Apache SSL Termination (HTTPS Varnish cache)

I have seen several posts on how to configure SSL offloading using Nginx, but I was unable to find complete instructions for Apache. It also so happened, that I prefer Apache web server over Nginx. That fact made me to create this short post.

In this post I’d like to describe the SSL termination approach in general and provide the specific configuration for Apache2 web server.

General approach

The idea is to setup an environment with:

  • Varnish with frontend on port 80 and backend on port 8080
  • First web site that listens to port 8080 and serves the web application (Magento 2 in this example)
  • Second web site listening to port 443, hanlding SSL and proxy passing traffic to Varnish on port 80

Apache SSL Termination. Magento and Varnish in this example.

The following instructions are based on Ubuntu 16 and Apache 2.4.

Varnish configuration

Varnish configuration does not make too much difference here, for consistency with other components it’s important to ensure that Varnish frontend and backend are on correct ports:

An important part for vcl file (/etc/varnish/default.vcl)

backend default {
    .host = "";
    .port = "8080";

Port 80 is expected to be used for frontend in /etc/systemd/system/varnish.service file (or /etc/default/varnish on older linuxes)

Apache configuration

There are two virtual hosts that should be configured on Apache side.

First virtual host is the basic one that is server web application on port 8080.

<VirtualHost *:8080>
  ServerName localhost.com
  DocumentRoot /var/www/magento/pub

Make sure apache is listening to port 8080 (/etc/apache2/ports.conf).

The second virtual host is a bit more complicated as it utilizes extra apache 2 modules, handles SSL and proxies the request.

<VirtualHost *:443>
    RequestHeader set X-Forwarded-Proto "https"
    ServerName localhost.com

    SSLEngine On
    SSLCertificateFile /etc/apache2/ssl/cert.crt
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/apache2/ssl/cert.key

    ProxyPreserveHost On
    ProxyPass /
    ProxyPassReverse /

The “X-Forwarded-Proto” header is not required for the setup to work, however it is quite useful and may be necessary for correct work of web frameworks. It’s also known as “offloading” header.

Apache modules

As you might already notice from the virtual host configuration file that there are several mods that have to be enabled.

sudo a2enmod ssl
sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo a2enmod headers
sudo a2enmod proxy
sudo a2enmod proxy_balancer
sudo a2enmod proxy_http

Finally, don’t forget to enable virtual hosts and restart the web server.

sudo service apache2 restart