Skip to Main Content

Configure a CentOS 6.4 Web Server on Rackspace - Part 4: Virtual Hosts

You'll probably want to host multiple domains on your server. To do that we will need to set up Apache virtual hosts. There is more than one way to do this. The configuration below assumes that there is one server administrator who manages multiple hosted domains. In other words, this setup is good for web developers who host their own clients and manage their client's sites.

First, change permissions on the admin user's directory:

$ sudo chmod 755 /home/admin

Create the First Hosted Domain

Create a home directory for your first hosted domain. We'll use as an example. Note that further down when we edit the Apache settings in the httpd.conf file we'll be enforcing the www version as our canonical domain, so we need the directory name to match. If you plan to enforce the non-www version, then don't include the www in the directory name either.

$ mkdir -p /home/admin/sites/

 Add an index.html file to the hosted domain's public folder:

$ vim /home/admin/sites/ 

And add some code to the index.php file:

    echo phpinfo();

You can repeat the steps above for each domain you want to host.

Configure Apache for Virtual Hosting

Open the Apache config file httpd.conf:

$ sudo vim /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

Near the bottom of the file uncomment the line that reads:

NameVirtualHost *:80

Normally each hosted domain gets an separate entry in httpd.conf. However, this makes it cumbersome to add new domains. The following setup can be used for mass virtual hosting so that we won't need to add each new hosted domain to httpd.conf. With these settings, all we'll need to do is add a new directory to /home/admin/public_html/ for each new site we host. Pretty cool.

We'll also enforce the www version as the canonical domain here in httpd.conf because it's more efficient than using .htaccess.

<VirtualHost *:80>

  # Redirect non-www to www for all domains
  RewriteEngine On
  RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
  RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www..+$ [NC]
  RewriteRule ^ http://www.%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

  # Set the home directory for each domain based
  # on the request. %0 will be the domain name.
  VirtualDocumentRoot /home/admin/sites/%0/public_html

  # Fix the broken $_SERVER_[DOCUMENT_ROOT] with this hack
  php_admin_value auto_prepend_file /home/admin/docroot.php


Apache can run into memory problems if each virtual host has it's own log file. So what we'll do is combine the logs for all the domains into a single, common log file. The log file can be split programmatically on a per-virtualhost basis for reporting, etc.

In httpd.conf, search for LogFormat. Add the following 2 lines right after the existing entries for LogFormat:

LogFormat "%V %h %l %u %t "%r" %>s %b" vhost
CustomLog /home/admin/logs/vhost.log vhost

Save and close httpd.conf.


Create a directory to store the log files:

$ mkdir /home/admin/logs
$ touch /home/admin/logs/vhost.log
$ chmod 664 /home/admin/logs/vhost.log

Log files can get big quickly, so we need to make sure the logrotate program knows about our vhost.log file. We just need to add our new log file to the existing Apache logrotate configuration:

$ sudo vim /etc/logrotate.d/httpd

The first line of the file should look like this:

/var/log/httpd/*log {

We're going to add the path to our vhost.log file right after the existing path. Make sure there's a space separating the file paths. So your first line should now be:

/var/log/httpd/*log /home/admin/logs/vhost.log {

The next few lines of the file are a stack of commands (see this Slicehost article for more details). We'll leave them as is, but let's add one additional command right at the top of the stack:

size 10M

Now our logs will rotate every week, or when they reach 10 megabytes, whichever comes first. I would also recommend installing Logwatch to get daily email reports about the state of your server.

Finishing Up

In the last line of the VirtualHost block in httpd.conf you may have noticed a reference to a file called docroot.php. That file is a hack that is used to fix the broken DOCUMENT_ROOT that results from this mass virtual hosting configuration. With the hack in place we will be able to use $_SERVER[DOCUMENT_ROOT] in PHP and get the correct result. Create the file with $ vim /home/admin/docroot.php, then add the following contents:

    $docroot = str_replace($_SERVER['SCRIPT_NAME'], '',
    $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] = $docroot;
    apache_setenv("DOCUMENT_ROOT", $docroot);

Finally, let's restart Apache so the new configuration takes effect:

$ sudo service httpd restart

Now we should be able to go to and see our test page (assuming we've set up the DNS for of course).

Additional Resource: Slicehost article on another virtual host configuration

Next > Part 5: Postfix Email Forwarding 

Most RecentRSS


March 2016 (1)
January 2016 (1)
September 2015 (1)
May 2015 (1)
April 2015 (1)
March 2015 (1)
February 2015 (2)
January 2015 (5)
September 2014 (2)
August 2014 (4)
July 2014 (1)
March 2014 (1)
November 2013 (3)
September 2013 (3)
July 2013 (6)
June 2013 (1)
May 2013 (1)
March 2013 (2)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (4)