Learn Apache Virtual Hosts on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

September 30, 2019

Table of Contents

Apache is divided into units that can be customized and configured individually. These sections are called virtual hosts.

Virtual hosts allow the administrator to use one server to host many domains using a single IP. This is useful for anyone who wants to host more than one website on the same VPS, never indicating that the same server is also hosting other sites. This process can be repeated without limit, depending on the load that your server can handle.

In order to work through these steps, you will need to have:

  • A non-root user.
  • Apache installed.
  • Set up your domain names to point to your VPS.

My configuration will make virtual hosts for test1.com and test2.com. You should substitute these with your own domains.

Create the directories

The document root will be set to individual directories under the /var/www folder. Create a directory here for both of the virtual hosts, like this:

sudo mkdir /var/www/test1
sudo mkdir /var/www/test2


The directories that you have created are owned by the root user. You have to change the ownership for the regular user to be able to modify files. $USER is the user in which you are currently logged in.

sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /var/www/test1
sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /var/www/test2

You should also modify permissions to the general web directory and all of the files and folders within it.

sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www

Create pages for each virtual host

Make an index.html page for each site.

nano /var/www/test1/index.html

In this HTML file, you can place simple content just to indicate that your your configuration works. For example, my file looks like this.

    <h1>test1.com virtual host !</h1>

Save and close the file when you are finished.

Now copy this file to the second site.

cp /var/www/test1/index.html /var/www/test2/index.html

You can then open and modify it.

nano /var/www/test2/index.html
    <h1>test2.com virtual host !</h1>

Save and close this file when you are finished.

Create virtual host files

Virtual host files specify the configuration of our virtual hosts and dictate how the Apache web server will respond to different domain requests.

Apache comes with a default virtual host file, 000-default.conf. Copy this file and modify it for the first domain.

sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/test1.conf
sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/test1.conf

The file will look like this (without comments):

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
    DocumentRoot /var/www/html

Change the ServerAdmin directive to the email that the site administrator can receive emails through. Then, you need to add three directives:

  • ServerName – base domain for this virtual host.
  • ServerAlias – defines further names that should match the base name, like www.
  • DocumentRoot – the location of the document root for this domain.

The virtual host file should resemble the following.

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin admin@test1.com
    ServerName test1.com
    ServerAlias www.test1.com
    DocumentRoot /var/www/test1

Save and close the file.

You can do the same with the second domain.

sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/test1.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/test2.conf
sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/test2.conf

You now need to modify it to reference your second domain.

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin admin@test2.com
    ServerName test2.com
    ServerAlias www.test2.com
    DocumentRoot /var/www/test2

Save and close the file when you are finished.

Enable the virtual host files

The a2ensite tool can be used to enable each of our sites like this:

sudo a2ensite test1.conf
sudo a2ensite test2.conf

When you are finished, you need to restart Apache to make these changes take effect:

sudo service apache2 restart

If you receive this message:

*Restarting web server apache2
AH00558: apache2: Could not reliably determine the server's fully qualified domain name, using Set >the 'ServerName' directive globally to suppress this message

… don’t worry, that does not affect our sites.

Final steps

Now that you have your virtual hosts configured, you can test them by going to the domains that you configured in your web browser:

  • http://test1.com
  • http://test2.com

If both of these sites work, you’ve successfully configured two virtual hosts on the same server.

Need help?

Do you need help setting up this on your own service?
Please contact us and we’ll provide you the best possible quote!