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OpenInteract2::Manual::AdminApache - Compiling and configuration Apache/mod_perl 1.x


This section of the OpenInteract2 manual will show you how to compile Apache and mod_perl for a two-server proxy setup, along with other information for configuring Apache.

Apache and mod_perl really aren't difficult to setup. As long as you have a standard C compiler (GCC!) and a little patience it's really a piece of cake.


OpenInteract2 depends on a persistent Perl environment within a web server. Currently, the best alternative is mod_perl 1.x.

mod_perl is extremely powerful, but this power can come at a price. Embedding Perl into Apache uses more resources (particularly memory) than just using Apache alone. A number of developers have experimented with various ways of minimizing the memory footprint of mod_perl, and one of the easiest and best performing methods is to use a proxy server.

This is described in great detail in the mod_perl guide under the Choosing the Right Strategy heading. But we'll summarize here:

The benefits of this are:

Running OpenInteract2 in this environment is strongly recommended, and it comes with configuration files that make it easier to do the Right Thing.


You can create apache and mod_perl with the following steps. Note that this assumes you have not installed apache from source before and that you're installing to the directory /usr/local/apache -- modify as needed.

1. $ tar -zxvf apache-1.3.33.tar.gz

 2.  $ tar -zxvf mod_perl-1.29.tar.gz
 3.  $ cd apache-1.3.33
 4.  $ ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/apache \ 
            --enable-module=rewrite --enable-module=proxy \

 5.  $ make
 6.  $ make install
 (proxy server binary is now installed as /usr/local/apache/bin/httpd)
 7.  $ cd ../mod_perl-1.29
 8.  $ perl Makefile.PL EVERYTHING=1
 # Configure mod_perl with ../apache_1.3.33/src ? [y]
 9.  $ y
 # Shall I build httpd in ../apache_1.3.33/src for you? [y]
 10. $ y
 11. $ make
 12. $ make test
 (note: if this fails due to an error with URI::URL, set the
 environment variable 'PERL_HTTP_URI_CLASS' to 'URI::URL', with
 something like:
 13. $ make install
 (mod_perl Perl modules are now installed)
 14. $ cp ../apache-1.3.33/src/httpd /usr/local/apache/bin/httpd_modperl
 (mod_perl-enabled Apache is now installed)

This is a very simple method for creating both a lightweight proxy Apache binary and a heavyweight mod_perl-enabled Apache binary. See the mod_perl Guide for many, many more details about building mod_perl.

It is strongly recommended that you do not build mod_perl using DSOs and that you do not use pre-built versions such as those supplied by RedHat with its RPMs. However, using the DSO mechanism probably works fine for the front-end proxy server.


oi2_manage and a running start

The oi2_manage script included with OpenInteract2 performs a number of tasks for you that make your life much easier. When you run the create_website command along with the appropriate parameters, oi2_manage will copy configuration files from the base installation to your website directory and customize them for your website. This includes a set of files to get Apache running quite easily.

Each Apache file defines a VirtualHost and is meant to be Included into a main server configuration. For instance, one of the files we generate is conf/httpd_modperl.conf. Assuming you created your website in /home/httpd/ you'd add the following to your main mod_perl server configuration:

 Include /home/httpd/

and Apache will bring in the file at runtime. Of course, you can always copy-and-paste if that floats your boat, but you'll probably find that using Include makes your life easier.

There are four Apache 1.x configuration files created for you in the conf/ website directory:

All files are customized to your setup so you won't need to change any directory or file information. You will still need to edit a few parameters in them -- oi2_manage is pretty smart, but it can't find out which IP address you want your website to listen to!

Static Configuration

After you've run oi2_manage, you will need to modify a few parameters in the httpd_static.conf if you're using the front-end proxy setup:

Proxy configuration is fairly simple. Every rule (starting with RewriteRule) is processed in order. Once a rule is met, no further rules are processed unless the satisfied rule specifies it.

The default proxy configuration assumes that the only static files you will want to serve directly from the proxy server are images. That action is specified by this line:

 RewriteRule ^/images - [L]

If you want to add other locations that will be entirely served by the lightweight server, just add them after this line. For example, if my website had a directory '/forms' where we kept PDF versions of forms for our customers to fill out, I could add:

 RewriteRule ^/forms - [L]

And every URL beginning with /forms will be answered by the front-end lightweight server. The [L] stands for "Local" and means that you want this server (the proxy server) to handle the request.

The only word of warning here is that as an administrator you might need to keep an eye on what the back-end server is using for URLs. For instance, say I entered this /forms configuration directive and later a developer on the back-end server tries to configure OpenInteract2 to perform a certain action when given the /forms URL. Unless the developer knows that the front-end server is answering all the /forms URLs she'll have a very frustrating time trying to figure out why her handler isn't responding.

mod_perl Configuration

After you've run oi2_manage, you will need to modify a few parameters in the mod_perl Apache configuration file -- this holds whether you're modifying httpd_modperl_solo.conf or httpd_modperl.conf:

You can skip the remainder of this section if you just want to get something up and running. The oi2_manage script takes care of all this for you. But if you're curious, read on.

Additional mod_perl Configuration

The files copied by oi2_manage use the following items in conf/httpd_modperl.conf:

First, define the library paths for this website. Note that this is applied on a server-wide basis, so be careful of namespace clashes.


   use lib qw( /home/httpd/ );

Second, we need to bring in the -- this includes a few modules for us and initializes the OpenInteract2::Context object once at server startup.

 PerlRequire /home/httpd/

Third and finally, we need to ensure that every request coming in goes through a single Apache content handler: Apache::OpenInteract2. To enable this, just do:

 <Location /> 
   SetHandler perl-script 
   PerlHandler Apache::OpenInteract2

We can just say "Apache::OpenInteract2" in the httpd.conf file because we have already included the library in our

Since OpenInteract2 allows you to deploy the application under a different URL context you can also use something like:

 <Location /OI2> 
   SetHandler perl-script 
   PerlHandler Apache::OpenInteract2

As long as you accompany it with a matching entry in the server configuration key 'context_info.deployed_under'.



mod_perl Guide

General Apache documentation

Apache: Listen directive

Apache: NameVirtualHost directive

mod_rewrite manual

Apache Virtual Host documentation


Copyright (c) 2002-2005 Chris Winters. All rights reserved.


Chris Winters <>

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