Linux install and configure pound reverse proxy for Apache http / https web server

Q. How do I install and configure pound reverse proxy for Apache web sever under Debian Linux?

A. Pound is a reverse-proxy load balancing server. It accepts requests from HTTP / HTTPS clients and distributes them to one or more Web servers. The HTTPS requests are decrypted and passed to the back-ends as plain HTTP. It will act as:
a) Server load balancer
b) Reverse proxy server
c) Apache reverse proxy etc
d) It can detects when a backend server fails or recovers, and bases its load balancing decisions on this information: if a backend server fails, it will not receive requests until it recovers
e) It can decrypts https requests to http ones
f) Rejects incorrect requests
h) It can be used in a chroot environment (security feature)

If more than one back-end server is defined, Pound chooses one of them randomly, based on defined priorities. By default, Pound keeps track of associations between clients and back-end servers (sessions).

Install Pound Software

Type the following command to install pound:
$ sudo apt-get install pound
If you are using RHEL / CentOS, grab pound rpm here and type the command:
# rpm -ivh pound*
If you are using FreeBSD, enter:
# cd /usr/ports/www/pound/ && make install clean

How it works?

  • Let us assume your public IP address 202.54.1.5.
  • Pound will run on 202.54.1.5 port 80
  • It will forward all incoming http requests to internal host 192.168.1.5 and 192.168.1.10 port 80 or 443
  • Pound keeps track of associations between clients and back-end servers

Pound configuration file

  • Under Debian / Ubuntu default file located at /etc/pound/pound.cfg
  • Under FreeBSD it is located at /usr/local/etc/pound.cfg (you need to create this file)
  • Under RHEL / CentOS you need to create file at /etc/pound.cfg

Sample configuration: HTTP Proxy

Forward all incoming request at 202.54.1.5 port 80 request to 192.168.1.5 Apache server running at 8080 port:
Open /etc/pound/pound.cfg file:
# vi /etc/pound/pound.cfg
To translate HTTP requests to a local internal HTTP server, enter (make sure 192.168.1.5 Apache running listing on port 8080):

ListenHTTP
         Address 202.54.1.5
         Port    80
         Service
                  BackEnd
                       Address 192.168.1.5
                       Port    8080
                  End
          End
End

Save and close the file. Restart pound:
# /etc/init.d/pound restart

Following example will distribute the all HTTP/HTTPS requests to two Web servers:

ListenHTTP
          Address 202.54.1.5
          Port    80
End
ListenHTTPS
         Address 202.54.1.5
         Port    443
         Cert    "/etc/ssl/local.server.pem"
End
Service
                  BackEnd
                      Address 192.168.1.5
                      Port    80
                  End
                  BackEnd
                      Address 192.168.1.6
                      Port    80
                  End
End

For testing purpose you may generate self signed ssl certificate (/etc/ssl/local.server.pem), by entering the following command:
# cd /etc/ssl && openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:1024 -keyout local.server.pem -out local.server.pem -days 365 -nodes

Pound log file

By default pound log message using syslog:
# tail -f /var/log/messages
# grep pound /var/log/messages

Sample complete configuration file

## Minimal sample pound.cfg
######################################################################
## global options:
User		"www-data"
Group		"www-data"
#RootJail	"/chroot/pound"
## Logging: (goes to syslog by default)
##	0	no logging
##	1	normal
##	2	extended
##	3	Apache-style (common log format)
LogLevel	1
## check backend every X secs:
Alive		30
## use hardware-accelleration card supported by openssl(1):
#SSLEngine	""
######################################################################
## listen, redirect and ... to:
# Here is a more complex example: assume your static images (GIF/JPEG) are to be served from  a  single  back-end  192.168.0.10.  In
#       addition,  192.168.0.11  is  to  do  the  hosting for www.myserver.com with URL-based sessions, and 192.168.0.20 (a 1GHz PIII) and
#       192.168.0.21 (800Mhz Duron) are for all other requests (cookie-based sessions).  The logging will be done by the back-end servers.
#       The configuration file may look like this:
              # Main listening ports
              ListenHTTP
                  Address 202.54.1.10
                  Port    80
                  Client  10
              End
              ListenHTTPS
                  Address 202.54.1.10
                  Port    443
                  Cert    "/etc/pound/pound.pem"
                  Client  20
              End
              # Image server
              Service
                  URL ".*.(jpg|gif)"
                  BackEnd
                      Address 192.168.1.10
                      Port    80
                  End
              End
             # Virtual host www.myserver.com
              Service
                  URL         ".*sessid=.*"
                  HeadRequire "Host:.*www.nixcraft.com.*"
                  BackEnd
                      Address 192.168.1.11
                      Port    80
                  End
                  Session
                      Type    PARM
                      ID      "sessid"
                      TTL     120
                  End
              End
              # Everybody else
              Service
                  BackEnd
                      Address 192.168.1.20
                      Port    80
                      Priority 5
                  End
                  BackEnd
                      Address 192.168.1.21
                      Port    80
                      Priority 4
                  End
                  Session
                      Type    COOKIE
                      ID      "userid"
                      TTL     180
                  End
              End
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