Nginx config goal:

  • Check if a certain cookie exists (doesn't matter what the value is)
  • If it doesn't exist, include a particular config import.
  • I only want to apply my rules to certain Locations, I cannot apply these conditionals to the global nginx configs. It's location specific.

CURRENTLY, the config looks like this, and it's working well:

  location ~ ^/somedestination\.php(/|$) {
    <... truncated other config lines for readability ...>

    include includes/xx-cache-config.conf;

    <... truncated other config lines for readability ...>

    fastcgi_pass php-fpm:9000;

This server has many location blocks, and each import their own cache configs. This is a cgi only application, there is no direct try_files here.

So, in order to meet the above goals, I am experimenting with something like this, checking for existence of $cookie_user variable, and only applying my config if the cooke doesn't exist:

  location ~ ^/somedestination\.php(/|$) {

    # only include cache config if the cookie is null/empty
    if ($cookie_user = false) {
      include includes/xx-cache-config.conf;

    fastcgi_pass php-fpm:9000;

Seems logical, but here's the problem: I stumbled on this: https://www.nginx.com/resources/wiki/start/topics/depth/ifisevil/

QUESTION: If we shouldn't use if in a Location context (according to nginx official docs), how should I be doing this?

EDIT: Here is the contents of what's being included from the conditional clause. Currently nginx is ALWAYS including this config, my goal right now is to sometimes not include it (when the cookie exists).

Note: zone config itself is included elsewhere. This included config enables it.


fastcgi_cache CACHE_TLRS;

fastcgi_cache_bypass $no_resource_cache;

fastcgi_no_cache $no_resource_cache;

fastcgi_cache_valid 200 301 48h;
fastcgi_cache_valid 302     4h;

fastcgi_cache_revalidate on;
fastcgi_cache_use_stale http_500 http_503 timeout updating;

fastcgi_cache_lock on;
fastcgi_cache_lock_age 15s;
fastcgi_cache_lock_timeout 5s;

fastcgi_ignore_headers cache-control;

fastcgi_cache_key "$scheme$host$uri";
add_header X-Cache $upstream_cache_status;
  • if does have legitimate uses, but it really depends on what is in the file you included. You should add the contents of this file to the post. – Michael Hampton Sep 21 at 16:44
  • @MichaelHampton Thanks. I've edited the original post with the requested information. The more I think about it, perhaps the add_header line could cause issues in the web app in the real world, I'll be sure the application tests for existence before assuming it'll be there. – Rino Bino Sep 21 at 17:23
  • Probably none of this needs to be in an if, and most of it can just be specified once in the http block or server block without including it multiple times. Why did you try to take this approach? It seems overly complicated. Do you have other configurations that you did not show? – Michael Hampton Sep 21 at 17:46
  • @MichaelHampton Yes there is 6 different location blocks on this server and each have different cache config rules so are not defined at the server level. I tried to include the minimum to keep the question from being convoluted. – Rino Bino Sep 21 at 17:51
  • Also, there are some locations that we do not want any cache config set (we always want to hit php fresh, zero cache). This is a complex app with many different cache rules depending on what's being hit. Cache is not configured at the server level. – Rino Bino Sep 21 at 17:54

I was overthinking this.

After doing some reading, it seems imports are evaluated at server start, so you can't put them in a conditional.

So, I ended up utilizing the fastcgi_cache_bypass directive, I accomplished the goal without using if at all.

Modified the existing line fastcgi_cache_bypass $no_resource_cache;

Changed it to: fastcgi_cache_bypass $cookie_user $no_resource_cache;

This will bypass cache if the variable(s) is not empty and not "0"

Doc link: http://nginx.org/en/docs/http/ngx_http_fastcgi_module.html#fastcgi_cache_bypass

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