Cookbook: Matching domain and subdomains with Cherokee

Knowing how to match a domain or subdomain name is important to configure the behavior of your web server. The way in which HTTP redirections are performed, or what content is delivered to whom is determined by such matches.

The order in which the virtual servers are listed determines what domain names are matched. The purpose of this recipe is to document what to do after these matches have been determined.

Host Match

As it was mentioned before, Cherokee can handle any number of virtual servers. The list of defined virtual servers can be reviewed and manipulated, and the order in which the virtual servers are listed is very significant. Whenever Cherokee receives a request, the list is evaluated from top to bottom, and the first virtual server that matches the given request will be the one used to handle the connection.

The domain matching method can be selected through the Host Match tab of any virtual server. The available options are:

  1. Match Nickname: which will use the nick name that has been defined for the virtual server.

  2. Wildcards: which will use a list of names, each of which can contain the wildcard characters ? (one character) and * (one or more characters).

  3. Regular Expressions: which will use a list of provided regular expressions. Group matching is allowed, so this one can be very handy.

  4. Server IP: the match is performed according to the IP/Subnet.

Additionally, a combination of two such methods can be used, and it will be evaluated as a logical OR. This can be useful on some rare occasions, but is usually not needed.

Dictating the behavior based on the match

You could always define a virtual servers for each subdomain of a given domain name. Modeling the behavior in such scenario is trivial, since you would know exactly what you wanted to accomplish on each case. But lets assume you want to define a single entry point to handle a specific subdomain for all your virtual servers.

You can do this by using the Regular Expression method to match the host. For instance, if you set the match of that virtual server to something like ^admin\.(.*)$ it will store a replacement variable with the name of your domain (without the admin. prefix).

Then, you’d have to set the default rule of the virtual server to Redirection, with the expression ^/(.*)$ that stores the whole request. Finally, just adding the following substitution would allow you to redirect every such request to the admin webdirectory within each of your virtual servers: http://^1/admin/$1

This is very useful if all your virtual servers would behave in a similar fashion, providing an /admin directory to handle such requests. When this is not the case, you can still avoid creating multiple virtual servers for a given domain name.

You can configure self contained virtual servers using behavior rules which dictate site behavior based on domain name matching. Behaviour rules can match against HTTP headers, such as the Host: header (Host: in this case). Be advised that although such self-contained configuration is achievable, it is less efficient than defining different virtual servers. This is due to the fact that virtual server evaluation is performed in one step for any given virtual server request, while performing a domain comparison on each rule can be cumbersome.