Forbidden Error 403 - Unable to access web pages

Discussion in 'Server Operation' started by skyeman, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. skyeman

    skyeman New Member

    On rebuilding an ubuntu "perfect server" 9.10 (Karmic) (ISPConfig-3) mail and web server, after a hdd failure, I'm encountering difficulties serving my web pages. The browser reports either 403 Forbidden errors, or 403 Forbidden and/or 404 Document not Found.

    The server error log reports:

    [crit] [client] (13)Permission denied: /var/www/ pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable

    Prior to this error, I was opening pages ok, right up until I used ISPConfig to create a sub-domain with a redirect path instruction. After that, nothing would open at all: ,, , etc. All of them get 403's now, whereas before using ISPConfig sub-domain tool, those would open content.

    It's baffling, because the prior server also used ISPConfig 3 and ubuntu 9.10, and I don't recall encountering these problems.

    Any help deeply appreciated...

  2. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    What's the output of
    ls -la /var/www/
  3. skyeman

    skyeman New Member

    Hello, Falco, and thanks for the reply...

    ls -la yields:

    [email protected]:/var/www/ ls -la
    total 32
    drwx--x--- 4 root root    4096 2010-03-03 12:30 .
    drwxr-xr-x 3 root root    4096 2010-01-18 10:10 ..
    drwxr-xr-x 2 web1 client0 4096 2010-03-02 18:33 error
    -rw-r--r-- 1 web1 client0 1406 2010-03-02 18:33 favicon.ico
    -rw-r--r-- 1 web1 client0  683 2010-03-02 18:33 feed.xml
    -rw-r--r-- 1 web1 client0    0 2010-03-02 18:33 .htaccess
    -rw-r--r-- 1 web1 client0 1861 2010-03-02 18:33 index.html
    -rw-r--r-- 1 web1 client0   34 2010-03-02 18:33 robots.txt
    drwxr-xr-x 2 web1 client0 4096 2010-03-02 00:30 stats
    For , this produces:


    "You don't have permission to access / on this server.

    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request." associated with this in the server log:
    [Wed Mar 03 12:40:20 2010] [crit] [client] (13)Permission denied: /var/www/ pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable
    [Wed Mar 03 12:40:20 2010] [error] [client] File does not exist: /usr/share/apache2/error/403.html
    Interestingly, cat .htaccess reveals an empty file. Huh? Can that be right?

    The sub-domain structure of the system which had hdd failure was pretty complex, with squirrelmail and four other sub-webs routed by re-directs I built with ispconfig-3. Now, I can't seem to get a handle on getting even the default web to work. I've probably muddled things up a bit with this, but I don't think it will take a complete rebuild. Egad, i hope not...

    What next?
  4. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    Try this:
    chmod 755 /var/www/
  5. skyeman

    skyeman New Member

    Yes, thank you, 'chmod 755 web' removes the 403 error, and permits the default 'Welcome' page to load.

    However, as I attempt to add sub-domains using ispconfig-3, the 403 error re-occurs at times. I'm not sure what I'm doing to trigger this. Do you know?

    Anyway, I'll keep notes, and I might have other questions for you.

    Thanks for pointing me at those pesky permissions.
  6. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    Can you check if the permissions of the /var/www/ have changed when the 403 error re-occurs?
  7. skyeman

    skyeman New Member

    Observations and testing:

    The configuration of, from ispconfig-3 shows all this:
    HarddiskQuota:-1, CGI+, SSI+, SuEXEC+, OwnErrorDocs+, AutoSubDomain:*. , SSL+, PHP:Fast-CGI , Active+ .

    The core web domain has a Redirect configured, thus: Redirect Type: L, Redirect Path: /subdomain/

    Immediately after running: chmod 755 /var/www/ , I am able to reach the default ispconfig 'welcome' page, as well as the correctly configured subdomain, BUT: If I make any change to core web domain's Redirect tab, and hit save, then I start getting the 403 errors to all pages.

    I made this change to the web redirect: ,(and DNS is properly configured for this subdomain). After modifying the web redirect, looking at the permissions of ~/web, I find them to be 710 (drwx--x---). So, again, I run chmod 755 web, and I'm back to my previous status, where i can reach the default 'welcome', and the subdomain I mentioned.

    The web redirect did not seem to work, and I'm unfamiliar with where in the file structure it's making changes. I'm actually trying to get any request for and to instead open .

    So, I modified Auto-Subdomain on the webdomain Website tab to : www.

    AGAIN, the permissions at web got changed to 710, with 403 errors. Again, I did chmod 755 web.

    Now, there is peace: All ( ,, and are correctly opening my gate-way subdomain page to my webs.

    So, why does making changes in the Web Domain Website and Redirect tabs cause a permissions change at /var/www/ ? Can ( or should) I be able to reconfigure that behavior. Is it a bug, or a feature?


    And where, ideally, in the web file structure, should I be adding back my other subdomains? Will I run into difficulty with Auto-Subdomain set to :.www ? I seem to recall it working when set at .* on the previous server.

    I hope these notes make sense, and are helpful. Thanks, as ever, for your fine work with these how-to's, and for the assistance on this problem.

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