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Old 20th September 2010, 16:35
zabersoft zabersoft is offline
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Default Here is how to run server.sh from PHP

Disclaimer: This approach is NOT recommended by the ISPConfig developers - as reiterated by Till in many a post. You should only do this in very specific scenarios. I believe that this approach still has its merits however, so I've decided to share my findings in solving this problem with you all.

Server.sh is the shell script that runs server.php which updates all the ISPConfig configuration and does all the useful stuff which happens after you create a client, website, ftp user etc. etc.

Usually server.sh is run by a cron job, as root, every minute

When to use this approach:
We decided to manually invoke server.sh after having used the remoting functions in ISPConfig as we had 2 issues we wanted to solve:

1) Our system setup was time-critical - That is, we wanted ISPConfig to create directories, FTP/DB users immediatly after having called the remoting functions

2) We wanted to avoid creating an extension, if possible, as we wanted to be able to rapidly deploy our system on new servers - and having to mess about with ISPConfig internals and customizing ISPConfig would slow down our deployment process.

Potential pitfalls:
As Till has mentioned then the primary issue with our approach is:
ISPConfig is a multiserver controlpanel, so the controlpanel does not nescessarily run on the same server then the apache webserver. Almost all larger installs use the multiserver features and in these enviroments you can not simply call server.sh from apache.
The recommended approach is to create an extension which gets invoked after the "regular" server.sh cron job finishes. You can read up on this here:


The solution:
If you have all the potential pitfalls in mind, and still want to run server.sh manually from apache, then here is how to do it. Basically the solution rests in the fact that you can take advantage of the setuid and setgid bits to run a c executable as root. This has been the major stumbling block in running server.sh from apache - as if it isn't run as root, nothing will work (no directories will be created etc. etc. - as the script doesn't run with the appropriate privileges). So what we do is create a c executable which then in turn invokes server.sh

First, the PHP code which runs our custom c executable (which we will create a bit later):

PHP Code:
//This function enables us to execute something on the server in the background - grabbed from php.net somewhere
function execInBackground($cmd) { 
    if (
substr(php_uname(), 07) == "Windows"){ 
pclose(popen("start /B "$cmd"r"));  
    else { 
exec($cmd " > /dev/null &");   

//Call our "elevated rights" executable and tell it to run server.sh
execInBackground("/path/to/your/executable/elevaterights updateispcon");

//Let's wait for it to finish before moving on to other things - like copying files or whatever you wanna do
while (!is_dir($document_root)) {

I tried to simplify things a bit here - There is actually no need to execute the elevaterights executable in the background - you can easily just do a regular exec without piping output to dev null

Anyhoo - now the critical part: The c executable where all the magic happens

compile using: gcc elevaterights.c -o elevaterights 
then: chown root:root elevaterights 
next: chmod 6755 elevaterights - this enables the system to run this executable as root (the 4 sets the setuid bit, 2 sets the setgid bit - 4+2 = 6(755)) 
#include <stdio.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <strings.h>

int main( int argc, char *argv[] )
   setuid( 0 );
   setgid( 0 );
//Run the ISPConfig updater script
 if (strcmp(argv[1],"updateispcon") == 0) {
     puts("Executing ISPConfig Update script ...");
     system( "/usr/local/ispconfig/server/server.sh" );
	 system( "cp /path/to/your/executable/lockfile /path/to/your/executable/.sitekick_lock" );
 } else  if (strcmp(argv[1],"restarthttpd") == 0) {
  //lock file is created in PHP
  FILE *fp = fopen("/path/to/your/executable/.sitekick_lock","r");
	if( fp ) {
	// exists
     puts("Restarting Apache ...");
     system( "/etc/init.d/apache2 restart" );
	 puts("Deleting restart lock file ...");
	 system( "rm /path/to/your/executable/.sitekick_lock" );
   } else {
    puts("No lock file found - doing nothing ...");
    return 0;

} //end main
To explain a bit ... The reason you see all that mumbo jumbo regarding a lockfile and not just a straightforward execution of server.sh is that when we were going through this process we ran into a problem with server.sh restarting apache. Usually when ISPConfig adds new vhosts it restarts apache so they are up and running immediatly. For some reason, when we were invoking server.sh from apache this caused the process to hang. I suspect that this is a recursiveness thing - as I could not track down any actual error conditions. That is - calling server.sh from apache which then tries to restart apache hangs, as it is trying to kill itself. So to speak. That's my guess in anyway.

So, we solved this by creating a new cronjob which is run every minute and invoked like so:

/path/to/your/executable/elevaterights restarthttpd

The reference you see to "lockfile" in the above code is just a dummy file which gets copied to .sitekick_lock - which the cron job then looks for to determine whether apache needs a restart.

In addition to this, we had to tweak a bit in the ISPConfig code to stop it from restarting apache when it has done its job. We just added a single line (return 0; ) to the function restartHttpd in server/mods-available/web_module.inc.php (around line 130)

I would be very interested to see if somebody who had another setup were to try the above code - and just removed all the lockfile / manual restart whatnot and see if the same thing happens for them. Because - well as this approach works then the whole apache restart issue makes it slightly messy - and some of the benefit of this approach - which is not altering any ISPConfig files gets slightly lost as we need to do that tweak to web_module.inc.php

Anyhoo - That's my story - Hope this helps someone, and maybe this can spark a discussion on how silly I am in doing all this and that there is a much better approach available (Here's hoping - haha)

Last edited by zabersoft; 20th September 2010 at 16:38.
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The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to zabersoft For This Useful Post:
falko (21st September 2010), till (20th September 2010)
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