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Apache Guide: Configuring Your Apache Server Installation
Jul 10, 2000, 12 :31 UTC (201 Talkback[s]) (97298 reads) (Other stories by Rich Bowen)


Most of your server configuration is done in the server configuration files, after you have installed Apache. However, the things that you are able to configure are largely decided when you install the server. That is, if you don't install a particular module, then you cannot configure the things that that module control.

In the configuration stage, before you compile your Apache server, you decide what modules you want installed, where you want files to get put, and a variety of other things. You can also specify various things that get set in the server configuration files, which you can then change afterwards.

In this week's column, we'll talk about some of the things that you can do with the configure utility, so that Apache gets installed exactly the way that you want it.

A Basic Installation

For a basic Apache installation, using all the default settings, simply follow the instructions that you see near the top of the README.configure file:

        tar -zxf apache_1.3.12.tar.gz
        cd apache_1.3.12
        ./configure --prefix=PREFIX
        make install

And of course, even that does not accept all the defaults, because we are specifying where we want the files to be put. PREFIX is not actually the literal string PREFIX, but is the directory under which you want Apache installed, such as /usr/local/apache.

Configure Options

If you simply run configure, without providing any arguments, Apache warns you:

        Configuring for Apache, Version 1.3.12
        + Warning: Configuring Apache with default settings.
        + This is probably not what you really want.
        + Please read the README.configure and INSTALL files
        + first or at least run './configure --help' for
        + a compact summary of available options.

When we type configure --help, we get several pages of options. Many of them will not be covered in this article, but several of them are remarkably useful.

The --show-layout option tells you where Apache will put files when it installs. Running with this option does not actually do anything, it just figures out where everything will wind up if you did configure with the particular options you have selected. This is particularly useful when you are experimenting with various different configurations, and don't want to actually install them to see what they will end up looking like.

The --sysconfdir option lets you specify where the server configuration files will live. With a default installation, there will be a conf subdirectory under the main server root directory, which will contain these files. However, some folks like for all their configuration files of any kind to be located in /etc, and so you might want to do:

        ./configure --sysconfigdir=/etc/httpd

--htdocsdir sets the location where web documents will be stored, and served from. If, for example, you install Apache from the RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) file, you will find that the document directory is located in /home/httpd/html, while the other files are located at various other places around the system.

Other File Locations

There are also a number of directives like the last few, which let you set the location of files. --iconsdir sets the location of the icon files, --bindir and --sbindir set the locations of the binary executables, and so on.

My personal preference is to install all of Apache in one location (/usr/local/apache, to be specific) and then just make symlinks from other locations. For example, system log files are located in /var/log, so it might make sense to have the Apache log files there also. However, instead of using a --logfiledir=/var/log/httpd configuration option, I simply create a symbolic link from /var/log/httpd to /usr/local/apache/logs:

        cd /var/log
        ln -s /usr/local/apache/logs httpd

This is also handy for your log rotate scripts, which expect log files to be in /var/log and subdirectories thereof.

Module Configuration

You can tell Apache what modules to build and activate with configuration options. In a default configuration, some modules are enabled, and others are not. To change this default configuration, you can use the --enable-module and --disable-module directives.

The default configuration is as follows:

                        [access=yes      actions=yes     alias=yes      ]
                        [asis=yes        auth=yes        auth_anon=no   ]
                        [auth_db=no      auth_dbm=no     auth_digest=no ]
                        [autoindex=yes   cern_meta=no    cgi=yes        ]
                        [digest=no       dir=yes         env=yes        ]
                        [example=no      expires=no      headers=no     ]
                        [imap=yes        include=yes     info=no        ]
                        [log_agent=no    log_config=yes  log_referer=no ]
                        [mime=yes        mime_magic=no   mmap_static=no ]
                        [negotiation=yes proxy=no        rewrite=no     ]
                        [setenvif=yes    so=no           speling=no     ]
                        [status=yes      unique_id=no    userdir=yes    ]
                        [usertrack=no    vhost_alias=no                 ]

For example:

        ./configure --prefix=/home/httpd --enable-module=speling \

If you wish to build a particular module as a shared object you can use the --enable-shared option. For example:

        ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/apache \
                --enable-module=rewrite \

To compile and enable a module that is not part of the standard Apache distribution, you can use the --add-module and --activate-module options. For example:

        ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/apache \

Manually Tweaking Your Configuration

As I mentioned in my last column, there are two ways to configure your Apache build. There's the method describe above, and then there's the "old-fashioned" manual process. In the src/ subdirectory is a script called Configure (big C), which uses a file called Configuration to configure your build. A sample Configuration file, called Configuation.tmpl, comes with Apache. And when you run configure (small c), a configuration file called Configuration.apaci is generated, and is then used by Configure (big C) to configure the build.

If you open up Configuration.apaci, you'll see the configuration options that you entered, converted into a format that is usable by Configure. You can manually change any of these options to modify the configuration, and then rerun Configure to make the makefiles again, like so:

        ./Configure -file Configuration.apaci

This is particularly useful if you want to experiment with different build configurations. Or, as in my case, if you need to support several different customers, and want to mirror their Apache installation as closely as possible. You can simply save several different versions of your Configuration file, and then rebuild using the one that you like.

The format of the Configuration files is fairly self-explanatory, and they are heavily commented, which should help you figure out what you need to do. Also, read the file INSTALL, also located in the src/ subdirectory.

For More Information

The complete resource on using configure is README.configure, which is in the top directory when you unpack the Apache source tarball. It gives you all the available commandline options, and gives a few examples of common configurations.

And for more information about Configure, read INSTALL in the src/ subdirectory.

Rich Bowen is the Director of Web Application Development at The Creative Group and the author of Apache Server Unleashed.

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 I was tring to install a CGI script when at the top of the install header it ...   getpwuid function   
  Jun 4, 2001, 13:31:53
Dear sir,I have been surfing u r site from past 3 day.But I have not got any bri ...   Apache Web Server   
  Jun 14, 2001, 00:56:30
Hi:I saw the following errors in my apache error log:httpd in free(): warning: r ...   recursive call   
  Jun 14, 2001, 07:59:47
You can write a shell script to loop through the specified directory and change ...   Re: Re: UserDir Access   
  Jun 16, 2001, 12:53:54
HiI've finally set up Apache with PHP and Mysql working together but I don&# ...   Multiple httpd Daemons   
  Jun 18, 2001, 12:46:13
Hai, could you help me out on this problem: that is when im trying to copy image ...   Error: Permission denied, when im tring to copy image on web server   
  Jun 21, 2001, 12:11:15
I have installed Apache like everyone else here it seams that i can't access ...   Forbidden 403 in CGI dir   
  Jun 24, 2001, 13:33:37
Your DNS is either not setup correctly, or the domain name that you have is not ...   Re: help! can't access using server name   
  Jun 26, 2001, 22:01:46
I know that there are some people having problems with virtual hosts. I know my ...   Virtual Servers   
  Jun 27, 2001, 06:18:34
Why is Apache so hard to configure even with the Comments and Suggestions alread ...   Apache Problems   
  Jul 5, 2001, 06:38:30
Same exact problem here. if you get it plaese tell me! ...   Re: Perl on Win32   
  Jul 5, 2001, 06:48:13
if you have a dedicated connection, give your server that IP address. In win9x u ...   Re: Ip Address for my server   
  Jul 5, 2001, 06:56:50
I used the ip for my nic, then posted the ip and where xxxx.xxxis t ...   Re: Re: Ip Address for my server   
  Jul 8, 2001, 05:22:37
I want to install the Apache in Windows.However, I don't know which files sh ...   How should I download Apache for Windows   
  Jul 11, 2001, 09:53:38
I am new using apache, after installation complete, I run apache on Console scre ...   run appache   
  Jul 12, 2001, 23:01:47
I have installed apache on Solaris 8 using binary and pkgadd. Works great. I c ...   apache on Solaris   
  Jul 16, 2001, 22:51:43
I just installed the Apache server 1.3 and everything is working fine. The only ...   Re: 405 Method Not Allowed   
  Jul 17, 2001, 22:53:53
Hello guy's,I am just wondering if it is really necessary to run apache on s ...   Do i need root access to install and run apache on solaris   
  Jul 18, 2001, 02:33:45
I have installed the Apache1.3.20 in Windows 98. Although I can find it in the S ...   New to Apache -- encounter problems   
  Jul 18, 2001, 03:06:25
My web-application (Java Applet) has to log user actions in a log-file based in ...   Writing access to files/ Configuration problem   
  Jul 20, 2001, 08:04:53
This is what is known as a favicon.ico. Just create an .ico file and put it in ...   Re: Setting the Bookmark Icon   
  Jul 25, 2001, 15:22:59
Hi i have a problem when i write PREFIX/conf/httpd.conf it show me a message bas ...   Permision denied   
  Aug 1, 2001, 22:18:55
I have apache up and running on a Linux box (Red Hat Version 7), but I want to b ...   Multi-user access to their pages   
  Aug 2, 2001, 22:24:31
> Hi,Can anybody gives me a website or something else, where I can find an expan ...   Re: Apache installation   
  Aug 7, 2001, 13:34:24
I am using Apache server with mod_perl installed.I can run the simple database q ...   using DBI with apache   
  Aug 8, 2001, 14:56:28
I currently have a website: I need to change the ...   Redirecting from one port to another.   
  Aug 9, 2001, 15:42:38
whenver I clicks on cgi-bin directory it gives permission deinied error, i chan ...   Forbidden   
  Aug 13, 2001, 10:17:27
you dont install perl "on" apache, if you have perl installed, make sure that yo ...   Re: Re: installing perl on Win32 apache server   
  Aug 15, 2001, 13:28:03
Ok, try this:chmod 777 userdirectory first and check if it works. If it does th ...   Re: Re: UserDir Access   
  Aug 19, 2001, 20:08:03
Hi, I'm trying to install Apache 1.3.20 in AIX V4.3.2. The installatin went ...   AIX-XLC 4.3 compiler problem   
  Aug 20, 2001, 16:05:06
Escribo en español porque el ingles lo leo mas o menos pero no lo escribo.He ins ...   No consigo que me vean   
  Aug 20, 2001, 19:26:53
You can get a copy of ActivePerl for Win32 at :I hipe I had helped (late as I se ...   If need then go to ...   
  Aug 25, 2001, 23:02:13
Hi,I run into problems when trying to configure mySQL and PHP using Apache Web S ...   Setting Apache Server with PHP & MYSQL   
  Sep 5, 2001, 08:23:12
When i command httpd -l i found some modules but i want to add more modules like ...   additional Module   
  Sep 6, 2001, 01:30:46
I'm trying to install Apache 2.0.16 on HP-UX11 and getting the following err ...   Unable to determine maximum shared memory segment size   
  Sep 7, 2001, 19:29:16
My server runs fine when i'm connecting to it from my own computer, butwhen ...   HELP   
  Sep 12, 2001, 12:20:28
i m a student and i m trying to configure apache serverbut i m facing a problemi ...   an error ( plz help)   
  Sep 21, 2001, 02:14:52
Hi,I created a directory with a index.html. This directory was added to the acce ...   Unable to access a directory   
  Sep 21, 2001, 09:13:39
Dear All, How to get the different configuration after the installation o ...   How to get the different configuration   
  Sep 26, 2001, 05:25:17
I have my application web site supported by apache server; I would like to know ...   What iare best tools to test apache?   
  Sep 26, 2001, 20:41:28
hi arun, if you came to know how you can install apache on solaris , then please ...   Re: Solaris   
  Oct 1, 2001, 05:34:39
When using Win 2000, what program do I type this line in to configure the apache ...   question   
  Oct 6, 2001, 12:15:06
I am getting the following error when i try to access the PERL program inWin NT ...   Child process   
  Oct 9, 2001, 10:41:10
put mod_jk.dll into the modules directory and include it into the httpd.conf.res ...   Re: Configuration of Apache/Tomcat on NT   
  Oct 14, 2001, 01:56:53
I have a similar problem, I am able to access my site but not by using ...   Re: Re: help! can't access using server name   
  Oct 21, 2001, 20:12:42
hi, I have installed the apache_1.3.20 according to the instruction, and start r ...   apache installation   
  Oct 29, 2001, 19:56:18
  No such file or directory: script not found   
  Oct 31, 2001, 14:16:16
  Nov 1, 2001, 18:17:58
Upgraded to PHP406, put the new php4ts.dll in windows/system and it works, no ms ...   Re - Msvcrt.dll   
  Nov 2, 2001, 13:58:35
Upgraded to latest Php version, replaced the php4ts.dll and it all works fine. ...   Re: Msvcrt.dll   
  Nov 5, 2001, 12:15:04
Our webpages only work well with Internet Explorer. With Netscape Navigator, all ...   Help   
  Nov 8, 2001, 20:38:17
I have set up a apache at home. I changed the port no. to 3610. But the web page ...   Pls help   
  Nov 12, 2001, 06:59:10
getting 500 error Internal Server error ...please help ...   .htaccess   
  Nov 12, 2001, 16:19:03
 We have a linux system.. Two weeks ago power cutoff.. when we powered on our sy ...   doubt   
  Nov 19, 2001, 07:18:27
Hi to the MLapache v1.3.19If I do:./configure --enable-module=proxyis it equiva ...   ./configure   
  Nov 22, 2001, 09:25:44
Hi,I've setup an internet connection thro' apache proxy server on linux. ...   Allowing rtsp requets thro' apache   
  Nov 24, 2001, 11:40:57
Hi,Download the Binery from it using unzip and tar.install ...   Re: Solaris   
  Nov 26, 2001, 06:14:10
I'm having trouble getting the pages to load pictures and include virtual fi ...   not reading picture files or server side includes   
  Nov 27, 2001, 20:06:33
How do I install Perl on Windows 2000 Professional? ...   installing Perl on Windows2000   
  Nov 28, 2001, 06:31:48
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