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I have a VPS running in Amazon AWS EC2 courtesy of this excellent article.

It's all perfect except that Apache+PHP can't modify files (create logs, etc).

So I followed the instructions under To fix file permissions for the Apache web server here..

Fixed, now the PHP app I installed could create files.

However, if I login and untar a backup of a site in a new virtual web host folder (i.e. under /var/www/html/myNewSite) then, unless I re-run the above 'fix' PHP can once again not edit files.

I have checked what user Apache is running as (apache) and made that user a member of a group called www.

The www folder looks like:

drwxrwsr-x 2 root www 4096 Jan 19 16:56 cgi-bin drwxrwsr-x 3 root www 4096 May 3 16:14 error drwxrwsr-x 6 root www 4096 May 7 14:07 html drwxrwsr-x 3 root www 4096 May 3 16:14 icons drwxrwsr-x 2 root www 4096 May 3 16:14 noindex

Under html the website folder is:

drwxrwsr-x 2 root www 4.0K May 6 11:14 myNewSite

Under myNewSite if I untar a file with:

tar -zxvf mytar.tar.gz -C .

then I end up with files like this:

-rwxr-xr-x 1 myUserName www 537 Apr 21 12:27 composer.json -rwxr-xr-x 1 myUserName www 3.5K Apr 21 12:27 CONTRIBUTING.md -rwxr-xr-x 1 myUserName www 12K Apr 21 12:27 htaccess.txt -rwxr-xr-x 1 myUserName www 2.4K Apr 21 12:27 index.php etc Even though I (myUserName) am a member of www the fact I am now the owner seems to kill Apache's ability to write to files.

I've tried those fancy g+w attributes and other things, but to no avail :/

Wincing as I submit this as I am sure I have poorly explained and/or left stuff out (indeed I've put off asking as I've failed to work out how to ask this succinctly and I wouldn't blame a mod for killing my Q; sorry in advance if this is too weak to be allowed to stand).

httpd.conf file is:

#
# This is the main Apache HTTP server configuration file.  It contains the
# configuration directives that give the server its instructions.
# See <URL:http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.4/> for detailed information.
# In particular, see 
# <URL:http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.4/mod/directives.html>
# for a discussion of each configuration directive.
#
# Do NOT simply read the instructions in here without understanding
# what they do.  They're here only as hints or reminders.  If you are unsure
# consult the online docs. You have been warned.  
#
# Configuration and logfile names: If the filenames you specify for many
# of the server's control files begin with "/" (or "drive:/" for Win32), the
# server will use that explicit path.  If the filenames do *not* begin
# with "/", the value of ServerRoot is prepended -- so 'log/access_log'
# with ServerRoot set to '/www' will be interpreted by the
# server as '/www/log/access_log', where as '/log/access_log' will be
# interpreted as '/log/access_log'.    

#
# ServerRoot: The top of the directory tree under which the server's
# configuration, error, and log files are kept.
#
# Do not add a slash at the end of the directory path.  If you point
# ServerRoot at a non-local disk, be sure to specify a local disk on the
# Mutex directive, if file-based mutexes are used.  If you wish to share the
# same ServerRoot for multiple httpd daemons, you will need to change at
# least PidFile.
#
ServerRoot "/etc/httpd"    

#
# Listen: Allows you to bind Apache to specific IP addresses and/or
# ports, instead of the default. See also the <VirtualHost>
# directive.
#
# Change this to Listen on specific IP addresses as shown below to 
# prevent Apache from glomming onto all bound IP addresses.
#
#Listen 12.34.56.78:80
Listen 80    

#
# Dynamic Shared Object (DSO) Support
#
# To be able to use the functionality of a module which was built as a DSO you
# have to place corresponding `LoadModule' lines at this location so the
# directives contained in it are actually available _before_ they are used.
# Statically compiled modules (those listed by `httpd -l') do not need
# to be loaded here.
#
# Example:
# LoadModule foo_module modules/mod_foo.so
#
Include conf.modules.d/*.conf    

#
# If you wish httpd to run as a different user or group, you must run
# httpd as root initially and it will switch.  
#
# User/Group: The name (or #number) of the user/group to run httpd as.
# It is usually good practice to create a dedicated user and group for
# running httpd, as with most system services.
#
User apache
Group apache    

# 'Main' server configuration
#
# The directives in this section set up the values used by the 'main'
# server, which responds to any requests that aren't handled by a
# <VirtualHost> definition.  These values also provide defaults for
# any <VirtualHost> containers you may define later in the file.
#
# All of these directives may appear inside <VirtualHost> containers,
# in which case these default settings will be overridden for the
# virtual host being defined.
#    

#
# ServerAdmin: Your address, where problems with the server should be
# e-mailed.  This address appears on some server-generated pages, such
# as error documents.  e.g. admin@your-domain.com
#
ServerAdmin root@localhost    

#
# ServerName gives the name and port that the server uses to identify itself.
# This can often be determined automatically, but we recommend you specify
# it explicitly to prevent problems during startup.
#
# If your host doesn't have a registered DNS name, enter its IP address here.
#
#ServerName www.example.com:80    

#
# Deny access to the entirety of your server's filesystem. You must
# explicitly permit access to web content directories in other 
# <Directory> blocks below.
#
<Directory />
    AllowOverride none
    Require all denied
</Directory>    

#
# Note that from this point forward you must specifically allow
# particular features to be enabled - so if something's not working as
# you might expect, make sure that you have specifically enabled it
# below.
#    

#
# DocumentRoot: The directory out of which you will serve your
# documents. By default, all requests are taken from this directory, but
# symbolic links and aliases may be used to point to other locations.
#
DocumentRoot "/var/www/html"    

#
# Relax access to content within /var/www.
#
<Directory "/var/www">
    AllowOverride None
    # Allow open access:
    Require all granted
</Directory>    

# Further relax access to the default document root:
<Directory "/var/www/html">
    #
    # Possible values for the Options directive are "None", "All",
    # or any combination of:
    #   Indexes Includes FollowSymLinks SymLinksifOwnerMatch ExecCGI MultiViews
    #
    # Note that "MultiViews" must be named *explicitly* --- "Options All"
    # doesn't give it to you.
    #
    # The Options directive is both complicated and important.  Please see
    # http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.4/mod/core.html#options
    # for more information.
    #
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks    

    #
    # AllowOverride controls what directives may be placed in .htaccess files.
    # It can be "All", "None", or any combination of the keywords:
    #   Options FileInfo AuthConfig Limit
    #
    AllowOverride All    

    #
    # Controls who can get stuff from this server.
    #
    Require all granted
</Directory>    

#
# DirectoryIndex: sets the file that Apache will serve if a directory
# is requested.
#
<IfModule dir_module>
    DirectoryIndex index.html
</IfModule>    

#
# The following lines prevent .htaccess and .htpasswd files from being 
# viewed by Web clients. 
#
<Files ".ht*">
    Require all denied
</Files>    

#
# ErrorLog: The location of the error log file.
# If you do not specify an ErrorLog directive within a <VirtualHost>
# container, error messages relating to that virtual host will be
# logged here.  If you *do* define an error logfile for a <VirtualHost>
# container, that host's errors will be logged there and not here.
#
ErrorLog "logs/error_log"    

#
# LogLevel: Control the number of messages logged to the error_log.
# Possible values include: debug, info, notice, warn, error, crit,
# alert, emerg.
#
LogLevel warn    

<IfModule log_config_module>
    #
    # The following directives define some format nicknames for use with
    # a CustomLog directive (see below).
    #
    LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\"" combined
    LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b" common    

    <IfModule logio_module>
      # You need to enable mod_logio.c to use %I and %O
      LogFormat "%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\" %I %O" combinedio
    </IfModule>    

    #
    # The location and format of the access logfile (Common Logfile Format).
    # If you do not define any access logfiles within a <VirtualHost>
    # container, they will be logged here.  Contrariwise, if you *do*
    # define per-<VirtualHost> access logfiles, transactions will be
    # logged therein and *not* in this file.
    #
    #CustomLog "logs/access_log" common    

    #
    # If you prefer a logfile with access, agent, and referer information
    # (Combined Logfile Format) you can use the following directive.
    #
    CustomLog "logs/access_log" combined
</IfModule>    

<IfModule alias_module>
    #
    # Redirect: Allows you to tell clients about documents that used to 
    # exist in your server's namespace, but do not anymore. The client 
    # will make a new request for the document at its new location.
    # Example:
    # Redirect permanent /foo http://www.example.com/bar    

    #
    # Alias: Maps web paths into filesystem paths and is used to
    # access content that does not live under the DocumentRoot.
    # Example:
    # Alias /webpath /full/filesystem/path
    #
    # If you include a trailing / on /webpath then the server will
    # require it to be present in the URL.  You will also likely
    # need to provide a <Directory> section to allow access to
    # the filesystem path.    

    #
    # ScriptAlias: This controls which directories contain server scripts. 
    # ScriptAliases are essentially the same as Aliases, except that
    # documents in the target directory are treated as applications and
    # run by the server when requested rather than as documents sent to the
    # client.  The same rules about trailing "/" apply to ScriptAlias
    # directives as to Alias.
    #
    ScriptAlias /cgi-bin/ "/var/www/cgi-bin/"    

</IfModule>    

#
# "/var/www/cgi-bin" should be changed to whatever your ScriptAliased
# CGI directory exists, if you have that configured.
#
<Directory "/var/www/cgi-bin">
    AllowOverride None
    Options None
    Require all granted
</Directory>    

<IfModule mime_module>
    #
    # TypesConfig points to the file containing the list of mappings from
    # filename extension to MIME-type.
    #
    TypesConfig /etc/mime.types    

    #
    # AddType allows you to add to or override the MIME configuration
    # file specified in TypesConfig for specific file types.
    #
    #AddType application/x-gzip .tgz
    #
    # AddEncoding allows you to have certain browsers uncompress
    # information on the fly. Note: Not all browsers support this.
    #
    #AddEncoding x-compress .Z
    #AddEncoding x-gzip .gz .tgz
    #
    # If the AddEncoding directives above are commented-out, then you
    # probably should define those extensions to indicate media types:
    #
    AddType application/x-compress .Z
    AddType application/x-gzip .gz .tgz    

    #
    # AddHandler allows you to map certain file extensions to "handlers":
    # actions unrelated to filetype. These can be either built into the server
    # or added with the Action directive (see below)
    #
    # To use CGI scripts outside of ScriptAliased directories:
    # (You will also need to add "ExecCGI" to the "Options" directive.)
    #
    #AddHandler cgi-script .cgi    

    # For type maps (negotiated resources):
    #AddHandler type-map var    

    #
    # Filters allow you to process content before it is sent to the client.
    #
    # To parse .shtml files for server-side includes (SSI):
    # (You will also need to add "Includes" to the "Options" directive.)
    #
    AddType text/html .shtml
    AddOutputFilter INCLUDES .shtml
</IfModule>    

#
# Specify a default charset for all content served; this enables
# interpretation of all content as UTF-8 by default.  To use the 
# default browser choice (ISO-8859-1), or to allow the META tags
# in HTML content to override this choice, comment out this
# directive:
#
AddDefaultCharset UTF-8    

<IfModule mime_magic_module>
    #
    # The mod_mime_magic module allows the server to use various hints from the
    # contents of the file itself to determine its type.  The MIMEMagicFile
    # directive tells the module where the hint definitions are located.
    #
    MIMEMagicFile conf/magic
</IfModule>    

#
# Customizable error responses come in three flavors:
# 1) plain text 2) local redirects 3) external redirects
#
# Some examples:
#ErrorDocument 500 "The server made a boo boo."
#ErrorDocument 404 /missing.html
#ErrorDocument 404 "/cgi-bin/missing_handler.pl"
#ErrorDocument 402 http://www.example.com/subscription_info.html
#    

#
# EnableMMAP and EnableSendfile: On systems that support it, 
# memory-mapping or the sendfile syscall may be used to deliver
# files.  This usually improves server performance, but must
# be turned off when serving from networked-mounted 
# filesystems or if support for these functions is otherwise
# broken on your system.
# Defaults if commented: EnableMMAP On, EnableSendfile Off
#
#EnableMMAP off
EnableSendfile on    

# Supplemental configuration
#
# Load config files in the "/etc/httpd/conf.d" directory, if any.
IncludeOptional conf.d/*.conf    

# Added by AcB 2017-05-03 per https://www.taniarascia.com/ etc AWS
NameVirtualHost *:80    

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName localhost
    DocumentRoot /var/www/html/000
</VirtualHost>    

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerName www.example.com
  ServerAlias example.com *.example.com
  DocumentRoot /var/www/html/example 
</VirtualHost>

Addendum 2017-05-12-12:10 PM EST

I've not worked out how to solve this, but I have noticed the following.

On a traditional VPS run by a hosting Corp (not the Amazon VPS), I login as theDomainName (i.e each domain/virtual host has it's own login name) and if I ls -l I see the folder for the website is:

drwxr-xr-x  8 theDomainName theDomainName     4096 May  2 11:25 public_html/

and the files in it follow the same ownership and group:

drwxr-xr-x  8 theDomainName theDomainName  4096 May  2 11:25 ./
drwx--x--x 15 theDomainName theDomainName  4096 May 12 12:20 ../
-rwxr-xr-x  1 theDomainName theDomainName   537 Apr 21 08:27 composer.json*
-rwxr-xr-x  1 theDomainName theDomainName  3571 Apr 21 08:27 CONTRIBUTING.md*
-rwxr-xr-x  1 theDomainName theDomainName 12225 Apr 21 08:27 htaccess.txt*
-rwxr-xr-x  1 theDomainName theDomainName  2421 Apr 21 08:27 index.php*
-rwxr-xr-x  1 theDomainName theDomainName 47540 Apr 21 08:27 install.php*
etc

However the Amazon VPS setup has the folder for the website as:

drwxrwsr-x 6 root www 4096 May  7 14:07 html

and once I tar extracted I ended up with

-rwxr-xr-x 1 myUserName www  537 Apr 21 12:27 composer.json
-rwxr-xr-x 1 myUserName www 3.5K Apr 21 12:27 CONTRIBUTING.md
-rwxr-xr-x 1 myUserName www  12K Apr 21 12:27 htaccess.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 myUserName www 2.4K Apr 21 12:27 index.php
etc

So a major difference here is that with the trad VPS version the owner and group AND the username I login as are all the same, whereas this is not the case in my Amazon VPS.

So perhaps a more succinct question, is, how do I emulate what a traditional VPS does..?

Is it a case of creating, per virtual host, a user and a group and logging in as that user...?

Off to go and try that, albeit I am not quite sure if/why that may work...

  • Change your log file to a directory owned by apache and see if some error showing in the log file.Or you can share your apache config file in your question. – FrontENG May 12 '17 at 8:28
  • Edited to include httpd.conf, tks for suggestion @FrontENG – Alan May 12 '17 at 10:51
  • SELinux is disabled right now. I'm not planning to enable it if I can avoid it, but tks for the suggestion. – Alan May 12 '17 at 12:33
  • Could you add information about users (id username) which you are using in both scenarios, show content of tar archive (-t switch, only few lines to see permissions) and a command you are using to extract data? – Kalavan May 15 '17 at 7:09
  • Sorry for slow response to your last @Kalavan, the results are here (gist) – Alan May 19 '17 at 15:23
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First of all it is important what permissions are set in tar archive(tar -tzvf mytar.tar.gz). But I am assuming they are correct (same as live ones).

Also it seems that you are extracting archive as normal user. Tar man says:

   --no-same-permissions
          Apply the user's umask when extracting permissions from the archive (default for ordinary users).

There is an option to preserve permissions:

   -p, --preserve-permissions, --same-permissions
          extract information about file permissions (default for superuser)

Note, that as normal user you won't be able to set permission other than you have access to (e.g. you won't be able to set files ownership to root)

So I would say - use root for that.

Also think if you really need files owned by root in your site directory, especially if they should be writeable by apache. IMHO apache owner would be better.

  • Thanks @Kalavan for the ideas. I've tried with these options now but still not solved. Gonna go add an addendum to the Q with more info in case it helps. – Alan May 12 '17 at 16:07

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