Apache HTTPD: SSL Virtual Hosts

For quite some time, you couldn’t bind multiple SSL web sites to a single IP:Port combination — this had to do with the mechanics of negotiating an SSL session — the client and server negotiated encryption based on a specific certificate before the server really knew what the client was trying to retrieve. The quick/easy solution was to just add a virtual IP to the box and bind each individual web site to a unique IP address. While this was quite effective in a corporate environment or purely internal network, it was a terrible solution for a set of home-hosted personal web servers — I don’t want to buy four public IP addresses to host four differently named websites. My workaround was to off-port sites no one else would be using (the MQTT WebSockets reverse proxy) and use a reverse proxy to map paths within the family website to the remaining web servers. This page, for instance, is rushworth.us/lisa … which the reverse proxy re-maps to https://lisa.rushworth.us behind the scenes.

With Apache HTTPD 2.2.12 or later built against OpenSSL v0.9.8g or later, you can use Server Name Indication (SNI) to serve multiple SSL websites from a single IP:Port just like you have been able to do with non-SSL sites. Using SNI, the client includes “what they’re looking for” in first message of the SSN negotiation process so the server knows which cert to serve.

In your httpd.conf, indicate that you want to use SNI on an IP:Port combo

# Listen for virtual host requests on all IP addresses
NameVirtualHost *:443

And, optionally, configure one of the named virtual hosts as the default for non-SNI browsers:

SSLStrictSNIVHostCheck off

Now the configuration for your SSL sites can include a ServerName directive. Restart Apache HTTPD, and you’ll be able to access the proper SSL-enabled website without adding virtual IP addresses.

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