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Solutions to nasty problems

Occasionally, we run across computer issues that are hard to pinpoint. Often, a Google search on an appropriate error message will find others with the same trouble. In many cases, however, the search does not reveal a satisfactory solution.

Instead of just fixing our problems and being done with it, we are resolving now to record the solutions to those problems on the web so that others can find them.


Apache/NFS/Linux — search permissions are missing

We ran into a situation where some of the files that Apache was trying to load were mounted via NFS. Apache would almost never see those files. Occasionally, with the right hand-holding, you could finesse it into working.

The message in the error log was:

(13)Permission denied: access to / failed because search permissions are missing on a component of the path

The error message was misleading because for most Permission denied messages Apache gives the full pathname to the file. For these messages, it gives the pathname portion of the URL. The problem in the above message is not with / but rather with the document root directory.

Here are some other folks who had this problem:

In our case, Apache was running as user nobody. The NFS drive was being exported with the squash_root option and the anon_uid=503 and the anon_gid=503.

On the NFS server, user 503 was foo and group 503 was foo. On the client side, however, we had a small glitch. On the client side, user 503 was foo but group foo was 12550 instead of 503.

After correcting that glitch, things work famously. We were even able to leave the permissions on the mount point as 755.

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