Load Balancer Setup with Apache HTTP

Here you’ll find a quick setup to configure a proxy with load balancer to distribute requests between multiple instances of GeoServer each one running in a different Tomcat process.


The following steps are OS specific as they involve creating scripts and setting environmental variables to run Tomcat. As such we will differentiate instructions between different OS.


Into the provided package you’ll find the apache_start.bat script which sets specific environment variables and starts the httpd server as standalone program. Closing the window will shutdown the service.

The apache_start.bat script is used to setup the APACHE HTTPD settings and to startup the server:




call %ROOT%\setenv.bat

set EXECUTABLE=%HTTPD_HOME%\bin\httpd.exe

In the above script we setup some usefull environment variables which will be used into the other configurations:

  1. the HTTPD_HOME (set to %TRAINING_ROOT%/Apache2.2)
  2. the HTTPD_PORT (set to 88)


The default Apache port is 80. We are using port 88 to avoid any overlap.

Using the above script you may access to the Apache HTTPD server using a browser pointing to the URL:


To setup the Load Balancer we still have to configure httpd to proxy the GeoServer tomcat instances.

HTTPD setup

The main configuration file is located here:


Edit that file to add global changes to the httpd server.

F.e. we have added the HTTPD_HOME prefix in front all the relative paths and set the server root and port as following:

ServerRoot "${HTTPD_HOME}"

# Listen: Allows you to bind Apache to specific IP addresses and/or
# ports, instead of the default. See also the <VirtualHost>
# directive.
# Change this to Listen on specific IP addresses as shown below to
# prevent Apache from glomming onto all bound IP addresses.

Be also sure to uncomment the extra configuration inclusions:

# Virtual hosts
Include conf/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf


In the distributed package you’ll find this file under %HTTPD_HOME%/conf/extra/http-vhosts.conf

Which may result as following:

<VirtualHost *:${HTTPD_PORT}>
  LoadModule proxy_ajp_module modules/mod_proxy_ajp.so
  LoadModule proxy_module modules/mod_proxy.so
  LoadModule proxy_balancer_module modules/mod_proxy_balancer.so
  LoadModule proxy_connect_module modules/mod_proxy_connect.so
  LoadModule proxy_ftp_module modules/mod_proxy_ftp.so
  LoadModule proxy_http_module modules/mod_proxy_http.so
  LoadModule reqtimeout_module modules/mod_reqtimeout.so

  <IfModule mod_proxy_ajp.c>
      ProxyRequests Off
      ProxyTimeout 300
      ProxyPreserveHost On
      ProxyVia On

      <Proxy balancer://cluster>
        BalancerMember ajp://localhost:8009 route=route1
        BalancerMember ajp://localhost:8010 route=route2
        ProxySet lbmethod=bybusyness
      <Location /geoserver>
        Order allow,deny
        Allow from all
        ProxyPass balancer://cluster/geoserver stickysession=JSESSIONID



in the above configuration we consider the HTTPD_PORT environment variable set to an valid integer port number.

The used proxy parameters are:
  1. ProxyRequests

    This allows or prevents Apache from functioning as a forward proxy server. (Setting ProxyRequests to Off does not disable use of the ProxyPass directive.)

  2. ProxyVia

    This directive controls the use of the Via: HTTP header by the proxy. We don’t need it here, but it does not hurt either.

  3. ProxyTimeout

    This directive allows a user to specify a timeout on proxy requests. This is useful when you have a slow/buggy appserver which hangs, and you would rather just return a timeout and fail gracefully instead of waiting however long it takes the server to return.

  4. ProxyPreserveHost

    When enabled, this option will pass the Host: line from the incoming request to the proxied host, instead of the hostname specified in the ProxyPass line.

  5. ProxySet

    This directive is used as an alternate method of setting any of the parameters available to Proxy balancers and workers normally done via the ProxyPass directive

The Proxy node contains all the BalancerMember of the cluster, in this configuration we configured 2 different instances of tomcat using the ajp connectors (on ports 8009, 8010). It contains some other parameters:

  1. Order

    The Order directive, along with the Allow and Deny directives, controls a three-pass access control system. The first pass processes either all Allow or all Deny directives, as specified by the Order directive. The second pass parses the rest of the directives (Deny or Allow). The third pass applies to all requests which do not match either of the first two.

  2. Allow

    The Allow directive affects which hosts can access an area of the server. Access can be controlled by hostname, IP address, IP address range, or by other characteristics of the client request captured in environment variables.

  3. ProxyPass

    This directive allows remote servers to be mapped into the space of the local server; the local server does not act as a proxy in the conventional sense, but appears to be a mirror of the remote server. The local server is often called a reverse proxy or gateway. The path is the name of a local virtual path; url is a partial URL for the remote server and cannot include a query string.

  4. ProxyPassReverse

    This directive lets Apache adjust the URL in the Location, Content-Location and URI headers on HTTP redirect responses. This is essential when Apache is used as a reverse proxy (or gateway) to avoid by-passing the reverse proxy because of HTTP redirects on the backend servers which stay behind the reverse proxy

  5. stickysession

    This directive is required for the user to be able to interact with GeoServer’s UI. When a session is created for the user (e.g. as a result of the user logging into GeoServer’s UI) all subsequent requests from the user will be routed through the same route instead of being balanced to both instances. This is required to properly interact with the UI.


When a session is created (e.g. you used the GeoServer GUI or the integrated GWC GUI) a cookie is set in your browser to transport the Session ID (it uses the key JSESSIONID). To observe the behaviour where incoming requests are being balanced to all GeoServer instances you need to either clear your browser cookies or open an incognito mode window in the browser. Normally users going through the OGC services will not have a session id.

For the tomcat connectors configuration click here.

Each BalancerMember points to a tomcat instance using the ajp protocol (through its route: see below):

<Proxy balancer://cluster>
           BalancerMember ajp://localhost:8009 route=route1
           BalancerMember ajp://localhost:8010 route=route2
           ProxySet lbmethod=bybusyness


The traffic is routed bybusyness but you may chose a different algorithm (see Proxy doc).

If you want to use the http connector you may change the proxy configuration pointing to those connectors:

<Proxy balancer://cluster>
           BalancerMember http://localhost:8083
           BalancerMember http://localhost:8084
           ProxySet lbmethod=bybusyness

The incoming requests is redirect from the proxy to the load balancer by:

<Location /geoserver>
      Order allow,deny
      Allow from all
      ProxyPass balancer://cluster/geoserver stickysession=JSESSIONID

Each request to:


is now redirected to one of your tomcat instances depending on the incoming traffic and accordingly to the chosen lbmethod. You are able to check the status of each Balancer Member using your browser (protected by authentication).



The following instructions are distribution-dependant and they have been tested on Ubuntu 12.04 that is the OS of the linux training environment. Although they should be vaild on all the Debian-based distributions some changes may are required on other Debian or Ubuntu versions. For the Linux Red Hat-based distributions the apache package is called httpd instead of apache2.

Install the apache webserver on the linux training environment running the command:

sudo apt-get install apache2

The apt-get installation process will install Apache 2.2.22 on your system as a system service.

start the apache2 daemon:

sudo service apache2 start

Stop you apache2 daemon:

sudo service apache2 stop

Reload the configuration files without stopping the service:

sudo service apache2 reload


for some configurations a reload is not enough and a restart is required, see the official apache documentation for more info

The main apache modules configuration directory is /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/

To configure the apache2 proxy you have to configure the tomcat connector (see the previous chapter) and the webserver configuration.

First load all the apache2 needed modules that are not enabled by default:

sudo cp /etc/apache2/mods-available/proxy.load /etc/apache2/mods-enabled
sudo cp /etc/apache2/mods-available/proxy_ajp.load /etc/apache2/mods-enabled
sudo cp /etc/apache2/mods-available/proxy_balancer.load /etc/apache2/mods-enabled

Then create a new configuration file under the apache modules configuration directory:

sudo nano /etc/apache2/mods-enabled/proxy_balancer.conf

Edit it as follows:

ProxyRequests Off
ProxyTimeout 300
ProxyPreserveHost On
ProxyVia On
<Proxy balancer://cluster>
    BalancerMember ajp://localhost:8009 route=route1
    BalancerMember ajp://localhost:8010 route=route2
    ProxySet lbmethod=bybusyness
<Location /geoserver>
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
    ProxyPass balancer://cluster/geoserver stickysession=JSESSIONID

Save the file (ctrl-o using nano as suggested) and restart apache as seen before (a configuration reload in not enough for this step).

Open the browser and access to the url:


The geoserver is now accessed through the apache2 webserver and the requests are balanced between the 2 geoserver instances available.

Further optional configurations

Balancer manager

The following section is optional (not configured in the Linux/Windows packages). This is useful to check the configuration using your browser:

<Location /balancer-manager>
   SetHandler balancer-manager
   AuthType basic
   AuthName "My_auth_name"
   AuthUserFile "/etc/httpd/passwd/passwords"
   # Anonymous *
   Require valid-user


Here we also have set a basic authentication to access the basic auth

Point your browser to http://localhost:88/balancer-manager to see the manager.

Basic authentication

To configure a basic authentication account on Linux proceed as following.

Create a password file:

mkdir /etc/httpd/passwd
touch /etc/httpd/passwd/passwords

Create the user:

htpasswd -c /etc/httpd/passwd/passwords USER
Password: PASSWORD