Save some time: Embedding jupyter notebook in an iframe and serve as a reverse proxy behind NGINX

March 17, 2019 by Ritchie Vink

Embedding Jupyter notebook/ lab on your website can be done by embedding it in an iframe. However, it takes some configurational quirks to get it done. For my purpose, I also needed to offload validation to another service on the backend. Both the validation server as the jupyter notebook server were proxied behind an NGINX server. Here is the configuration.

NGINX setup

In the configuration, we set two upstream servers. One is the actual jupyter notebook server and one is the validation server. The /notebook endpoint is exposed to the web. The /auth endpoint is only internally visible and is used for incoming request authentication.

Normally an NGINX reverse proxy server uses the HTTP protocol. However jupyter notebook requires a websocket connection to work properly. By setting the Upgrade and the Connection header we can create a websocket tunnel between client and server. We also want this connection to remain open. Therefore we set proxy_read_timeout to a large value.

http {

    upstream notebook {
        # The notebook server

    upstream auth-server {
        # whatever authentication method your setup requires

    server {
        listen 80;

        location /notebook {
            # validate the request with the /auth endpoint
            auth_request       /auth;

            # Allow iframe inbedding from this parent <>
            add_header Content-Security-Policy "frame-ancestors http://<>:80";
            # websocket proxy
            proxy_http_version 1.1;
            proxy_redirect off;
            proxy_buffering off;
            proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
            proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
            proxy_read_timeout 86400;

            proxy_pass         http://notebook;

        location = /auth {
            proxy_pass                http://auth-server/;
            # body content not needed
            proxy_pass_request_body   off;
            proxy_set_header          Content-Length "";
            proxy_set_header          X-Original-URI $request_uri;


Below is the configuration of shown. The important part for embedding the notebook in the iframe is c.NotebookApp.tornado_settings. Here you set URL of the iframe’s parent, i.e. your website.

c.NotebookApp.port = 8888
c.NotebookApp.token = ''

## The IP address the notebook server will listen on.
c.NotebookApp.ip = '*'
c.NotebookApp.base_url = 'notebook'
c.NotebookApp.allow_origin = '*'
c.NotebookApp.open_browser = False


Finally, you need to point the iframe to the proper endpoint and you are all set.

<h1>Welcome to my cool website</h1>
<iframe src="/notebook"></iframe>

Save some time

Save some time posts are short write ups with the intention to, well, save you some time. The content can be anything that has cost me more time it should have.

(c) 2020 Ritchie Vink.