How to Host a Website with Apache & SSL on Debian 12

Apache, popularly referred to as the Apache HTTP Server, is a free and open-source cross-platform web server maintained by the Apache Foundation.

Apache is still a major player but has a lower market share of 29.5% compared to Nginx. According to W3Techs, Nginx holds the leading position with a market share of around 34.1%.

Apache is highly reliable, flexible, easy to install, and ships numerous features that make it popular amongst developers and Linux enthusiasts.

Additionally, it is regularly maintained and updated by the Apache Foundation and this helps in fixing software bugs and improving its overall efficiency. When this article is written down, the latest version of Apache is 2.4.60.

In this guide, we will walk you through the steps on how to install Apache on Debian and configure virtual hosts to host multiple domains on a server with SSL.


Before we get started, ensure the following requirements are met:

  • An instance of the Debian 12 server.
  • A Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) pointing to the server.
  • In this guide, we use the domain pointing to a Debian system with an IP address
  • A good internet connection.

With our pre-flight check done, let’s get started

Step 1: Update the Debian 12 System Repository

The first step in installing Apache on Debian 12 is updating the system repositories. To achieve this, log in as a regular user and using sudo privileges run the command.

sudo apt update -y
Update Debian Packages
Update Debian Packages

Step 2: Install Apache on Debian 12

Installing Apache is a piece of cake and pretty straightforward. Once you have successfully updated the system repositories, run the command below to install Apache on Debian 12.

sudo apt install apache2 -y
Install Apache on Debian
Install Apache on Debian

After the successful installation of the Apache web server, it’s always recommended to check if the service is running. Most systemd Linux systems will start the service automatically upon installation.

To check the status of Apache webserver execute the command.

sudo systemctl status apache2
Check Apache Status on Debian
Check Apache Status on Debian

If the service is not running, start the service using the command.

sudo systemctl start apache2

To enable Apache Web server on boot execute the command.

sudo systemctl enable apache2

To restart Apache run.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Step 3: Configure the Firewall to Allow HTTP Port

If the UFW firewall is already configured, we need to allow the Apache service across the firewall so that external users can have access to the web server.

To achieve this, we need to allow traffic on HTTP and HTTPS ports on the firewall.

sudo ufw allow 80
sudo ufw allow 443

To verify that the port has been allowed on the firewall, run.

sudo ufw status
Open Apache Ports
Open Apache Ports

Additionally, you can use the netstat command or ss command to verify the port as shown.

sudo ss -pnltu
Verify Apache Listening Port
Verify Apache Listening Port

Step 4: Verify Apache HTTP Web Server

With all the settings in place, open your favorite web browser and browse your server’s IP address or FQDN as shown.

Check Apache Page
Check Apache Page

Step 5: Host a Sample Website on Apache

With the Apache web server already set up, it’s time to host a sample website.

The default Apache webpage file index.html is found at /var/www/html/ which is the webroot directory. You can host a single site or create virtual host files to host multiple sites.

To host a single site, you can modify the index.html file located on the webroot directory.

But first, make a backup of the file as shown.

sudo mv /var/www/html/index.html /var/www/html/index.html.bak

Now let’s create a new index.html file.

sudo nano /var/www/html/index.html

Let’s add some HTML sample content as shown.

        <title>Welcome to crazytechgeek</title>
        <h1>Howdy Geeks! Apache web server is up & running</h1>

Exit the text editor and restart the web server.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Now reload your web browser and notice the changes to your new site.

Host Website on Apache
Host Website on Apache

Step 6: Creating Virtual Hosts on Apache

If you want your web server to host multiple sites, the best way to go around this is to create virtual hosts in the Apache web server. Virtual hosts come in handy when you want to host multiple domains in a single server

First, we need to create a webroot directory for the domain

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/html/

Next, we shall assign the necessary permissions to the directory using the $USER variable.

sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /var/www/html/

Next, assign the necessary permissions of the webroot directory for the domain.

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

Now using your favorite text editor, head out and create a sample index.html file.

sudo nano /var/www/html/

Let’s add some HTML sample content as shown.

        <title>Welcome to</title>
        <h1>Howdy Geeks!</h1>

Save and exit the text editor.

Now, create a virtual host file for the domain using the command shown below.

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/

Now copy and paste the content below and replace the domain with your own domain.

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerAdmin [email protected]
    DocumentRoot /var/www/html/
    ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
    CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

Save and exit.

At this point, enable the virtual host file as shown.

sudo a2ensite

Now let’s disable the default site

sudo a2dissite 000-default.conf

To effect the changes, reload the Apache webserver.

sudo systemctl restart apache2

Now reload your web server and notice the changes for your domain.

Verify Virtual Host on Apache
Verify Virtual Host on Apache

Step 7: Enabling HTTPS/SSL with Let’s Encrypt on Apache

To secure your site with HTTPS, you’ll use Let’s Encrypt to obtain a free SSL certificate.

To obtain a free SSL, you need to install the Certbot tool that automates the process of obtaining and renewing SSL certificates.

sudo apt install certbot python3-certbot-apache -y

Run Certbot to obtain the certificate and automatically configure Apache to use it.

sudo certbot --apache -d -d

You’ll be prompted to enter your email address and agree to the terms of service. Certbot will then contact the Let’s Encrypt CA to obtain and install your certificate.

Certbot should automatically configure your virtual host to use SSL and you can verify it by checking the configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/

It should look something like this:

<IfModule mod_ssl.c>
<VirtualHost *:443>
    ServerAdmin [email protected]
    DocumentRoot /var/www/html/
    ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/tecmint.com_error.log
    CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/tecmint.com_access.log combined

    SSLEngine on
    SSLCertificateFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/letsencrypt/live/
    Include /etc/letsencrypt/options-ssl-apache.conf

Open a web browser and navigate to and You should see the sample page you created earlier, and the connection should be secure with HTTPS.

Step 8: Automatically Renew SSL Certificate for Apache

Let’s Encrypt certificates are valid for 90 days, so it’s important to set up automatic renewal via cron job.

sudo crontab -e

Add the following line to the crontab.

0 0 * * 0 /usr/bin/certbot renew --quiet

This will automatically renew the SSL certificate every week, ensuring it’s renewed well before the 90-day expiration.


We have come to the end of the tutorial. In this guide, you learned how to install Apache on Debian 12 and also configure virtual hosts to host other domains. Feel welcome to get back to us with your feedback.

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James Kiarie
This is James, a certified Linux administrator and a tech enthusiast who loves keeping in touch with emerging trends in the tech world. When I'm not running commands on the terminal, I'm taking listening to some cool music. taking a casual stroll or watching a nice movie.

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Leave a Reply
  1. Hello, Thanks for writing this guide.

    Can you help me with opening port 80, while I am using Debian on a laptop with internet access via hotspot running from a smartphone?

  2. Thanks – very useful step by step guide. I think that’s a typo in Step 4:

    $ sudo allow 80/tcp

    should be

    $ sudo ufw allow 80/tcp

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