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Installing Apache HTTP Server With a Quick-Start Config

Article Source Wazi
June 24, 2009, 9:04 am 
 
This article was created because I have been getting a question or two about how to How to install Apache HTTP Server. In this article, I assume that you have Red Hat/CentOS Linux with a proper build environment setup. If you do not have gcc installed you can get this with all the required packages like this:
yum groupinstall “Development Libraries”

You should now be ready to install Apache!

Meat & Potatoes

When I install a Apache HTTP Server for a client or myself, small or large I follow a “standard” configuration setup which is very easy to build on later. For the most part I use CentOS or Redhat Enterprise edition servers but these steps should work on any Unix system. This might not be true for AIX which requires a little more hand-holding to make sure the compiler is installed correctly.

Content of this Article

  • Download the source code from the Apache project website. (Currently 2.2.11)
  • Execute the configure, make and make install installation steps. (With a few custom switches)
  • Setup the httpd.conf and associated files
  • Start your newly built Apache server
  • Done!

Download Apache

First step is to download the Apache source code and not binaries or rpms. I believe that using the source code will give the best performing most flexible installation of Apache. If you follow a few steps the actual “installation” procedure is not difficult and it will give you a good foundation to add/remove features later.

Go to this url http://httpd.apache.org/download.cgi and get the latest tgz or bz2 file, currently 2.2.11.

Compiling/Installing the Source for Apache

I like to keep my source download in ~/Software/ so that I can go back and just re-compile and re-install the binaries if I need to add a module or two.

[root@coco ~]# cd ~/Software/httpd-2.2.11
[root@coco httpd-2.2.11]# "./configure" \
"--enable-ssl" \
"--enable-proxy" \
"--enable-proxy-balancer" \
"--enable-rewrite" \
"--enable-headers" \
"--enable-deflate" \
"--enable-cache" \
"--enable-expires" \
"--enable-mem-cache" \
"--enable-disk-cache" \
"--enable-file-cache" \
"--with-mpm=worker" \
"--disable-cgi --disable-asis" \
"--disable-autoindex" \
"--disable-userdir"

Let me explain:

enable-ssl This is so that you can enable a secure port later.

enable-proxy/enable-proxy-balancer This is here to setup a connection to a backend server like Tomcat/Thin/Mongrel

enable-rewrite We are always going to need rewrite rules in the config file.

enable-headers Need this to enable monitoring of the server, and for mod_proxy we need to manipulate the header.

enable-deflate The old gzip module which will allow us to setup some content to be compressed with gzip

enable-cache/expires/mem-cache/disk-cache/file-cache Are all there so that we can enable the expires module.

with-mpm=worker I’m choosing to use the worker MPM as my default since most server I work with do have more than 1 CPU. If you are working on servers that only has one cpu use the prefork MPM.

[root@coco httpd-2.2.11]# make && make install

You will now have the apache server installed in /usr/local/apache2, this is the default install directory and if you would want to change this you need to add the –prefix=/my/directory/apache2 switch to the configure string and make && make install to install apache to the correct directory.

Apache Startup Script

The easiest and fastest way is to copy /usr/local/apache2/bin/apachectl to /etc/init.d/apache this will allow you todo /etc/init.d/apache start|stop|restart.

If you want a script that has more feedback you can use the following script:

#!/bin/bash
# httpd        Startup script for the Apache HTTP Server
# chkconfig: 2345 85 15
# description: Apache is a World Wide Web server.  It is used to serve \
#        HTML files and CGI.
# processname: httpd
# config: /usr/local/apache2/conf/httpd.conf
# pidfile: /var/run/apache2.pid

# Source function library.
. /etc/rc.d/init.d/functions

# Start httpd in the C locale by default.
HTTPD_LANG=${HTTPD_LANG-"C"}

# This will prevent initlog from swallowing up a pass-phrase prompt if
# mod_ssl needs a pass-phrase from the user.
INITLOG_ARGS=""

# Path to the apachectl script, server binary, and short-form for messages.
apachectl=/usr/local/apache2/bin/apachectl
httpd=${HTTPD-/usr/local/apache2/bin/httpd}
prog=httpd
pidfile=${PIDFILE-/var/run/apache2.pid}
lockfile=${LOCKFILE-/var/lock/subsys/apache2}
RETVAL=0

start() {
echo -n $"Starting $prog: "
LANG=$HTTPD_LANG daemon $httpd $OPTIONS
RETVAL=$?
echo
[ $RETVAL = 0 ] && touch ${lockfile}
return $RETVAL
}
stop() {
echo -n $"Stopping $prog: "
killproc $httpd
RETVAL=$?
echo
[ $RETVAL = 0 ] && rm -f ${lockfile} ${pidfile}
}
reload() {
echo -n $"Reloading $prog: "
if ! LANG=$HTTPD_LANG $httpd $OPTIONS -t >&/dev/null; then
RETVAL=$?
echo $"not reloading due to configuration syntax error"
failure $"not reloading $httpd due to configuration syntax error"
else
killproc $httpd -HUP
RETVAL=$?
fi
echo
}

# See how we were called.
case "$1" in
start)
start
;;
stop)
stop
;;
status)
status $httpd
RETVAL=$?
;;
restart)
stop
start
;;
condrestart)
if [ -f ${pidfile} ] ; then
stop
start
fi
;;
reload)
reload
;;
graceful|help|configtest|fullstatus)
$apachectl $@
RETVAL=$?
;;
*)
echo $"Usage: $prog {start|stop|restart|condrestart|reload|status|fullstatus|graceful|help|configtest}"
exit 1
esac

exit $RETVAL

Apache Configuration File

I will step through the different sections of the main configuration file that I use as the template for my Apache servers.

# =================================================
# Basic settings
# =================================================
ServerName %{SERVER_NAME}
ServerRoot "/usr/local/apache2"
PidFile "/var/run/apache2.pid"
# =================================================
# Performance settings
# =================================================
Timeout 30
KeepAlive On
MaxKeepAliveRequests 500
KeepAliveTimeout 2
<IfModule mpm_prefork_module>
StartServers            1
MinSpareServers         1
MaxSpareServers         10
MaxClients              25
MaxRequestsPerChild     1000
</IfModule>
<IfModule mpm_worker_module>
ServerLimit          16
StartServers          2
MaxClients           40
MinSpareThreads       5
MaxSpareThreads      20
ThreadsPerChild      20
MaxRequestsPerChild   5000
</IfModule>

The Basic section is just there for Apache's Root directory. Next, we have a Timeout of 30 seconds which is enough for most setups the default of 300 is way too long. We enable keepalive BUT the keepalive timeout is only 2 seconds which allows each user to get their own connection but the connection will close as soon as they download the page they requested (You can play with this timeout and have it set somewhere in the 1-5 sec range). Then I setup perfork and worker depending on the number of cpus that are installed on the Apache server.

# =================================================
# General settings
# =================================================
Listen 80
# Listen 443
User www
Group www
ServerAdmin This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
UseCanonicalName Off
ServerTokens Prod
ServerSignature Off
HostnameLookups Off
ExtendedStatus On
# =================================================
# Modules
# =================================================
#LoadModule dummy_module /usr/lib/apache2/modules/mod_dummy.so

Next sections we listen to port 80 but also have 443 if we want.( I will show you later how to setup a https/SSL/Secure virtualhost ) User and Group is the www user which is a system user. ( On Redhat you create a system user with the -r switch. adduser -r www ). We dont want the server to lookup hostname or show a signature to our users. The ExtendedStatus is on for monitoring reasons.The dummy module is there if we want to install php later down the road.

# =================================================
# Access control
# =================================================
<Directory />
Options FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride None
Order deny,allow
Deny from all
</Directory>
<DirectoryMatch "^/.*/\.svn/">
ErrorDocument 403 /404.html
Order allow,deny
Deny from all
Satisfy All
</DirectoryMatch>
<FilesMatch "^\.ht">
Order allow,deny
Deny from all
Satisfy All
</FilesMatch>
# =================================================
# MIME encoding
# =================================================
DefaultType text/plain
TypesConfig conf/mime.types
AddType application/x-compress .Z
AddType application/x-gzip .gz .tgz
AddType application/x-x509-ca-cert .crt
AddType application/x-pkcs7-crl    .crl

First things first, Deny from all. This makes sure we have to allow access to any directory that is used in the Apache configuration. Then we make sure that users don’t have access to .svn directories or .ht files. We also have a minimal mimetype setup. ( for the deflate and ssl modules. )

# =================================================
# Logs
# =================================================
LogLevel warn
LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\"" combined
ErrorLog /usr/local/apache2/logs/error_log
# Mark requests for the robots.txt file
SetEnvIf Request_URI "^/robots\.txt$" dontlog
SetEnvIf Request_URI "^\/monit\/token$" dontlog
# =================================================
# SSL Configuration
# =================================================
SSLPassPhraseDialog  builtin
SSLSessionCache        shmcb:/usr/local/apache2/logs/ssl_scache(512000)
SSLSessionCacheTimeout  300
SSLMutex  file:/usr/local/apache2/logs/ssl_mutex
SSLRandomSeed startup builtin
SSLRandomSeed connect builtin

Now we setup the logformat for use in our virtualhosts and the server error log file. We also mark two dontlog Env which removes the robot.txt and monit/token hits from the log. When we created the virtualhost I will show how this is used. We also setup a default ssl configuration for the server.

# =================================================
# Mod status for monitoring
# =================================================
<VirtualHost 127.0.0.1:80>
<Location /server-status>
SetHandler server-status
Order Deny,Allow
Deny from all
Allow from localhost
Allow from 127.0.0.1
</Location>
</VirtualHost>
# =================================================
# Include extra configs
# =================================================
Include conf/extra/httpd-myblog.com.conf

Now the server monitoring setup. We allow only access from localhost and it will only listen to the 127.0.0.1 ip. This is a good setup for tools like Groundworks and Hyperic. The last line includes a virtualhost configuration file. Now lets have a look at the virtualhost

Virtualhosts Using a Namebased Setup

I like to have my httpd.conf with server-wide settings and free of actual content hosting elements or mod_proxy/mod_jk configurations. In this example I have a blog that’s running on a Ruby on Rails backend with three thin ( Thin is one RoR application server ) servers listening to ports 8000- 8002.

# --------------------------------------------------------
# Always keep the host header
# --------------------------------------------------------
ProxyPreserveHost On
# --------------------------------------------------------
# Rails Cluster
# --------------------------------------------------------
<Proxy balancer://rails-cluster>
BalancerMember http://127.0.0.1:8000
BalancerMember http://127.0.0.1:8001
BalancerMember http://127.0.0.1:8002
</Proxy>

This setup has three servers in a proxy_balancer cluster that you can access using balancer://rails-cluster/ just as it was one server.

# --------------------------------------------------------
# name-based virtual hosting.
# --------------------------------------------------------
NameVirtualHost *:80

<VirtualHost *:80>
DocumentRoot "/var/www/myblog.com/current/public"
ServerName www.myblog.com
ServerAlias myblog.com

# -------------------------------------------------
# Rewrite rules
# -------------------------------------------------
RewriteEngine on

# Force www.myblog.com and make sure we use a 301 HTTP code for the redirect. This is a SEO must.
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}   !^www\.myblog\.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}   !^$
RewriteRule ^/(.*)         http://www.myblog.com/$1 [L,R=301]

# --------------------------------------------------------
# List of urls not to proxy
# --------------------------------------------------------
ProxyPass /system !
ProxyPass /images !
ProxyPass /stylesheets !
ProxyPass /javascripts !
ProxyPass /monit/token !
# Send everything else to the proxy_balancer cluster of rails servers
ProxyPass / balancer://rails-cluster/
ProxyPassReverse / balancer://rails-cluster/

<Directory "/var/www/myblog.com/current/public">
Options FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride None
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
</Directory>
# Before you restart the server you need to create the logs/myblog.com directory.
# We are also adding the dontlog environment variable here to stop logging the set entries. (This is configured in your httpd.conf)
ErrorLog  "logs/myblog.com/error_log"
CustomLog "logs/myblog.com/access_log" combined env=!dontlog

# --------------------------------------------------------
# Deflate Module Configuration
# --------------------------------------------------------
<IfModule deflate_module>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/atom_xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-httpd-php
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-httpd-fastphp
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-httpd-eruby
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4.0[678] no-gzip
</IfModule>
# =============================================
# Configure expires Module
# =============================================
<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault "access plus 1 seconds"
ExpiresByType text/html "access plus 1 seconds"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType text/javascript "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType text/xml "access plus 1 seconds"
</IfModule>
</VirtualHost>

Here there is alot of information lets try to take it step by step. First we setup a server with the name www.myblog.com that also listens to myblog.com but by using mod_rewrite we force everyone to www.myblog.com with a 301 redirect. Then we setup all of the static content that we want apache to server from the local filesystem using ProxyPass with a ! to say “do not proxypass” these directories and then we send everything else to the balancer cluster. We setup the access rights to the static directory where our content is stored ( images, javascript, uploaded files and other things like css. ) Now we setup the virtualhosts log file in its own directory inside the logs directory. The mod_deflate and mod_expires configurations work for most setups BUT this piece needs to be monitored and tuned to your setup. I have seen the mod_expires setup give me problems using rails and authentication.

Now of to a secure.myblog.com virtualhost

<VirtualHost _default_:443>
DocumentRoot "/var/www/myblog.com/current/public"
ServerName secure.myblog.com
ServerAlias www.myblog.com myblog.com
 RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}   !^secure\.myblog\.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}   !^$
RewriteRule ^/(.*)         https://secure.myblog.com/$1 [L,R=301]
# --------------------------------------------------------
# List of urls not to proxy
# --------------------------------------------------------
ProxyPass /system !
ProxyPass /images !
ProxyPass /stylesheets !
ProxyPass /javascripts !
ProxyPass / balancer://rails-cluster/
ProxyPassReverse / balancer://rails-cluster/

ErrorLog  "logs/myblog.com/error_log"
CustomLog "logs/myblog.com/access_log" combined env=!donlog

# --------------------------------------------------------
# SSL Certificates
# --------------------------------------------------------
SSLEngine on
SSLCertificateFile    /usr/local/apache2/ssl/secure.myblog.com.crt
SSLCertificateKeyFile /usr/local/apache2/ssl/secure.myblog.com.key
# --------------------------------------------------------
# Deflate Module Configuration
# --------------------------------------------------------
<IfModule deflate_module>
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE image/svg+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/atom_xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-httpd-php
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-httpd-fastphp
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-httpd-eruby
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4.0[678] no-gzip
</IfModule>
# =============================================
# Configure expires Module
# =============================================
<IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive On
ExpiresDefault "access plus 1 seconds"
ExpiresByType text/html "access plus 1 seconds"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType text/javascript "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript "access plus 1 week"
ExpiresByType text/xml "access plus 1 seconds"
</IfModule>
# --------------------------------------------------------
# Document root /
# --------------------------------------------------------
<Directory "/var/www/myblog.com/current/public">
Options FollowSymLinks
AllowOverride None
Order allow,deny
Allow from all
</Directory>
# -------------------------------------------------
# Fixing yet abother IE 6 bug
# -------------------------------------------------
BrowserMatch ".*MSIE.*" nokeepalive ssl-unclean-shutdown downgrade-1.0 force-response-1.0
# -------------------------------------------------
# Add this to the request header so that
# rails puts the correct redirect in place
# -------------------------------------------------
RequestHeader set X_FORWARDED_PROTO 'https'
</VirtualHost>

This is very similar to the port 80 virtualhost of the same name. the biggest difference is the ssl certificates and then the bottom ssl/https settings to fix issues with Mongrel/rails and ie6. You can’t configure mod_expires and mod_deflate in the main configuration file and have the virtuallhost inheret the configuration so the best solution to be dry would be to put these settings in their own mod_deflate.conf and mod_expires.conf and then include the named configuration files in each virtualhosts configuration file like so:

Include conf/mod_deflate.conf
Include conf/mod_expires.conf

Finishing Up

Apache with mod_proxy rocks. What we have here is Apache that is ready to be expanded to a high performance webserver or proxy server, or both. I like to start with this setup and then build from here but if you had to get more concurrent clients and throughput through your Apache server I would look at your available memory and CPU cycles and maybe do something like so:

<IfModule mpm_worker_module>
ThreadLimit 100
StartServers 5
MaxClients 1000
MinSpareThreads 100
MaxSpareThreads 1000
ThreadsPerChild 100
MaxRequestsPerChild 0
</IfModule>

This is a high threads and low processes setup and to get the number of processes that Apache will use simply divide MaxClients by ThreadPerChild. So this gives us 10 processes each with a maximum of 100 threads, with a maximum of 1000 clients total. Depending on the server and type of content that you are serving you can load test and increase these settings if you need more than 1000 concurrent users.

I’m a very big fan of mod_proxy and I use mod_proxy_ajp inplace of mod_jk every chance I get. (I also talk my customers into using mod_proxy over mod_jk if they are using Apache 2.2.x.)

Using this setup to include the virtualhosts that the server runs I feel it is easy to add/remove new websites to this setup and it also gives me a good overview of what is running on the server.

Freddy Andersen
Freddy supports OpenLogic customers from his home in California. Born in Norway, Freddy has been working in open source for almost 10 years. He drives a Ferrari truck when he isn't running (either for exercise or chasing Cade, his two-year-old, or simply because he's had too much Red Bull).

 

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