8.6. Configuring for Apache

Apache is a powerful but fairly complex web server. A suggested method of using it with CRATE under Windows is as follows:

  • Note that Windows configuration files for Apache are typically C:\Apache24\conf\httpd.conf (the master configuration file) and C:\Apache24\conf\extra\httpd-ssl.conf (included by the master file).

  • Ensure you set up HTTPS correctly.

  • Disable anything relating to CRATE on plain HTTP.

  • Pick a URL stem such as /crate at which to serve CRATE.

  • Route CRATE through an internal TCP port – let’s say 8999 – such that CRATE’s CherryPy server talks to port 8999 (via plain HTTP), the main Apache server talks to the world on the normal HTTPS port 443, and Apache talks to port 8999 behind the scenes and encrypts the external traffic.

  • This is slightly tricky. CherryPy needs to think it’s mounted at /, because Apache is going to strip off the prefix. It also needs to talk on the correct path. To get CherryPy to do this for CRATE, set the environment variable CRATE_CHERRYPY_ARGS=--port 8999 --root_path / before you launch the CRATE Windows service. The overview is like this:

User visits       https://mysite.mydomain/crate/XYZ

Apache: public    (1) Receive request for https://mysite.mydomain/crate/XYZ
Apache: internal  - decrypt from HTTPS (SSL)
                  - take path as ‘/crate/XYZ’
                  - notice that ‘/crate’ is being proxied
                  - ProxyPass: send path ‘/XYZ’ to internal address of
                  ... request goes to internal (e.g. CherryPy) web server and results come back...
                  - ProxyPassReverse: rewrite URLs in headers going back to the user,
                        e.g. ‘/login’ -> ‘/crate/login’
                  - encrypt to HTTPS (SSL) when returning to user

CherryPy          “I am based at /, so interpret path /XYZ as being one of mine.”
                  - The ‘/’ comes from the --root_path option to CherryPy.

Django            “Do something with path /XYZ.”
                  “If I need to send an absolute URL to the user, I need to prepend
                      ‘https://mysite.mydomain/crate’ to it.”
                  - This information comes from the DJANGO_SITE_ROOT_ABSOLUTE_URL
                    and FORCE_SCRIPT_NAME settings for CRATE.

And also, for static serving:

Apache: public    (2) Receive request for https://mysite.mydomain/crate_static/PQR
Apache: internal  - decrypt from HTTPS (SSL)
                  - take path as ‘/crate_static/PQR’
                  - notice that ‘/crate_static’ is being aliased to a directory full of static files
                  - serve ‘PQR’ from the configured static directory
                  - encrypt to HTTPS (SSL)


  • Ensure Apache has mod_proxy loaded. Under Windows, achieve this by uncommenting these lines from httpd.conf:

    LoadModule proxy_module modules/mod_proxy.so
    LoadModule proxy_http_module modules/mod_proxy_http.so
  • Add to your Apache SSL config section (NB: ONLY in the SSL/HTTPS section!) like this:

        # Definitions to make things clearer
    Define CRATE_VISIBLE_PATH /crate
    Define CRATE_STATIC_PATH /crate_static
    Define CRATE_STATIC_ROOT “C:/srv/src/crate/crate_anon/crateweb/static_collected”
        # ... for UNIX sockets, you might use this instead of CRATE_INTERNAL_URL:
    Define CRATE_UNIX_SOCKET unix:/tmp/.crate_gunicorn.sock
    Define CRATE_DUMMY_HOST_URL http://cratedummy/
        # Don’t ProxyPass the static files; serve them directly via Apache
    ProxyPassMatch ^${CRATE_STATIC_PATH} !
        # Set a timeout in seconds (default is the value of Timeout, whose default is 60)
        # If your users can run slow queries, increase this:
    ProxyTimeout 600
        # Proxy through to CRATE
        # (a) route the URLs
        #     ... “retry=0” prevents Apache disabling the connection for a while on failure
        #     ... or to use UNIX sockets:
        #     ... see the special methods for Unix Domain Sockets at
        #         https://httpd.apache.org/docs/trunk/mod/mod_proxy.html#proxypass
        # (b) provide permission
    <Location ${CRATE_VISIBLE_PATH}>
        Require all granted
        # Serve static files directly from Apache
        # (a) route the URL
        # (b) provide permission
    <Location ${CRATE_STATIC_PATH}>
        Require all granted
    <Directory “${CRATE_STATIC_ROOT}”>
        Require all granted
  • Tell CRATE where it’s been mounted (so it can offer URLs to itself correctly). In the Django local settings (q.v.):

    DJANGO_SITE_ROOT_ABSOLUTE_URL = "https://myresearchdb.mysite.mydomain"  # no “/crate” suffix here
    FORCE_SCRIPT_NAME = "/crate"
  • Restart Apache.

  • For testing, run crate_launch_cherrypy_server from the command line. You should see your access requests here.

  • Test static serving with e.g. https://myresearchdb.mysite.mydomain/crate_static/yellow.png.