which one of these two files should I use to configure Apache?

The httpd.conf is empty, while apache2.conf is not.

It confuses me!


The httpd.conf is designed for user configurations. You really should not edit the apache2.conf as it may be updated by future upgrades.

An additional option is to just put your custom configuration into /etc/apache2/conf.d, all files in this directory are included as well.

  • 5
    I don't have a file called apapche2.conf Sep 9 '11 at 16:05

These are not your only options. On Ubuntu/Debian, Apache also processes all the files in /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/ (which should be symlinks to files in sites-available/ directory, managed by the a2ensite and a2dissite programs)

You're intended to use these directories for VirtualHosts.

  • 1
    this is the correct answer ! and also the ports/mods-available config files if you want to elaborate on your answer
    – Sudhi
    Nov 19 '11 at 21:01

apache2.conf includes httpd.conf:

a@test$:/etc/apache2$ cat apache2.conf | grep httpd.conf 
Include /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

I think that httpd.conf is deprecated, but just left in there for conservative people so that they find they way around... :)


After reading Rob's answer, I did a better grep:

a@test:/etc/apache2$ grep -C 1 httpd.conf apache2.conf 
# Include all the user configurations:
Include /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

User configurations it is...

  • 8
    +1 "httpd.conf is deprecated"
    – feeela
    Jul 27 '12 at 12:05

The Apache Software Foundation publishes many bits of software, one of which is a web server named httpd. The httpd project sources include among other things an httpd.conf sample configuration file, which is installed by default in /usr/local/etc/httpd or /etc/httpd. You will find httpd named as such on most systems.

However, long ago and far away, someone in the Debian GNU/Linux distribution decided to change the name of the software within that distribution from httpd to apache2. Thus on a Debian system you will find a configuration file named apache2.conf in a directory named /etc/apache2. I don't know who did this or why, but it's a perennial source of confusion on par with calling Windows "Microsoft" or ESXi "VMware". Distributions based on Debian, such as Ubuntu, inherit this strangeness. Even stranger, they then include a file /etc/apache2/httpd.conf which is Included from apache2.conf into which users can place custom configuration.

So the answer is, if you're on a Debian-based system, you bend your brain into doing things the way Debian wants you to do it. Otherwise you generally do things the normal way as the upstream httpd project does it.


Apache 2.4 (under Debian/Ubuntu)

For Configuration/Overrides (not necessarily a new site):

Place a new configuration file in /etc/apache2/conf-available/{name}.conf.

Enable/Disable your new config using sudo a2enconf {name}or sudo a2disconf {name}.

Directives in these can also override httpd.conf or apache2.conf as any additional config files added by user are read in last after main config.

Restart apache2 service to reflect the change.

For Sites (and any site specific configuration overrides):

Place a new site file in /etc/apache2/sites-available/{name}.conf

Enable/Disable your site config using sudo a2ensite {name}or sudo a2dissite {name}.

Restart apache2 service to reflect the change.

Don't use:

httpd.conf is still installed as main config file on some Linux distributions. On others, you should NOT see it anymore - if you do, leave it empty as installed if you wish to upgrade Apache cleanly/easily via package manager.

apache2.conf is still installed on many systems and is used as the main configuration file for Debian/Ubuntu. But, leave it alone if you wish to upgrade Apache cleanly/easily. You should see some include statements near the bottom of this file for sites and custom configurations.
Use them instead!

One, or both of these files may be installed via your Linux package manager depending on the Linux distribution. This is a good reason NOT to touch them since they could accidentally be overwritten during a system upgrade in the future.

Anything you might see in "global" Apache2 configuration files can be added/overridden under your custom config as per above. You can also use include statements yourself to further customize. Example: You could include additional SSL directives you want on some/all sites from a specific custom include file. You would just add this include statement to all your virtual site configs as needed.

More (Debian/Ubuntu): https://stackoverflow.com/a/11687212/503621


If apache2.conf is not empty, and httpd.conf is empty, you should probably use apache2.conf ;-)

But I suppose that one includes the other (and that one of those is kept purely for backward compatibility reasons) -- so, it shouldn't change much.

Still, if you want to add something, like a new VirtualHost : is there not another sub-directory, in which you could put your file, and have it included ?

It would probably be a better solution : you would not modify the default file -- which would simplify updates.


just open apache2.conf and look at the content:

Include /etc/apache2/mod-enabled/*.conf
Include /etc/apache2/httpd.conf

So if you want to include your own configuration add it to httpd.conf and apache2.conf will automatically get it.

As other say, apache2.conf can machine generated and it's better not to touch it.

For more information, generally Ubuntu uses apache2.conf and Centos uses httpd.conf. So all these files depends on which OS you have.


To find the name and the location of the configuration file, you would have to:

1) Search as the process is called, in this case working with the apache user:

ps -ef | grep apache

(in this example, returns: httpd)

2) Show the variables used by the binary:

httpd -V | grep 'HTTPD_ROOT' && httpd -V | grep 'SERVER_CONFIG_FILE'

Extracted and screenshots at: http://www.sysadmit.com/2016/12/linux-apache-donde-esta-httpdconf-apache2conf.html

  • Hello, It appears to me, that you have answered an already answered question, one that has been answered years ago. In addition, your solution is not helping the original questioner to resolve the issue, which configuration file is best practice to use.
    – M. Glatki
    Dec 27 '16 at 10:26

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