257

I have configured Apache to send back a 200 response without serving any file with this configuration line

Redirect 200 /hello

Can I do this with Nginx? I don't want to serve a file, I just want the server to respond with a 200 (I'm just logging the request).

I know I can add an index file and achieve the same thing, but doing it in the config means there's one less thing that can go wrong.

1
  • 2
    One could argue that if you don't serve a "file" or any content, you should return 204 No Content, as opposed to 200. Aug 6, 2020 at 13:21

6 Answers 6

488

Yes, you can

location / {
    return 200 'gangnam style!';
    # because default content-type is application/octet-stream,
    # browser will offer to "save the file"...
    # if you want to see reply in browser, uncomment next line 
    # add_header Content-Type text/plain;
}
12
  • 4
    how do I add a newline to the response? gangnam\nstyle?
    – tback
    Dec 28, 2015 at 13:52
  • 4
    @tback of course, right you are
    – cadmi
    Mar 9, 2016 at 9:10
  • 12
    add_header doesn't work for me as it adds another header instead of replacing the old 'Content-type'. In my response I have 2 'Content-type' headers:$ curl -v localhost/healthcheck/h1_pio > GET /healthcheck/h1_pio HTTP/1.1 > User-Agent: curl/7.38.0 > Host: localhost > Accept: / > < HTTP/1.1 200 OK < Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 13:27:53 GMT < Content-Type: application/octet-stream < Content-Length: 25 < Connection: keep-alive < Content-Type: application/json
    – jmcollin92
    Oct 11, 2016 at 13:30
  • 11
    @jmcollin92 that can happen if you have an existing default_type declared somewhere else. You can override it by using default_type text/plain; inside of the location block in place of the add_header directive.
    – tjb1982
    May 23, 2017 at 17:55
  • 3
    Hint: use add_header Content-Type text/plain always; to force plain text if you're not returning a "successful" code.
    – Tugzrida
    Mar 15, 2019 at 13:25
52

If you want to return a formatted HTML text, without serving a HTML file:

location / {
    default_type text/html;
    return 200 "<!DOCTYPE html><h2>gangnam style!</h2>\n";
}

If you want to return a text without html format, as the answer points:

location / {
    add_header Content-Type text/plain;
    return 200 'gangnam style!';
}

And if you just simply wants to return 200:

location / {
    return 200;
}

Just to remember: location blocks go inside server blocks. Here's a doc for more information about the topic.

P.S.: I have similar configuration (formatted html) running on plenty of servers.

1
  • Also it's nice to add: charset: utf-8; to display non-latin characters correctly Apr 11, 2023 at 21:59
33

You do need to use a 204 as Nginx will not allow a 200 with no response body. To send a 204 you simply use the return directive to return 204; in the appropriate location.

3
  • 1
    If you try to view this through a browser, it will look like it did nothing. that's intentional. You served nothing (204), it displays nothing. To prove you served a 204, use curl.
    – jnovack
    Mar 19, 2019 at 18:23
  • Do you have any evidence that nginx will not allow 200 with no content? I’ve read several examples from other people saying it works.
    – Elliott B
    Jan 5 at 7:48
  • @ElliottB the answer was made 13 years and many nginx version ago. It indeed works now. Jan 7 at 22:22
8

To complete @Martin Fjordval's answer, be careful if you're using such a configuration to do a healthcheck.

While a 204 HTTP code is semantically perfect for a healthcheck (success indication with no content), some services do not consider it a success.

Namely, I had the issue with Google Cloud Load-balancers.

1
  • Exactly. Google Cloud Load Balancer requires a 200 response code to consider the instance healthy, no matter the body. Any other code (even 2xx codes) will make the health check fail.
    – maganap
    Mar 18, 2020 at 14:56
6

As per status code definitions, I believe you want it to be a 204, and not 200. 200's need to be with a resource in the response, or I'd suspect most sane browsers would get confused by this. The other one you can use is 304, which is for cached content.

http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec10.html

3
  • Sure, make it a 204, how do I do it? Although I very much doubt any browser will be confused by an empty body.
    – Theo
    Nov 1, 2010 at 15:55
  • 2
    an empty body is still a response, with an object, such as a blank index.html. What you asked is to provide a 200 response with no resource attached to it (no file served). As for how exactly to do it on nginx, I need to look it up myself, I've only once done this on apache, and I can't remember off hand.
    – sandroid
    Nov 1, 2010 at 20:05
  • 304 seems like it would send all the wrong signals for things like debugging and temporary returns.
    – Kzqai
    Feb 5, 2016 at 20:18
3

Expanding on the @cadmi answer for a specific case of Kubernetes ingress-nginx controller configuration.

In my case, I could only append the small part of the Nginx configuration inside the location directive.

I wanted to add a custom 404 error JSON message for a specific if directive. Since default_type is not allowed inside the if directive I came up with adding the "blank" default_type outside the if directive and add_header inside the if directive:

http {
    default_type text/html; # can't change this
    ...
    server {
        ...
        location / {
            ...
            # This part of configuration is something I can change (generated by ingress-nginx controller `ingress.kubernetes.io/configuration-snippet` annotation)
            default_type "";
            # Custom 404 JSON page returned for the call to my.specific.host
            if ($host = my.specific.host) {
                return 404 '{\n  "status": "404",\n  "message": "Not Found",\n  "details": "Please call other hosts."\n}\n';
                add_header Content-Type "application/json" always;
            }
        }
    }
}

Without the default_type ""; an add_header directive was adding the second Content-Type header instead of changing the default one.

1
  • If you have nginx-extras, openresty or similar, you don't need default_type ""; - just use more_set_headers 'Content-Type: text/plain'; - plus return 900 'blubbi'.
    – uav
    Aug 5, 2021 at 11:57

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