Apache > HTTP Server > Documentation > Version 2.4

Binding to Addresses and Ports

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Configuring Apache HTTP Server to listen on specific addresses and ports.

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When httpd starts, it binds to some port and address on the local machine and waits for incoming requests. By default, it listens to all addresses on the machine. However, it may need to be told to listen on specific ports, or only on selected addresses, or a combination of both. This is often combined with the Virtual Host feature, which determines how httpd responds to different IP addresses, hostnames and ports.

The Listen directive tells the server to accept incoming requests only on the specified port(s) or address-and-port combinations. If only a port number is specified in the Listen directive, the server listens to the given port on all interfaces. If an IP address is given as well as a port, the server will listen on the given port and interface. Multiple Listen directives may be used to specify a number of addresses and ports to listen on. The server will respond to requests from any of the listed addresses and ports.

For example, to make the server accept connections on both port 80 and port 8000, on all interfaces, use:

Listen 80
Listen 8000

To make the server accept connections on port 80 for one interface, and port 8000 on another, use


IPv6 addresses must be enclosed in square brackets, as in the following example:

Listen [2001:db8::a00:20ff:fea7:ccea]:80

Overlapping Listen directives will result in a fatal error which will prevent the server from starting up.

(48)Address already in use: make_sock: could not bind to address [::]:80

See the discussion in the wiki for further troubleshooting tips.


Changing Listen configuration on restart

When httpd is restarted, special consideration must be made for changes to Listen directives. During a restart, httpd keeps ports bound (as in the original configuration) to avoid generating "Connection refused" errors for any new attempts to connect to the server. If changes are made to the set of Listen directives used which conflict with the old configuration, configuration will fail and the server will terminate.

For example, changing from configuration:


to the following may fail, because binding to port 80 across all addresses conflicts with binding to port 80 on just

Listen 80

To have such configuration changes take effect, it is necessary to stop and then start the server.


Special IPv6 Considerations

A growing number of platforms implement IPv6, and APR supports IPv6 on most of these platforms, allowing httpd to allocate IPv6 sockets, and to handle requests sent over IPv6.

One complicating factor for httpd administrators is whether or not an IPv6 socket can handle both IPv4 connections and IPv6 connections. Handling IPv4 connections with an IPv6 socket uses IPv4-mapped IPv6 addresses, which are allowed by default on most platforms, but are disallowed by default on FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, in order to match the system-wide policy on those platforms. On systems where it is disallowed by default, a special configure parameter can change this behavior for httpd.

On the other hand, on some platforms, such as Linux and Tru64, the only way to handle both IPv6 and IPv4 is to use mapped addresses. If you want httpd to handle IPv4 and IPv6 connections with a minimum of sockets, which requires using IPv4-mapped IPv6 addresses, specify the --enable-v4-mapped configure option.

--enable-v4-mapped is the default on all platforms except FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, so this is probably how your httpd was built.

If you want httpd to handle IPv4 connections only, regardless of what your platform and APR will support, specify an IPv4 address on all Listen directives, as in the following examples:


If your platform supports it and you want httpd to handle IPv4 and IPv6 connections on separate sockets (i.e., to disable IPv4-mapped addresses), specify the --disable-v4-mapped configure option. --disable-v4-mapped is the default on FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD.


Specifying the protocol with Listen

The optional second protocol argument of Listen is not required for most configurations. If not specified, https is the default for port 443 and http the default for all other ports. The protocol is used to determine which module should handle a request, and to apply protocol specific optimizations with the AcceptFilter directive.

You only need to set the protocol if you are running on non-standard ports. For example, running an https site on port 8443:

Listen https

How This Works With Virtual Hosts

The Listen directive does not implement Virtual Hosts - it only tells the main server what addresses and ports to listen on. If no <VirtualHost> directives are used, the server will behave in the same way for all accepted requests. However, <VirtualHost> can be used to specify a different behavior for one or more of the addresses or ports. To implement a VirtualHost, the server must first be told to listen to the address and port to be used. Then a <VirtualHost> section should be created for the specified address and port to set the behavior of this virtual host. Note that if the <VirtualHost> is set for an address and port that the server is not listening to, it cannot be accessed.

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