After creating French Press and migrating my site to Node.js, I realized I needed to setup Node on my actual web server. Here’s some info on what steps were involved.

Setting up an HTTP proxy

I set up a HTTP proxy so that I could run node on a non-privileged port, but still access it via port 80. This also would allow me to run multiple instances of node in the future if I needed to for some reason and have basic load balancing. I chose to use (Nginx)[] as my proxy. As I am running Ubuntu, installation is dead simple:

$ sudo apt-get install nginx

Now we need to configure the Nginx to proxy our requests. Create a new file in /etc/nginx/sites-available:

upstream app_cluster_1 {

server {
  server_name YOUR_HOSTNAME_HERE;
  access_log /var/log/nginx/node.log;

  location / {
    proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
    proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
    proxy_set_header X-NginX-Proxy true;

    proxy_pass http://app_cluster_1/;
    proxy_redirect off;

Create a start up script

I want to make sure that starting and stopping the Node app is as simple as possible, so I needed to create a start up script. Service startup and shutdown is handled via upstart on Ubuntu these days, so I created the following upstart script in /etc/init/:

description "My Node.js app"
author      "Cory Lucas"

start on startup
stop on shutdown

    export NODE_ENV=production

    echo $$ > /var/run/
    exec sudo -u node /opt/node/bin/node [PATH_TO_YOUR_APP] >> /var/log/my_node_app.sys.log 2>&1
end script

pre-start script
    # Date format same as (new Date()).toISOString() for consistency
    echo "[`date -u +%Y-%m-%dT%T.%3NZ`] (sys) Starting" >> /var/log/my_node_app.sys.log
end script

pre-stop script
    rm /var/run/
    echo "[`date -u +%Y-%m-%dT%T.%3NZ`] (sys) Stopping" >> /var/log/my_node_app.sys.log
end script

With the script in place, starting the Node app is as simple as

service start [YOUR_SERVICE_NAME]

Setup Monit

My app is currently pretty simple, but I don’t want an unhandled exception to take the site down so I set up Monit to make sure Node keeps running. Installation is simple:

$ sudo apt-get install monit

We need to create a configuration for Monit to watch our node process now. In Ubuntu, these go in /etc/monit/monitrc.d/. Here’s my config file:

 check process node with pidfile /var/run/
   start program = "/sbin/start YOUR_SERVICE_NAME"
   stop program = "/sbin/stop YOUR_SERVICE_NAME"
   if failed port YOUR_NODE_PORT protocol http
     request "/"
     with timeout 10 seconds
     then restart
   if 5 restarts with 5 cycles then timeout

This is my setup so far. I will update this post if I find anything else.