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Apache > HTTP Server > Documentation > Version 2.4 > Modules

Apache Module mod_http2

Available Languages:  en 

Description:Support for the HTTP/2 transport layer
Status:Extension
Module Identifier:http2_module
Source File:mod_http2.c
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.17 and later

Summary

This module provides HTTP/2 (RFC 7540) support for the Apache HTTP Server.

This module relies on libnghttp2 to provide the core http/2 engine.

Warning

This module is experimental. Its behaviors, directives, and defaults are subject to more change from release to release relative to other standard modules. Users are encouraged to consult the "CHANGES" file for potential updates.

You must enable HTTP/2 via Protocols in order to use the functionality described in this document:

Protocols h2 http/1.1

Topics

Directives

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Environment Variables

This module can be configured to provide HTTP/2 related information as additional environment variables to the SSI and CGI namespace.

Variable Name: Value Type: Description:
HTTPe flag HTTP/2 is being used.
H2PUSH flag HTTP/2 Server Push is enabled for this request and also supported by the client.
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H2Direct Directive

Description:H2 Direct Protocol Switch
Syntax:H2Direct on|off
Default:H2Direct on for h2c, off for h2 protocol
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2

This directive toggles the usage of the HTTP/2 Direct Mode. This should be used inside a <VirtualHost> section to enable direct HTTP/2 communication for that virtual host.

Direct communication means that if the first bytes received by the server on a connection match the HTTP/2 preamble, the HTTP/2 protocol is switched to immediately without further negotiation. This mode is defined in RFC 7540 for the cleartext (h2c) case. Its use on TLS connections not mandated by the standard.

When a server/vhost does not have h2 or h2c enabled via <Protocols>, the connection is never inspected for a HTTP/2 preamble. H2Direct does not matter then. This is important for connections that use protocols where an initial read might hang indefinitely, such as NNTP.

For clients that have out-of-band knowledge about a server supporting h2c, direct HTTP/2 saves the client from having to perform an HTTP/1.1 upgrade, resulting in better performance and avoiding the Upgrade restrictions on request bodies.

This makes direct h2c attractive for server to server communication as well, when the connection can be trusted or is secured by other means.

Example

H2Direct on
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H2KeepAliveTimeout Directive

Description:Timeout (in seconds) for idle HTTP/2 connections
Syntax:H2KeepAliveTimeout seconds
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.19 and later.

This directive sets the timeout for read/write operations on idle connections where HTTP/2 is negotiated. This can be used server wide or for specific <VirtualHost>s.

This directive is similar to the <KeepAliveTimeout>, but applies only to HTTP/2 connections. A HTTP/2 connection is considered idle when no streams are open, e.g. no requests are ongoing.

By default, for non-async MPMs (prefork, worker) the keepalive timeout will be the same as H2Timeout. For async MPMs, the keepalive handling for HTTP/1 connections applies as no special action is taken.

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H2MaxSessionStreams Directive

Description:Maximum number of active streams per HTTP/2 session.
Syntax:H2MaxSessionStreams n
Default:H2MaxSessionStreams 100
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2

This directive sets the maximum number of active streams per HTTP/2 session (e.g. connection) that the server allows. A stream is active if it is not idle or closed according to RFC 7540.

Example

H2MaxSessionStreams 20
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H2MaxWorkerIdleSeconds Directive

Description:Maximum number of seconds h2 workers remain idle until shut down.
Syntax:H2MaxWorkerIdleSeconds n
Default:H2MaxWorkerIdleSeconds 600
Context:server config
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2

This directive sets the maximum number of seconds a h2 worker may idle until it shuts itself down. This only happens while the number of h2 workers exceeds H2MinWorkers.

Example

H2MaxWorkerIdleSeconds 20
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H2MaxWorkers Directive

Description:Maximum number of worker threads to use per child process.
Syntax:H2MaxWorkers n
Context:server config
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2

This directive sets the maximum number of worker threads to spawn per child process for HTTP/2 processing. If this directive is not used, mod_http2 will chose a value suitable for the mpm module loaded.

Example

H2MaxWorkers 20
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H2MinWorkers Directive

Description:Minimal number of worker threads to use per child process.
Syntax:H2MinWorkers n
Context:server config
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2

This directive sets the minimum number of worker threads to spawn per child process for HTTP/2 processing. If this directive is not used, mod_http2 will chose a value suitable for the mpm module loaded.

Example

H2MinWorkers 10
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H2ModernTLSOnly Directive

Description:Require HTTP/2 connections to be "modern TLS" only
Syntax:H2ModernTLSOnly on|off
Default:H2ModernTLSOnly on
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.18 and later.

This directive toggles the security checks on HTTP/2 connections in TLS mode (https:). This can be used server wide or for specific <VirtualHost>s.

The security checks require that the TSL protocol is at least TLSv1.2 and that none of the ciphers listed in RFC 7540, Appendix A is used. These checks will be extended once new security requirements come into place.

The name stems from the Security/Server Side TLS definitions at mozilla where "modern compatibility" is defined. Mozilla Firefox and other browsers require modern compatibility for HTTP/2 connections. As everything in OpSec, this is a moving target and can be expected to evolve in the future.

One purpose of having these checks in mod_http2 is to enforce this security level for all connections, not only those from browsers. The other purpose is to prevent the negotiation of HTTP/2 as a protocol should the requirements not be met.

Ultimately, the security of the TLS connection is determined by the server configuration directives for mod_ssl.

Example

H2ModernTLSOnly off
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H2Push Directive

Description:H2 Server Push Switch
Syntax:H2Push on|off
Default:H2Push on
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.18 and later.

This directive toggles the usage of the HTTP/2 server push protocol feature. This should be used inside a <VirtualHost> section to enable direct HTTP/2 communication for that virtual host.

The HTTP/2 protocol allows the server to push other resources to a client when it asked for a particular one. This is helpful if those resources are connected in some way and the client can be expected to ask for it anyway. The pushing then saves the time it takes the client to ask for the resources itself. On the other hand, pushing resources the client never needs or already has is a waste of bandwidth.

Server pushes are detected by inspecting the Link headers of responses (see https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5988 for the specification). When a link thus specified has the rel=preload attribute, it is treated as a resource to be pushed.

Link headers in responses are either set by the application or can be configured via mod_headers as:

mod_headers example

<Location /index.html>
    Header add Link "</css/site.css>;rel=preload"
    Header add Link "</images/logo.jpg>;rel=preload"
</Location>

As the example shows, there can be several link headers added to a response, resulting in several pushes being triggered. There are no checks in the module to avoid pushing the same resource twice or more to one client. Use with care.

HTTP/2 server pushes are enabled by default. This directive allows it to be switch off on all resources of this server/virtual host.

Example

H2Push off

Last but not least, pushes happen only when the client signals its willingness to accept those. Most browsers do, some, like Safari 9, do not. Also, pushes also only happen for resources from the same authority as the original response is for.

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H2PushDiarySize Directive

Description:H2 Server Push Diary Size
Syntax:H2PushDiarySize n
Default:H2PushDiarySize 256
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.19 and later.

This directive toggles the maximum number of HTTP/2 server pushes that are remembered per HTTP/2 connection. This can be used inside the <VirtualHost> section to influence the number for all connections to that virtual host.

The push diary records a digest (currently using a 64 bit number) of pushed resources (their URL) to avoid duplicate pushes on the same connection. These value are not persisted, so clients openeing a new connection will experience known pushes again. There is ongoing work to enable a client to disclose a digest of the resources it already has, so the diary maybe initialized by the client on each connection setup.

If the maximum size is reached, newer entries replace the oldest ones. A diary entry uses 8 bytes, letting a default diary with 256 entries consume around 2 KB of memory.

A size of 0 will effectively disable the push diary.

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H2PushPriority Directive

Description:H2 Server Push Priority
Syntax:H2PushPriority mime-type [after|before|interleaved] [weight]
Default:H2PushPriority * After 16
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.18 and later. For having an effect, a nghttp2 library version 1.5.0 or newer is necessary.

This directive defines the priority handling of pushed responses based on the content-type of the response. This is usually defined per server config, but may also appear in a virtual host.

HTTP/2 server pushes are always related to a client request. Each such request/response pairs, or streams have a dependency and a weight, together defining the priority of a stream.

When a stream depends on another, say X depends on Y, then Y gets all bandwidth before X gets any. Note that this does not men that Y will block X. If Y has no data to send, all bandwidth allocated to Y can be used by X.

When a stream has more than one dependant, say X1 and X2 both depend on Y, the weight determines the bandwidth allocation. If X1 and X2 have the same weight, they both get half of the available bandwdith. If the weight of X1 is twice as large as that for X2, X1 gets twice the bandwidth of X2.

Ultimately, every stream depends on the root stream which gets all the bandwidht available, but never sends anything. So all its bandwidth is distributed by weight among its children. Which either have data to send or distribute the bandwidth to their own children. And so on. If none of the children have data to send, that bandwidth get distributed somewhere else according to the same rules.

The purpose of this priority system is to always make use of available bandwidth while allowing precedence and weight to be given to specific streams. Since, normally, all streams are initiated by the client, it is also the one that sets these priorities.

Only when such a stream results in a PUSH, gets the server to decide what the initial priority of such a pushed stream is. In the examples below, X is the client stream. It depends on Y and the server decides to PUSH streams P1 and P2 onto X.

The default priority rule is:

Default Priority Rule

H2PushPriority * After 16

which reads as 'Send a pushed stream of any content-type depending on the client stream with weight 16'. And so P1 and P2 will be send after X and, as they have equal weight, share bandwidth equally among themselves.

Interleaved Priority Rule

H2PushPriority text/css Interleaved 256

which reads as 'Send any CSS resource on the same dependency and weight as the client stream'. If P1 has content-type 'text/css', it will depend on Y (as does X) and its effective weight will be calculated as P1ew = Xw * (P1w / 256). With P1w being 256, this will make the effective weight the same as the weight of X. If both X and P1 have data to send, bandwidth will be allocated to both equally.

With Pw specified as 512, a pushed, interleaved stream would get double the weight of X. With 128 only half as much. Note that effective weights are always capped at 256.

Before Priority Rule

H2PushPriority application/json Before

This says that any pushed stream of content type 'application/json' should be send out before X. This makes P1 dependent on Y and X dependent on P1. So, X will be stalled as long as P1 has data to send. The effective weight is inherited from the client stream. Specifying a weight is not allowed.

Be aware that the effect of priority specifications is limited by the available server resources. If a server does not have workers available for pushed streams, the data for the stream may only ever arrive when other streams have been finished.

Last, but not least, there are some specifics of the syntax to be used in this directive:

  1. '*' is the only special content-type that matches all others. 'image/*' will not work.
  2. The default dependency is 'After'.
  3. There are also default weights: for 'After' it is 16, 'interleaved' is 256.

Shorter Priority Rules

H2PushPriority application/json 32         # an After rule
H2PushPriority image/jpeg before           # weight inherited
H2PushPriority text/css   interleaved      # weight 256 default
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H2SerializeHeaders Directive

Description:Serialize Request/Response Processing Switch
Syntax:H2SerializeHeaders on|off
Default:H2SerializeHeaders off
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2

This directive toggles if HTTP/2 requests shall be serialized in HTTP/1.1 format for processing by httpd core or if received binary data shall be passed into the request_recs directly.

Serialization will lower performance, but gives more backward compatibility in case custom filters/hooks need it.

Example

H2SerializeHeaders on
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H2SessionExtraFiles Directive

Description:Number of Extra File Handles
Syntax:H2SessionExtraFiles n
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2

This directive sets maximum number of extra file handles a HTTP/2 session is allowed to use. A file handle is counted as extra when it is transferred from a h2 worker thread to the main HTTP/2 connection handling. This commonly happens when serving static files.

Depending on the processing model configured on the server, the number of connections times number of active streams may exceed the number of file handles for the process. On the other hand, converting every file into memory bytes early results in too many buffer writes. This option helps to mitigate that.

The number of file handles used by a server process is then in the order of:

(h2_connections * extra_files) + (h2_max_worker)

Example

H2SessionExtraFiles 10

If nothing is configured, the module tries to make a conservative guess how many files are safe to use. This depends largely on the MPM chosen.

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H2StreamMaxMemSize Directive

Description:Maximum amount of output data buffered per stream.
Syntax:H2StreamMaxMemSize bytes
Default:H2StreamMaxMemSize 65536
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2

This directive sets the maximum number of outgoing data bytes buffered in memory for an active streams. This memory is not allocated per stream as such. Allocations are counted against this limit when they are about to be done. Stream processing freezes when the limit has been reached and will only continue when buffered data has been sent out to the client.

Example

H2StreamMaxMemSize 128000
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H2StreamTimeout Directive

Description:Timeout (in seconds) for idle HTTP/2 connections
Syntax:H2StreamTimeout seconds
Default:H2StreamTimeout 0
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.19 and later.

This directive sets the timeout for read/write operations on HTTP/2 streams, e.g. individual requests. This can be used server wide or for specific <VirtualHost>s.

Due to the nature of HTTP/2, which sends multiple requests over a single connection and has priority scheduling, individual streams might not see input for much longer times than HTTP/1.1 requests would.

A value of 0 enforces no timeout, so could wait on chances to receive input or write data indefinitely. This expose a server to risks of thread exhaustion.

Depending on your handling of pushed streams, priorities and general responsiveness, a site might need to increase this value. For example, if you PUSH a large resource before the requested one, the initial stream will not write until the pushed resource is fully sent.

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H2Timeout Directive

Description:Timeout (in seconds) for HTTP/2 connections
Syntax:H2Timeout seconds
Default:H2Timeout 5
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.19 and later.

This directive sets the timeout for read/write operations on connections where HTTP/2 is negotiated. This can be used server wide or for specific <VirtualHost>s.

This directive is similar to the <Timeout>, but applies only to HTTP/2 connections.

A value of 0 enforces no timeout.

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H2TLSCoolDownSecs Directive

Description:
Syntax:H2TLSCoolDownSecs seconds
Default:H2TLSCoolDownSecs 1
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.18 and later.

This directive sets the number of seconds of idle time on a TLS connection before the TLS write size falls back to small (~1300 bytes) length. This can be used server wide or for specific <VirtualHost>s.

See <H2TLSWarmUpSize> for a description of TLS warmup. H2TLSCoolDownSecs reflects the fact that connections may deteriorate over time (and TCP flow adjusts) for idle connections as well. It is beneficial to overall performance to fall back to the pre-warmup phase after a number of seconds that no data has been sent.

In deployments where connections can be considered reliable, this timer can be disabled by setting it to 0.

The following example sets the seconds to zero, effectively disabling any cool down. Warmed up TLS connections stay on maximum record size.

Example

H2TLSCoolDownSecs 0
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H2TLSWarmUpSize Directive

Description:
Syntax:H2TLSWarmUpSize amount
Default:H2TLSWarmUpSize 1048576
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2
Compatibility:Available in version 2.4.18 and later.

This directive sets the number of bytes to be sent in small TLS records (~1300 bytes) until doing maximum sized writes (16k) on https: HTTP/2 connections. This can be used server wide or for specific <VirtualHost>s.

Measurements by google performance labs show that best performance on TLS connections is reached, if initial record sizes stay below the MTU level, to allow a complete record to fit into an IP packet.

While TCP adjust its flow-control and window sizes, longer TLS records can get stuck in queues or get lost and need retransmission. This is of course true for all packets. TLS however needs the whole record in order to decrypt it. Any missing bytes at the end will stall usage of the received ones.

After a sufficient number of bytes have been send successfully, the TCP state of the connection is stable and maximum TLS record sizes (16 KB) can be used for optimal performance.

In deployments where servers are reached locally or over reliable connections only, the value might be decreased with 0 disabling any warmup phase altogether.

The following example sets the size to zero, effectively disabling any warmup phase.

Example

H2TLSWarmUpSize 0
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H2Upgrade Directive

Description:H2 Upgrade Protocol Switch
Syntax:H2Upgrade on|off
Default:H2Upgrade on for h2c, off for h2 protocol
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2

This directive toggles the usage of the HTTP/1.1 Upgrade method for switching to HTTP/2. This should be used inside a <VirtualHost> section to enable Upgrades to HTTP/2 for that virtual host.

This method of switching protocols is defined in HTTP/1.1 and uses the "Upgrade" header (thus the name) to announce willingness to use another protocol. This may happen on any request of a HTTP/1.1 connection.

This method of protocol switching is enabled by default on cleartext (potential h2c) connections and disabled on TLS (potential h2), as mandated by RFC 7540.

Please be aware that Upgrades are only accepted for requests that carry no body. POSTs and PUTs with content will never trigger an upgrade to HTTP/2. See <H2Direct> for an alternative to Upgrade.

This mode only has an effect when h2 or h2c is enabled via the <Protocols>.

Example

H2Upgrade on
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H2WindowSize Directive

Description:Size of Stream Window for upstream data.
Syntax:H2WindowSize bytes
Default:H2WindowSize 65535
Context:server config, virtual host
Status:Extension
Module:mod_http2

This directive sets the size of the window that is used for flow control from client to server and limits the amount of data the server has to buffer. The client will stop sending on a stream once the limit has been reached until the server announces more available space (as it has processed some of the data).

This limit affects only request bodies, not its meta data such as headers. Also, it has no effect on response bodies as the window size for those are managed by the clients.

Example

H2WindowSize 128000

Available Languages:  en 

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