I have installed Apache 2 from source on my Linux box. apachectl -k start works just fine, but how do I get Apache to start at boot time?

This is on a Red Hat Linux distribution:

Linux <hostname> 2.6.9-55.ELsmp #1 SMP Fri Apr 20 17:03:35 EDT 2007 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

  • 1
    Which distribution?
    – ayaz
    Commented Jun 1, 2009 at 14:18

7 Answers 7


You want to add its init script to the appropriate run level. The init script is typically /etc/init.d/apache2 where you could manually run /etc/init.d/apache2 start to start it.

On Gentoo you would write:

rc-update add apache2 default

On Ubuntu/Debian this works:

sudo update-rc.d apache2 defaults

On Red Hat Linux/Fedora/CentOS a little googling shows this:

chkconfig --add httpd

It varies a little bit from distribution to distribution , but the idea is usually the same. Basically, all these commands make a symbolic link from /etc/init.d/ to the appropriate run-level folder in /etc/.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer it got me pointed in the right direction. I summarized what I did below.
    – grieve
    Commented Jun 1, 2009 at 15:29
  • If you have built apache from source there won´t be any init script, the part you covered is only the configuration as a service once you have a init script correctly set up in /etc/init.d/ and that's precisely what isn't really well documented for apache 2 Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 17:53

Here is what finally worked for me. This assumes you are the root user.

  1. vi /etc/init.d/apache2 (edit it as shown below)
  2. chmod 755 /etc/init.d/apache2
  3. chkconfig --add apache2
  4. chkconfig --list apache2 (to verify that it worked)

Contents of /etc/init.d/apache2:

# apache2        Startup script for the Apache HTTP Server
# chkconfig: 3 85 15
# description: Apache is a World Wide Web server.  It is used to serve \
#              HTML files and CGI.

/usr/local/apache2/bin/apachectl $@

You can get the runlevel by running /sbin/runlevel, which in my case was 3. And of course you need to call your version of apachectl, which in my case was /usr/local/apache2/bin/apachectl

Thanks to the following:

  • I really hate to accept my own answer, but it is the one that worked.
    – grieve
    Commented Jun 9, 2009 at 22:33
  • This was exactly what I needed! (had to recompile and install a 2.2.27 Apache in /usr/local/apache2). Thanks a lot. Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 16:11
  • does this line "/usr/local/apache2/bin/apachectl $@" actually starts httpd? do you need to issue: sudo chkconfig apache2 start or sudo chkconfig apache2 on?
    – olala
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 4:59

Check if you have the httpd init script in the /etc/rc.d directory. If yes, then you can just run the following command which enables the httpd service to start at boot time.

chkconfig --level 345 httpd on

If you don't have the init script, then just append the /etc/rc.local file with apachectl -k start (the command to start Apache).


As you have installed by source there will not be an init script installed in the /etc/init.d/ directory. The apachectl binary is designed to be compatible with standard init script options so you may well be able to simply symlink to it rather than creating a wrapper script (e.g ln -s /usr/local/sbin/apachectl /etc/init.d/apache)

You can then follow the procedures outlined in the other posts for adding links to invoke the init script at the correct runlevels.

Citation: Apache Documentation http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/invoking.html

Starting at Boot-Time

If you want your server to continue running after a system reboot, you should add a call to apachectl to your system startup files (typically rc.local or a file in an rc.N directory). This will start Apache as root. Before doing this ensure that your server is properly configured for security and access restrictions.

The apachectl script is designed to act like a standard SysV init script; it can take the arguments start, restart, and stop and translate them into the appropriate signals to httpd. So you can often simply link apachectl into the appropriate init directory. But be sure to check the exact requirements of your system.

  • Thanks for the answer it got me pointed in the right direction. I summarized what I did below.
    – grieve
    Commented Jun 1, 2009 at 15:29

It depends on your flavour of Linux. Assuming the file /etc/init.d/apache2 has been created, try:

chkconfig -a apache2


update-rc.d apache2 defaults

One of them should work.

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    The chkconfig answer is for Red-Hat like systems (ie CentOS) and update-rc.d is for Debian like systems (ie Ubuntu) Commented Jun 1, 2009 at 14:20

chkconfig --levels 345 httpd

will start httpd in runlevels 3,4,5.

chkconfig --list will show all services and their current startup runlevels. 345 is typical for a network service.

  • 1
    This generates the following error with me on CentOS 6: "only one runlevel may be specified for a chkconfig query". However, adding "on" to the end of the command ("chkconfig --levels 345 httpd on") worked like a charm.
    – akame
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 7:26

On Red Hat Linux there is a useful utility called ntsysv which lets you select which services you want to start in your current run level. You call also specify which run level you want to edit when you start the utility using --level.

Scroll down to httpd and press Space so a star appears in the left hand box. Then Tab to OK. Press Return to save and return to the shell.

I've found that it installs pretty much by default. I've never been in a position where it wasn't installed.

You would need to install the service first though by copying the service script into /etc/init.d then running:

chkconfig --add <script name>

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