Clean URLs with Apache 2 on Debian

Last updated on
8 August 2016

Note: This article needs to be updated for Debian "Etch" and "Lenny" releases. (as of March 2009)

If you're running Apache 2 on Debian stable, in order to install the rewrite module you simply need to:

# a2enmod rewrite

then restart the webserver:

# /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

then edit either /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/drupal or to your .htaccess and ensure it looks something like this:

# Apache/PHP/site settings:

# Protect files and directories from prying eyes:
<Files ~ "(\.(conf|inc|module|pl|sh|sql|theme|engine|xtmpl)|Entries|Repositories|Root|scripts|updates)$">
  order deny,allow
  deny from all

# Set some options
Options -Indexes
Options +FollowSymLinks

# Customized server error messages:
ErrorDocument 404 /index.php

# Set the default handler to index.php:
DirectoryIndex index.php

# Overload PHP variables:
<IfModule sapi_apache2.c>
   # If you are using Apache 2, you have to use <IfModule sapi_apache2.c>
   # instead of <IfModule mod_php4.c>.
   php_value register_globals        0
   php_value track_vars              1
   php_value short_open_tag          1
   php_value magic_quotes_gpc        0
   php_value magic_quotes_runtime    0
   php_value magic_quotes_sybase     0
   php_value arg_separator.output    "&amp;"
   php_value session.cache_expire    200000
   php_value session.gc_maxlifetime  200000
   php_value session.cookie_lifetime 2000000
   php_value session.auto_start      0
   php_value session.save_handler    user
   php_value session.cache_limiter   none
   php_value allow_call_time_pass_reference  On

# Various rewrite rules
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
  RewriteEngine on
  Options All

  # Modify the RewriteBase if you are using Drupal in a subdirectory and the
  # rewrite rules are not working properly:
  RewriteBase /drupal

  # Rewrite old-style URLS of the form 'node.php?id=x':
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
  RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} ^id=([^&]+)$
  RewriteRule node.php index.php?q=node/view/%1 [L]

  # Rewrite old-style URLs of the form 'module.php?mod=x':
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
  RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} ^mod=([^&]+)$
  RewriteRule module.php index.php?q=%1 [L]

  # Rewrite URLs of the form 'index.php?q=x':
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
  RewriteRule ^(.*)$ index.php?q=$1 [L,QSA]

# $Id: .htaccess,v 1.58 2004/10/09 20:41:49 dries Exp $

This is because the debian package installs the drupal "sites-enabled" virtual host, result being that drupal is accessed from, hence the need to uncomment RewriteBase. Change it to the base that corresponds to your system.


Sean K. O'Brien
Colley Graphics, LLC