While you're licking your chops and waiting for Apache 2.0 to be released, you're probably facing a very real situation of having to set up an Apache Web server today. In this overview, Apache pioneer Ken Coar goes through all the steps needed to install and configure an Apache 1.3 Web server.
Copyright 2000 by Ken Coar. All rights reserved. Limited
rights granted to Internet.Com.
Hopefully you know something about Web servers in general, and
the Apache Web server in particular, or else you wouldn't be reading
this page. This article isn't intended to give background on
what Apache is nor why you should use it, but how to get going
with it once the decision has been made. In other words,
simply how to download it, and install it, and turn it on.
I should make it very clear right away that this article is about
the latest released version of the server, Apache 1.3.
It is not about the still-under-development 2.0 version. You'll have to
wait for another article for that.
The setting up of an Apache Web server falls naturally into a number of
steps. Unfortunately, the steps differ slightly depending upon whether
you're going to be using a binary distribution or if you're using
Windows; the steps that may not apply are marked as 'optional' below.
Download the software
[optional] Build the software
(unless you downloaded a binary distribution)
Stop any currently-running Apache server
[optional] De-install any existing
Apache package (Windows only)
Install the new Apache software
Make sure the configuration is correct
Start the Web server
Customise your content
Before getting into the nitty-gritty, let's set up a little background.
A lot of what follows is going to refer to files and directories and
commands and locations and things like that, so let us be sure we
both understand them to mean the same things.
An Apache server has at least two important directory trees, and possibly
three. The first is where the server software lives (called the
ServerRoot), the second is where the documents that get served to
network visitors live (called the DocumentRoot), and the third
is the home of the software sources (called the source tree). In
many cases these all live in close proximity; if you install Apache from
a package, the DocumentRoot might actually be a subdirectory under the
ServerRoot, for instance.
For the sake of clarity, the rest of this article makes the following
assaumptions about where things are on your system:
|Directory tree||Unix location||Windows location|
Apache source tree
C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache\src
C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache
C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache\htdocs
These locations will be used by all of the
and other shell
commands in this article.
Some formatting conventions used in examples in this article:
normal text' represents output from the computer.
bold text indicates what you need to
type. Unbolded text shows output from the computer.
bold italicised text represents
something you need
to replace with your own value; for example, when following the steps
in an example, when I came to
I would type "
normal italicised text in brackets ('[' and ']')
is used to represent commentary,
such as "
[lots of output here]".
In order to make long lines in this article fit within the
width of your window, they may be arbitrarily wrapped. This is
signified by one line ending with a slosh ('\') and the next
line beginning with an open broket ('>'). For example:
% this is the first part of the line > and this is the second
You can run these split-up pieces together into the single line
they represent, or, on Unix, you can actually type the '\' and
hit Enter and type in the next portion when the system prompts
you with the '>'. (This convention was chosen because it
matches this Unix behaviour, and most Apache servers are run
The Apache Web server runs on almost every Unix-like system in the
world, and quite a few systems that don't resemble Unix at all. It's
supported on the server platforms of Microsoft Windows (such as
Windows NT and Windows 2000), and runs--but isn't supported--on
the Windows 95 and Windows 98 platforms.
This breadth of support means that, whatever you're running, you can
probably use Apache on it. If you want to use Apache on something
that isn't clearly Windows nor Unix, or you are otherwise unsure,
check the resources in the
'Going Further' section of this article
for places to inquire on how to proceed.
Since Apache is developed as an Open Source' project, you have a choice
of either using a package that someone else prepared for your platform--if anyone has--or of downloading the source and building it yourself
from the ground
up. Of course, with the dozens of available platforms, there are sure to be
some to which the Apache developers themselves don't have access, and
so your options may actually be reduced to building the Apache Web server
from scratch yourself.
Since different redistributors and repackagers have their own ideas about
where to put files, the locations identified in the
assumptions section may not be valid if you
installed Apache from such a package. If that's the case, you'll just need
to make the appropriate translations between the locations in this article
and those on your system.
The latest and greatest released version of Apache is always available
from the Apache Web site in the
>. If you look at that
page, one of the first things you'll see is a link to a way of finding
a distribution point, or mirror
, that's closer to you.
|The Apache Software Foundation only supports downloading using HTTP
and the Web; FTP repositories are not provided. Mirror sites may or may
not provide FTP access to their distribution areas.|
Exactly how you download the software depends on your Web browser,
but it may be as simple as holding down the 'Shift' key and clicking
on the name of the file.
There are two types of packages you can download from the Apache site:
Packages containing only the Web server source code, and
Packages containing the source code and a pre-built binary.
The source-only packages are located in the top directory of the
URL listed above; the prebuilt binaries are located in subdirectories
The Apache packages are named according to a formula:
The word '
apache', followed by
the three-component version number (e.g., '
optional suffix information (such as '
win32' to stress
that the package is for Windows, or '
which indicates a package built for Linux systems running on x86
hardware with a 2.* kernel version), followed by
package-type information (such as '
A package that is missing the optional suffix information, such as
apache_1.3.12.tar.gz', is a source-only
package. If you download such you will have to compile and build
the server yourself from scratch. Packages that include the
optional suffix have been pre-built for the named platform,
but they also include the source code in case you want or need to
rebuild the server yourself.
The version number is very important. It's read from left to right,
and each component is treated as a number in its own right. So the
package named '
version '1.3.12', which is pronounced 'one point three point twelve,' and
is more recent than '1.3.9'.
In addition to the packages themselves, there are frequently
accompanying signature files. These are used to verify
that the packages were really built by the Apache developers, and
have the same name as the package with either a '
.md5' suffix attached. To use these, you will
need either something that can read and verify PGP signatures (such
as PGP itself), or a tool that can generate MD5 checksums.
The MD5 checksum, if one is provided for the package, is easier to check.
You simply use your MD5 checksumming tool to generate a checksum
of the package, and then you compare that value with what's in the
.md5 file. For example:
% md5sum apache_1.3.12.tar.gz
% cat apache_1.3.12.tar.gz.md5
MD5 (apache_1.3.12.tar.gz) = de3ccff384b0d4ab94c3251cb85d49d2
The other signature type, which is replacing MD5 in the Apache
distribution process, is a PGP signature. In order to check
it, you will need to have loaded the PGP keys of the Apache
developers (available on the Apache site at
into your PGP tool. Verify the signature on the file using your
PGP tool; for instance, like this:
% pgpv apache_1.3.12.tar.gz.asc
This signature applies to another message
File to check signature against [apache_1.3.12.tar.gz]: [hit Enter]
Good signature made 2000-02-23 23:14 GMT by key:
768 bits, Key ID A0BB71C1, Created 1997-06-03
"Jim Jagielski "
WARNING: The signing key is not trusted to belong to:
(The last portion of the message simply means that you haven't
marked Jim's key on your keyring as definitely being Jim's.)
PGP signatures provide more information about an Apache package.
They identify whom of the Apache developers approved it, when,
and that the package you downloaded is the same as the one the
If either of the signatures don't match (that is, PGP reports an
error or the MD5 checksum you generated is different from the one
.md5 file), please report the problem to
Also in the main distribution directory are some files with names
starting with "
CHANGES". These describe all the
modifications and bug-fixes that have been applied to the latest
version found in the main distribution directory. If you're upgrading
from an earlier version of Apache, reading through this file
can be enlightening and informative.
If you download an Apache package, you get the source code -- even
if you downloaded a binary distribution. This means that you can
always rebuild the Apache binary if you need to (and have
the appropriate tools installed). The exact method of rebuilding
depends on your platform, but there are really only two different
platforms for this process: Windows and Unix (or Unix-like).
If you want or need to build Apache from source, you can use the
following commands as a quick-start.
You should download the latest released version of the Apache
tarball and unpack it into a working directory. The top-level
directory will then be
./apache-1.3, which matches the
assumptions described earlier.
% cd ./apache-1.3
% env CC=gcc CFLAGS="-O2 -Wall" \
> ./configure --enable-shared=max --enable-module=most \
> --with-layout=Apache --prefix=/usr/local/web/apache \
Configuring for Apache, Version 1.3.13-dev
+ using installation path layout: Apache (config.layout)
Creating Configuration.apaci in src
[more configuration output]
[lots of compilation output]
% /usr/local/web/apache/bin/apachectl start
% make install
[lots of output describing file placement]
- You don't want to execute that last command if
you already have a version of Apache running! It may fail and
cause problems when trying to move files into a running environment.
If you're already running Apache, stop the existing server first,
with something like this:
% /usr/local/web/apache/bin/apachectl stop
See the section on shutting down Apache
for more details.
If you didn't encounter any errors, you should now have a
working Apache installation in the location that matches the
assumptions described earlier.
It's been built to work with dynamic modules rather than
static ones for maximum flexibility. The next step is to
start the server.
Unfortunately, this is a pretty esoteric area. Almost every flavour of
Unix in the world comes with the tools necessary to turn source code into
something you can run; but the same is not true of Windows. All development
packages on the Windows platforms are add-ons, and there are a few
possibilities. When the Apache developers began working on the Windows
version of Apache, they decided to standardise on a single add-on
development tool: Visual Studio C++ version 5.0 from Microsoft.
So if you don't have a Windows development package, you can't rebuild
the Apache software. If you have a different one than Visual Studio,
how to get it to work with the Apache sources is a problem you'll
have to solve yourself.
If, however, you have Visual C++ on your Windows box, then you
can rebuild the Apache Web server from source either from a command
line in a DOS window, such as:
C:\>cd "\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache\src"
C:\Program Files\Apache Group\APACHE\src>nmake -f Makefile.nt target
The target can be one of the following:
- Build a fully-functional
- Same as
installr, except that the executable
is built for use with a debugger.
- Clean up the directory tree in preparation for doing a
- Clean up the directory tree in preparation for doing a
Beyond that you're on your own, as building Apache on Windows is not
exactly a 'getting started' topic! You can find more (possibly
outdated) information on the Apache site at
On Unix systems, you use the
apachectl script to
manage the Web server. This script typically lives in the
bin/ subdirectory under the ServerRoot. If Apache
has been installed according to the assumptions
made by this article, that means you should shut the server down
with a command like this:
# /usr/local/web/apache/bin/apachectl stop
If this doesn't work, the alternative is to locate the master
httpd process and send it a SIGTERM signal.
apachectl failed, you should check
with someone about how to proceed -- not that there's any
danger, just that it can be confusing unless you're familiar
with Unix and process management tools.
On Windows, you can either stop a running Apache server process
by choosing the Stop Apache item from the
Apache Web Server programme group, or by issuing the
following in a DOS window:
C:\Program Files\Apache Group\APACHE>apache -k stop
If you have previously installed the Apache Web server on your
Windows system, it is a good idea -- a very good idea, in
fact -- to uninstall it before upgrading, or even re-installing the
To deinstall Apache from your system, choose the Add/Remove Programs
control panel item. You should be able to get this from the
task bar by choosing Start->Settings->Control Panel
and double-clicking on the Add/Remove Programs icon.
Apache should be one of the applications available to remove. Select
it, and click on the Add/Remove... button.
- Uninstalling the Apache software this way will not
remove your configuration settings. If you later install Apache
in the same location, the new server will use the settings you
How you install the Apache Web server software depends on your
platform and the type of package you downloaded. For example,
the Windows installation is a simple point-and-click operation;
for Unix it can be a little more complex.
This is perhaps the simplest option of all. Once you've acquired the
RPM file (which you have to get from some other location than the Apache
distribution site; the Apache Software Foundation doesn't distribute RPM
files), you can just 'make it so' by being logged in as root and
issuing the following command from the directory where the Apache RPM file
# rpm -Uvh apache*
Of course, this may or may not install the source tree, and probably
won't put files into the same directories as
assumed by this article -- you'll need to
find out the differences and make adjustments.
After you unpack the binary package, there should be a file named
in the top-level directory. To install
the Apache package, execute this script with a single parameter: the
location of the ServerRoot you want it to create. For example:
# cd /tmp
# zcat apache_1.3.12-i386-whatever-linux2.tar.gz | tar xf -
# cd apache_1.3.12
# ./install-bindist.sh /usr/local/web/apache
This should install the binary and documentation as follows:
Apache source tree
In other words, with the exception of the source code, the script
will install the Apache elements in the locations mentioned by
the assumptions at the beginning of
The source directory in the above example is still where you unpacked
Installing the prebuilt package on Windows is a snap. Once you've
downloaded it into some working directory (such as
C:\TEMP), just double-click on the package and away you
go. By default, it will use the directories mentioned in the
assumptions section of this article (that's
why I assumed those particular locations), but you can change these
during the installation.
- It is generally a very good idea to remove any
existing Apache installation before installing an upgrade. Go to
the 'Add/Remove Programs' control-panel to remove any version of
Apache that's already installed. Your configuration files will
not be touched, so you'll be able to use them for the new version
after you install it.
By this point you should have an Apache binary application on your
system, just rarin' to go and start serving files. Before you actually
turn it loose, though, you should make sure you've dotted all the eyes
and crossed all the teas.
For a Windows installation, edit the
under your ServerRoot directory. (Use whatever editor you like, as long
as it creates normal text files as output; Notepad works just fine.)
Look through the file for the word '
ServerName' at the
beginning of a line, and make sure that the second word on that line
is a valid hostname or IP address (such as
127.0.0.1). If it isn't,
Apache won't start.
For the very best results, you should verify that the
directive in your
httpd.conf file matches your system's
actual fully-qualified domain name. If your system is named
"www.foo.bar.com", then that's what you should put on the
ServerName directive line.
If your system is running Unix, you can find its fully-qualified name by
simply typing "
" at the shell prompt. The result
should look something like this:
If it only displays a partial name (like "
www"), you need to
find out the correct domain name and put the two together.
If you're running Windows NT, you can find out your fully-qualified system
name by going to the
Start->Settings->Control Panel menu choice and
double-clicking on the Network icon. Choose the Protocols
tab, select TCP/IP Protocol, and click the Properties...
button. Finally, choose the DNS tab. Your fully-qualified host
name is the Host Name put together with the
Domain value, separated by a dot.
The last thing to do before starting up your new Apache installation
is to make sure it's configured properly. On a Unix system, you do
this with the following command:
# /usr/local/web/apache/bin/apachectl configtest
On Windows, you can do this by typing the following command in a
C:\Program Files\Apache Group\APACHE>apache -t
c:/program files/apache group/apache/conf/httpd.conf: Syntax OK
If there's anything syntactically wrong with your configuration files,
you'll get an error message describing the problem. But from a vanilla
installation everything should be healthy.
Once the Apache software is ready to go, the next step is to actually
activate it. The means of doing this differs depending upon your
platform and how you installed it; for instance, if you installed an
RPM package, there's a good chance that the installation automatically
started the server as well.
Once you've done the
make install, you're ready
to actually start the server running. You do this on Unix with
the following command:
% /usr/local/web/apache/bin/apachectl start
/usr/local/web/apache/bin/apachectl start: httpd started
There are two ways to start Apache on the Windows platform. One is
to select the
Start->Programs->Apache Web Server->Start Apache
menu item, and the other is to do it in a DOS window:
C:\Program Files\Apache Group\APACHE>apache -k start
Actually, as a third method you can go into the services control
panel and start the Apache servce, if you first select the
Start->Programs->Apache Web Server->Install Apache&nsbpas a service
option first -- but I suggest that you leave that option for later, after
you're assured that your server is running properly.
The very most important thing you should do before you turn the
server on and let people start accessing it is:
CHANGE THE MAIN PAGE!
By default, following an Apache installation the main page in your
DocumentRoot directory will say something reassuring -- to you --
about the success of the installation. It's sort of like the
ReadMe.txt file you get to see after installing an application on
Windows; it's just there to a) give the installer (you) a warm, fuzzy
feeling that everything worked, and b) provide something
than a list of files to anyone who hits the site before it's ready.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people on the Internet that don't
understand how the Web works, or the whole idea of clients and servers,
and if they see that page saying 'Apache has been successfully installed!'
they're going to think it's beein installed on their
system. Or, if you just upgraded an existing Web site, they're
going to think the Apache Software Foundation has just invaded you
and taken over your site.
So please, please, please replace the default
index.html* file (or files) with something of your own,
perhaps saying something like "Welcome to Joe's Web Pages. They're
off getting dusted and cleaned right now, but they'll be back soon.
Please come back in a couple of days!" Or something like that.
One way to do this, of course, is to modify the
file itself, since this is the one Apache will display by default.
Another way is to create another directory somewhere, such as
C:\Progam Files\Apache Group\Apache\realdocs,
if you're using Windows), put your own content files in it, and
DocumentRoot line in your
file to point to it. You'll need to change all occurences in the config file
of the old
htdocs directory to your new
one, and restart the server after saving the file, but this is probably the
If you didn't get any errors when you started Apache, hopefully
that means it's running. Try it out; use a browser to access the
default page: <URL:http://localhost/>.
You should see a page declaiming that the installation was a
success. If you don't, make a note of what you see instead, and
the contents of the error log under the ServerRoot location, in
logs subdirectory. It's called '
on Unix, but '
error.log' on Windows. With that information,
go search the
or other resources listed under
Going Further. If all else fails, you can
send me email, but please
try to find a ready-made answer elsewhere first!
Reloading After Changes
Whevever you make changes to the server configuration files (such as
httpd.conf, they won't take effect until the server
is restarted and reloaded. On Unix, the command to do this is:
# /usr/local/web/apache/bin/apachectl graceful
On Windows, the equivalent command (run in a DOS window) is:
C:\Program Files\Apache Group\APACHE>apache -k restart
Once you've got your Apache Web server up and running, the first
hurdle has been surmounted. Now you can move on to exploring its
capabilities and features. Here are some pointers to resources
for further investigation:
The main Apache Web site, of course:
The documentation for Apache and its modules:
The canonical email response page:
(This page is normally used to respond to email requests for
support, but there are lots of good resources listed on
If you want to get the Apache Web server up and running, it's
really quite simple; most of the hard part has been pre-configured
for you. Follow the instructions here and you should be able
to start serving simple pages in a matter of minutes.
Got a Topic You Want Covered?
If you have a particular Apache-related topic that you'd like covered
in a future article in this column, please let me know; drop me
an email at
I do read and answer my email, usually within a few hours
(although a few days may pass if I'm travelling or my mail volume is
'way up). If I don't respond within what seems to be a reasonable
amount of time, feel free to ping me again.
About the Author
is a member of the Apache Group and a director and vice
president of the
Apache Software Foundation.
He is also a core member of the
Jikes open-source Java compiler project, a contributor to the
PHP project, the author of
Apache Server for Dummies, and a contributing
Apache Server Unleashed.
He can be reached via email at
This article was originally published on Thursday Jun 1st 2000