Short Notes on Apache

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Note - serving of local files

Note: Often the initial installation of Apache has <Directory /> directive (directive for the root of the filesystem) set to "Allow from All", in [Apache config dir]/sites-available/default! This means that server can server any file from the file system, not just the files in the htdocs document folder, which you typically want!

To avoid this, simply change this to "Deny from All".

Self-Signed SSL Certificate

They might not pass as customer-friendly - in fact, if you need https/ssl for customer communication, you should always use signed certificates, as those do induce trust - but often you have private sections/domains/sites where self-signed is just fine... or you might just wanna test the ssl while waiting for the signed certificate.

Here are only listed steps to get to your certificate; for details and explanations, see e.g.

# openssl genrsa -des3 -out server.key 1024
# openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr
# cp server.key
# openssl rsa -in -out server.key
# openssl x509 -req -days 365 -in server.csr -signkey server.key -out server.crt
# cp server.crt /etc/apache2/cert/ssl.crt
# cp server.key /etc/apache2/cert/ssl.key
# chmod 400 /etc/apache2/cert/ssl.crt /etc/apache2/cert/ssl.key

Enable SSL/HTTPS in Apache

HowTo: Use the following virtual host definition:

<VirtualHost *:443>
    ServerName ssl-name
    DocumentRoot /var/www/ssl/root
    SSLEngine on
    SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/server.crt
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/server.key
    SetEnvIf User-Agent ".*MSIE.*" nokeepalive ssl-unclean-shutdown

where certificate file and the certificate key file are either authority-signed or self-signed certificate files (see above), and add

NameVirtualHost *:443
Listen 443

to /etc/apache2/ports.conf and restart Apache.

.htaccess and mod_rewrite Tricks

Mostly based on 17 Useful .htaccess Tricks and Tips


1. Set Timezone

SetEnv TZ Australia/Melbourne

List of timezones.

2. SEO Friendly 301 Permanent Redirects

Modern search engines have the capability to detect 301 Permanent Redirects and update its existing records.

Redirect 301

3. Skip the Download Dialogue

The following defines given types as octet-stream, thus making it "only to download"; clicking the link to such resource will skip "open / save" dialog and will start download immediately.

AddType application/octet-stream .pdf
AddType application/octet-stream .zip
AddType application/octet-stream .mov

4. Skip or Force www.

One of the SEO guidelines is, make sure there is only one URL pointing to your website.

To force URL's without www.:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} =off
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\..+$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]

To force www. in the URL, with the exception of

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} =off
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^subdom\.
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.%{HTTP_HOST}/$1 [R=301,L]

5. Custom Error Pages

ErrorDocument 401 /error/401.php
ErrorDocument 403 /error/403.php
ErrorDocument 404 /error/404.php
ErrorDocument 500 /error/500.php

6. Compress Files

You need to have deflate module installed and enabled.

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

7. Cache Files

The following example sets caching of multimedia files to 30 days:

<FilesMatch ".(flv|gif|jpg|jpeg|png|ico|swf|js|css|pdf)$">
  Header set Cache-Control "max-age=2592000"

8. Disable Caching for Certain File Type

The following example disables caching of scripts:

<FilesMatch ".(pl|php|cgi|spl|scgi|fcgi)$">
  Header unset Cache-Control

9. Redirect One Domain to Another

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} olddomain\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]

10. Redirect (Sections) to https://

The following forces /login and /signup sections of your site to use https.

Of course, it's recommendable that you have a signed SSL certificate.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} =off
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} /login [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} /signup [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}/$1 [R=301,L]

11. Simple MVC using .htaccess

You can redirect all requests to a single script file, and serve content based on REQUEST_URI:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteRule !robots\.txt|\.(js|ico|gif|jpg|png|css|flv|swf)$ index.php

12. Provide Different Page Versions based on User Agent

You can provide different versions of your site for different browsers (e.g. links as a text-based browser, and for mobile devices):

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Mozilla/4(.*)MSIE
RewriteRule ^index\.html$ / [L]

# Netscape / Mozilla
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Mozilla/5(.*)Gecko
RewriteRule ^index\.html$ /index.full.html [L]

# Lynx, text based
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Lynx/
RewriteRule ^index\.html$ /index.light.html [L]

# Mobile version of your site
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^.*(iPad|iPhone).*$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ [R=301]

# All other
RewriteRule ^index\.html$ /index.medium.html [L]


1. Hotlinking Protection with .htaccess

Block all multimedia file requests that do not come from direct link or from your site:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www.)?*$ [NC]
RewriteRule .(gif|jpg|swf|flv|png)$ /no-hotlink.html [R=302,L]

2. Prevent Hacks

Block some common malicious URL hacks:

RewriteEngine On

# proc/self/environ? no way!
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} proc/self/environ [OR]

# Block out any script trying to set a mosConfig value through the URL
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} mosConfig_[a-zA-Z_]{1,21}(=|\%3D) [OR]

# Block out any script trying to base64_encode crap to send via URL
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} base64_encode.*(.*) [OR]

# Block out any script that includes a <script> tag in URL
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} (<|%3C).*script.*(>|%3E) [NC,OR]

# Block out any script trying to set a PHP GLOBALS variable via URL
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} GLOBALS(=|[|\%[0-9A-Z]{0,2}) [OR]

# Block out any script trying to modify a _REQUEST variable via URL
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} _REQUEST(=|[|\%[0-9A-Z]{0,2})

# Send all blocked request to page with 403 Forbidden error!
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ no-way.html [F,L]

3. Block Access to Your .htaccess File

# secure .htaccess file
<Files .htaccess>
  Order Allow,Deny
  Deny from All

# prevent viewing of a specific file
<Files secretfile.jpg>
  Order Allow,Deny
  Deny from All

# multiple files / file types
<FilesMatch ".(htaccess|htpasswd|ini|phps|fla|psd|log|sh)$">
  Order Allow,Deny
  Deny from All

4. Rename .htaccess Files

AccessFileName htacc.ess

5. Disable Directory Browsing

# disable directory browsing
Options All -Indexes

# enable directory browsing
Options All +Indexes

6. Change Default Index Page

DirectoryIndex my-home.html

7. Block Unwanted Visitor based on Referring Domain

# block visitors referred from indicated domains
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} [NC,OR]
RewriteRule .* - [F]

8. Blocking Request based on User-Agent Header

# block certain bots and spiders
SetEnvIfNoCase ^User-Agent$ .*(craftbot|download|extract|stripper|sucker|ninja|clshttp|webspider|leacher|collector|grabber|webpictures) HTTP_SAFE_BADBOT
SetEnvIfNoCase ^User-Agent$ .*(libwww-perl|aesop_com_spiderman) HTTP_SAFE_BADBOT
Deny from env=HTTP_SAFE_BADBOT

9. Secure Directories by Disabling Execution of Scripts

AddHandler cgi-script .php .pl .py .jsp .asp .htm .shtml .sh .cgi
Options -ExecCGI

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