Compiling a Web Development Environment on Mac OS X


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Dependencies: None
Version: 2.2.21

The Apache HTTP Server is an open-source web server that was released in 1995. It has been the most popular web server on the Internet since April 1996. It is estimated to serve over 60% of all websites.

Get the Code

Switch to /usr/local/src and download the source package.

cd /usr/local/src
curl --remote-name

Extract the archive and move into the folder.

tar -xzvf httpd-VERSION.tar.gz
cd httpd-VERSION

Compile and Install

Configure, compile and install into /usr/local/apache-VERSION.

./configure \
    --prefix=/usr/local/apache-VERSION \
    --enable-dav \
    --enable-info \
    --enable-rewrite \
    --enable-so \
make install

Create a symbolic link that points /usr/local/apache to /usr/local/apache-VERSION.

ln -s apache-VERSION /usr/local/apache

Configuration File

Edit Apache's configuration file.

nano /usr/local/apache/conf/httpd.conf

Copy and paste the following text at the end of the aforementioned file. Make sure you replace the <username> string (3 times) with your Mac OS X short username. This configuration only allows access from your local computer; all outside access is blocked.

ServerName dev.local
User <username>
Group staff

DocumentRoot "/Users/<username>/Sites"
<Directory "/Users/<username>/Sites">
    Options All
    AllowOverride All
    IndexOptions NameWidth=*

    Order deny,allow
    Deny from all
    Allow from localhost
    Allow from

Web Root

Create a folder that will contain your web sites and applications. My projects are located in ~/Sites – the standard location for web files on Mac OS X. You can place your projects wherever you'd like but make sure you update the path when mentioned in this article.

mkdir -p ~/Sites


Add the following lines to your Bash startup script to put Apache and its Man Pages into your path.

echo 'export PATH=/usr/local/apache/bin:$PATH' >> ~/.bash_profile
echo 'export MANPATH=/usr/local/apache/man:$MANPATH' >> ~/.bash_profile

You can also create the following shortcuts if you'd like.

echo 'alias apache-start="sudo /usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl -k start"' >> ~/.bash_profile
echo 'alias apache-stop="sudo /usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl -k stop"' >> ~/.bash_profile
echo 'alias apache-restart="sudo /usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl -k restart"' >> ~/.bash_profile

Load the new shell configurations.

source ~/.bash_profile

Automatically Starting the Server at Boot

Create a configuration file for Launchd.

sudo nano /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.apache2.plist

Do not name the file org.apache.httpd.plist as it collides with a similarly named file for loading the Mac OS X web server.

Copy and paste the following text into the aforementioned file.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">

And finally, execute the following command to register the configuration file with Launchd.

sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.apache2.plist

If you ever want to stop your Apache server from automatically starting at boot, issue the following command.

sudo launchctl unload -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.apache2.plist

Verify the Installation

To verify that you have correctly installed and started your Apache server, point your web browser to http://localhost/ to load a webpage.