I have installed Apache on Ubuntu 9.10.

I have installed a web framework (Symfony), which requires the server to be able to:

  1. Create a directory structure under a folder named 'cache'. If the cache directory does not exist, the software (presumably under the apache user will attempt to create the cache folder and the required sub directory structure.

    External users should not be able to access this folder - it is only required by the framework library itself

  2. Ability to create files in a sub directory named log

    External users should not be able to access this folder - it is only required by the framework library itself

My /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default file content is:

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerName testproject.localhost
  DocumentRoot "/home/morpheous/work/websites/testproject/web"
  DirectoryIndex index.php
  <Directory "/home/morpheous/work/websites/testproject/web">
    AllowOverride All
    Allow from All

  Alias /sf /lib/vendor/symfony/symfony-1.3.2/data/web/sf
  <Directory "/lib/vendor/symfony/symfony-1.3.2/data/web/sf">
    AllowOverride All
    Allow from All

At the moment, when I try access this page via a browser, I get a blank page. When I check in the error log (/var/log/apache2/error.log) I see the following error:

[Fri Feb 19 14:05:01 2010] [error] [client] PHP Fatal error:  Uncaught exception 'sfCacheException' with message 'Failed to make cache directory "/home/morpheous/work/websites/testproject/cache/frontend/dev/config" while generating cache for configuration file "config/config_handlers.yml".' ....

I am relatively new to Ubuntu (Linux in general). I have looked at the folder properties (using the sys admin GUI tool), however when I try to change the group ownership of the folder to 'www-data' (the group that the apache2 daemon user belongs to), I find that that group is not available in the list of groups that can take owner ship of the 'cache' folder.

More generally, I may have folders under my testproject directory, which I want the apache2 daemon to have access to, but not be able to be accessed directly by external users - (for example files containing the database password, or specific downloads etc), how do I explicitly manage access on folders in this way?

To my mind, it is a (rather confusing) combination of linux users/groups as well as apache configuration. I would be very grateful if someone can shed some light on

  • the general problem of granting r|rw|rwx permission to the apache daemon for a specific folder, whilst prohibiting external users from accessing that folder

  • the specific problem of how to fix the current problem of allowing the apache daemon to create the cache folder (if required) and any sub directories/files required and similarly, create log files in the testproject/log folder.


Carl: I have entered my comments to you here, since there is better formatting ...

I am now getting a 493 forbidden page when I attempt to access the page in a browser. I checked the apache log files and saw this error:

[Fri Feb 19 17:23:33 2010] [crit] [client] (13)Permission denied: /home/morpheous/work/websites/testproject/.htaccess pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable

This is the attributes for the web folder drwxr-xr-x 16 morpheous morpheous 4096 2010-02-19 00:51 web

I suspect that the apache daemon user does not have access to the web folder, and this is what is causing the problem. In that is the case then, it means that I would have to manually change group ownership (for read|write access) to www-data for all folders that I want the apache daemon to have access to (this makes sense intuitively, but I'd just like to have it confirmed)

1 Answer 1


If you're having trouble changing the group on the folder, make sure that you're root. You can't change the group of a folder or file unless you are the owner and in the group, or you're the superuser.

Ditch the admin GUI and open a shell. (Terminal, xterm, etc.)

chgrp www-data /home/morpheous/work/websites/testproject
chmod 2770 /home/morpheous/work/websites/testproject

# Set mode rwxrws--- the '2' sets the 's' sticky bit,
# which causes all files and folders created in "project"
# to inherit the same group.

(This may not be the best way to configure this specific app, but I think it's a reasonable guess. I'd also recommend moving that out of your home directory... that just complicates trying to keep your personal home directory secure while giving the webserver access to write to part of it.)

As for keeping Apache from serving up files in those directories, that's already done... your document root is defined as project/web. That only gives access to files at that point and below... the log and cache folders are already excluded.

  • @Carl: Thanks for that. I am now getting a 403 Forbidden page (which is infinitely better than a blank page!). I took a look again at the apache log file and saw this error: [Fri Feb 19 17:23:33 2010] [crit] [client] (13)Permission denied: /home/morpheous/work/websites/testproject/.htaccess pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable
    – user35402
    Feb 19, 2010 at 17:34
  • I dont know why apache cant find the file (it is there). Here is the file attributes for the web folder, it may shed some light: drwxr-xr-x 16 morpheous morpheous 4096 2010-02-19 00:51 web
    – user35402
    Feb 19, 2010 at 17:37
  • If it created the folders it needed, it should have read access through all the directories above, so that should be good. It's specifically complaining about access to a "hidden" file... files that start with a '.' (dot) are hidden in certain contexts. '.htaccess' is a security setting file. From the shell, do an ls -l /home/morpheous/work/websites/testproject/.htaccess And verify that it is readable by the server. (But not writeable. The webserver should never be able to write to .htaccess files.) Feb 19, 2010 at 20:17
  • What are the attributes on the .htaccess file? That's the important one. It's saying "permission denied" on the file, not "not found". That implies that the file itself can be seen, but is not readable. Every file has its own permissions. Feb 19, 2010 at 22:16
  • @carl: here are the attributes: -rw-r--r-- 1 morpheous morpheous 1342 2010-01-22 14:21 .htaccess
    – user35402
    Feb 19, 2010 at 22:55

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