HowTo: Nginx with HTTP2 support on Debian Jessie

The original problem:

  • SPDY has been replaced by HTTP2, which is better in a number of ways
  • As of June 2016, Chrome has dropped support for SPDY
  • HTTP2 uses ALPN
  • ALPN requires OpenSSL 1.0.2
  • Debian Stable (aka Jessie aka v8) and others OSes only had 1.0.1

What’s changed:


  • Add jessie-backports and jessie-nginx-http2 (ansible playbook)
  • Upgrade openssl them from the correct place: sudo apt-get install -t jessie-backports openssl
  • sudo apt-get install nginx-full (which should pull in various libnginx-mod packages)
  • Change any references in your Nginx config files from spdy to http2
  • Run sudo nginx -t to verify the configuration is valid
  • Start server

Verify HTTP2 is working (Chrome or Opera):

Developer Tools, Network tab, reload page, enable the Protocol column, look for H2, which means HTTP2.

Extra step for LetsEncrypt / Certbot compatibility:

A few days after doing this I got the following error when my weekly cronjob for renewing LetsEncrypt certificates ran:

    build/temp.linux-x86_64-2.7/_openssl.c:415:30: fatal error: openssl/opensslv.h: No such file or directory
     #include <openssl/opensslv.h>

And on running it manually I had this:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 libssl-dev : Depends: libssl1.0.0 (= 1.0.1t-1+deb8u6) but 1.0.2k-1~bpo8+1 is to be installed
 Recommends: libssl-doc but it is not going to be installed

The solution was just to pull in libssl-dev from jessie-backports too:

apt-get install -t jessie-backports libssl-dev

Note, in my case, I have a git clone of certbot rather than a packaged version, though it is now available as a backport for Debian Jessie.

Chrome, SPDY, HTTP/2, Nginx, NPN, APLN, OpenSSL and Debian

Mattias Geniar has written this up in some detail, but to summarise:

Nginx 1.10 (the new major, stable version) has replaced SPDY with HTTP/2. But as of this week, Chrome now only supports HTTP/2 using ALPN.  ALPN requires OpenSSL 1.0.2.  But stable Debian (and CentOS, and other flavours of Linux) only have 1.0.1 and, right now (it seems to me)  there’s not a lot of hope Debian will back-port the new version: many other services also use OpenSSL, they’d all need to be checked/updated…

If you’re using DotDeb on Jessie (aka Debian 8), the nginx packages (nginx nginx-common nginx-full etc.) will be held back when running apt-get upgrade.

What should I do?  Updated – SOLUTION AVAILABLE! (2 March 2017) A newer OpenSSL has been backported.  You need to add some extra repositories and use a special command to install it, but that’s it. Full Instructions