Adding multiple VirtualHosts hosting on fresh installed Debian GNU / Linux

Nowdays most of my new (fresh) Linux server configurations are installed with Debian Linux.

Through the years I worked with most major GNU / Linux distributions. Though intalling Apache for multiple domain VirtualHost-ing is almost equally easier to set up on all distros I tried, (Slackware, Redhat, Fedora) etc., I found Debian to be most convenient in terms of freqeuent easy updates and general security.

Every time I configure a new host which is supposed to host a dozen of websites with Apache webserver and a DB backend, it is of course necessery to enable the server to have support multiple domain VirtualHosts.

I thought there are people out who look to configure Multiple domains on fresh installed Apache webserver and this how this short post get born.

I will explain hereby in short how I configure VirtualHosts on new Debian Linux servers with fresh installed Apache.

All required to have a working many domains hosted VirtualHosts on Debian is:

1. Have installed Apache serve package

# apt-get --yes install apache2

This would install all packages necessery for VirtualHost-ing.
After apache2 installed the system should have at least this packages present.

# dpkg -l |grep -i apache2
ii apache2-mpm-prefork 2.2.16-6+squeeze7 Apache HTTPServer - traditional non-threaded model
ii apache2-utils 2.2.16-6+squeeze7 utility programs for webservers
ii apache2.2-bin 2.2.16-6+squeeze7 Apache HTTPServer common binary files
ii apache2.2-common 2.2.16-6+squeeze7 Apache HTTPServer common files
ii libapache2-mod-php5 5.3.3-7+squeeze14 server-side, HTML-embedded scripting language (Apache 2 module)

Nowadays, having enabled mod_rewrite is necessery in almost any website, so the next thing I usually do is enable mod_rewrite webserver module.

# ln -sf /etc/apache2/mods-available/rewrite.load /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/rewrite.load
# apache2ctl -k restart

By default there is an index.html page containing the annoying phrase It Works!

I really dislike this default page and many times I start configuring a server, I wonder how to remove it; if you’re like me before doing anything other I advice you edit /var/www/index.html to change it to Coming Soon or just substitute the file with some nice looking Coming Soon page (custom page) …

Once this is done, I proceed adding as many Virtualhosts as I need with the respective Virtualhost names. To Do so on Debian, just create new Vhost config files in files /etc/apache2/sites-available/yoursite.com, /etc/apache2/sites-available/yoursite1.com etc.br />
Before creating any other VHosts, I usually edit the main webserver VirtualHost which is located in /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default, there in the VirtualHost section normally need to add proper:

ServerName and ServerAlias variables as well as change DocumentRoot to whatever the default server host Virtualhost directory will be.

An example of 000-default Vhost config I do looks like so:

<VirtualHost *>ServerName server-main-host-name.com
ServerAlias www.server-main-host-name.com server-main-host-name.com
DocumentRoot /var/www
....
</Virtualhost>

Onwards add the same ServerName server-main-host-name.com as a new line in /etc/apache2/apache2.conf config

Now for those not too unfamiliar with VirtualHost types, it is useful to say there are two ways of VirtualHosts:

  • IP Based VirtualHost
  • and

  • Host Based VirtualHosts

IP Based VirtualHosts are added by using Apache directive syntax:

<VirtualHost 192.168.0.2:80>
ServerName ....
ServerAlias ....
</VirtualHost>

whether Host Based VirutalHosts are added by using in config file, the IP address on which the respective Vhost will reside:

<VirtualHost *>
ServerName ....
ServerAlias ....
</VirtualHost>

Host Based VirtualHosts directive syntax can be either in form:

a)Virtualhost *
or
b) Virtualhost port_number (Virtualhost 80, VirtualHost 90) etc.

If a host is configured with directive <VirtualHost *>, this means it will listen for incoming connections on any port Apache is configured to listen on, whether if used with a concrete port number it will only enable VirtualHosts for whole Apache server on the concrete port.

Based on the configuration, VirtualHost 80 or Virtualhost *, the variable which will enable globally on the Apache server multiple VirtualHosts has to be modified e.g.:
Whether VirtualHost with port number is configured <VirtualHost 80>, NameVirtualHost 80 should be used or otherwise NameVirtualHost *

Once you choose the type of Virtualhost-ing, just continue on adding the VirtualHosts …
In the first created VirtualHost config file, let’s say /etc/apache2/sites-available/first-virtualhost.com

NameVirtualHost * has to be added as first line in file; in other words the file content should look similar to:

NameVirtualHost *
<VirtualHost*>
ServerAdmin hipo_aT_pc-freak.net AddDefaultCharset UTF-8 DocumentRoot /var/www/ ServerName pc-freak.net ServerAlias www.pc-freak.net....
</VirtualHost>

The same steps has to go for all domain names in separate files except the variable NameVirtualHost * should not be added in the rest of new created Vhosts.

Many of the new configured Debian + Apache servers does not require support for SSL, therefore where SSL support is not necessery I prefer disabling it.
To do so it is necessery to comment out everything dealing with Secure Socket Layer in /etc/apache2/ports.conf, as of time of writting lines to comment are:

<IfModule mod_ssl.c>
# If you add NameVirtualHost *:443 here, you will also have to change
# the VirtualHost statement in /etc/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl
# to <VirtualHost *:443>
# Server Name Indication for SSL named virtual hosts is currently not
# supported by MSIE on Windows XP.
Listen 443
</IfModule>
<IfModule mod_gnutls.c>
Listen 443
</IfModule>

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