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How to Set up a Reverse Proxy

A proxy is an application that processes resource requests between client computers and servers. A reverse proxy retrieves those resources from the servers on behalf of the clients, just as if the resources came directly from the servers.

Reverse proxies have a variety of specific applications, especially for web servers. A single computer may need to run multiple web servers where each server listens to incoming service requests on a different port. A reverse proxy can then analyze each request and deliver it to the appropriate server. For example, a CentOS computer running Apache and Tomcat servers can use a reverse proxy to allow Tomcat to request resources from Apache.

DIFFICULTY Basic - 1 | Medium - 2 | Advanced - 3
TIME REQUIRED 15 min
RELATED PRODUCTS Linux-based VPS or dedicated servers
  • Here is a quick tutorial on how to setup a reverse proxy between an Apache web server and a Tomcat server. If you need any help setting up Tomcat, see How to install Apache Tomcat.

  • Start the servers

    Use the following commands to start Apache and Tomcat from the command line if they aren't already running:

    # start httpd.service
    # sudo $CATALINA_HOME/bin/startup.sh

    These commands should provide the following output:

    Modify httpd.conf

    Use nano to modify the httpd.conf, which is typically located in /etc/httpd/conf. Add the following lines to httpd.conf in the indicated section for loading modules:

    LoadModule proxy_module modules/mod_proxy.so
    LoadModule proxy_http_module modules/mod_proxy_http.so
    # mod_proxy setup.
    ProxyRequests Off
    ProxyPass /test http://localhost:8080
    ProxyPassReverse /test http://localhost:8080
    <Location "/test">
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
    </Location>

    The above lines will create the reverse proxy to the Tomcat server from http://localhost/test, assuming that Tomcat is listening to the default port of 8080.

    Save httpd.conf, which should now appear similar to the following screenshot:

    Test the reverse proxy

    Enter http://localhost/test in your browser. You should see the default Tomcat homepage as follows:

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