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From Mohammed obaidan <blue4...@gmail.com>
Subject Re: [users@httpd] Re: GUI for configuring Apache httpd by editing httpd.conf
Date Tue, 17 Feb 2009 06:33:29 GMT
Hi,

Wow that is a very technical and helpful post.

I think the tool should be flexible Because Apache is flexible. Regarding
maintaining a web server with multiple configuration, I think the tool
should handle every configuration as a separate item. This will ease things.

Regarding that some control panels break from changing the configuration
file manually, I think the tool will not have such a problem. The tool can
give the user the option to ignore some directives.

One final note, I do not want to rush things now. I really want to at least
start the tool and let it handle some basic configuration and get feedback
from the community. at least we have a proof of concept rather than just a
hypothetical tool.

Regards

On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 8:55 AM, Sean Conner <spc@conman.org> wrote:

> It was thus said that the Great Mohammed obaidan once stated:
> > Hi,
> >
> > Apache is not for web server admins. what about developers? What about
> home
> > servers? What about users that needs a certain web application on their
> > intranet? do they need to be web server admins to use Apache? certainly
> not.
>
>   No.  But most default Apache installations pretty much work out of the
> box.  And most web developers tend to have to learn how to use .htaccess
> files if they want some control over their websites.
>
> > I think I need to clear some points here before this discussion goes on a
> > different direction.
> >
> > 1. This tool in its final form will do everything you can do with a text
> > editor to configure Apache. However it will not be a replacement for a
> the
> > text editor because the tool will handle Apache and the modules that
> comes
> > with it.
>
>   How flexible will this tool be?  I currently maintain my own webserver
> and
> have a particular setup of files:
>
>        /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf
>        /etc/httpd/conf.d/* (various conf files)
>        /home/spc/web/sites/
>                        www.conman.org/
>                                site.conf       (Apache conf stuff)
>                                htdocs/
>                                cgi-bin/
>                        boston.conman.org/
>                                site.conf       (Apache conf stuff)
>                                htdocs/
>                                journal/
>                        secure.conman.org/
>                                site.conf       (Apache conf stuff)
>                                htdocs/
>                                s-htdocs/
>                                cgi-bin/
>                        (and so on)
>
>  Some of our servers have the following structure:
>
>        /etc/httpd/
>                conf/httpd.conf
>                conf.d/*
>                sites/###.conf
>        /home/virtual/example.net/var/www/html/
>
>  And yet some others have:
>
>        /etc/httpd/
>                conf/httpd.conf
>                conf.d/*
>                sites/*
>        /home/user/public_html/
>
>  Will I be able install your tool and have it just work?  What about moving
> sites from server to server?  Or will the tool "do its own thing?"
>
>  Also, we use a couple of different control panels, each with their own
> interface to Apache.  The major problem I have with these is that often
> times, I know how to fix a particular problem within Apache, by modifying
> the configuration files directly, but doing so breaks the control panel.  I
> can fix it, but I can't, because the control panel limits what I can and
> can't do.
>
>  For instance, most (at least, the ones we use) GUIs for Apache will ask
> something like:
>
>        Server Name:    [________________________]
>        Server Aliases: [________________________]
>
>  and generate a configuration like:
>
>        <VirtualHost 10.10.10.10:80>
>                ServerName      www.example.net
>                ServerAlias     example.net
>                ...
>        </VirtualHost>
>
> Fine.  It works.  But for SEO [1] you *really* want something like:
>
>        <VirtualHost 10.10.10.10:80>
>                ServerName      example.net
>                Redirect        permanent       http://www.example.net/
>        </VirtualHost>
>
>        <VirtualHost 10.10.10.10:80>
>                ServerName      www.example.net
>                ...
>        </VirtualHost>
>
>  And some of our customers (I work at a small webhosting company) wanted
> just exactly that.
>
>  Can't do something *that simple* through the control panels we have.  And
> when I "fixed" it by hand, it *broke* the control panel.  I eventually had
> to set up a separate Apache *just to handle this type of redirect.*
>
> > 2. Do not worry about GUI complexities. These can be solved easily.
>
>   I personally believe it's harder than you think, if only because of
> special cases like above (two ways to handle server aliases).  Or the
> multiple ways of handling redirects (Redirect vs. mod_rewrite), or the use
> of .htaccess (I don't use .htaccess for my personal websites; we have to
> allow it for our customers) (oh, and that brings up another issue---about a
> year ago I merged all the .htaccess files for my sites into the main conf
> files---that's another thing you need to handle).
>
>  I've also read that most people only use about 10% of the features of
> Microsoft Word, it's just that each person uses a different 10%.
>
> > 3. Apache is not for admins only. It is used by developers, home servers,
> > local intranets. You do not need to be a web server admin to use Apache.
> >
> > 4. I wanted to make this tool because I am a developer and have a home
> > server. I want to configure Apache to suit my needs without the need to
> hack
> > a text editor and read the documentation of a certain feature of Apache.
>
>   And that's fine.  But then you need to move the site from your
> development
> server to the deployment server ...
>
> > 5. This tool can be extended later to include useful tools. As I said
> before
> > the aim is a complete Apache admin tool the first step is a GUI for
> > httpd.conf.
> >
> > 6. I think I will start building the tool and at least let the community
> > test the tool and get a feedback whether this tool will be useful or not.
>
>   For 90, 95% of all websites out there, a simple configuration is all you
> need.  It's for the other 5-10% that things get complex quickly.  I have a
> site that uses SSL client certificates for authentication and well ...
> that's a default part of Apache.  A lot of my sites use Basic and Digest
> authentication (so, how do you handle "user accounts" in such a case?).
>  Oh,
> and I forgot about the site that uses AddDescription.  And another one
> that's a reverse proxy.  And custom error documents.
>
>  Wow, I do use a lot of Apache functionality.
>
>  I only bring up all these points because I use Apache.  A lot.  In a lot
> of different configurations.  And frankly, I can't image anything being
> "easier" to use than the Apache configuration file.
>
>  One more example before I go---a project at work:
>
> <VirtualHost 10.10.10.10:80>
>        ServerName      project-mysql.example.com
>        DocumentRoot    /var/www/project/htdocs-mysql
>        DirectoryIndex  index.html index.php
>        Alias           /CSS/
>  "/home/spc/source/project/htdocs/layout/CSS/"
>        Alias           /images/
> "/home/spc/source/project/htdocs/layout/images/"
>        Alias           /        "/home/spc/source/project/htdocs/logic/"
>
>        <Directory /var/www/project/htdocs-mysql>
>                Options         All
>                AllowOverride   None
>        </Directory>
> </VirtualHost>
>
> <VirtualHost 10.10.10.10:80>
>        ServerName      project-postgresql.example.com
>        DocumentRoot    /var/www/project/htdocs-pg
>        DirectoryIndex  index.html index.php
>        Alias           /CSS/
>  "/home/spc/source/project/htdocs/layout/CSS/"
>        Alias           /images/
> "/home/spc/source/project/htdocs/layout/images/"
>        Alias           /        "/home/spc/source/project/htdocs/logic/"
>
>        <Directory /var/www/project/htdocs-pg>
>                Options         All
>                AllowOverride   None
>        </Directory>
> </VirtualHost>
>
> It's a PHP project.  PHP files for both sites are in a central location
> (via
> the Alias directive), although I do have an actual DocumentRoot where site
> specific files live (where PHP can reference them via
> $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT']).  I really would be interested in seeing a GUI
> handle such an Apache configuration.
>
>  -spc (Then again, I'm probably not your target audience ... )
>
> [1]     Search Engine Optimization
>
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