I do a lot of web development these days, on number of projects, which often require their own domain, so I thought I’d share a quick tip that I’ve found helpful.

In a nutshell, I use wildcard domains and used the Apache vhost alias module in order to be able to automatically create a domain per project.

Setting up bind

The first step is to set up wildcard DNS for your machine, in this case *.dev.mymachine. Assuming you’ve got bind set up, this is just a matter of configuring a local zone for your network (or adding this to your existing local zone).

It’s late, and I’m tired, Google “wildcard dns bind” and that’ll point you in the right direction.

Setting up the vhost

Next, you need to set up an Apache vhost for your wildcard domain, but crucially, instead of specifying DocumentRoot in the normal way define VirtualDocumentRoot.

First, enable the module:

a2enmod vhost_alias

Then, set up and enable a definition which uses variables supplied by the vhost_alias, which will use the structure of the url line to load the appropriate web page.

<VirtualHost *>

ServerAdmin webmaster@myhost.com
ServerName myhost.com
ServerAlias *.myhost.com

# Indexes + Directory Root.
DirectoryIndex index.html index.php
VirtualDocumentRoot /home/%2/mycode/%1/

<Directory "/home/*/mycode/">
AllowOverride All
Options +Indexes +Includes +FollowSymlinks +ExecCGI


The above code will use the directory name plus the user’s username, for example, fizzbuzz.marcus.myhost.com.

What this means is that you don’t need to create a new virtual host for each one of your projects, which may save you a little time.

4 thoughts on “Simplifying web development using wildcard DNS

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