Apache Virtual Hosts

How to setup and configure Virtual Hosts with Apache on OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

Posted by Kirk on 4 January 2016

Setting up Virtual Hosts with Apache on Mac OSX 10.9 Mavericks or Mountain Lion is quite straight forward if you have your local Web Development environment up and running - get your web development up and running first following the AMP stack guide here if required.

The process of setting up Virtual Hosts is easier in the Terminal by either using nano or vi with sudo or as a root user, or you can use a GUI visual editor like Atom which allows access to the /private/etc directory by pressing command + option + . in the open dialog box.

Allow the vhosts configuration from the Apache configuration file httpd.conf

sudo nano /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

Search for 'vhosts' and uncomment the include line

# Virtual hosts

Include /private/etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

This will allow usage of the httpd-vhosts.conf file, open this file to add in the vhost.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

An example is given in the file of the format required to add additional domains, just follow this to create your new virtual host:

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerAdmin webmaster@dummy-host2.example.com
  DocumentRoot "/usr/docs/dummy-host2.example.com"
  ServerName dummy-host2.example.com
  ErrorLog "/private/var/log/apache2/dummy-host2.example.com-error_log"
  CustomLog "/private/var/log/apache2/dummy-host2.example.com-access_log" common

We can take this example and extend on it, if you wanted a domain named apple.com for example, you can copy the existing text block and edit to suit:

<VirtualHost *:80>

  ServerName apple.com

  ServerAlias www.apple.com

  DocumentRoot "/Users/username/Sites/apple"

  ErrorLog "/private/var/log/apache2/apple.com-error_log"

  CustomLog "/private/var/log/apache2/apple.com-access_log" common

  ServerAdmin neilgee@coolestguidesontheplanet.com

    <Directory "/Users/neilg/Sites/apple">

        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks

        AllowOverride All

        Order allow,deny

        Allow from all



So here I am creating a vhost for apple.com and making the document root in my Sites folder, in the text block above I have also added in some directory permissions and a server alias to also use the 'www' prefix, what you need to change is the document root location, email address and domain name to suit your needs. Finish and save the file.

One of the better workflows is to create a 'Sites' folder and store your vhosts in it – but now also you need to spoof the IP address to be the local one, the set up of these using the User/Sites folder is outlined in the links above for the initial AMP stack guides.

Spoof Your IP address to the Domain

sudo nano /etc/hosts

Add the Domain to resolve to the local address apple.com www.apple.com

Restart Apache

sudo apachectl restart

Check out your local vhost domain in the browser

Losing Localhost

One thing to note about virtual hosts is that once set up, you lose your older document root previously at /LIbrary/WebServer/Documents or accessed in the browser at http://localhost what happens is that you get a 403 Forbidden Error. But the ~/username document root is still compatible.

To get around this, you need to add in a vhost for localhost and declare this vhost before any of the others, in the same file:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf

Add in:

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

Then restart Apache and all should be good.

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