How to setup HAProxy as Load Balancer for Nginx on CentOS 7

HAProxy or High Availability Proxy is an open source TCP and HTTP load balancer and proxy server software. HAProxy has been written by Willy Tarreau in C, it supports SSL, compressions, keep-alive, custom log formats and header rewriting. HAProxy is a fast and lightweight proxy server and load balancer with a small memory footprint and low CPU usage. It is used by large sites like Github, StackOverflow, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter and others. It has become the most popular software load balancer and proxy server in the past years.

In this tutorial, I will guide you trough the HAProxy installation and configuration for 3 servers, one load balancer, and two Nginx web servers. We will install HAProxy on a single server and then install Nginx web server on the other servers. HAProxy acts as a load balancer for the Nginx web servers.

Basic Concept with HAProxy

Layer 4 and Layer 7

HAProxy can run in two modes: TCP mode Layer 4 and HTTP Mode Layer 7. In Layer 4 TCP mode, HAProxy forwards the RAW TCP packets from the client to the application servers. In the Layer 7 HTTP mode, HAProxy is parsing the HTTP header before forwarding them to the application servers. In this tutorial, we will use Nginx as the web server that only supports the Layer 7 HTTP mode.

Balance Algorithm

This is the algorithm that is used by HAProxy to select the server when doing the load balancing. The following modes are available:


This is the most simple balance algorithm. For each new connection, it will be handled by the next backend server. If the last backend server in the list is reached, it will start again from the top of backend list.


The new connection will be handled by the backend server with least amount of connections. This is useful when the time and load of the requests vary a lot.


This is for sticky sessions, the client IP will be hashed to determine the backend server that received the last request from this IP. So an IP A will always be handled by backend1, and IP B will always be handled by banckend2 to not interrupt sessions

There are oOther algorithm – check the official HAProxy site for details.


  • 3 CentOS 7




  • Root privileges on all 3 servers.

Step 1 – Configure the /etc/hosts files

Log in to the load balancer server and edit the /etc/hosts file.

ssh loadbalancer@ su
vi /etc/hosts

Add nginx1 and nginx2 hostnames:     nginx1192.168.1.105     nginx2

Save the file and exit the editor.

Next, edit the hosts file on the Nginx servers (nginx1 and nginx2):

ssh nginx1@ nginx2@

Edit and add a new line for the load balancer in the hosts files:

vi /etc/host

Add the loadbalancer hostname on each nginx server:    loadbalancer

do this on nginx1 and nginx2 server.

Step 2 – Install and Configure HAProxy

HAProxy is available in the CentOS 7 repository, log in to the loadbalancer server and update the package lists:

ssh loadbalancer@ -y update

Now install HAProxy with this yum command:

yum -y install haproxy

When the installation is finished, go to the “/etc/haproxy/” directory and backup the original configuration file:

cd /etc/haproxy/mv haproxy.cfg haproxy.cfg.orig

Next, add a new HAProxy configuration file “haproxy.cfg” file with the vi editor:

vi haproxy.cfg

Paste the configuration below:

#---------------------------------------------------------------------# Global settings#---------------------------------------------------------------------global    log local2     #Log configuration     chroot      /var/lib/haproxy    pidfile     /var/run/    maxconn     4000                    user        haproxy             #Haproxy running under user and group "haproxy"    group       haproxy    daemon     # turn on stats unix socket    stats socket /var/lib/haproxy/stats #---------------------------------------------------------------------# common defaults that all the 'listen' and 'backend' sections will# use if not designated in their block#---------------------------------------------------------------------defaults    mode                    http    log                     global    option                  httplog    option                  dontlognull    option http-server-close    option forwardfor       except    option                  redispatch    retries                 3    timeout http-request    10s    timeout queue           1m    timeout connect         10s    timeout client          1m    timeout server          1m    timeout http-keep-alive 10s    timeout check           10s    maxconn                 3000 #---------------------------------------------------------------------#HAProxy Monitoring Config#---------------------------------------------------------------------listen haproxy3-monitoring *:8080                #Haproxy Monitoring run on port 8080    mode http    option forwardfor    option httpclose    stats enable    stats show-legends    stats refresh 5s    stats uri /stats                             #URL for HAProxy monitoring    stats realm Haproxy\ Statistics    stats auth howtoforge:howtoforge            #User and Password for login to the monitoring dashboard    stats admin if TRUE    default_backend app-main                    #This is optionally for monitoring backend #---------------------------------------------------------------------# FrontEnd Configuration#---------------------------------------------------------------------frontend main    bind *:80    option http-server-close    option forwardfor    default_backend app-main #---------------------------------------------------------------------# BackEnd roundrobin as balance algorithm#---------------------------------------------------------------------backend app-main    balance roundrobin                                     #Balance algorithm    option httpchk HEAD / HTTP/1.1\r\nHost:\ localhost    #Check the server application is up and healty - 200 status code    server nginx1 check                 #Nginx1     server nginx2 check                 #Nginx2

Save the configuration file and exit.

Next, configure rsyslog for HAProxy.

We will configure the rsyslog daemon to log the HAProxy statistics. Edit the rsyslog.conf file to enable the UDP port 514 to be used by rsyslog.

vi /etc/rsyslog.conf

Uncomment this line to enable the UDP connection:

$ModLoad imudp$UDPServerRun 514

If you want to use a specific IP, you can add a new line like the one below:


Save the file and exit.

Then create new haproxy configuration file for rsyslog:

cd /etc/rsyslog.d/vi haproxy.conf

Paste configuration below:

local2.=info     /var/log/haproxy-access.log    #For Access Loglocal2.notice    /var/log/haproxy-info.log      #For Service Info - Backend, loadbalancer

Save and exit.

Now restart rsyslog and then start the haproxy:

systemctl restart rsyslogsystemctl start haproxy

Add haproxy to start at boot time:

systemctl enable haproxy

Step 3 – Install and Configure Nginx

In this section, we will install Nginx from epel repository on nginx1 and nginx2 server.

Log in to the servers:

ssh nginx1@ nginx2@

Install the epel repository with the yum command below:

yum -y install epel-release

Now you can install Nginx:

yum -y install nginx

Nginx is installed. Go to the web directory and change the index file so that we can see which of the two servers delivered the html file:

cd /usr/share/nginx/html/echo "<h1></h1>" > index.html     #For nginx1 serverecho "<h1></h1>" > index.html     #For nginx2 server

Next, add Nginx to start at boot time and then start it:

systemctl enable nginxsystemctl start nginx

Make sure you’re doing this step on nginx1 and nginx2 server.

Step 4 – Testing

Testing from browser by accessing the loadbalancer IP:

Request handled by Nginx 1

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