASN1_ITEM_EX_D2I:nested asn1 error:tasn_dec.c:381:Type=X509_CINF
140735207381436:error:0D08303A:asn1 encoding routines:ASN1_TEMPLATE_NOEXP_D2I:nested asn1 error:tasn_dec.c:751:Field=cert_info, Type=X509
140735207381436:error:0906700D:PEM routines:PEM_ASN1_read_bio:ASN1 lib:pem_oth.c:83:

When trying to validate a certificate using openssl, this is because it is in the wrong format, whilst the certificate file visually appears to be in x.509 format, you will find it contains a far longer base64 string than x.509 certificates of the same bit length.
The format in this case is p7b (PCKS #7); to use the certificate with apache you’re going to have to convert this.

openssl pkcs7 -print_certs -in certificate.p7b -out certificate.cer

Within the resulting .cer file you will file you x.509 certificate bundled with relevant CA certificates, break these out into your relevant .crt and ca.crt files and load as normal into apache.


OpenSSL – generate self signed certificate

Quite often to test different aspects of IT or security we use certificates which are self signed. As the name implies we are responsible for generating them. In this post we will go through short explanation how to generate one with use of openssl.

To create one we will issue the following command :

openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout certificate-key.pem -out certificate.pem -days 365

In order to better understand above command lets break it down :

  • req : PKCS#10 certificate request and certificate generating utility
  • -x509 : we receive self signed certificate as output instead of certificate request
  • -newkey rsa:#### : creates a new certificate request and new private key. In this instance we use RSA with size of #### bits
  • -keyout file.name : outputs just created private key into a file
  • -out file.name : specifies output file name
  • -days # : specifies how many days the certificate will be valid when x509 option have been used. Default value for this setting is 30 days
  • -nodes : indicates that private key should not be encrypted


For those being on windows we sometimes need to get PFX (which contains private and public key ). Easiest is to use OpenSSL in the following form :

openssl pkcs12 -inkey bob_key.pem -in bob_cert.cert -export -out bob_pfx.pfx


Since some of you will be working on windows you might get across the following error :

WARNING: can't open config file: /usr/local/ssl/openssl.cnf

then what you are missing is setting for a environmental variable (*make sure to adjust path to your cfg file ):

set OPENSSL_CONF=c:\OpenSSL-Win32\bin\openssl.cfg


And thats it for self signed certificate. In next post we will use knowledge of certificates with the power of Docker and will set up our own registry