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I'm working with Wordpress for the first time and, as per the security guidelines in this guide, I'm chmodding wp-config.php to 600 (user can read/write, no one else can do anything). However, this gives me the white screen of death when I try to access the admin console. Why is this?

2 Answers 2

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My bet is that you just need to set that file's owner as the same user that your webserver is running as.

If your webserver is running as, say, www-data, then just:

$ chown www-data /path/to/wp-config.php
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  • How would I figure this out? I'm very new to Wordpress. Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 20:47
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    Personally, I'd rather set the ownership in a more secure manner. Change the group to your apache user, and then chmod the file 640 instead of 600. This way, if the httpd is compromised, that file can only be read, not modified.
    – sandroid
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 20:48
  • I'm not sure what my apache user is; I'm just getting started with these technologies. Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 20:50
  • @kanov-baekonfat - sounds more like you're new to unix/linux OS, actually. Look up how to navigate the unix/linux CLI, specifically how to list files and change owners/permissions. You need to determine what user owns the file (ls -l /path/to/wp-config.php) as well as what user is running the httpd process (ps aux |grep httpd)
    – sandroid
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 20:55
  • Actually I've been using it for quite a while :D - there's just a lot of functionality and I haven't used all of it. I can change permissions and users quite easily (and have tried this already to no avail). I'd completely forgotten the ps aux command. I'll give that a shot and see where it takes me. Thanks! Edit: I'm likely not as familiar with unix/linux as the average server admin. Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 20:58
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The reason you see the white page is because WordPress is not getting the information out of the wp-config.php. This is because your http server does not have permissions to read that file.

To correct this you need to change the permissions to allow your http server to read the file. How to do this is going to depend on how your server is setup. If it is running under the www-data group (or similar group) the preferred method would be to

# chgrp www-data /path/to/wp-config.php
# chmod 640 /path/to/wp-config.php

If your http service is running under something like the nobody group then you might need to chmod your file to 644. 640 is the better option as 644 will allow any user on the system to read the file and 640 will only allow the owner and group to read the file.

Considering this file contains passwords for your database, I suggest the chgrp method.

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  • If I could double-accept answers I would. Thanks for the great response; this is a very useful answer and is what the problem was. Commented Jul 14, 2011 at 17:16

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