Apache in the Land of Mac

November 15, 2014
The first challenge I faced was configuration of Apache (HHTP server). It is coming as part of OS X but not activated by default. Yosemite (10.10) is coming with Apache/2.4.9 , Mavericks (10.9) with Apache/2.2.26

Command and Control

The first confusion was when I tried starting httpd with classical “init.d” approach – look, mom, OS X don’t have init.d..

Instead of Linux tricks, OS X is using (RTFM!) a native apache utility


To start HTTP server:

sudo apachectl start

and as expected , to stop

sudo apachectl stop

Another useful command test all configuration files and report on error

apachectl configtest

and test virtual host configuration with

apachectl -S

server configuration files located at  /etc/apache2 ( or actually at /private/etc/apache2 but “private” can be dropped as etc is linked back)

Alternative is to use launch daemon – actual Mac replacement for init.d

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.httpd.plist

Some additional info on launchd and launchctl. TBD

Start on boot

To setup HTTPD running automatically on Mac boot ( it is not by default)

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.httpd.plist

not flag “-w” which made this load permanent (e.t. autostart on reboot). To disable autostart , unload httpd daemon with

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.httpd.plist


Enable PHP

in config file /etc/apache2/httpd.conf  uncoment line 

LoadModule php5_module libexec/apache2/libphp5.so

Enable User directory

If you’d like to classical unix http://localhost/~userdirectory functionality, uncomment following lines in /etc/apache2/httpd.conf 

LoadModule userdir_module libexec/apache2/mod_userdir.so
Include /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-userdir.conf 

Userdirectory located by default at /Users/username/Sites/. You probably will get 403 access denied error – fix it using those recommendations.

Enable Rewrite rules

in config file /etc/apache2/httpd.conf  uncoment line

LoadModule rewrite_module libexec/apache2/mod_rewrite.so

Enable Alias subdirectory

IMPORTNAT NOTE: Apache 2.4 introduced major changes in authorisation configuration – check details at http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.4/upgrading.html#run-time (wasted time after upgrading OSX as it also upgrades Apache version)

Particularly, when moving from Apache 2.2 replace “allow all” construct

Order allow,deny
Allow from all

with new declaration

Require all granted

for example, to allow http://localhost/foo add /etc/apache2/other/foo.cfg file

Alias /foo /Users/stas/Sandbox/foo
<Directory “/Users/stas/Sandbox/foo”>
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks Includes ExecCGI  
    AllowOverride all  
    Require all granted
    AddType application/x-httpd-php .php

Enable Virtual hosts on localhost

usually it is a best way to debug your web application locally – instead of www.foo.com, create local domain “foo.local”, build  virtual host and debug as you would with a real application.

Step 0 : in configuration file /etc/apache2/httpd.conf uncomment lines

LoadModule vhost_alias_module libexec/apache2/mod_vhost_alias.so

Step 1 : create a new DNS entry
add new entry into the /etc/hosts file – see last line (first 3 lines are standard)       localhost broadcasthost
::1             localhost       foo.local

Step 2: create virtual host definition

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin webmaster@foo.local
    DocumentRoot “/Users/stas/Sandbox/foo”
    ServerName foo.local
    ServerAlias www.foo.local
    ErrorLog “/private/var/log/apache2/foo.local-error_log”
    CustomLog “/private/var/log/apache2/foo.local-access_log” common

note: DocumentRoot must to point to directory with appropriate permissions – like one used in subdirectory example above. Otherwise you’ll receive “forbidden” error on access…

see also http://coolestguidesontheplanet.com/set-virtual-hosts-apache-mac-osx-10-10-yosemite/

Enable localhost server with virtual hosts

Setting up virtual hosts has one drawback -you will lose http://localhost ;-(
to restore it back, add one more virtual host definition:

<VirtualHost *:80>        ServerName localhost        DocumentRoot /Library/WebServer/Documents/</VirtualHost>


Log files located by default at /var/log/apache2/

Useful References

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