Trial NGINX Controller with App Security


This quick-start tutorial shows you how to get started using NGINX Controller with the Application Security Add-on (“App Security”). The App Security add-on to the NGINX Controller Application Delivery Module enables a web application firewall (WAF) that you can use to protect your apps.

Take the steps in this guide to deploy NGINX Controller with App Security and deploy NGINX App Protect with NGINX Plus as a data plane instance for use with NGINX Controller.

If you already have an active NGINX Controller trial and want to add App Security to it, you can start with the Install NGINX App Protect with NGINX Plus section.
In this tutorial, NGINX Controller will install an embedded, self-hosted PostgreSQL database suitable for demo and trial purposes only. These instructions are not meant for use in production environments.

Technical Requirements

Be sure to review the NGINX Controller Technical Specifications Guide for additional requirements for your desired distribution and configuration.

Supported Distributions

NGINX Controller with App Security supports the following distributions for deploying NGINX App Protect:

  • CentOS 7 (7.4+)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (7.4+)
  • Debian 9
  • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

Hardware Specs

The following minimum hardware specifications are required for each node running NGINX Controller:

  • RAM: 8 GB RAM
  • CPU: 8-Core CPU @ 2.40 GHz or similar
  • Disk space: 80 GB free disk space

Supported NGINX Versions

The App Security add-on for the NGINX Controller Application Delivery module is compatible with the following versions of NGINX Plus and NGINX App Protect:

NGINX Controller version NGINX Plus version NGINX App Protect version
v3.12+ R22 v2.1.1
v3.13+ R23 v2.3
v3.14+ R23 v3.0
See Also:
For instructions on installing specific NGINX App Protect packages on supported OS distributions, refer to the guide Using NGINX App Protect with NGINX Controller.

Sign Up for a Trial License

If you already have an active NGINX Controller trial instance that you want to add App Security to, you can skip this section.

First, you need to sign up for a trial license for NGINX Controller. The trial includes access to NGINX Plus, the NGINX Controller Application Delivery module, and the Application Security add-on.

  1. Go to MyF5 and create a new account.
  2. Verify your account and log in to MyF5.
  3. On the MyF5 landing page, activate the NGINX Controller free trial.
  4. On the MyF5 Trials page, select Launch Your Trial.
  5. Download the NGINX Controller package.
  6. Make note of your Association Token. You will use this to license your NGINX Controller instance.

Install NGINX Controller

If you already have an active NGINX Controller trial instance that you want to add App Security to, you can skip this section.


Before installing NGINX Controller, ensure you have the following prerequisites:

  • Your NGINX Controller trial Association Token. You can find this in the MyF5 Customer Portal.

  • Required Linux utilities: These utilities are required by the installation script. The script will prompt you to install any missing utilities.

    • awk
    • bash (4.0 or later)
    • conntrack
    • coreutils: base64, basename, cat, comm, dirname, head, id, mkdir, numfmt, sort, tee
    • curl or wget
    • ebtables
    • envsubst (provided by the gettext package)
    • ethtool
    • getent
    • grep
    • gunzip (provided by the gzip package)
    • iproute
    • iptables
    • jq (1.5 or later)
    • less
    • openssl
    • sed
    • socat
    • tar
    • util-linux
    • yum-plugin-versionlock on RedHat/CentOS


Take the following steps to install NGINX Controller:

  1. Download the NGINX Controller installer package from the MyF5 Customer Portal.

  2. Extract the installer package files:

    tar xzf controller-installer-<version>.tar.gz
  3. Run the installation script:

    cd controller-installer
  4. When prompted to use an embedded config DB, type y.

    The installation script walks through a series of steps and asks for the following input:

    • Config database volume type: Specify the type of volume to use to store the config database: local, NFS, or AWS. We recommend choosing local for demo and trial purposes.

      See Also:
      Refer to the NGINX Controller Technical Specifications Guide for more information about the volume options and requirements.
    • Analytics database volume type: Specify the type of volume to use to store the analytics database: local, NFS, or AWS. We recommend choosing local for demo and trial purposes.

    • EULA: Read the end-user license agreement. Type either y to accept or n to exit.

    • SMTP

      • SMTP Host: Provide the host name or IP address of an SMTP server. This is used to send password recovery emails. For trial purposes, if you don’t need to receive these communications, you can enter a value of “” or something similar.
      • SMTP Port: The port of the SMTP server.
      • SMTP Authentication: Select y or n to authenticate when connecting to the SMTP server.
      • Use TLS for SMTP Communication: Select y or n to use SSL for SMTP server connections.
      • Do not reply email address: The sender’s email address. For example, [email protected].
    • Admin

      • First name: The first name for the initial admin user.
      • Last name: The last name for the initial admin user.
      • Email address: The contact email address for the initial admin user.
      • Password: The initial admin’s password. Passwords must be 6-64 characters long and must include letters and digits.
    • FQDN: Fully qualified domain name (FQDN) – a resolvable domain name for the NGINX Controller server. You can use the FQDN to access the NGINX Controller web interface. Additionally, the FQDN is used by Controller Agents when connecting to NGINX Controller.

    • SSL/TLS certificates: Type y to generate and use self-signed certs for running NGINX Controller over HTTPS, or type n to provide your own certs.

      If you provide your own SSL/TLS certificates, you’ll need a complete certificate chain file, with the intermediate CA cert appended to the server cert; the server certificate must appear before the chained certificates in the combined file.
  5. Log in to NGINX Controller at https://<Controller-FQDN>/login. Use the admin email address and password that you provided during the installation process.

  6. Once NGINX Controller is installed, you may safely delete the installer package that you downloaded and extracted.

License NGINX Controller

To add a license to NGINX Controller, take the following steps:

  1. Go to https://<Controller-FQDN>/platform/license and log in.

  2. In the Upload a license section, select an upload option:

    • Upload license file – Locate and select your license file in the file explorer.
    • Paste your Association Token or license file – Paste your customer Association Token or the contents of your NGINX Controller license file. These are available on the MyF5 Customer Portal.
  3. Select Save license.

See Also:
To add a license using the NGINX Controller API, send a PUT request to the /platform/license endpoint. Provide your CAT or NGINX Controller license as a base64-encoded string in the JSON request body.

Install NGINX App Protect with NGINX Plus

NGINX App Protect is the security data plane for NGINX Controller App Security. Your NGINX App Protect installation will include NGINX Plus.


If you are adding App Security to an existing NGINX Controller trial, we recommend that you take the steps in this section to deploy a new NGINX App Protect instance, rather than adding the App Protect module to an existing NGINX Plus instance.

NGINX Controller App Security is supported for use with a limited subset of the OS distributions that are supported by the NGINX Controller Agent and NGINX Plus. If you are planning to add NGINX App Protect to an existing NGINX Plus instance, be sure to check the Supported Distributions section above to verify that your NGINX Plus instance supports NGINX App Protect.


  • Be sure to review the NGINX Plus Technical Specifications for the requirements for your distribution and desired configuration.
  • You’ll need the NGINX Plus certificate and public key files (nginx-repo.crt and nginx-repo.key) when installing NGINX App Protect. If you don’t have these files, you can use the NGINX Controller REST API to download them.

Download the NGINX App Protect Cert and Key

Take the steps below to download the cert and key files by using the NGINX Controller REST API.

The NGINX Controller API uses session cookies to authenticate requests. The session cookie is returned in response to a GET /api/v1/platform/login request. See the Login endpoint in the NGINX Controller API Reference documentation for information about session cookie timeouts and invalidation.

You can send a GET request to the login endpoint to find the status of the session token.

For example:

  • Login and capture the session cookie:

    curl -c cookie.txt -X POST --url '' --header 'Content-Type: application/json' --data '{"credentials": {"type": "BASIC","username": "[email protected]","password": "Towel$123"}}'
  • Use the session cookie to authenticate and get the session status:

    curl -b cookie.txt -c cookie.txt -X GET --url ''

To use the NGINX Controller REST API to download your NGINX Plus certificate and key bundle as a gzip or JSON file, send a GET request to the /platform/licenses/nginx-plus-licenses/controller-provided endpoint.

For example:

curl -b cookie.txt -c cookie.txt -X GET --url '
/api/v1/platform/licenses/nginx-plus-licenses/controller-provided' --output nginx-plus-certs.gz

Deploy NGINX App Protect

Install NGINX App Protect on a host accessible by your NGINX Controller instance by following the appropriate steps for your operating system in the Using NGINX App Protect with NGINX Controller guide.

If you install NGINX App Protect by using any of the OS-specific install guides, do not make changes to the nginx.conf file.
The NGINX Controller Agent manages nginx.conf settings and will make the appropriate adjustments for you.

Add the NGINX App Protect Instance to NGINX Controller

Take the following steps to add an instance to NGINX Controller:

  1. Open the NGINX Controller user interface and log in.

  2. Select the NGINX Controller menu icon, then select Infrastructure.

  3. On the Infrastructure menu, select Instances > Overview.

  4. On the Instances overview page, select Create.

  5. On the Create Instance page, select Add an existing instance.

  6. Add a name for the instance. If you don’t provide a name, the hostname of the instance is used by default.

  7. To add the instance to an existing Location, select a Location from the list. Or to create a Location, select Create New.

    Once set, the Location for an instance cannot be changed. If you need to change or remove the Location for an instance, you must remove the instance from NGINX Controller, and then add it back.
  8. (Optional) By default, registration of NGINX Plus instances is performed over a secure connection. To use self-signed certificates with the Controller Agent, select Allow insecure server connections to NGINX Controller using TLS. For security purposes, we recommend that you secure the Controller Agent with signed certificates when possible.

  9. Use SSH to connect and log in to the NGINX instance that you want to connect to NGINX Controller.

  10. Run the curl or wget command that’s shown in the Installation Instructions section on the NGINX instance to download and install the Controller Agent package. When specified, the -i and -l options for the script refer to the instance name and Location, respectively.


    Make sure you enter the commands to download and run the script on the NGINX Plus system, and not on the NGINX Controller.

    NGINX Controller 3.6 and earlier require Python 2.6 or 2.7. You’ll be prompted to install Python if it’s not installed already. Python is not required for NGINX Controller v3.7 and later.

After a few minutes, the NGINX instance will appear on the Instances overview page.

What’s Next

You should now be ready to start your NGINX Controller with App Security trial. Refer to the following topics to get started:

This documentation applies to the following versions of NGINX Controller Documentation: 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.10, 3.11, 3.12, 3.13 and 3.14.