How to Setup Apache2 UserDir in Ubuntu Linux

This post describes steps you can take to set up the UserDir feature with the Apache HTTP server in Ubuntu Linux.

In some school environments, you’ll see examples where teachers are given their website to publish materials for students to access. Instead of having to create multiple server blocks, the system administrator can use the UserDir feature to accomplish this.

The URL to reach the teacher’s page is usually the domain name followed by /~teacher_name.

User Directory or UserDir for short is a feature for Apache web servers that allows user-specific directories to be accessed via Nginx. 

For example, when you enable this feature in Apache, users with accounts on the system will be able to share content in their home directories with the world via Apache.

This tutorial assumes that you already have an Apache2 web server installed. If you haven’t, you may want to do that before continuing below.

Install Apache2 HTTP Server

First, run the commands below to install Apache2 HTTP Server on Ubuntu

sudo apt install apache2

Enabling UserDir on Apache2

To enable the Userdir module for Apache2 webservers, run the commands below

sudo a2enmod userdir

After running the commands above the feature will be enabled and ready to be used. The configuration file is at /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/userdir.conf. But you don’t have to do anything. It’s already configured with the best options.

To access the config file, run the commands below

sudo nano /etc/apache2/mods-available/userdir.conf

Then validate the settings below:

<IfModule mod_userdir.c>
     UserDir public_html
     UserDir disabled root

        <Directory /home/*/public_html>
             AllowOverride FileInfo AuthConfig Limit Indexes
             Options MultiViews Indexes SymLinksIfOwnerMatch IncludesNoExec
             Require method GET POST OPTIONS
        </Directory>
</IfModule>

# vim: syntax=apache ts=4 sw=4 sts=4 sr noet

Creating User Directories

Now that the feature is enabled, all users have to do is run the commands below to create a folder in their home directories called public_html by running the commands below.

mkdir ~/public_html

In the ~/public_html folder, create html documents to be shared and accessed via the web server.

Restart the Apache2 webserver to load the settings.

sudo systemctl restart apache2.service

Now test it out by browsing to the server hostname or IP address followed by the username.

example: http://example.com/~richard

apache2 user dir

This is how the Apache2 Userdir module is configured for users to allow users with accounts on the systems to share content from their home directories.

That’s it!