Apache Web Server

Apache Web Server

The Apache web server, officially referred to as the Apache HTTP Server or just as Apache, is one of the world’s most popular and long-lived web servers. Developed and maintained by the Apache Software Foundation, Apache plays a pivotal role in serving a significant portion of active websites on the internet.

Intro to Apache Web Server

The Apache HTTP Server, most commonly referred to as simply “Apache”, is an important tool in web technology, launched in 1995 by the Apache Software Foundation. As an open-source web server, Apache’s modular design, characterized by its extendable modules and the flexibility offered by .htaccess files, revolutionized website hosting and configuration. Over the decades, it became the de facto standard for serving web content, boasting significant market share and playing a pivotal role in the evolution of the internet’s infrastructure. Its resilience, adaptability, and community-driven development have kept it relevant in an ever-changing tech landscape.

Apache Quick Facts

  1. Long-Standing History: The Apache HTTP Server, commonly known simply as Apache, was launched in 1995, making it one of the oldest and most well-established web servers in the world.
  2. Open Source and Free: Apache is an open-source server, distributed under the Apache License 2.0. This has fostered a large community of contributors and has been a significant factor in its widespread adoption.
  3. Modular Architecture: One of Apache’s hallmark features is its modular design, allowing users to easily extend its functionality through various modules like mod_rewrite, mod_proxy, and mod_ssl.
  4. .htaccess Configuration: Apache is well-known for its .htaccess files, which allow website administrators to override global server configurations on a directory-specific basis.
  5. Market Share: As of my last training data in September 2021, Apache was one of the most widely used web servers, competing closely with Nginx in terms of market share. While its dominance had decreased slightly over the years with the rise of Nginx and other servers, it still powered a significant portion of the web, serving millions of websites worldwide.

Apache Web Server Features

  1. Modularity: Apache offers a modular architecture which means that administrators can choose to extend its core functionality using a wide range of modules. Examples include mod_rewrite for URL manipulation and mod_ssl for SSL/TLS support.
  2. Customization: Through .htaccess files, web administrators can override global configuration settings on a per-directory basis.
  3. Flexibility: Apache can serve static content, CGI scripts, and can also act as a reverse proxy, directing client requests to other servers.
  4. Scalability: It supports a variety of Multi-Processing Modules (MPMs) to suit different needs, like prefork for stability and event or worker for performance.
  5. Security: Numerous modules, such as mod_security, offer advanced security features to protect web applications from various threats.

Apache Versus Alternatives

There are several alternatives to the Apache that overlap in functionality. The chart below compares the Apache web server to three of its closest alternatives: Nginx, Microsoft IIS, and LiteSpeed.

Getting Started with Apache HTTP Server:


Depending on your OS, the method varies. Here’s a basic guide for some common systems:


sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install apache2


sudo yum install httpd

Windows: Download the MSI installer from the official Apache website.

Starting the Server


sudo systemctl start apache2


sudo systemctl start httpd

Test Installation

After starting the server, open a web browser and navigate to http://localhost/ or http://your-server-ip/. You should see the default Apache welcome page.


The main configuration file for Apache is usually located at:

  • Ubuntu/Debian: /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

  • CentOS/RedHat: /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf
Familiarize yourself with this file as it’s the heart of Apache’s settings.

Adding a Website

To host a website, you typically set up a Virtual Host:

Create a directory for your website, e.g., /var/www/mywebsite.

Place your web files inside this directory.

Create a virtual host config or edit the default one to point to your website directory.

Restart to Apply Changes:

After making configuration changes, always restart Apache:

sudo systemctl restart apache2 # Ubuntu/Debian 
sudo systemctl restart httpd # CentOS/RedHat

Enable Necessary Modules

Apache’s functionality can be extended using modules. To enable a module:

sudo a2enmod module_name # Ubuntu/Debian

On CentOS/RedHat, modules can be managed within the httpd.conf file.

Securing Apache

It’s crucial to secure your Apache installation:

Always keep your server updated.

Use firewalls to restrict unnecessary access.

Enable and configure mod_security for a web application firewall.

Use mod_ssl to set up HTTPS for your sites.

The Apache HTTP Server offers a blend of power, flexibility, and modularity, making it a preferred choice for various hosting scenarios. Given its vast array of features and extensive documentation, it’s an excellent tool for both newcomers and seasoned web administrators.

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