Apache Guide: Configuring Your Apache Server Installation

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.

After you've installed your Apache Web server, you probably will need to perform some configuration tasks specific to your needs. In this article, Rich Bowen covers the most common configuration tasks and how to accomplish them.

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.

This article was originally published on Jul 10, 2000
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