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Set up a website on Ubuntu using Apache Virtual Hosts

Use your server and Apache to host a website.

In this guide, we will show you how to configure a website using Apache virtual hosts. The configuration of Apache virtual hosts over the different operating system versions like CentOS, Ubuntu and Debian is much the same. This guide assumes that you have access to a managed DNS service. Most domain registrars provide a service where you can configure A records and DNS records when using their DNS servers. You can ask your registrar to add these A records for you or if you have access to the domain names DNS zone file you can add or edit the A entry as required. Our development server for this guide is so our A records look like this;

Apache Virtual Hosts

Update Server

To begin, if your server does not have Apache, install it but first ensure the server is fully up-to-date;

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Install Apache On an Ubuntu server

sudo apt-get install apache2

So after you have installed Apache you should be able to visit your server’s IP address in a browser. You should see the Apache test page. This confirms you have installed Apache on your Ubuntu server and Apache is ready for configuration.

Now we need to configure Apache to resolve our domain name. But first, we are going to create a directory where Apache will look for our website files. You need to create a folder for each website that will be hosted on the server. Our first website will be

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/html/first2hostcom/public_html/

And a directory for the second website, we are using

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/html/first2hostnet/public_html/

Both of these folders will be owned by the root user. We need to change this to a regular user. Create a user using the adduser command. Switch first2host for your username.

addusr first2host

Now, add a password for that user. Again, switch first2host for the username you picked above.

passwd first2host

Now assign the two folders you created to this user. We use CHOWN to do this

sudo chown -R first2host:first2host /var/www/html/first2hostcom/public_html

and the second folder, remember to CHROW the right username

sudo chown -R first2host:first2host /var/www/html/first2hostnet/public_html

Now set the correct permissions on the Apache root directory.

sudo chmod -R 755 /var/www/html/

We set the Apache directory to read-only because we are going to be configuring Apache to access our website’s files via the directories we created above.

Create Demo Website Pages

Now we are going to create demo pages for our websites so we know they are resolving and loading correctly. These will be called index.html and will be placed in the respective website home directory.

nano /var/www/html/first2hostcom/public_html/index.html

In this new file paste the below lines and save the file

<h1>Great, you have a working website running off an Ubuntu server with Apache.</h1>

Repeat the above step for each directory you created above saving the demo index.html file into each website’s public_html directory.

nano /var/www/html/first2hostnet/public_html/index.html
<h1>Great, you have a working website running off an Ubuntu server with Apache.</h1>

Configure your Apache Virtual Hosts

Next, we’re going to modify the files in Apache to accommodate our websites. You can use different IP addresses for different websites if you wish and we’re going to show you how to also use just one IP for multiple websites. We can copy the default Apache virtual host file and modify this to meet our needs.

sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/first2hostcom.conf

And for our second domain name, just repeat if you have more domain names.

sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/first2hostnet.conf

You must save your virtual host files ending .conf or this will not work. Now let’s edit the files to work from your website

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/first2hostnet.conf

The only things that need to be changed in this file are the following lines;

DocumentRoot /var/www/html/first2hostcom/public_html

Post-Apache File Update

After you have changed the information to reflect your domain name the file should look like this;

Repeat the process for the second domain name, in our example the domain name;

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/first2hostnet.conf

Save and close the file. That is the Apache virtual hosts setup completed. Next, let’s disable the default virtual hosts file and enable the virtual hosts files we just created

sudo a2ensite first2hostcom.conf
sudo a2ensite first2hostnet.conf
sudo a2dissite 000-default.conf

Now, restart Apache

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Finally, let’s open up the hosts file and specify what IPs are going to be used for our website. We are just using a single IP, the server’s main IP

nano /etc/hosts

You can list all domain names in this file and specify the main server IP. The file should look like this.

ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters localhost.localdomain localhost server
::1 localhost ip6-localhost ip6-loopback

You should now be able to visit each site in a browser. Here are our Apache Virtual Hosts working;;

Apache Virtual Hosts
Apache Virtual Hosts Ubuntu

That’s the complete guide on configuring a website to run off an Apache server using a single IP. That’s called name-based hosting. If you are unable to see your website at this point ensure you have configured the A records correctly. Ask your domain name registrar or hosting provider to check this for you.

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