In this tutorial, we will walk you through on how to set up Apache Virtual Hosts on Debian 9.

Apache  Virtual Hosts allows you to host more than one domain on a single  machine. When using virtual hosts, you can specify a different document  root (the directory which contains the website files) for each domain or  subdomain, create a separate security policy, use different SSL  certificates and much more.

Although this tutorial is written for Debian 9 the same steps apply for all Debian based distributions.


Ensure that you have met the following prerequisites before continuing with this tutorial:

Create the Directory Structure

The  document root is a directory where the website files for a domain name  are stored and served in response to requests. You can set the document  root to any location you want. In this guide we’ll use the following  directory structure:

│   └── public_html
│   └── public_html
│   └── public_html


Each domain hosted on our server will have its document root set to /var/www/<domain_name>/public_html.

Let’s start by creating the document root directory for our first domain,

sudo mkdir -p /var/www/

We’ll also create an index.html file inside the domain document root directory that will be shown when you visit the domain in your browser.

Open your favorite text editor, create a new file and paste the following into it:


<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en" dir="ltr">
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <title>Welcome to</title>
    <h1>Success! home page!</h1>


We are running the commands as a sudo user and the newly created files and directories are owned by the root user.

To  avoid any permission issues we’ll change the ownership of the domain  document root directory and all files within that directory to the  apache user (www-data) :

sudo chown -R www-data: /var/www/

Create a Virtual Hosts

On Debian systems, Apache Virtual Hosts configuration files are located in /etc/apache2/sites-available directory and can be enabled by creating symbolic links to the /etc/apache2/sites-enabled directory.

Open your text editor of choice and create the following basic Virtual Host configuration file:


<VirtualHost *:80>
    DocumentRoot /var/www/

    <Directory /var/www/>
        Options -Indexes +FollowSymLinks
        AllowOverride All

    ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/
    CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/ combined


  • ServerName: The domain that should match for this virtual host configuration. This should be your domain name.
  • ServerAlias: All other domains or subdomains that should match for this virtual host as well, usually the www subdomain.
  • DocumentRoot: The directory from which Apache will serve the domain files.
  • Options: This directive controls which server features are available in a specific directory.
  • -Indexes: Prevents directory listings.
  • FollowSymLinks: When this option is enabled Apache will follow the symbolic links.
  • AllowOverride: Specifies which directives declared in the .htaccess file can override the configuration directives.
  • ErrorLog, CustomLog: Specifies the location for log files.

You  can name the Virtual Host configuration file as you want but it is  recommended to use the domain name as the name of the configuration  file.

To enable the new virtual host file, create a symbolic link from the virtual host file to the sites-enabled directory, which is read by Apache during the startup.

In Debian systems you can enable the virtual host by using a helper script named a2ensite:

sudo a2ensite


The other option is to manually create a symlink as shown below:

sudo ln -s /etc/apache2/sites-available/ /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/

Once the configuration is enabled test if the syntax is correct by typing:

sudo apachectl configtest

If there are no errors you will see the following output:

Syntax OK

Restart the apache2 service for the changes to take effect:

sudo systemctl restart apache2

To verify that everything works as expected, open in your favorite browser, and you will see something like this:


In  this tutorial, you learned how to create an Apache Virtual Host  configuration to host multiple domains on a single Debian server. You  can repeat the same steps to create additional virtual hosts for your  other domains.

If you are facing any problem, feel free to leave a comment.