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The Apache HTTP Server Reference Manual
by Apache Software Foundation
Paperback (6"x9"), 862 pages
ISBN 9781906966034
RRP £19.95 ($29.95)

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25.6  Running Apache as a Console Application

Running Apache as a service is usually the recommended way to use it, but it is sometimes easier to work from the command line (on Windows 9x running Apache from the command line is the recommended way due to the lack of reliable service support.)

To run Apache from the command line as a console application, use the following command:


Apache will execute, and will remain running until it is stopped by pressing Control-C.

You can also run Apache via the shortcut Start Apache in Console placed to Start Menu --> Programs --> Apache HTTP Server 2.2.xx --> Control Apache Server during the installation. This will open a console window and start Apache inside it. If you don’t have Apache installed as a service, the window will remain visible until you stop Apache by pressing Control-C in the console window where Apache is running in. The server will exit in a few seconds. However, if you do have Apache installed as a service, the shortcut starts the service. If the Apache service is running already, the shortcut doesn’t do anything.

You can tell a running Apache to stop by opening another console window and entering:

httpd.exe -k shutdown

This should be preferred over pressing Control-C because this lets Apache end any current operations and clean up gracefully.

You can also tell Apache to restart. This forces it to reread the configuration file. Any operations in progress are allowed to complete without interruption. To restart Apache, either press Control-Break in the console window you used for starting Apache, or enter

httpd.exe -k restart

in any other console window.

Note for people familiar with the Unix version of Apache: these commands provide a Windows equivalent to kill -TERM pid and kill -USR1 pid. The command line option used, -k, was chosen as a reminder of the kill command used on Unix.

If the Apache console window closes immediately or unexpectedly after startup, open the Command Prompt from the Start Menu –> Programs. Change to the folder to which you installed Apache, type the command httpd.exe, and read the error message. Then change to the logs folder, and review the error.log file for configuration mistakes. If you accepted the defaults when you installed Apache, the commands would be:

cd "\Program Files\Apache Software Foundation\Apache2.2\bin"

Then wait for Apache to stop, or press Control-C. Then enter the following:

cd ..\logs
more < error.log

When working with Apache it is important to know how it will find the configuration file. You can specify a configuration file on the command line in two ways:

In both of these cases, the proper ServerRoot should be set in the configuration file.

If you don’t specify a configuration file with -f or -n, Apache will use the file name compiled into the server, such as conf\httpd.conf. This built-in path is relative to the installation directory. You can verify the compiled file name from a value labelled as SERVER_CONFIG_FILE when invoking Apache with the -V switch, like this:

httpd.exe -V

Apache will then try to determine its ServerRoot by trying the following, in this order:

  1. A ServerRoot directive via the -C command line switch.
  2. The -d switch on the command line.
  3. Current working directory.
  4. A registry entry which was created if you did a binary installation.
  5. The server root compiled into the server. This is /apache by default, you can verify it by using httpd.exe -V and looking for a value labelled as HTTPD_ROOT.

During the installation, a version-specific registry key is created in the Windows registry. The location of this key depends on the type of the installation. If you chose to install Apache for all users, the key is located under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive, like this (the version numbers will of course vary between different versions of Apache:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Apache Software Foundation\Apache\2.2.2

Correspondingly, if you chose to install Apache for the current user only, the key is located under the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive, the contents of which are dependent of the user currently logged on:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Apache Software Foundation\Apache\2.2.2

This key is compiled into the server and can enable you to test new versions without affecting the current version. Of course, you must take care not to install the new version in the same directory as another version.

If you did not do a binary install, Apache will in some scenarios complain about the missing registry key. This warning can be ignored if the server was otherwise able to find its configuration file.

The value of this key is the ServerRoot directory which contains the conf subdirectory. When Apache starts it reads the httpd.conf file from that directory. If this file contains a ServerRoot directive which contains a different directory from the one obtained from the registry key above, Apache will forget the registry key and use the directory from the configuration file. If you copy the Apache directory or configuration files to a new location it is vital that you update the ServerRoot directive in the httpd.conf file to reflect the new location.

ISBN 9781906966034The Apache HTTP Server Reference ManualSee the print edition