How To Configure Buildbot with SSL using an Nginx Reverse Proxy

How To Configure Buildbot with SSL using an Nginx Reverse Proxy

Note: This tutorial covers an older version of Buildbot, so the instructions may not work on current versions. Until this article is updated, you can additionally use the official Buildbot reverse proxy configuration documentation.


Buildbot is a Python-based continuous integration system for automating software build, test, and release processes. In the previous tutorials, we installed Buildbot and created systemd Unit files to allow the server’s init system to manage the processes. Buildbot comes with its own built-in web server listening on port 8010, and in order to secure the web interface with SSL we’ll need to configure a reverse proxy.

In this tutorial, we’ll demonstrate how to configure Nginx as a reverse proxy in order to direct SSL-secured browser requests to Buildbot’s web interface.


To follow this tutorial, you will need:

In addition, you’ll need to complete the following tutorials on the server:

When you’ve completed these requirements, you’re ready to begin.

Step 1— Configuring Nginx

In the prerequisite tutorial, How to Secure Nginx with Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 16.04, we configured Nginx to use SSL in the /etc/nginx/sites-available/default file. Before we begin, we’ll make a backup of our working configuration file:

  1. sudo cp /etc/nginx/sites-available/default /etc/nginx/sites-available/default.ssl.bak

Next, we’ll open default and add our reverse proxy settings.

  1. sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/default

First, we’ll add specific access and error logs in the SSL server block.

. . . 
server {
        # SSL Configuration
. . .
         # include snippets/snakeoil.conf;
         access_log            /var/log/nginx/buildbot.access.log;
         error_log            /var/log/nginx/buildbot.error.log;
. . .        

Next, we’ll configure the proxy settings.

Since we’re sending all requests to Buildbot, we’ll need to delete or comment out the default try_files line which, as written, will return 404 errors before requests reach Buildbot.

Note: Unlike most applications, Buildbot will return a 200 response for a request to the document root with the try_files setting enabled. If assets are cached by the browser, Buildbot may appear to be working. Without cached assets, it will return a blank page.

Then we’ll add the reverse proxy configuration. The first line includes the Nginx-supplied proxy_params to ensure information like the hostname, the protocol of the client request, and the client IP address will be available in our log files. The proxy_pass sets the protocol and address of the proxied server, which in our case is the Buildbot server accessed on the localhost on port 8010.

. . .
        location / {
                # First attempt to serve request as file, then
                # as directory, then fall back to displaying a 404.
                # try_files $uri $uri/ =404;

                # Reverse proxy settings
                include proxy_params;
                proxy_pass http://localhost:8010;
. . . 

Directly after this stanza, we’ll configure two additional locations, /sse and /ws:

  • Server Sent Event (SSE) settings Server Sent Events are a simpler, more REST compliant protocol than WebSockets that allow clients to subscribe to events. The Buildbot SSE endpoint requires its own proxy_pass setting and benefits from turning off proxy_buffering.

  • WebSocket settings WebSocket is a protocol for messaging between the web server and web browsers. Like the SSE protocol, it requires its own proxy_pass setting. Additional configuration is also required to pass header information. You can learn more these settings from the Nginx WebSocket proxying documentation.

. . .
        # Server sent event (sse) settings
        location /sse {
                proxy_buffering off;
                proxy_pass http://localhost:8010;

        # Websocket settings
        location /ws {
              proxy_http_version 1.1;
              proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
              proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
              proxy_pass http://localhost:8010;
              proxy_read_timeout 6000s;
 . . .

Once you’ve made these changes, save and exit the file.

Finally, we’ll edit the ssl_params.conf and increase the ssl_session_timeout to the project’s recommended setting of 1440 minutes (24 hours) to accommodate longer builds:

  1. sudo nano /etc/nginx/snippets/ssl-params.conf

At the bottom of the file, add the following line:

 . . . 
ssl_session_timeout 1440m;

When you’re done, save and exit the file.

Note: The Buildbot documentation’s sample Nginx file includes a line setting the ssl_session_cache size to 1,440 megabytes, which allows over 5 million connections. We’ve opted to retain a less memory-intensive setting of 10 megabytes. Each megabyte can store about 4000 sessions, so this will store around 40,000 sessions, which is sufficient for most use cases.

We won’t restart Nginx until after we’ve configured Buildbot, but we will test our configuration now in case we’ve made any mistakes:

  1. sudo nginx -t

If all is well, the command will return:

nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful

If not, fix the reported errors until the test passes.

Step 2 — Configuring Buildbot

Buildbot uses root-relative links in its web interface and needs to have the base URL defined in the master.cfg for links to work properly.

  1. sudo nano /home/buildbot/master/master.cfg

Locate the buildbotURL setting, change http to https , and change localhost to your domain. Remove the port specification (:8010) since Nginx will proxy requests made to the conventional web ports. Important: The protocol must be https and the definition must contain the trailing slash.

 . . .
 c['buildbotURL'] = "https://your.ssl.domain.name/"
 . . .

We will also ensure the master won’t accept direct connections from workers running on other hosts by binding to the local loopback interface. Comment out or replace the existing protocol line, c['protocols'] = {'pb': {'port': 9989}}, with the following:

. . .
c['protocols'] = {"pb": {"port": "tcp:9989:interface="}}
. . .

When you’re done, save and exit the file.

Now that we’re using HTTPS and a domain name, we’ll install the service_identity module, which provides tools to determine certificate is valid for the intended purpose.

  1. sudo -H pip install service_identity

If we skipped this step, Buildbot would still restart, but would issue the UserWarning “You do not have a working installation of the service_identity module” which would be visible in the output of systemd’s status command.

Step 3 — Restarting Services

Now we’re ready to restart Nginx:

  1. sudo systemctl restart nginx

Since systemctl doesn’t provide output, we’ll use its status command to be sure Nginx is running.

  1. sudo systemctl status nginx

The output should highlight "Active: active (running) and end with something like:

May 08 18:07:52 buildbot-server systemd[1]: Started A high performance web server and a reverse proxy server.

Next, we’ll restart the buildmaster and worker using systemctl, which we configured in the previous tutorial.

First, check the configuration file for syntax errors:

  1. sudo buildbot checkconfig /home/buildbot/master/
Config file is good!

If no errors are reported, restart the service:

  1. sudo systemctl restart buildbot-master
  2. sudo systemctl status buildbot-master

The output should highlight "Active: active (running) and end with something like:

May 10 21:28:05 buildbot-server systemd[1]: Started BuildBot master service.

Next, we’ll restart the worker:

  1. sudo systemctl restart buildbot-worker
  2. sudo systemctl status buildbot-worker

Again, the output should highlight "Active: active (running) and in this case end with something like:

May 10 21:28:05 buildbot-server systemd[1]: Started BuildBot worker service.

Now that we’ve restarted Nginx, the buildmaster, and the worker, we’re ready to verify the reverse proxy is working as expected. When we visit the site via http we should be redirected to https and successfully reach our Buildbot site.

In your web browser, enter “http://your.ssl.domain.name”, substituting your domain for your.ssl.domain.name. After you press enter, the URL should start with https and the location bar should indicate that the connection is secure. Screenshot of Buildbot home page with secure URL

Next, we’ll take a moment and see that the Web Socket and Server Sent Events are being proxied properly.

First, visit the /sse directory. If the redirect is working properly, the browser should return the following page. Note that the page will continue trying to load, and this is normal behavior:

Buildbot SSE page

Next, visit the /ws directory. If the proxy redirect isn’t correct, visiting the /ws directory will return a 404 Not Found error. If all is well, the browser should return the following page: Buildbot WebSocket page

Finally, since the built-in web server listens on all interfaces, we’ll delete our rule that allows external traffic to port 8010 in order to prevent unencrypted connections when accessing the server by IP address:

  1. sudo ufw delete allow 8010
Rule updated Rule updated (v6)

We have now configured Nginx as a reverse proxy and prevented users from accessing Buildbot using HTTP.


In this tutorial we configured Nginx as a reverse proxy to Buildbot’s built-in web server in order to secure our credentials and other information transmitted via the Web interface. If you’re new to Buildbot, you might want to explore the Buildbot project’s Quick Tour guide. When you are ready to learn how to set up a complete continuous integration process, check out our How To Set Up Continuous Integration with Buildbot on Ubuntu 16.04 guide.

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This is a good and useful tutorial. However, it differs from the CURRENT Buildbot nginx reverse proxy instructions, which require a trailing slash on the location and proxy_pass fields. The proxy_pass fields for sse and ws also needed to NAME those paths, rather than just pass through the root.

This caused the websockets and sse not to work for me and caused some troubleshooting!

When in doubt, follow the official instructions here http://docs.buildbot.net/latest/manual/cfg-www.html#reverse-proxy-configuration

Please update this article or comment on its deprecatedness in the header, linking to the official docs.

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