Thursday, January 15, 2015

Resolved - Apache Alias or Symlinks Not Working with Unexpected 403 Forbidden Error

Apache Forbidden Access Issues

Linking files to Apache on a new install of Cent OS 7 with Apache 2.4 was not quite as smooth as I imagined.

The Setup

I'm working a new server and I want to link to another location so I can use Dropbox to work on files locally and have them automatically updated to my development system.  Since it is easiest to install in the root directory, the Dropbox files automatically get setup in the root user's home directory.  That is not a good place to link the document root to in Apache.  The most logical thing to do was to copy those files out to another better location where they can be served by Apache.  These files were still owned by root and I didn't want to change that, so I creating a symlink to get it to work.

As root (note: my document root was /var/html)
cd /var/html
ln -s /usr/demo/html/ demo

When trying to run in Apache, I would still get the Forbidden error message.

NOTE: When Apache follows symlinks, the path must be accessible all the way down by the calling user (this means you need execute access in the folder you are linking and the parent folders above it).  To make sure this folder is accessible by others, I would use the following command:
chmod o+x /usr /usr/demo /usr/demo/html 

That didn't work for me, but it should work.  I just didn't realize the underlying problem I was experiencing which I will get to in a minute.  So now, I'm thinking I'll try to use an alias and edited and saved the new config file.  

Opening Apache config, I edited it as follows:

sudo nano /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

Alias /demo /usr/demo/html

<Directory "/usr/demo/html">
    Options FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride None
    Order allow,deny
    allow from all


All the online literature was pointing me in this direction.
Since I am using the new CentOS7 I need to restart the service using the system control program.
sudo systemctl restart httpd.service
#but, on most servers this is: 
#sudo /etc/init.d/httpd restart

The server restarted properly but I am still not able to access the page and still the Forbidden error pops up in my browser.  Looking in the /var/log/httpd/error_log was somewhat helpful:

[Thu Jan 15 14:37:07.549412 2015] [authz_core:error] [pid 30582] [client x.x.x.x:yyyy] AH01630: client denied by server configuration: /usr/demo/html/test.php

This was telling me that I didn't have a linux permission error accessing the file, but that I had an Apache configuration file error.  Back into the httpd.conf file.

The Solution

After a little digging, I found that Apache 2.4 (that I had on the new server) handles permissions differently that the previous version 2.2 that I was used to using.

Finally modifying my httpd.conf file resulted in:

Alias /demo /usr/demo/html

<Directory "/usr/demo/html">
    Options FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride None
    Require all granted


Now everything works.  I just hadn't been aware that setting aliases in new Apache 2.4 installtion requires a couple changes in the httpd.conf file to get things working properly.  All this time it was just I was using: 
Order allow,deny
allow from all

when I should have been using:
Require all granted

Hopefully this helps someone else save some time.


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