Apache as a reverse proxy for a Tomcat server on Debian 10

Here’s the situation: you have an Angular application that you want to host on apache, and a Spring Boot application running with its embedded tomcat, or that you want t o deploy on tomcat. However, you don’t want to expose your tomcat default 8080 or 8443 ports.

The solution is to use Apache a reverse proxy for tomcat. Only the apache standard http and https ports will be exposed, and you only need to deal with https certificates at the apache level.

To achieve this :

1. Enable the apache proxy mod

a2enmod proxy
a2enmod proxy_http
systemctl restart apache2

2. Configure apache as a proxy

Edit /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/default-ssl.conf

In the following examples, all traffic to /api will be redirected to the localhost tomcat /api endpoint.

If your tomcat server uses https, then you must enable Apache as a https proxy, and mostlikely disable all https security verification because you will access the tomcat using your localhost ip address, which won’t match the url of the https certifcate :

<VirtualHost *:443>
    ...
    SSLProxyEngine on
    SSLProxyVerify none
    SSLProxyCheckPeerCN off
    SSLProxyCheckPeerName off
    SSLProxyCheckPeerExpire off
    ProxyRequests On
    ProxyPreserveHost On
    ProxyPass /api https://127.0.0.1:8443/api
    ProxyPassReverse /api https://127.0.0.1:8443/api
 
    <Location "/api">
        Order allow,deny
        Allow from all
    </Location>
    ...
</VirtualHost>

If your tomcat is using plain old http, and not https, then a simpler configuration will be enough :

<VirtualHost *:443>
    ...
    ProxyRequests On
    ProxyPreserveHost On
    ProxyPass /api http://127.0.0.1:8080/api
    ProxyPassReverse /api http://127.0.0.1:8080/api
 
    <Location "/api">
        Order allow,deny
        Allow from all
    </Location>
    ...
</VirtualHost>

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