A Chef cookbook for apache2
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This cookbook provides a complete Debian/Ubuntu style Apache HTTPD configuration. Non-Debian based distributions such as Red Hat/CentOS, ArchLinux and others supported by this cookbook will have a configuration that mimics Debian/Ubuntu style as it is easier to manage with Chef.

Debian-style Apache configuration uses scripts to manage modules and sites (vhosts). The scripts are:

  • a2ensite
  • a2dissite
  • a2enmod
  • a2dismod

This cookbook ships with templates of these scripts for non Debian/Ubuntu platforms. The scripts are used in the Definitions below.



  • COOK-548 - directory resource doesn't have backup parameter


  • COOK-915 - update to mod_auth_openid version 0.6, see Recipes/mod_auth_openid below.
  • COOK-548 - Add support for FreeBSD.


  • COOK-859 - don't hardcode module paths


  • Tickets resolved in this release: COOK-788, COOK-782, COOK-780


  • Red Hat family support is greatly improved, all recipes except god_monitor converge.
  • Recipe mod_auth_openid now works on RHEL family distros
  • Recipe mod_php5 will now remove config from package on RHEL family so it doesn't conflict with the cookbook's.
  • Added php5.conf.erb template for mod_php5 recipe.
  • Create the run state directory for mod_fcgid to prevent a startup error on RHEL version 6.
  • New attribute node['apache']['lib_dir'] to handle lib vs lib64 on RHEL family distributions.
  • New attribute node['apache']['group'].
  • Scientific Linux support added.
  • Use a file resource instead of the generate-module-list executed perl script on RHEL family.
  • "default" site can now be disabled.
  • web_app now has an "enable" parameter.
  • Support for dav_fs apache module.
  • Tickets resolved in this release: COOK-754, COOK-753, COOK-665, COOK-624, COOK-579, COOK-519, COOK-518
  • Fix node references in template for a2dissite
  • Use proper user and group attributes on files and templates.
  • Replace the anemic README.rdoc with this new and improved superpowered README.md :).



This cookbook doesn't have direct dependencies on other cookbooks. Depending on your OS configuration and security policy, you may need additional recipes or cookbooks for this cookbook's recipes to converge on the node. In particular, the following Operating System nuances may affect the behavior:

  • apt cache outdated
  • SELinux enabled
  • IPtables
  • Compile tools

On Ubuntu/Debian, use Opscode's apt cookbook to ensure the package cache is updated so Chef can install packages, or consider putting apt-get in your bootstrap process or knife bootstrap template.

On RHEL, SELinux is enabled by default. The selinux cookbook contains a permissive recipe that can be used to set SELinux to "Permissive" state.

The easiest but certainly not ideal way to deal with IPtables is of course to flush all rules. Opscode does provide an iptables cookbook but is migrating from the approach used there to a more robust solution utilizing a general "firewall" LWRP that would have an "iptables" provider. Alternately, you can use ufw, with Opscode's ufw and firewall cookbooks to set up rules. See those cookbooks' READMEs for documentation.

Build/compile tools may not be installed on the system by default. Some recipes (e.g., apache2::mode_auth_openid) build the module from source. Use Opscode's build-essential cookbook to get essential build packages installed.


  • Debian
  • Ubuntu
  • Red Hat/CentOS/Scientific Linux/Fedora (RHEL Family)
  • ArchLinux

Notes for RHEL Family:

On Red Hat Enterprise Linux and derivatives, the EPEL repository may be necessary to install packages used in certain recipes. The apache2::default recipe, however, does not require any additional repositories. Opscode's yum cookbook contains a recipe to add the EPEL repository. See Examples for more information.


This cookbook uses many attributes, broken up into a few different kinds.

Platform specific

In order to support the broadest number of platforms, several attributes are determined based on the node's platform. See the attributes/default.rb file for default values in the case statement at the top of the file.

  • node['apache']['dir'] - Location for the Apache configuration
  • node['apache']['log_dir'] - Location for Apache logs
  • node['apache']['user'] - User Apache runs as
  • node['apache']['group'] - Group Apache runs as
  • node['apache']['binary'] - Apache httpd server daemon
  • node['apache']['icondir'] - Location for icons
  • node['apache']['cache_dir'] - Location for cached files used by Apache itself or recipes
  • node['apache']['pid_file'] - Location of the PID file for Apache httpd
  • node['apache']['lib_dir'] - Location for shared libraries

General settings

These are general settings used in recipes and templates. Default values are noted.

  • node['apache']['listen_ports'] - Ports that httpd should listen on. Default is an array of ports 80 and 443.
  • node['apache']['contact'] - Value for ServerAdmin directive. Default "ops@example.com".
  • node['apache']['timeout'] - Value for the Timeout directive. Default is 300.
  • node['apache']['keepalive'] - Value for the KeepAlive directive. Default is On.
  • node['apache']['keepaliverequests'] - Value for MaxKeepAliveRequests. Default is 100.
  • node['apache']['keepalivetimeout'] - Value for the KeepAliveTimeout directive. Default is 5.
  • node['apache']['default_modules'] - Array of module names. Can take "mod_FOO" or "FOO" as names, where FOO is the apache module, e.g. "mod_status" or "status".

The modules listed in default_modules will be included as recipes in recipe[apache::default].

Prefork attributes

Prefork attributes are used for tuning the Apache HTTPD prefork MPM configuration.

  • node['apache']['prefork']['startservers'] - initial number of server processes to start. Default is 16.
  • node['apache']['prefork']['minspareservers'] - minimum number of spare server processes. Default 16.
  • node['apache']['prefork']['maxspareservers'] - maximum number of spare server processes. Default 32.
  • node['apache']['prefork']['serverlimit'] - upper limit on configurable server processes. Default 400.
  • node['apache']['prefork']['maxclients'] - Maximum number of simultaneous connections.
  • node['apache']['prefork']['maxrequestsperchild'] - Maximum number of request a child process will handle. Default 10000.

Worker attributes

Worker attributes are used for tuning the Apache HTTPD worker MPM configuration.

  • node['apache']['worker']['startservers'] - Initial number of server processes to start. Default 4
  • node['apache']['worker']['maxclients'] - Maximum number of simultaneous connections. Default 1024.
  • node['apache']['worker']['minsparethreads] - Minimum number of spare worker threads. Default 64
  • node['apache']['worker']['maxsparethreads] - Maximum number of spare worker threads. Default 192.
  • node['apache']['worker']['maxrequestsperchild'] - Maximum number of requests a child process will handle.

mod_auth_openid attributes

The following attributes are in the attributes/mod_auth_openid.rb file. Like all Chef attributes files, they are loaded as well, but they're logistically unrelated to the others, being specific to the mod_auth_openid recipe.

  • node['apache']['mod_auth_openid']['checksum'] - sha256sum of the tarball containing the source.
  • node['apache']['mod_auth_openid']['version'] - version of the mod_auth_openid to download.
  • node['apache']['mod_auth_openid']['cache_dir'] - the cache directory is where the sqlite3 database is stored. It is separate so it can be managed as a directory resource.
  • node['apache']['mod_auth_openid']['dblocation'] - filename of the sqlite3 database used for directive AuthOpenIDDBLocation, stored in the cache_dir by default.
  • node['apache']['mod_auth_openid']['configure_flags'] - optional array of configure flags passed to the ./configure step in the compilation of the module.


Most of the recipes in the cookbook are for enabling Apache modules. Where additional configuration or behavior is used, it is documented below in more detail.

The following recipes merely enable the specified module: mod_alias, mod_basic, mod_digest, mod_authn_file, mod_authnz_ldap, mod_authz_default, mod_authz_groupfile, mod_authz_host, mod_authz_user, mod_autoindex, mod_cgi, mod_dav_fs, mod_dav_svn, mod_deflate, mod_dir, mod_env, mod_expires, mod_headers, mod_ldap, mod_log_config, mod_mime, mod_negotiation, mod_proxy, mod_proxy_ajp, mod_proxy_balancer, mod_proxy_connect, mod_proxy_http, mod_python, mod_rewrite, mod_setenvif, mod_status, mod_wsgi, mod_xsendfile.

On RHEL Family distributions, certain modules ship with a config file with the package. The recipes here may delete those configuration files to ensure they don't conflict with the settings from the cookbook, which will use per-module configuration in /etc/httpd/mods-enabled.


The default recipe does a number of things to set up Apache HTTPd. It also includes a number of modules based on the attribute node['apache']['default_modules'] as recipes.


Changed via COOK-915

This recipe compiles the module from source. In addition to build-essential, some other packages are included for installation like the GNU C++ compiler and development headers.

To use the module in your own cookbooks to authenticate systems using OpenIDs, specify an array of OpenIDs that are allowed to authenticate with the attribute node['apache']['allowed_openids']. Use the following in a vhost to protect with OpenID authentication:

AuthType OpenID
require user <%= node['apache']['allowed_openids'].join(' ') %>
AuthOpenIDDBLocation <%= node['apache']['mod_auth_openid']['dblocation'] %>

Change the DBLocation with the attribute as required; this file is in a different location than previous versions, see below. It should be a sane default for most platforms, though, see attributes/mod_auth_openid.rb.

Changes from COOK-915:

  • AuthType OpenID instead of AuthOpenIDEnabled On.
  • require user instead of AuthOpenIDUserProgram.
  • A bug(?) in mod_auth_openid causes it to segfault when attempting to update the database file if the containing directory is not writable by the HTTPD process owner (e.g., www-data), even if the file is writable. In order to not interfere with other settings from the default recipe in this cookbook, the db file is moved.


Installs the fcgi package and enables the module. Requires EPEL on RHEL family.

On RHEL family, this recipe will delete the fcgid.conf and on version 6+, create the /var/run/httpd/mod_fcgid` directory, which prevents the emergency error:

[emerg] (2)No such file or directory: mod_fcgid: Can't create shared memory for size XX bytes


Simply installs the appropriate package on Debian, Ubuntu and ArchLinux.

On Red Hat family distributions including Fedora, the php.conf that comes with the package is removed. On RHEL platforms less than v6, the php53 package is used.


Besides installing and enabling mod_ssl, this recipe will append port 443 to the node['apache']['listen_ports'] attribute array and update the ports.conf.


Sets up a god monitor for Apache. External requirements are the god and runit cookbooks from Opscode.


The cookbook provides a few definitions. At some point in the future these definitions may be refactored into lightweight resources and providers.


Sets up configuration file for an Apache module from a template. The template should be in the same cookbook where the definition is used. This is used by the apache_module definition and is not often used directly.

This will use a template resource to write the module's configuration file in the mods-available under the Apache configuration directory (node['apache']['dir']). This is a platform-dependent location. See apache_module.


  • name - Name of the template. When used from the apache_module, it will use the same name as the module.


Create #{node['apache']['dir']}/mods-available/alias.conf.

apache_conf "alias"


Enable or disable an Apache module in #{node['apache']['dir']}/mods-available by calling a2enmod or a2dismod to manage the symbolic link in #{node['apache']['dir']}/mods-enabled. If the module has a configuration file, a template should be created in the cookbook where the definition is used. See Examples.


  • name - Name of the module enabled or disabled with the a2enmod or a2dismod scripts.
  • enable - Default true, which uses a2enmod to enable the module. If false, the module will be disabled with a2dismod.
  • conf - Default false. Set to true if the module has a config file, which will use apache_conf for the file.
  • filename - specify the full name of the file, e.g.


Enable the ssl module, which also has a configuration template in templates/default/ssl.conf.erb.

apache_module "ssl" do
  conf true

Enable the php5 module, which has a different filename than the module default:

apache_module "php5" do
  filename "libphp5.so"

Disable a module:

apache_module "disabled_module" do
  enable false

See the recipes directory for many more examples of apache_module.


Enable or disable a VirtualHost in #{node['apache']['dir']}/sites-available by calling a2ensite or a2dissite to manage the symbolic link in #{node['apache']['dir']}/sites-enabled.

The template for the site must be managed as a separate resource. To combine the template with enabling a site, see web_app.


  • name - Name of the site.
  • enable - Default true, which uses a2ensite to enable the site. If false, the site will be disabled with a2dissite.


Manage a template resource for a VirtualHost site, and enable it with apache_site. This is commonly done for managing web applications such as Ruby on Rails, PHP or Django, and the default behavior reflects that. However it is flexible.

This definition includes some recipes to make sure the system is configured to have Apache and some sane default modules:

  • apache2
  • apache2::mod_rewrite
  • apache2::mod_deflate
  • apache2::mod_headers

It will then configure the template (see Parameters and Examples below), and enable or disable the site per the enable parameter.


Current parameters used by the definition:

  • name - The name of the site. The template will be written to #{node['apache']['dir']}/sites-available/#{params[:name]}.conf
  • cookbook - Optional. Cookbook where the source template is. If this is not defined, Chef will use the named template in the cookbook where the definition is used.
  • template - Default web_app.conf.erb, source template file.
  • enable - Default true. Passed to the apache_site definition.

Additional parameters can be defined when the definition is called in a recipe, see Examples.


All parameters are passed into the template. You can use whatever you like. The apache2 cookbook comes with a web_app.conf.erb template as an example. The following parameters are used in the template:

  • server_name - ServerName directive.
  • server_aliases - ServerAlias directive. Must be an array of aliases.
  • docroot - DocumentRoot directive.
  • application_name - Used in RewriteLog directive. Will be set to the name parameter.

To use the default web_app, for example:

web_app "my_site" do
  server_name node['hostname']
  server_aliases [node['fqdn'], "my-site.example.com"]
  docroot "/srv/www/my_site"

The parameters specified will be used as:

  • @params[:server_name]
  • @params[:server_aliases]
  • @params[:docroot]

In the template. When you write your own, the @ is significant.

For more information about Definitions and parameters, see the Chef Wiki


Using this cookbook is relatively straightforward. Add the desired recipes to the run list of a node, or create a role. Depending on your environment, you may have multiple roles that use different recipes from this cookbook. Adjust any attributes as desired. For example, to create a basic role for web servers that provide both HTTP and HTTPS:

% cat roles/webserver.rb
name "webserver"
description "Systems that serve HTTP and HTTPS"
  "apache2" => {
    "listen_ports" => ["80", "443"]

For examples of using the definitions in your own recipes, see their respective sections above.

License and Authors

Author:: Adam Jacob adam@opscode.com Author:: Joshua Timberman joshua@opscode.com Author:: Bryan McLellan bryanm@widemile.com Author:: Dave Esposito esposito@espolinux.corpnet.local Author:: David Abdemoulaie github@hobodave.com Author:: Edmund Haselwanter edmund@haselwanter.com Author:: Eric Rochester err8n@virginia.edu Author:: Jim Browne jbrowne@42lines.net Author:: Matthew Kent mkent@magoazul.com Author:: Nathen Harvey nharvey@customink.com Author:: Ringo De Smet ringo.de.smet@amplidata.com Author:: Sean OMeara someara@opscode.com Author:: Seth Chisamore schisamo@opscode.com Author:: Gilles Devaux gilles@peerpong.com

Copyright:: 2009-2011, Opscode, Inc Copyright:: 2011, Atriso Copyright:: 2011, CustomInk, LLC.

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at


Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.