How to enable mod_rewrite in Apache2 on Debian or Ubuntu

Last updated on October 16, 2020 by Dan Nanni

If you have installed Apache HTTP server via apt-get or aptitude on Ubuntu or Debian systems, it has mod_rewrite module installed, but not enabled by default. After Apache web server installation, you need to enable mod_rewrite explicitly in order to enjoy its benefit.

What is mod_rewrite?

Apache HTTP web server boasts of extensible features which are realized by the notion of pluggable modules. When building Apache web server, you compile a set of modules you think are necessary, and built them into the web server. One such module is called mod_rewrite which is responsible for dynamically rewriting website URLs at the server side. For example, when user asks for http://myserver.com/my_category/my_post.html, the requested URL can be translated by mod_rewrite into http://myserver.com/post.php?category=100&post=200, which is then handled by the web server's backend engine.

Why Use mod_rewrite?

Webmasters generally use mod_rewrite to improve user-friendliness and search engine friendliness of web sites by exposing more memorable and crawlable URLs to the world. Also, it can help hide any sensitive information such as query strings from URL requests, and hence enhance website safety.

How to enable mod_write on Apache2

The default installation of Apache2 comes with mod_rewrite installed. To check whether this is the case, verify the existence of /etc/apache2/mods-available/rewrite.load.

$ cat /etc/apache2/mods-available/rewrite.load
LoadModule rewrite_module /usr/lib/apache2/modules/mod_rewrite.so

To enable and load mod_rewrite in Apache2 web server, do the rest of steps.

$ sudo a2enmod rewrite

The above command will create a symbolic link in /etc/apache2/mods-enabled.

$ ls -al /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/rewrite.load
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 30 Dec  9 23:10   /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/rewrite.load -> ../mods-available/rewrite.load

Then open up the following file, and replace every occurrence of AllowOverride None with AllowOverride all.

$ sudo vi /etc/apache2/sites-available/default

Finally, restart Apache2.

On Ubuntu 14.10 or Debian 7 or earler:

$ sudo service apache2 restart

On Ubuntu 15.04 or Debian 8 or later:

$ sudo systemctl start apache2

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