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Background:

I've been trying to use rate-limiting on Nginx following this NGINX rate-limiting in a nutshell article, but I have an unexpected behavior when using the $binary_remote_addr option. The article says:

Note: in this case, the zone uses the $request_uri but all the following tests work exactly the same way for a $binary_remote_addr config which would rate-limit by client IP.

So I coded the following on my conf file:

limit_req_zone $binary_remote_addr zone=my_app01:10m rate=5r/m;
limit_req zone=my_app01 burst=5 nodelay;

The problem is that Nginx seems to be limiting requests by server name. Here's the output of the access.log:

11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:49:54 -0300] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 3355 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:49:54 -0300] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 199 "http://example.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:23 -0300] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 3355 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:23 -0300] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 199 "http://example.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:23 -0300] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 3355 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:23 -0300] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 199 "http://example.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:24 -0300] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 3355 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:24 -0300] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 404 199 "http://example.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:24 -0300] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 503 615 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:24 -0300] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 503 615 "http://example.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:25 -0300] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 503 615 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:25 -0300] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 503 615 "http://example.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:25 -0300] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 503 615 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"
11.1.0.10 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:25 -0300] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 503 615 "http://example.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/105.0.1343.33"

11.1.0.120 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:27 -0300] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 503 615 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36"
11.1.0.120 - - [29/Sep/2022:14:50:27 -0300] "GET /favicon.ico HTTP/1.1" 503 615 "http://example.com/" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/105.0.0.0 Safari/537.36"

Once Client A (11.1.0.10) is blocked after reaching the limit, Client B (11.1.0.120) is blocked on his first attempt.

nginx version: nginx/1.14.2 (same behavior on nginx/1.20.1)

The Module ngx_http_limit_req_module documentation seems to enforce my understanding, but it doesn't match the observed behavior:

The ngx_http_limit_req_module module (0.7.21) is used to limit the request processing rate per a defined key, in particular, the processing rate of requests coming from a single IP address. The limitation is done using the “leaky bucket” method.

Question:

Why isn't the counting/limiting working individually by client?

Conf File:

Here's the result of a sudo nginx -T command:

nginx: the configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf syntax is ok
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test is successful
# configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf:
user www-data;
worker_processes auto;
pid /run/nginx.pid;
include /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/*.conf;

events {
        worker_connections 768;
        # multi_accept on;
}

http {

        ##
        # Basic Settings
        ##

        sendfile on;
        tcp_nopush on;
        tcp_nodelay on;
        keepalive_timeout 65;
        types_hash_max_size 2048;
        # server_tokens off;

        # server_names_hash_bucket_size 64;
        # server_name_in_redirect off;

        include /etc/nginx/mime.types;
        default_type application/octet-stream;

        ##
        # SSL Settings
        ##

        ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2; # Dropping SSLv3, ref: POODLE
        ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;

        ##
        # Logging Settings
        ##

        access_log /var/log/nginx/access.log;
        error_log /var/log/nginx/error.log;

        ##
        # Gzip Settings
        ##

        gzip on;

        # gzip_vary on;
        # gzip_proxied any;
        # gzip_comp_level 6;
        # gzip_buffers 16 8k;
        # gzip_http_version 1.1;
        # gzip_types text/plain text/css application/json application/javascript text/xml application/xml application/xml+rss text/javascript;

        ##
        # Virtual Host Configs
        ##

        include /etc/nginx/conf.d/*.conf;
        include /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/*;
}


#mail {
#       # See sample authentication script at:
#       # http://wiki.nginx.org/ImapAuthenticateWithApachePhpScript
#
#       # auth_http localhost/auth.php;
#       # pop3_capabilities "TOP" "USER";
#       # imap_capabilities "IMAP4rev1" "UIDPLUS";
#
#       server {
#               listen     localhost:110;
#               protocol   pop3;
#               proxy      on;
#       }
#
#       server {
#               listen     localhost:143;
#               protocol   imap;
#               proxy      on;
#       }
#}

# configuration file /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-http-auth-pam.conf:
load_module modules/ngx_http_auth_pam_module.so;

# configuration file /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-http-dav-ext.conf:
load_module modules/ngx_http_dav_ext_module.so;

# configuration file /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-http-echo.conf:
load_module modules/ngx_http_echo_module.so;

# configuration file /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-http-geoip.conf:
load_module modules/ngx_http_geoip_module.so;

# configuration file /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-http-image-filter.conf:
load_module modules/ngx_http_image_filter_module.so;

# configuration file /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-http-subs-filter.conf:
load_module modules/ngx_http_subs_filter_module.so;

# configuration file /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-http-upstream-fair.conf:
load_module modules/ngx_http_upstream_fair_module.so;

# configuration file /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-http-xslt-filter.conf:
load_module modules/ngx_http_xslt_filter_module.so;

# configuration file /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-mail.conf:
load_module modules/ngx_mail_module.so;

# configuration file /etc/nginx/modules-enabled/50-mod-stream.conf:
load_module modules/ngx_stream_module.so;

# configuration file /etc/nginx/mime.types:

types {
    text/html                             html htm shtml;
    text/css                              css;
    text/xml                              xml;
    image/gif                             gif;
    image/jpeg                            jpeg jpg;
    application/javascript                js;
    application/atom+xml                  atom;
    application/rss+xml                   rss;

    text/mathml                           mml;
    text/plain                            txt;
    text/vnd.sun.j2me.app-descriptor      jad;
    text/vnd.wap.wml                      wml;
    text/x-component                      htc;

    image/png                             png;
    image/tiff                            tif tiff;
    image/vnd.wap.wbmp                    wbmp;
    image/x-icon                          ico;
    image/x-jng                           jng;
    image/x-ms-bmp                        bmp;
    image/svg+xml                         svg svgz;
    image/webp                            webp;

    application/font-woff                 woff;
    application/java-archive              jar war ear;
    application/json                      json;
    application/mac-binhex40              hqx;
    application/msword                    doc;
    application/pdf                       pdf;
    application/postscript                ps eps ai;
    application/rtf                       rtf;
    application/vnd.apple.mpegurl         m3u8;
    application/vnd.ms-excel              xls;
    application/vnd.ms-fontobject         eot;
    application/vnd.ms-powerpoint         ppt;
    application/vnd.wap.wmlc              wmlc;
    application/vnd.google-earth.kml+xml  kml;
    application/vnd.google-earth.kmz      kmz;
    application/x-7z-compressed           7z;
    application/x-cocoa                   cco;
    application/x-java-archive-diff       jardiff;
    application/x-java-jnlp-file          jnlp;
    application/x-makeself                run;
    application/x-perl                    pl pm;
    application/x-pilot                   prc pdb;
    application/x-rar-compressed          rar;
    application/x-redhat-package-manager  rpm;
    application/x-sea                     sea;
    application/x-shockwave-flash         swf;
    application/x-stuffit                 sit;
    application/x-tcl                     tcl tk;
    application/x-x509-ca-cert            der pem crt;
    application/x-xpinstall               xpi;
    application/xhtml+xml                 xhtml;
    application/xspf+xml                  xspf;
    application/zip                       zip;

    application/octet-stream              bin exe dll;
    application/octet-stream              deb;
    application/octet-stream              dmg;
    application/octet-stream              iso img;
    application/octet-stream              msi msp msm;

    application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document    docx;
    application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.spreadsheetml.sheet          xlsx;
    application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.presentationml.presentation  pptx;

    audio/midi                            mid midi kar;
    audio/mpeg                            mp3;
    audio/ogg                             ogg;
    audio/x-m4a                           m4a;
    audio/x-realaudio                     ra;

    video/3gpp                            3gpp 3gp;
    video/mp2t                            ts;
    video/mp4                             mp4;
    video/mpeg                            mpeg mpg;
    video/quicktime                       mov;
    video/webm                            webm;
    video/x-flv                           flv;
    video/x-m4v                           m4v;
    video/x-mng                           mng;
    video/x-ms-asf                        asx asf;
    video/x-ms-wmv                        wmv;
    video/x-msvideo                       avi;
}

# configuration file /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/default:
##
# You should look at the following URL's in order to grasp a solid understanding
# of Nginx configuration files in order to fully unleash the power of Nginx.
# https://www.nginx.com/resources/wiki/start/
# https://www.nginx.com/resources/wiki/start/topics/tutorials/config_pitfalls/
# https://wiki.debian.org/Nginx/DirectoryStructure
#
# In most cases, administrators will remove this file from sites-enabled/ and
# leave it as reference inside of sites-available where it will continue to be
# updated by the nginx packaging team.
#
# This file will automatically load configuration files provided by other
# applications, such as Drupal or Wordpress. These applications will be made
# available underneath a path with that package name, such as /drupal8.
#
# Please see /usr/share/doc/nginx-doc/examples/ for more detailed examples.
##

# Default server configuration
#
server {
        listen 80 default_server;
        listen [::]:80 default_server;

        # SSL configuration
        #
        # listen 443 ssl default_server;
        # listen [::]:443 ssl default_server;
        #
        # Note: You should disable gzip for SSL traffic.
        # See: https://bugs.debian.org/773332
        #
        # Read up on ssl_ciphers to ensure a secure configuration.
        # See: https://bugs.debian.org/765782
        #
        # Self signed certs generated by the ssl-cert package
        # Don't use them in a production server!
        #
        # include snippets/snakeoil.conf;

        root /var/www/html;

        # Add index.php to the list if you are using PHP
        index index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;

        server_name _;

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

        # pass PHP scripts to FastCGI server
        #
        #location ~ \.php$ {
        #       include snippets/fastcgi-php.conf;
        #
        #       # With php-fpm (or other unix sockets):
        #       fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.3-fpm.sock;
        #       # With php-cgi (or other tcp sockets):
        #       fastcgi_pass 127.0.0.1:9000;
        #}

        # deny access to .htaccess files, if Apache's document root
        # concurs with nginx's one
        #
        #location ~ /\.ht {
        #       deny all;
        #}
}


# Virtual Host configuration for example.com
#
# You can move that to a different file under sites-available/ and symlink that
# to sites-enabled/ to enable it.
#

limit_req_zone $binary_remote_addr zone=my_app01:10m rate=5r/m;

server {

        limit_req zone=my_app01 burst=5 nodelay;

        listen 80;
        listen [::]:80;

        server_name example.com;

        root /var/www/example.com;
        index index.html;

        location / {
                try_files $uri $uri/ =404;
        }
}
2
  • Would that still happen if you move the limit_req directive to the location section? From: server { limit_req ... } to: location / { limit_req... }
    – Marcel
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 8:32
  • @Marcel I'm begin to think I was experiencing some kind of bug at the moment because I tried once more to use that same config on a different machine with Nginx and it works as expected. I understand your suggestion as a test to find any lead on the problem, but it should work both under the server or location contexts, right?
    – Ronaldo
    Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 16:25

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