Just a few weeks ago we announced the availability on our edge network of HTTP/3, the new revision of HTTP intended to improve security and performance on the Internet. Everyone can now enable HTTP/3 on their Cloudflare zone and experiment with it using Chrome Canary as well as curl, among other clients.

We have previously made available an example HTTP/3 server as part of the quiche project to allow people to experiment with the protocol, but it’s quite limited in the functionality that it offers, and was never intended to replace other general-purpose web servers.

We are now happy to announce that our implementation of HTTP/3 and QUIC can be integrated into your own installation of NGINX as well. This is made available as a patch to NGINX, that can be applied and built directly with the upstream NGINX codebase.

It’s important to note that this is not officially supported or endorsed by the NGINX project, it is just something that we, Cloudflare, want to make available to the wider community to help push adoption of QUIC and HTTP/3.

Building

The first step is to download and unpack the NGINX source code. Note that the HTTP/3 and QUIC patch only works with the 1.16.x release branch (the latest stable release being 1.16.1).

 % curl -O https://nginx.org/download/nginx-1.16.1.tar.gz
 % tar xvzf nginx-1.16.1.tar.gz

As well as quiche, the underlying implementation of HTTP/3 and QUIC:

 % git clone --recursive https://github.com/cloudflare/quiche

Next you’ll need to apply the patch to NGINX:

 % cd nginx-1.16.1
 % patch -p01 < ../quiche/extras/nginx/nginx-1.16.patch

And finally build NGINX with HTTP/3 support enabled:

 % ./configure                          	\
   	--prefix=$PWD                       	\
   	--with-http_ssl_module              	\
   	--with-http_v2_module               	\
   	--with-http_v3_module               	\
   	--with-openssl=../quiche/deps/boringssl \
   	--with-quiche=../quiche
 % make

The above command instructs the NGINX build system to enable the HTTP/3 support ( --with-http_v3_module) by using the quiche library found in the path it was previously downloaded into ( --with-quiche=../quiche), as well as TLS and HTTP/2. Additional build options can be added as needed.

You can check out the full instructions here.

Running

Once built, NGINX can be configured to accept incoming HTTP/3 connections by adding the quic and reuseport options to the listen configuration directive.

Here is a minimal configuration example that you can start from:

events {
    worker_connections  1024;
}

http {
    server {
        # Enable QUIC and HTTP/3.
        listen 443 quic reuseport;

        # Enable HTTP/2 (optional).
        listen 443 ssl http2;

        ssl_certificate      cert.crt;
        ssl_certificate_key  cert.key;

        # Enable all TLS versions (TLSv1.3 is required for QUIC).
        ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2 TLSv1.3;
        
        # Add Alt-Svc header to negotiate HTTP/3.
        add_header alt-svc 'h3-23=":443"; ma=86400';
    }
}

This will enable both HTTP/2 and HTTP/3 on the TCP/443 and UDP/443 ports respectively.

You can then use one of the available HTTP/3 clients (such as Chrome Canary, curl or even the example HTTP/3 client provided as part of quiche) to connect to your NGINX instance using HTTP/3.

We are excited to make this available for everyone to experiment and play with HTTP/3, but it’s important to note that the implementation is still experimental and it’s likely to have bugs as well as limitations in functionality. Feel free to submit a ticket to the quiche project if you run into problems or find any bug.