Ubuntu Intrepid - Apache Virtual Hosts #2

Following on from the first Ubuntu Intrepid - Apache Virtual Hosts article, we can now look in detail at some of the settings available to us in the Virtual Hosts file.

This will enable us to have complete control of the domain we want to serve.


Some of the settings discussed were introduced in the previous article but some are new.

Take the time to read through the explanations and you will soon have an understanding of how powerful vhosts actually are.

Email

ServerAdmin

ServerAdmin webmaster@domain.com

Sets the email address for the server administrator - this will be used if you have setup the server to contact you on errors. It is also shown in the ServerSignature (if set to 'Email' - see below)

Domain Name

ServerName and ServerAlias

ServerName domain.com
ServerAlias www.domain.com

Sets the domain name for the virtual host. You can have as many aliases as required. For example, you can have domain.com and domain.net point to the same content.

Note this is not a rewrite rule (we'll look at those later) but the domains defined here will serve the same content (assuming you have set the DNS to point to your Slice IP).

Index Files

DirectoryIndex

DirectoryIndex index.html

Defines the index file (the 'home' page that is shown on entering the domain address). Useful if you have want the user to be directed to an alternate page or to a non-standard home page.

Do note this is not a good way of redirecting users as they may go directly to a non specified page such as domain.com/index.php whilst the DirectoryIndex will only work for those entering domain.com.

Documents

DocumentRoot

DocumentRoot /home/demo/public_html/domain.com/public

The location of the domain's public files. Use an absolute path name.

Log Files

ErrorLog and CustomLog

LogLevel warn
ErrorLog  /home/demo/public_html/domain.com/log/error.log
CustomLog /home/demo/public_html/domain.com/log/access.log combined

Set the Log levels and the location for the Virtual Hosts log files. Very useful for easy analysis of the domain statistics.

Error Documents

ErrorDocument

ErrorDocument 404 /errors/404.html
ErrorDocument 403 /errors/403.html

Used for all the standard error messages.

In these examples I have an 'errors' folder in my public directory. I created each error document and place them in the 'errors' folder. The paths shown are relative to the DocumentRoot folder defined above.

If not defined, Apache will generate its own error pages. Custom error pages are more user friendly and can be customised as much, or as little, as you want.

Apache Footers

ServerSignature

ServerSignature On

Sets whether the server details are displayed in any server generated error pages or index lists. Options are On, Off and Email.

Note the level of detail in the signature is configured via ServerTokens which cannot be set in the Virtual Hosts file — for Ubuntu Intrepid's Apache layout this is properly set in '/etc/apache2/conf.d/security'. See the Apache configuration #2 article for more details.

If set to Email, the ServerAdmin email will be displayed.

cgi-bin

ScriptAlias

ScriptAlias /cgi-bin/ /home/demo/public_html/domain.com/cgi-bin/
<Location /cgi-bin>
  Options +ExecCGI
</Location>

Enables the cgi-bin location as defined by the custom virtual hosts layout. You can, of course, leave the cgi-bin in the DocumentRoot location if you so wish.

Directory

<Directory xxx/xxx>

<Directory /home/demo/public_html/domain.com/public>
  Options FollowSymLinks
</Directory>

Set the Options for the specified directory - the example shown allows the Option FollowSymLinks to be enable for the public directory of domain.com

Listed below are further Options that can be set:

Directory Browsing

Options

Options -Indexes

To turn off directory browsing use '-Indexes' or 'None'. To turn them on, use '+Indexes'.

SSI

Options

Options -Includes

This Option disables Server Side Inlcudes.

Symlinks

Options

Options -FollowSymLinks

Enable or disable the option to follow symlinks. Be careful with this option as it can lead to security risks (inadvertently linking to configuration folders).

You can consider using the SymLinksIfOwnerMatch directive instead of FollowSymLinks. The SymLinksIfOwnerMatch allows symbolic links to be followed only if the owner of the link is identical to the owner of the target file or directory (in terms of Linux filesystem ownership/permissions). Thus preventing many of the security risks that a simple FollowSymlinks directive can create.

.htaccess

AllowOverride

AllowOverride None

Setting AllowOverride to none disables .htaccess support. Set to All to allow them.

You can also specify which .htaccess features to enable such as:

AllowOverride AuthConfig Indexes

The Apache htaccess and AllowOverride docs have more information on the different features.

Remember to specifically protect your .htaccess file. This can be done in two ways:

Firstly rename it to something obscure and, secondly, deny access to the file from external sources:

AccessFileName .myobscurefilename
<Files ~ "^\.my">
    Order allow,deny
    Deny from all
    Satisfy All
</Files>

No Options

Options

Options None

This will turn off all the available options.

Hierarchy

Remember that the Options directives can be set per directory like this:

<Directory />
  AllowOverride None
  Options None
</Directory>

<Directory /home/demo/public_html/domain.com/public>
  AllowOverride All
</directory>

This will turn of all Options and disable .htaccess support for all directories.

However, the second Directory setting will override the first and allow .htaccess support for the domain.com/public directory.

Summary

The Virtual Hosts file is at once an easy tool to use and a very powerful one. My advice is to enter one setting and test it. Then enter the next setting and so on.

Once familiar you will see you have fine control over all of your web folders and files.

Mike

Article Comments:

Seth W. Klein commented Mon Mar 09 02:39:52 UTC 2009:

"ScriptAlias .... Enables the cgi-bin location as defined by the custom virtual hosts layout. You can, of course, leave the cgi-bin in the DocumentRoot location if you so wish."

I'm not quite sure what that's trying to say (and neither was someone on IRC), but ScriptAlias requests CGI execution for everyfile_ in the named directories, although it will only actually happen if the ExecCGI option allows it. If you want it for just *.cgi files, use "AddHandler cgi-script .cgi". If I read the documentation correctly, that requires mod_mime (which you almost certainly have) and can go just about anywhere in the config where it will do what you want ("server config, virtual host, directory, .htaccess").

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