Install and Configure Web Services (Apache Virtual Hosting) on Zentyal Server – Part 9

The scope of this tutorial is to demonstrate how Zentyal 3.4 Server can be used as a Web Platform with multiple websites (subdomains) using Apache Virtual Hosts.

Zentyal 3.4 uses Apache (also known as httpd ) package as a webserver witch is the most used webserver on Internet today and is a complete open source.

Install Web Services in Zentyal
Install Web Services in Zentyal

Virtual Hosting represents Apache ability to serve more than one website ( domains or subdomains) on a single machine or node, a process that is completely transparent to end users which is based on multiple IP or vhosts.

Read Also: Apache Virtual Hosting: IP Based and Name Based Virtual Hosting

Requirements

The former Zentyal Install Guide

Step 1: Install Apache Web Server

1. Logon to Zentyal 3.4 Web Administration Tools pointing the browser to Zentyal IP address or domain name ( https://domain_name ).

2. Go to Software Management -> Zentyal Components and choose Web Server.

Software Management
Software Management
Install Web Server
Install Web Server

3. Hit Install button and accept Certification Authority package also ( needed for SSL certificates used for encrypting https connections ).

Installing Web Server
Installing Web Server

4. After the installation finishes go to Modules Status, select Web Server, Accept the Enabling prompt and hit Save to apply new changes.

Modules Status
Modules Status
Select Web Server
Select Web Server

The Enable prompt will present you with some details on what packages and configuration files will be modified by Zentyal.

Enabling Modules
Enabling Modules
Save Module Changes
Save Module Changes

For now Apache Web Server is installed and functional but has only the default configuration so far.

Step 2: Create Virtual Hosts and Tampering DNS Configuration

On this configuration we want to add a Virtual Host on Apache so that our final address will be submitted as a subdomain like http://cloud.mydomain.com, but the problem here is that Zentyal 3.4 Apache module and DNS module will not work for some reasons with virtual hosts on system IP.

The virtual hosts created from Web module are appended to DNS server as a new domain name, not like a new host A record. There are a few tricks for setting up Virtual Hosts on Zentyal, one is using Virtual IP Interfaces.

Fortunately another one to overcome this problem is by doing some configuration tricks on Zentyal DNS module.

5. For beginning let’s add a virtual host. Go to Web Server Modules -> Virtual Hosts -> ADD NEW.

Web Server Modules
Web Server Modules

6. Check Enabled, enter the name for this virtual host ( append the whole dot domain name ) and hit on ADD.

Add New Virtual Host
Add New Virtual Host

7. After the host has been added and is listed on Virtual Hosts hit upper Save button to apply changes.

The main problem is that the newly created subdomain (virtual host) is not available because the DNS server does not contain a hostname A record yet.

Running a ping command on this subdomain has the same negative answer.

Ping Domain
Ping Domain

8. To resolve this issue go to DNS module and click on Hostnames under you listed domain.

Domains Panel
Domains Panel

As you can obviously see the created virtual host ( or subdomain ) exists and needs a IP address added.

Host Names
Host Names

Because virtual hosting is configured for Apache to serve web files form Zentyal node, the DNS module needs a hostname A record to point to Zentyal same IP (setting which Zentyal wont allow).

Add New IP Address
Add New IP Address

Zentyal 3.4 DNS doesn’t allow to use his assigned system IP address with different hostnames ( multiple DNS hostname A records on same IP ).

9. To overcome this unwanted situation we will use a trick based on DNS CNAME (Aliases) records. For this to work make the following configuration.

  1. Delete the DNS hostname record just added to your domain
Delete Domain
Delete Domain

10. Go to your Zentyal DNS FQDN hostname record, hit on Alias button and then ADD NEW button.

Add New Alias
Add New Alias

Enter the same name provided on Apache Virtual Host ( without the dot domain) on Alias field, hit on ADD and Save Changes.

Enter Alias Name
Enter Alias Name
Added New Alias
Added New Alias

11. Now your DNS record should be fully functional and point to Apache Virtual Host which in exchange will serve web pages hosted on DocumentRoot directive (/srv/www/your_virtual_host_name ) on Zentyal.

Document Root Directory
Document Root Directory

12. To test configuration open a browser and enter on URL your virtual hostname (subdomain) using http protocol.

Apache Default Page
Apache Default Page

You can also issue a ping command from a different system on your network with the subdomain name.

Ping Domain
Ping Domain

Now Apache Web Server is configured and enabled to serve web pages on less secure http port 80, but we want to add a secure layer between server and clients, follow the step #3 as instructed below.

Step 3: Create SSL for Apache

To enable SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption on Zentyal 3.4 needs to become a CA (Certificate Authority) and issue the digital certificate, the public and private keys needed for server and clients exchange data over a secure channel.

13. Navigate to Certification Authority module -> General.

Certification Authority
Certification Authority

14. On Authority Certificate enter the following settings and then hit Create.

  1. Organization Name : your domain name ( in this case the domain is “mydomain.com” ).
  2. Country Code : your country code ( 2-3 characters ).
  3. City : your organization main location.
  4. State : leave it empty.
  5. Days to Expire : 3650 –by default ( 10 years ).
Create New Certificate Authority
Create New Certificate Authority

15. After the main Authority Certificate has been created, we issue a new one for our virtual host with the following settings.

  1. Common Name : enter your virtual host name or server FQDN ( in this case is cloud.mydomain.com ).
  2. Days to Expire : 3650.
  3. Subject Alternative Names : the most common parameter here is your email address (email:[email protected]).
Enter Common Name
Enter Common Name

16. After the Certificate has been generated you can download it, revoke it or renew it.

Added Certificate Authority
Added Certificate Authority

17. The next step is to link this certificate with Apache Service. Go again to Certification Authority -> Services Certificates and highlight Web Server Module.

Link Certificate to Apache
Link Certificate to Apache

18. On Web Server Module select Enable and then hit Action icon to edit certificate.

Enable Certificate for Apache
Enable Certificate for Apache

19. On Common Name enter the name created earlier on step #15 ( that Common Name is the Certificate Name ), check Enable again , press Change button and then hit top Save changes to apply the new settings.

Enter Common Name
Enter Common Name

Now your certificate is generated and linked to Web Server Service, but is not yet operational on Virtual Hosts because HTTPS protocol is not enabled on Web Server.

Step 4: Enable Apache HTTPS

On Zentyal 3.4 SSL handling is done by HAProxy service, but we still need to enable Apache SSL configuration file and Port directive.

20. Navigate to Web Server –> select Enabled –Port 443 ( default SSL port ) on HTTPS Listening Ports settings and hit on Change button.

HTTPS Listening Ports
HTTPS Listening Ports

21. Navigate bottom on page and click on Action button from your listed Virtual Hosts to edit SSL settings.

Enable SSL on Virtual Hosts
Enable SSL on Virtual Hosts

22. On SSL support choose Allow SSL option, hit on Change and then hit top Save changes.

Allow SSL on Virtual Hosts
Allow SSL on Virtual Hosts

23. Now Apache will serve the “cloud.mydomain.com” virtual host on both default http ports 80 and 443.

Enabled SSL Support on Apache
Enabled SSL Support on Apache

24. Repeating the steps above you can transform Zentyal to a Web hosting box and add as many domains or subdomains with Apache Virtual Host as required and configure all to use HTTP and HTTPS communication protocols using the certificate issued earlier.

Virtual Hosts Panel
Virtual Hosts Panel

Although there may be no complex configuration which implies a real web hosting platform (some can be created from the command line and using the Apache .htaccess file ) Zentyal 3.4 can be used hosting for medium-sized web sites and greatly simplifies editing and configuring web services.

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5 thoughts on “Install and Configure Web Services (Apache Virtual Hosting) on Zentyal Server – Part 9”

  1. @Andre: As far as I know MySQL is configured to listen only on localhost. Edit mysql configuration to listen on a specific IP address or all addresses(0.0.0.0).
    netstat -tlpn command will give a hint on what address MySQL is listening!

    Reply
  2. Just have an question how do you open port 3306 for access in zentyal. i tried adding it to the service and then to the firewall but nothing nada please HELP!!!!

    Reply
  3. Hi, I’ve really enjoyed your tutorials/guides so far. I was wondering if you knew how to add a WordPress website to the web server. The problem I’ve had is that I cannot access the mysql database.

    Reply

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