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Deploying Flask Applications with Nginx and Gunicorn on Ubuntu

Deploying Flask Applications with Nginx and Gunicorn on Ubuntu
Reading time: 5 min
Hostman Team
Technical writer

This article will describe how to deploy a simple Flask app on Ubuntu using Gunicorn and Nginx.


To follow this guide, you will need:

  • A cloud server running Ubuntu 20.04 or higher, with Nginx installed.

  • A non-root user with sudo privileges.

  • A domain name with its A record pointing to your cloud server's IP address.

Install components

To begin with, we will install several packages necessary for our application, including pip for managing Python components.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install python3-pip python3-dev build-essential libssl-dev libffi-dev python3-setuptools

Configure Python virtual environment

Virtual environments allow you to separate the dependencies of applications hosted on the same server. 

Install python3-venv:

sudo apt install python3-venv

Create a directory for your Flask project files.

mkdir ~/myproject

Move to this directory:

cd ~/myproject

Now, create a virtual environment:

python3 -m venv myprojectenv

And activate it:

source myprojectenv/bin/activate

In the terminal, you will see that now you're working within the virtual environment:


Configure the Flask application

Update pip:

pip install -U pip

Download Flask and Gunicorn:

pip install gunicorn flask

Creating an app

Now, let's create a simple Flask application called myproject.py:

nano ~/myproject/myproject.py

Add the code below to the file. 

from flask import Flask
app = Flask(__name__)
def hello():
    return "<h1>Hello<h1>"
if __name__ == "__main__":

Save the changes and close the file. 

Before launching the app to check if the code works, make sure your firewall allows traffic on port 5000. On Ubuntu, it's probably ufw, so run:

sudo ufw allow 5000

Now we can run our Flask app: 

python myproject.py

Go to http://your_server_ip:5000. The browser should display "Hello!". Go back to the terminal and press CTRL+C to disconnect the Flask server.

Creating a WSGI entry point

Let's move on to creating an entry point to our app: 

nano ~/myproject/wsgi.py

Add the following code to the file:

from myproject import app
if __name__ == "__main__":

Save changes.

Configure Gunicorn

Before continuing, verify the Gunicorn server can serve our program correctly.

Go to the project directory:

cd ~/myproject

And run the command:

gunicorn --bind wsgi:app

You should see a similar output:

[2024-05-23 15:52:19 +0000] [9211] [INFO] Starting gunicorn 20.1.0
[2024-05-23 15:52:19 +0000] [9211] [INFO] Listening at: (9211)
[2024-05-23 15:52:19 +0000] [9211] [INFO] Using worker: sync
[2024-05-23 15:52:19 +0000] [9213] [INFO] Booting worker with pid: 9213

Again, go to http://your_server_ip:5000 and verify that the "Hello!" message is displayed.

In the terminal, press Ctrl+C to stop the application and deactivate the virtual environment:


To be able to launch Gunicorn automatically, let's create a systemd unit file:

sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/myproject.service

And add the following content to it:

Description=Gunicorn instance for myproject
Environment= "PATH=/home/username/myproject/myprojectenv/bin"
ExecStart=/home/username/myproject/myprojectenv/bin/gunicorn --workers 3 --bind unix:myproject.sock -m 007 wsgi:app

Save the changes and close the file. Now you can start the Gunicorn service and enable it so it runs at boot: 

sudo systemctl start myproject
sudo systemctl enable myproject

Check the status to verify that Gunicorn is running: 

sudo systemctl status myproject

Configure Nginx

Let's move on to working with the Nginx web server. First, create a configuration file in the sites-available directory:

sudo nano /etc/nginx/sites-available/myproject

Add the following directives to the file: 

server {
 listen 80;
 server_name your_domain www.your_domain;
 include proxy_params;
 proxy_pass http://unix:/home/username/myproject/myproject.sock;

And save the changes. Apply the new configuration:

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/myproject /etc/nginx/sites-enabled

Next, add the www-data user to the current user group:

sudo usermod -a -G ${USER} www-data

Check the Nginx configuration:

sudo nginx -t

If everything is fine, restart the web server:

sudo nginx -s reload

Complete the setup by adjusting the firewall settings. For example, we no longer need the rule about access through port 5000; we can safely delete it. Instead, add another rule to open a connection to the Nginx server:

sudo ufw delete allow 5000
sudo ufw allow 'Nginx Full'

Try accessing your server from a browser via http://your_domain. The program shouls display the "Hello!" message.

Install an SSL certificate

Finally, let's install an SSL certificate to secure traffic. 

We will issue a Let's Encrypt SSL using Certbot. The recommended way to install Certbot is through snap. More information can be found in the official Certbot documentation.

Run the command below to ensure you are using the latest version of snapd:

sudo snap install core; sudo snap refresh core

If you previously installed any Certbot packages using the apt package manager, remove them with the command:   

sudo apt-get remove certbot

Install Certbot via snap:

sudo snap install --classic certbot

Execute the following command to ensure that the certbot command can be run:

sudo ln -s /snap/bin/certbot /usr/bin/certbot

Obtain the certificate and automatically make the necessary changes to the Nginx configuration:

sudo certbot --nginx

Certbot will automatically update the certificate. You can test the update by running the command:

sudo certbot renew --dry-run

Try going to your domain via HTTPS (https://your_domain) to make sure the secure connection works. 


In this tutorial, we deployed a simple Flask app on an Ubuntu server using the Python virtual environment, configured Gunicorn and Nginx, and secured our application with an SSL certificate.