Making suexec work…

suexec is a useful way of getting apache to run interactive magic (cgi scripts, php scripts etc) with a different user/group than the one that apache is running as.

Most configuration guides tell you:

  • Add “SuexecUserGroup $OWNER $GROUP” to your apache config
  • Look in /var/log/httpd/suexec.log to see what’s going wrong

What they don’t tell you, is that suexec makes some assumptions about where to find things it will execute, and that you can’t guarantee that log location is consistent across distros (or even versions of the same distro). I’m setting this up on CentOS 7, so the examples below were produced in that environment.

You can get useful information about both of the above by running the following:

[myuser]$ sudo suexec -V
-D AP_DOC_ROOT="/var/www"
-D AP_HTTPD_USER="apache"
-D AP_SAFE_PATH="/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin"
-D AP_USERDIR_SUFFIX="public_html"

AP_DOC_ROOT and AP_USERDIR_SUFFIX control which paths suexec will execute. In this case we’re restricted to running stuff that lives somewhere under “/var/www” or “/home/*/public_html”

If you’ve got content elsewhere (for example, an application which expects to be installed under /usr/share/foo/cgi-bin) then it’s not sufficient to put a symlink from /var/www/foo/cgi-bin to /usr/share/foo/cgi-bin as suexec checks the actual location of the file, not where it was called from.

This is sensible, as it stops you putting a symlink in place which points at something nasty like /bin/sh.

AP_GID_MIN and AP_UID_MIN limit which users/groups suexec will run stuff as. In this case it won’t run anything with a GID < 100 or a UID < 500. This is sensible as it stops you running CGI scripts as privileged system users.

The GID limit is probably not an issue, but the UID limit might cause wrinkles if you look after one of the 18 UoB users who have a centrally allocated unix UID that is under 500 (because they’ve been here since before that was a problem)[1]

AP_LOG_SYSLOG is a flag that says "send all log messages to syslog" – which is fine, and arguably an improvement over writing to a specific log file. It doesn’t immediately tell you where those messages end up, but I eventually found them in /var/log/secure… which seems a sensible place for them to end up.

Once you’ve got all that sorted, you’ll need to make selinux happy. Thankfully, that’s dead easy and can be done by enabling the httpd_unified boolean. If you’re using the jfryman/selinux puppet module, it’s as easy as:

selinux::boolean { 'httpd_unified': }

I think that’s all the bumps I’ve hit on this road so far, but if I find any more I’ll update this article.

[1] but then again, if you look after them (or one of the 84 users whose UID is under 1000) you’re probably already used to finding odd things that don’t work!

F5 Big-IP, Apache logs and client IP

Due to the fact that the F5 Big-IP make use of SNAT to load balance traffic, your back-end node will see the traffic coming from the IP of the load balancer and not the true client.
To overcome this (for web traffic at least), the F5 injects the X-Forwarded-For header in to HTTP steams with the true clients IP.

In apache you may want to log this IP instead of the remote host if it has been set. Using the SetEnvIf, we can produce a suitable LogFormat line based on if the X-Forwarded-For header is set or not:

CustomLog "/path/o/log/dir/example.com_access.log" combined env=!forwarded
LogFormat "%{X-Forwarded-For}i %l %u %t \"%r\" %s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\"" proxy
SetEnvIf X-Forwarded-For "^.*\..*\..*\..*" forwarded
CustomLog "/path/to/log/dir/example.com_access.log" proxy env=forwarded

The above assumes that the “combined” LogFormat has already been defined.

If you use the ::apache::vhost puppet class from the puppetlabs/apache module, you can achieve the same result with the following parameters:

::apache::vhost { '':
  logroot => "/path/to/log/dir/",
  access_log_env_var => "!forwarded",
  custom_fragment => "LogFormat \"%{X-Forwarded-For}i %l %u %t \\\"%r\\\" %s %b \\\"%{Referer}i\\\" \\\"%{User-Agent}i\\\"\"    proxy
  SetEnvIf X-Forwarded-For \"^.*\..*\..*\..*\" forwarded
  CustomLog \"/path/to/log/dir/${title}_access.log\" proxy env=forwarded"

mod_auth_cas on CentOS7 / Apache 2.4

For CentOS, this is now available in the EPEL repo

mod_auth_cas¬†( is an Apache module that plugs into the Apache mod_auth framework, to provide authentication against a Jasig CAS SSO server. ¬†Unfortunately development on it seems to have stalled, and it currently doesn’t support Apache 2.4 –¬†

There is a fork that does support Apache 2.4, so this willl cover how to build and install it.

# Clone the forked github repo
git clone .

# install development libraries
yum install gcc httpd-devel openssl-devel libcurl-devel automake

# Run configure

# Run Make

# If you get errors like:
/opt/mod_auth_cas/missing: line 81: aclocal-1.12: command not found
WARNING: 'aclocal-1.12' is missing on your system.
# then symlink the binaries as follows:
ln -s /usr/bin/aclocal /usr/bin/aclocal-1.12
ln -s /usr/bin/automake /usr/bin/automake-1.12
# and run make again

# Assuming it built OK, then install it:
make install

# On CentOS this will put the binaries into:
# and you can then copy them from here to your production systems.