Apache2::PerlSections - write Apache configuration files in Perl


  @PerlModule = qw(Mail::Send Devel::Peek);
  #run the server as whoever starts it
  $User  = getpwuid(>) || >;
  $Group = getgrgid()) || );
  $ServerAdmin = $User;


With <Perl>...</Perl> sections, it is possible to configure your server entirely in Perl.

<Perl> sections can contain any and as much Perl code as you wish. These sections are compiled into a special package whose symbol table mod_perl can then walk and grind the names and values of Perl variables/structures through the Apache core configuration gears.

Block sections such as <Location>..</Location> are represented in a %Location hash, e.g.:

  $Location{"/~dougm/"} = {
    AuthUserFile   => '/tmp/htpasswd',
    AuthType       => 'Basic',
    AuthName       => 'test',
    DirectoryIndex => [qw(index.html index.htm)],
    Limit          => {
        "GET POST"    => {
            require => 'user dougm',

If an Apache directive can take two or three arguments you may push strings (the lowest number of arguments will be shifted off the @list) or use an array reference to handle any number greater than the minimum for that directive:

  push @Redirect, "/foo", "";;
  push @Redirect, "/imdb", "";;
  push @Redirect, [qw(temp "/here" "";)];

Other section counterparts include %VirtualHost, %Directory and %Files.

To pass all environment variables to the children with a single configuration directive, rather than listing each one via PassEnv or PerlPassEnv, a <Perl> section could read in a file and:

  push @PerlPassEnv, [$key => $val];


  Apache2->httpd_conf("PerlPassEnv $key $val");

These are somewhat simple examples, but they should give you the basic idea. You can mix in any Perl code you desire. See eg/ and eg/perl_sections.txt in the mod_perl distribution for more examples.

Assume that you have a cluster of machines with similar configurations and only small distinctions between them: ideally you would want to maintain a single configuration file, but because the configurations aren't exactly the same (e.g. the ServerName directive) it's not quite that simple.

<Perl> sections come to rescue. Now you have a single configuration file and the full power of Perl to tweak the local configuration. For example to solve the problem of the ServerName directive you might have this <Perl> section:

  $ServerName = `hostname`;

For example if you want to allow personal directories on all machines except the ones whose names start with secure:

  $ServerName = `hostname`;
  if ($ServerName !~ /^secure/) {
      $UserDir = "public.html";
  else {
      $UserDir = "DISABLED";


Apache2::PerlSections provides the following functions and/or methods:


Get the current server's object for the <Perl> section

    $s = Apache2::PerlSections->server();
obj: Apache2::PerlSections (class name)
ret: $s ( Apache2::ServerRec object|docs::2.0::api::Apache2::ServerRec )
since: 2.0.03

@PerlConfig and $PerlConfig

This array and scalar can be used to introduce literal configuration into the apache configuration. For example:

  push @PerlConfig, 'Alias /foo /bar';

Or: $PerlConfig .= ``Alias /foo /bar\n'';

See also $r->add_config|docs::2.0::api::Apache2::RequestUtil/C_add_config_

Configuration Variables

There are a few variables that can be set to change the default behaviour of <Perl> sections.


Each <Perl> section is evaluated in its unique namespace, by default residing in a sub-namespace of Apache2::ReadConfig::, therefore any local variables will end up in that namespace. For example if a <Perl> section happened to be in file /tmp/httpd.conf starting on line 20, the namespace: Apache2::ReadConfig::tmp::httpd_conf::line_20 will be used. Now if it had:

    $foo     = 5;
    my $bar  = 6;
    $My::tar = 7;

The local global variable $foo becomes $Apache2::ReadConfig::tmp::httpd_conf::line_20::foo, the other variable remain where they are.

By default, the namespace in which <Perl> sections are evaluated is cleared after each block closes. In our example nuking $Apache2::ReadConfig::tmp::httpd_conf::line_20::foo, leaving the rest untouched.

By setting $Apache2::PerlSections::Save to a true value, the content of those namespaces will be preserved and will be available for inspection by Apache2::Status|docs::2.0::api::Apache2::Status and Apache2::PerlSections->dump|/C_Apache2__PerlSections_E_gt_dump_ In our example $Apache2::ReadConfig::tmp::httpd_conf::line_20::foo will still be accessible from other perl code, after the <Perl> section was parsed.

PerlSections Dumping


This method will dump out all the configuration variables mod_perl will be feeding to the apache config gears. The output is suitable to read back in via eval.

  my $dump = Apache2::PerlSections->dump;
ret: $dump ( string / undef )

A string dump of all the Perl code encountered in <Perl> blocks, suitable to be read back via eval

For example:

  $Apache2::PerlSections::Save = 1;
  $Listen = 8529;
  $Location{"/perl"} = {
     SetHandler => "perl-script",
     PerlHandler => "ModPerl::Registry",
     Options => "ExecCGI",
  @DirectoryIndex = qw(index.htm index.html);
  $VirtualHost{""} = {
     DocumentRoot => "/tmp/docs",
     ErrorLog => "/dev/null",
     Location => {
       "/" => {
         Allowoverride => 'All',
         Order => 'deny,allow',
         Deny  => 'from all',
         Allow => 'from',
  print Apache2::PerlSections->dump;

This will print something like this:

  $Listen = 8529;
  @DirectoryIndex = (
  $Location{'/perl'} = (
      PerlHandler => 'Apache2::Registry',
      SetHandler => 'perl-script',
      Options => 'ExecCGI'
  $VirtualHost{''} = (
      Location => {
        '/' => {
          Deny => 'from all',
          Order => 'deny,allow',
          Allow => 'from',
          Allowoverride => 'All'
      DocumentRoot => '/tmp/docs',
      ErrorLog => '/dev/null'

It is important to put the call to dump in it's own <Perl> section, otherwise the content of the current <Perl> section will not be dumped.


This method will call the dump method, writing the output to a file, suitable to be pulled in via require or do.

arg1: $filename (string)

The filename to save the dump output to

ret: no return value

Advanced API

mod_perl 2.0 now introduces the same general concept of handlers to <Perl> sections. Apache2::PerlSections simply being the default handler for them.

To specify a different handler for a given perl section, an extra handler argument must be given to the section:

  <Perl handler="My::PerlSection::Handler" somearg="test1">
    $foo = 1;
    $bar = 2;

And in My/PerlSection/

  sub My::Handler::handler : handler {
      my ($self, $parms, $args) = @_;
      #do your thing!

So, when that given <Perl> block in encountered, the code within will first be evaluated, then the handler routine will be invoked with 3 arguments:

arg1: $self


arg2: $parms ( Apache2::CmdParms|docs::2.0::api::Apache2::CmdParms )

$parms is specific for the current Container, for example, you might want to call $parms->server() to get the current server.

arg3: $args ( APR::Table object|docs::2.0::api::APR::Table)

the table object of the section arguments. The 2 guaranteed ones will be:

  $args->{'handler'} = 'My::PerlSection::Handler';
  $args->{'package'} = 'Apache2::ReadConfig';

Other name="value" pairs given on the <Perl> line will also be included.

At this point, it's up to the handler routing to inspect the namespace of the $args->{'package'} and chooses what to do.

The most likely thing to do is to feed configuration data back into apache. To do that, use Apache2::Server->add_config(``directive''), for example:

  $parms->server->add_config("Alias /foo /bar");

Would create a new alias. The source code of Apache2::PerlSections is a good place to look for a practical example.

Verifying <Perl> Sections

If the <Perl> sections include no code requiring a running mod_perl, it is possible to check those from the command line. But the following trick should be used:

  # file: httpd.conf
  # ... code here ...

Now you can run:

  % perl -c httpd.conf


<Perl> directive missing closing '>'

httpd-2.0.47 had a bug in the configuration parser which caused the startup failure with the following error:

  Starting httpd:
  Syntax error on line ... of /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf:
  <Perl> directive missing closing '>'     [FAILED]

This has been fixed in httpd-2.0.48. If you can't upgrade to this or a higher version, please add a space before the closing '>' of the opening tag as a workaround. So if you had:

  # some code

change it to be:

  <Perl >
  # some code

<Perl>[...]> was not closed.

On encountering a one-line <Perl> block, httpd's configuration parser will cause a startup failure with an error similar to this one:

  Starting httpd:
  Syntax error on line ... of /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf:
  <Perl>use> was not closed.

If you have written a simple one-line <Perl> section like this one :

  <Perl>use Apache::DBI;</Perl>

change it to be:

   use Apache::DBI;

This is caused by a limitation of httpd's configuration parser and is not likely to be changed to allow one-line block like the example above. Use multi-line blocks instead.

See Also

mod_perl 2.0 documentation.


mod_perl 2.0 and its core modules are copyrighted under The Apache Software License, Version 2.0.


The mod_perl development team and numerous contributors.