Converting Static Modules to Dynamic Modules

In NGINX 1.9.11 onwards a new way of loading modules dynamically has been introduced. This means that selected modules can be loaded into NGINX at runtime based on configuration files. They can also be unloaded by editing the configuration files and reloading NGINX.

The modules API is the same for both the original static modules and dynamic modules, but the config file and how you compile them is slightly different. These changes will be outlined in this document.


Not every module can be converted to a Dynamic Module. The following are some of the things to watch out for:

  • Modules which patch the NGINX source code are not advised to be converted. They definitely won’t work when out-of-source compilation is supported.
  • Try to only use parts of the NGINX API which are explicitly designed to be used for modules. In some cases touching NGINX internals will not work with Dynamic Modules.

In addition any dynamic module that previously required to be installed in a specific order should now use the ngx_module_order variable to set the required order.

If you hit unexpected issues please contact the NGINX development mailing list

Compiling a Dynamic Module

A new configure option has been created to add a module as a dynamic module. Instead of using --add-module you use --add-dynamic-module. For example:

$ ./configure --add-dynamic-module=/opt/source/ngx_my_module/

Modules are compiled along with NGINX by running the make command. Alternatively you can ask NGINX to just build the modules by doing:

$ make -f objs/Makefile modules

With NGINX 1.9.13 the following is another way of doing this:

$ make modules

It is possible to run configure with the same parameters as before with an additional module, compiling as above and using the resulting module binary with the NGINX that has already been built with the source. If you change other configure options or the NGINX source you will need to recompile everything since there is no API/ABI compatibility at present.

During compilation the module binary will be created as a .so file in the objs directory. This .so file is then installed into the modules sub-directory of NGINX’s installation path.

Loading a Dynamic Module

Modules can be loaded into NGINX with the new load_module directive. For example:

load_module modules/;


There is a hard limit of 128 dynamic modules that can be loaded at one time, as defined by NGX_MAX_DYNAMIC_MODULES in the NGINX source. This hard limit can be increased by editing this constant.

Converting a config file

The following is an example of an old-style config file for the 3rd party ngx_http_response_module:

HTTP_MODULES="$HTTP_MODULES ngx_http_response_module"
NGX_ADDON_SRCS="$NGX_ADDON_SRCS $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_http_response_module.c"

The new method uses a build script called auto/module to setup many things so that the new-style configuration can be used with both dynamic and static modules. This will process options in the config file. The new-style version for ngx_http_response_module would be:


if test -n "$ngx_module_link"; then

    . auto/module
    HTTP_MODULES="$HTTP_MODULES ngx_http_response_module"
    NGX_ADDON_SRCS="$NGX_ADDON_SRCS $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_http_response_module.c"

This incorporates the old-style config file as well so that older versions of NGINX will be compatible with the module. For a more detailed explanation of these options see New Config Shell File

Complex Example

Some modules are actually multiple module types in one package. These can be a little more complex to convert. They need to be split into individual modules when compiling as static modules but can be a single .so file for Dynamic Modules. For the following example we will look at ngx_rtmp_module which contains CORE and HTTP modules inside of it.

The end conversion looks like this:

RTMP_CORE_MODULES="                                         \
                ngx_rtmp_module                             \
                ngx_rtmp_core_module                        \
                ngx_rtmp_cmd_module                         \
                ngx_rtmp_codec_module                       \
                ngx_rtmp_access_module                      \
                ngx_rtmp_record_module                      \
                ngx_rtmp_live_module                        \
                ngx_rtmp_play_module                        \
                ngx_rtmp_flv_module                         \
                ngx_rtmp_mp4_module                         \
                ngx_rtmp_netcall_module                     \
                ngx_rtmp_relay_module                       \
                ngx_rtmp_exec_module                        \
                ngx_rtmp_auto_push_module                   \
                ngx_rtmp_notify_module                      \
                ngx_rtmp_log_module                         \
                ngx_rtmp_limit_module                       \
                ngx_rtmp_hls_module                         \
                ngx_rtmp_dash_module                        \
RTMP_HTTP_MODULES="                                         \
                ngx_rtmp_stat_module                        \
                ngx_rtmp_control_module                     \
RTMP_DEPS="                                                 \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_amf.h               \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_bandwidth.h         \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_cmd_module.h        \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_codec_module.h      \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_eval.h              \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp.h                   \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_version.h           \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_live_module.h       \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_netcall_module.h    \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_play_module.h       \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_record_module.h     \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_relay_module.h      \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_streams.h           \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_bitop.h             \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_proxy_protocol.h    \
                $ngx_addon_dir/hls/ngx_rtmp_mpegts.h        \
                $ngx_addon_dir/dash/ngx_rtmp_mp4.h          \
RTMP_CORE_SRCS="                                            \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp.c                   \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_init.c              \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_handshake.c         \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_handler.c           \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_amf.c               \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_send.c              \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_shared.c            \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_eval.c              \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_receive.c           \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_core_module.c       \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_cmd_module.c        \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_codec_module.c      \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_access_module.c     \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_record_module.c     \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_live_module.c       \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_play_module.c       \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_flv_module.c        \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_mp4_module.c        \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_netcall_module.c    \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_relay_module.c      \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_bandwidth.c         \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_exec_module.c       \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_auto_push_module.c  \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_notify_module.c     \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_log_module.c        \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_limit_module.c      \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_bitop.c             \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_proxy_protocol.c    \
                $ngx_addon_dir/hls/ngx_rtmp_hls_module.c    \
                $ngx_addon_dir/dash/ngx_rtmp_dash_module.c  \
                $ngx_addon_dir/hls/ngx_rtmp_mpegts.c        \
                $ngx_addon_dir/dash/ngx_rtmp_mp4.c          \
RTMP_HTTP_SRCS="                                            \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_stat_module.c       \
                $ngx_addon_dir/ngx_rtmp_control_module.c    \

if [ $ngx_module_link = DYNAMIC ] ; then
    ngx_module_srcs="$RTMP_CORE_SRCS $RTMP_HTTP_SRCS"
    . auto/module
elif [ $ngx_module_link = ADDON ] ; then
    . auto/module
    . auto/module


When compiling a module $ngx_module_link is set to ADDON for compiling a module as a static module and DYNAMIC when compiling as a Dynamic Module. The static compilation calls auto/module twice, once for the CORE module and once for the HTTP module. Whereas the dynamic compilation happens in a single module.