From FyshyWyky
Revision as of 17:02, 8 December 2007 by Athan (talk | contribs) (User Pages: UserDir files now live under /var/www/user/*)


www.fysh.org runs web servers under the primary hostname of www.fysh.org. We currently utilise Apache 2.2.x (as supplied in Debian 'stable') for this purpose, with a single instance running on both port 80 for http access and port 443 for https access.

We may also run additional instances of apache, or other web server software, on other ports as needed.


All enquiries about www.fysh.org and other web services should be directed to the Fyshy Webmaster.

User Pages

Any user with an account on bowl.fysh.org can create a page on the WWW simply by placing the requisite files in the directory /var/www/user/username (where 'username' is theirs). This will yield a URL of http://www.fysh.org/~username/ for example. If you find that this directory does not yet exist, or file permissions deny you access, please contact The Fyshy Webmaster to correct this.

Please note that /var/www on bowl.fysh.org is NFS mounted on www.fysh.org read-only. Web scripts and CGIs cannot write to any files. Thus any web page that needs to store data will have to utilise a Database. In some circumstances we will set up a separate area for a user to place web pages that absolutely require file write access, but we would much rather they use a proper Database instead.

User Domains

Additionally we will host the web pages for any domain that a user owns or controls and can get the DNS changed to point to our IP. Contact the Fyshy Webmaster to enquire about setting this up. Note that you should ensure that you have a valid and working webmaster email account under your own domain when this is set up.

The same caveat as for User Pages about read-only file access will apply.

Note that whilst we can offer HTTPS access to your domain it will be with a self-signed certificate for www.fysh.org, and as such any user accessing your domain's web page via HTTPS will get a warning about the hostname mismatch. This is because an SSL certificate for HTTPS is tied to the hostname that the IP the server runs on resolves to. We only have the one IP to use for web services and thus only one possible HTTPS certificate.

If you have a desperate need to run a domain with HTTPS on the www.fysh.org server under your own domain and need to have your own distinct certificate then we may be able to arrange for additional IP(s) as needed, but we will have to pass on the charges of our hosting provider for this to you.

Dynamic Content

Going beyond simple static content we support use of [CGI]s, written using any of the installed development languages, and PHP scripts directly via an Apache module. NB: in the case of CGIs the filename will have to end with either .cgi or .pl, unless the script is inside a virtual host's /cgi-bin/ directory. Files whose name have no extension or other than .cgi or .pl will have their contents displayed instead of being run.

PHP Configuration

We currently only provide and support version 5.2.0 of PHP, as supplied by Debian 'stable'. PHP4, version 4.4.4, is still available, but only via the CGI method and only if you suffix files with .php4.

Our default PHP configuration is somewhat paranoid and as a result you may find you need to adjust some php settings, either by getting us to change the central config files, or by you making use of a .htaccess file as appropriate. The setting that most often needs adjustment is open_basedir, although we also default register_globals to 'Off'.


There is a problem with the use of CGIs where the site is configured to run them as a specific user and/or group, rather than the default of www-data for both, AND where the CGI code relies on this for access to files, be this reading/writing extant files or creating new ones.

By default Debian installs 'suexec' (the program that is used to securely allow CGIs to run under a different user/group) to only allow CGIs under /var/www. In the past we have compiled our own local version of this to use the path prefix /home instead. However this is fraught with problems, including the time and hassle in compiling a new version for each patch and the fact that there's a window between installing a new version of apache and us remembering to redo the custom suexec, during which the functionality is broken.

As such with apache2 we have decided to stick with the default /var/www prefix. To support this every apache2 configured site now has a directory under /var/www/virtual, with two sub-directories, cgi-bin and site, i.e.


The ownership on these directories are set the same as the DocumentRoot directory currently configured for the site. Thus the owning user of a site can set up just the CGIs, or the whole site if preferred, to be under this directory.

If you do use CGIs but do not rely at all on them running as a specific user/group then you also needn't worry as things should just work.