Suexec and Apache: A Tutorial Page 3

If Apache does find the wrapper, it reports it in the server error log like this:

[Thu Dec 30 01:24:43 1999] [notice] suEXEC mechanism enabled (wrapper: /usr/local/web/apache/bin/suexec)

Up until Apache version 1.3.11, there was no way to be sure where a compiled Apache server is going to be looking for the suexec binary. As of 1.3.11, though, it's part of the 'compiled modules' report displayed by the '-l' switch:

    % /usr/local/web/apache/bin/httpd -l
    Compiled-in modules:
    suexec: enabled; valid wrapper /usr/local/web/apache/bin/suexec

The 'enabled; valid' notation means that the wrapper is actually present in the indicated location, and the permissions are correct. If the wrapper isn't there, or the permissions are wrong, the output will indicate that suexec is disabled.

Compiling Suexec

Because most of suexec's control parameters are defined at compile-time, the only way to change them is to recompile. And since the wrapper works very closely with the Apache Web server--to the point of both applications having to share some compile-time definitions--the way to recompile suexec is to recompile all of Apache. If you've never done this before, you can see a brief treatment of the process in the "Building Apache at Lightspeed" section of this article.

There are several suexec-specific options to the apache-1.3/configure script. Here they are:

The presence of this option on the command line simply informs the configure script that you want the wrapper to be built as well. Without this option, suexec will not be built, even if there are other suexec options on the command line.

This mustbe the username under which your Apache server runs; that is, the one specified on the User directive outside all <VirtualHost> containers. If suexec is invoked by any other user, it assumes it's some sort of probing attempt and fails to execute (after logging the user mismatch).

The default username is www.

This specifies the ancestor directory under which all CGI scripts need to reside in order to be acceptable to suexec. (This restriction doesn't apply to scripts activated by ~username-style URLs.) If you have multiple virtual hosts using suexec, their DocumentRoots (if you're using .cgi files) must all be located somewhere in the hierarchy under this directory, or else the wrapper will assume someone is trying to execute something unexpected and will log it as an intrusion attempt. ScriptAliased directories must be under this hierarchy as well, and this is in fact more important for them since they commonly aren't under the DocumentRoot.

This article was originally published on Jul 12, 2000

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