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I run a web site that is hosted on an Apple Xserve running Mac OS X Server 10.6. Today, I replaced an expired SSL certificate with a newly acquired certificate. I also deleted the old certificate. I made these changes with the Server Admin tool.

The certificate appears valid—the software says so, and displays all the correct information. It also claims that the web service is running. However, since I made that one change, my server refuses to serve web pages. Any attempt to load a page is immediately refused. Other services, such as Apple Remote Desktop, SSH, AFP, etc. all work fine, it's just Apache that refuses connections.

I've restarted the server, and also restarted Apache, using both Server Admin and apachectl. The latter tool also believe Apache to be running, but I can't connect to it.

I've tried comparing my /etc/apache2 folder with a copy from backup, but as suspected, all of the changes relate to SSL certificates and appear innocuous to me. I've hit a brick wall on this; nothing appears to be wrong, Google returns no hits, and yet my site is broken. My hope is that one of you fine people who knows more about this than I will be able to at least give me a hint at what might be wrong.


Edit: Last couple lines in the error log:

[Mon Sep 13 13:30:11 2010] [warn] [client] mod_include: Options +Includes (or IncludesNoExec) wasn't set, INCLUDES filter removed
[Mon Sep 13 13:31:20 2010] [notice] caught SIGTERM, shutting down
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Is there anything in the apache error log? – Gordon Davisson Sep 14 '10 at 3:32
I edited the question with the last couple lines. – Ryan Ballantyne Sep 14 '10 at 8:55

Ok, here is what happened because I just had the same exact problem and this is also a production web server, but re-installing was a last resort. I could not find a solution posted on any web site, and the conclusion on this web page did not exactly make me feel optimistic...

In the Console log it showed me the following:

12/9/10 9:40:37 PM[1]    (org.apache.httpd[16022]) Exited with exit code: 1
12/9/10 9:40:37 PM[1]    (org.apache.httpd) Throttling respawn: Will start in 10 seconds
12/9/10 9:40:47 PM  org.apache.httpd[16025] Syntax error on line 13 of /etc/apache2/sites/0005_any_80_support.conf:
12/9/10 9:40:47 PM  org.apache.httpd[16025] SSLCertificateFile: file '/etc/certificates/' does not exist or is empty

When I looked in the /etc/certificates directory, I could see the certificate that I added today, and the old one which the 0005_any_80_support.conf file referred to had a size of zero. I edited this file to the correct certificate, and my webserver was instantly back up and running.

So, deleting a certificate in Server Admin only clears out the contents of the file and then it also does not fix the configuration files

Now, I have to go find myself a Tootsie Pop, because I feel I've earned it.

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Is the httpd process running? Try this (or similar) shell command on your XServe:

ps -ef | grep httpd

what is the output?


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There are no httpd processes running. Despite this, running apachectl start only results in claims that apache is already running. – Ryan Ballantyne Sep 15 '10 at 22:01
Odd. Does it tell you what the process id is? Try running a "kill -9" on that pid -- if you see one. Another option is to check if logs/ file exists. If it does and contains a process id, and no httpd process is running, delete the file and start apache. – KM. Sep 16 '10 at 21:02
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Well, here's what happened in the end. First, since this is a production server and we couldn't have this much downtime, we long ago restored from backup. I have now successfully added the SSL certificate. This time, I did not remove the expired certificates as I had previously. Since this is the only thing I did differently, I am left to assume that something got messed up when I removed those certificates.

As to how or why, well, it's like the number of licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop: the world may never know. Thanks for your efforts, Gordon and KM01.

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