=^.^=

Mass Virtual Hosting Part Four: MySQL and phpMyAdmin

MySQL is an extremely popular, open-source relational database management system. Oracle acquired the RDBMS some years ago and releases value-added editions and tools to turn a profit. MySQL is fairly ubiquitous in the web hosting market, most PHP-driven applications having been designed primarily or exclusively for it. For this reason it is a good choice when implementing your mass virtual hosting platform as it is what the vast majority of users will expect.

phpMyAdmin is a fantastic PHP-based web application that allows for the easy management of MySQL databases and features through a user-friendly interface. It shares similar ubiquity in the hosting market, having virtually no competitors save custom solutions. Accordingly, phpMyAdmin has evolved to become very ISP/Webhost friendly in that many features important to security and integration are highly configurable.

As noted in an addendum to Part One of this series on Mass Virtual Hosting: Database-backed User Accounts and Authentication I had difficulties running mysqld on machines configured to use libnss-mysql, therefore for the purposes of this article we shall assume that we are working with a stand-alone SQL server and a stand-alone web server. I recommend this configuration whenever resources permit regardless of your choice in authentication schemes, as partitioning important services helps keep either one from overloading the other under stressful or unusual circumstances. As we'll cover in the next part of this series, mysql-proxy can be used to give users the illusion of mysqld running on localhost while the actual server can be located (or relocated) anywhere transparently. This has the additional benefits of preventing information about the private network's topology from leaking and opens the potential for load-balancing and most importantly: automatic fail over.

MySQL generally keeps its configuration files in the /etc/my directory. This is the default MySQL configuration file that comes on a Gentoo installation:

# cat /etc/mysql/my.cnf
# /etc/mysql/my.cnf: The global mysql configuration file.
# $Header: /var/cvsroot/gentoo-x86/dev-db/mysql/files/my.cnf-4.1,v 1.4 2008/11/14 02:16:25 robbat2 Exp $

# The following options will be passed to all MySQL clients
[client]
#password                                       = your_password
port                                            = 3306
socket                                          = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock

[mysql]
character-sets-dir=/usr/share/mysql/charsets
default-character-set=utf8                  

[mysqladmin]
character-sets-dir=/usr/share/mysql/charsets
default-character-set=utf8                  

[mysqlcheck]
character-sets-dir=/usr/share/mysql/charsets
default-character-set=utf8                  

[mysqldump]
character-sets-dir=/usr/share/mysql/charsets
default-character-set=utf8                  

[mysqlimport]
character-sets-dir=/usr/share/mysql/charsets
default-character-set=utf8                                                                                                                                                          

[mysqlshow]
character-sets-dir=/usr/share/mysql/charsets
default-character-set=utf8                                                                                                                                                          

[myisamchk]
character-sets-dir=/usr/share/mysql/charsets

[myisampack]
character-sets-dir=/usr/share/mysql/charsets

# use [safe_mysqld] with mysql-3
[mysqld_safe]
err-log                                         = /var/log/mysql/mysql.err

# add a section [mysqld-4.1] or [mysqld-5.0] for specific configurations
[mysqld]
character-set-server            = utf8
default-character-set           = utf8
user                                            = mysql
port                                            = 3306
socket                                          = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
pid-file                                        = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.pid
log-error                                       = /var/log/mysql/mysqld.err
basedir                                         = /usr
datadir                                         = /var/lib/mysql
skip-locking
key_buffer                                      = 16M
max_allowed_packet                      = 1M
table_cache                             = 64
sort_buffer_size                        = 512K
net_buffer_length                       = 8K
read_buffer_size                        = 256K
read_rnd_buffer_size            = 512K
myisam_sort_buffer_size         = 8M
language                                        = /usr/share/mysql/english   

# security:
# using "localhost" in connects uses sockets by default
# skip-networking
bind-address                            = 0.0.0.0      

log-bin
server-id                                       = 1

# point the following paths to different dedicated disks
tmpdir                                          = /tmp/
#log-update                             = /path-to-dedicated-directory/hostname

# you need the debug USE flag enabled to use the following directives,
# if needed, uncomment them, start the server and issue
# #tail -f /tmp/mysqld.sql /tmp/mysqld.trace
# this will show you *exactly* what's happening in your server ;)     

#log                                            = /tmp/mysqld.sql
#gdb
#debug                                          = d:t:i:o,/tmp/mysqld.trace
#one-thread                                                                

# uncomment the following directives if you are using BDB tables
#bdb_cache_size                         = 4M
#bdb_max_lock                           = 10000                 

# the following is the InnoDB configuration
# if you wish to disable innodb instead
# uncomment just the next line
#skip-innodb
#
# the rest of the innodb config follows:
# don't eat too much memory, we're trying to be safe on 64Mb boxes
# you might want to bump this up a bit on boxes with more RAM
innodb_buffer_pool_size = 16M
# this is the default, increase it if you have lots of tables
innodb_additional_mem_pool_size = 2M
#
# i'd like to use /var/lib/mysql/innodb, but that is seen as a database :-(
# and upstream wants things to be under /var/lib/mysql/, so that's the route
# we have to take for the moment
#innodb_data_home_dir           = /var/lib/mysql/
#innodb_log_arch_dir            = /var/lib/mysql/
#innodb_log_group_home_dir      = /var/lib/mysql/
# you may wish to change this size to be more suitable for your system
# the max is there to avoid run-away growth on your machine
innodb_data_file_path = ibdata1:10M:autoextend:max:128M
# we keep this at around 25% of of innodb_buffer_pool_size
# sensible values range from 1MB to (1/innodb_log_files_in_group*innodb_buffer_pool_size)
innodb_log_file_size = 5M
# this is the default, increase it if you have very large transactions going on
innodb_log_buffer_size = 8M
# this is the default and won't hurt you
# you shouldn't need to tweak it
set-variable = innodb_log_files_in_group=2
# see the innodb config docs, the other options are not always safe
innodb_flush_log_at_trx_commit = 1
innodb_lock_wait_timeout = 50
innodb_file_per_table

[mysqldump]
quick
max_allowed_packet                      = 16M

[mysql]
# uncomment the next directive if you are not familiar with SQL
#safe-updates

[isamchk]
key_buffer                                      = 20M
sort_buffer_size                        = 20M
read_buffer                             = 2M
write_buffer                            = 2M

[myisamchk]
key_buffer                                      = 20M
sort_buffer_size                        = 20M
read_buffer                             = 2M
write_buffer                            = 2M

[mysqlhotcopy]
interactive-timeout

A lot of tweaking can be done here but it exceeds the scope of this article and shall be the topic for another. Note I have set the bind-address variable to 0.0.0.0, this will allow MySQL to bind to any configured IP address on its host. The default is localhost, which restricts access to sockets connections. On a host with multiple IP addresses it may be mildy beneficial to security to bind mysqld to a specific IP address. I strongly recommend only allowing access to the server from the private network, the less services - particularly critical services that contain valuable data like databases - exposed to the wild the better in all cases. A thoughtfully configured phpMyAdmin installation is truly enough for any administrative task, there is most likely no good reason to give your clients remote MySQL access at all. If you do, make absolutely certain to take advantage of MySQL's SSL capabilities and enforce some kind of brute force protection, such as can be configured using fail2ban.

Since phpMyAdmin will be a conduit for MySQL passwords, site user tables and other sensitive data, it is absolutely imperative that it be served over SSL/TLS. Install it somewhere that makes sense, perhaps an SSL-protected subdomain like sql. or phpmyadmin.yourmanagementdomain.com. If you only want to shell out for a regular single-host certificate a subdirectory of yourmanagementdomain.com like /sql/ will do. Download and extract the latest version of phpMyAdmin to the desired location and create then chmod 777 the temp/ directory. Navigate to the target location and append the /setup/ path, i.e.: http://sql.yourmanagementdomain.com/setup

If you get a blank page, go into your php.ini and enable error reporting. If PHP spits out an error shove it into google, I once had an obscure problem with the filter_var() function because I was missing filter support in my USE flags when it was compiled. Assuming all went well you can now go through the step-by-step configuration wizard; pay attention to detail and make sure the options are suited to your particular environment.

Consider if you really need SSL support when connecting to the server from phpMyAdmin; encryption consumes resources and increases latency but offers protection in environments prone to packet sniffing. In a switched and bridged Layer 2 network of real servers or virtual machines chances are good that if an intruder can sniff your SQL packets they already have your web server or sql server compromised and either is just as bad as the other. Or, unique to virtual machines, they have access to one or more privileged guests  -in which case your problems are much, much bigger.

Compression is also probably more resources than it's worth on a local network, but can be quite beneficial when the SQL server is in a remote location relative to the web server. Ideally we'd like Single-Sign-On with phpMyAdmin so users can access it by loging in to our custom web management software and not need to be prompted for their SQL password. We're going to get to that later in the article, first we want to be able to log in and lock down features so we'll go with cookie-based authentication rather than the signon option. Cookie-based authentication used the username and password of the user actually stored in MySQL, and we should already have our root account configured.

Under the Security tab there is a Force SSL Connection option. You are strongly encouraged to enable it, it will automatically redirect anyone attempting to access phpMyAdmin from an unsecured connection to a secure one. phpMyAdmin can use its own database to provide additional functionality; create a database and a user for phpMyAdmin in MySQL:

create database phpmyadmin;
grant all privileges on phpmyadmin.* to [email protected]'%' identified by 'pass';

The table structure is located in /scripts/create_tables.sql, install it from the web server like so:

# mysql -hsql-server -uphpmyadmin -ppass phpmyadmin < scripts/create_tables.sql

Once you're finished with the wizard save the file and copy config.inc.php from the /config/ directory. You may now delete the /config/ and /setup/ directories.

I like to remove some of the tabs phpMyAdmin comes with since they can pose a security risk or confuse users with needless information. Edit /libraries/server_links.php and comment-out the arrays for the tabs you would like to remove. Bear in mind that these changes will not stick after an upgrade.

We don't want to allow root to log in from anywhere but the SQL server itself so create a database and user to test logging in with:

create database testdb;
grant all privileges on testdb.* to [email protected]'%' identified by 'testpass';

Make sure your test account can be accessed from the address of the server offering phpMyAdmin. Use the SQL wildcard (%) character to allow access from any location. Now try logging in through phpMyAdmin with the test account.

phpMyAdmin comes with a sample single-sign-on script example in its scripts/ directory:

<?php
/* vim: set expandtab sw=4 ts=4 sts=4: */
/**
 * Single signon for phpMyAdmin
 *
 * This is just example how to use single signon with phpMyAdmin, it is
 * not intended to be perfect code and look, only shows how you can
 * integrate this functionality in your application.
 *
 * @version $Id$
 * @package phpMyAdmin
 * @subpackage Example
 */

/* Was data posted? */
if (isset($_POST['user'])) {
    /* Need to have cookie visible from parent directory */
    session_set_cookie_params(0, '/', '', 0);
    /* Create signon session */
    $session_name = 'SignonSession';
    session_name($session_name);
    session_start();
    /* Store there credentials */
    $_SESSION['PMA_single_signon_user'] = $_POST['user'];
    $_SESSION['PMA_single_signon_password'] = $_POST['password'];
    $_SESSION['PMA_single_signon_host'] = $_POST['host'];
    $_SESSION['PMA_single_signon_port'] = $_POST['port'];
    $id = session_id();
    /* Close that session */
    session_write_close();
    /* Redirect to phpMyAdmin (should use absolute URL here!) */
    header('Location: ../index.php');
} else {
    /* Show simple form */
    header('Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8');
    echo '<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>' . "\n";
    ?>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
    "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr">
<head>
    <link rel="icon" href="../favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />
    <link rel="shortcut icon" href="../favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />
    <title>phpMyAdmin single signon example</title>
</head>
<body>
<form action="signon.php" method="post">
Username: <input type="text" name="user" /><br />
Password: <input type="password" name="password" /><br />
Host: (will use the one from config.inc.php by default) <input type="text" name="host" /><br />
Port: (will use the one from config.inc.php by default) <input type="text" name="port" /><br />
<input type="submit" />
</form>
</body>
</html>
<?php
}
?>

As you can see you will need to have your users' passwords stored somewhere in cleartext. By popping the session code into your administration front-end (somewhere before headers are sent). I suggest that a user must click a button or take some other obvious action to activate the session rather than starting it as soon as they log into your interface, there is no sense in bestowing access where none is needed.

Open the phpMyAdmin config file and edit it to reflect:

$cfg['Servers'][$i]['auth_type'] = 'signon';
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['SignonSession'] = "SignonSession";
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['SignonURL'] = "https://yourdomain.com/login-page";
$cfg['Servers'][$i]['LogoutURL'] = "https://yourdomain.com/logout-page";
<?php
/* vim: set expandtab sw=4 ts=4 sts=4: */
/**
* Single signon for phpMyAdmin
*
* This is just example how to use single signon with phpMyAdmin, it is
* not intended to be perfect code and look, only shows how you can
* integrate this functionality in your application.
*
* @version $Id$
* @package phpMyAdmin
* @subpackage Example
*/

/* Was data posted? */
if (isset($_POST['user'])) {
/* Need to have cookie visible from parent directory */
session_set_cookie_params(0, '/', '', 0);
/* Create signon session */
$session_name = 'SignonSession';
session_name($session_name);
session_start();
/* Store there credentials */
$_SESSION['PMA_single_signon_user'] = $_POST['user'];
$_SESSION['PMA_single_signon_password'] = $_POST['password'];
$_SESSION['PMA_single_signon_host'] = $_POST['host'];
$_SESSION['PMA_single_signon_port'] = $_POST['port'];
$id = session_id();
/* Close that session */
session_write_close();
/* Redirect to phpMyAdmin (should use absolute URL here!) */
header('Location: ../index.php');
} else {
/* Show simple form */
header('Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8');
echo '<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>' . "\n";
?>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr">
<head>
<link rel="icon" href="../favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="../favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />
<title>phpMyAdmin single signon example</title>
</head>
<body>
<form action="signon.php" method="post">
Username: <input type="text" name="user" /><br />
Password: <input type="password" name="password" /><br />
Host: (will use the one from config.inc.php by default) <input type="text" name="host" /><br />
Port: (will use the one from config.inc.php by default) <input type="text" name="port" /><br />
<input type="submit" />
</form>
</body>
</html>
<?php
}
?>

Mass Virtual Hosting Part Six: (Remote) Apache Vhost Configuration and Privileged Command Execution with Database-Backed Upkeep System

What a mouthful.

The more I worked with mod_vdbh the more I realized it's not for me. Neither is its more advanced fork, mod_vhs which adds some useful extensions. While database-backed configuration is an elegant solution to mass virtual hosting it falls short in that it lacks these key (for my purposes) abilities or requires hackery that violates the Keep It Simple, Stupid rule

  • Apache configuration can not be customized on a per-vhost basis, requiring the use of generated .htaccess files for tricks that might be implemented in a user-friendly way via a front-end, such as custom error pages.
  • Additional Directory directives (i.e. those that don't match the wildcard directives for whatever reason) need to be put into flat files anyway.
  • Logs for individual sites must be split from a common log by a resource-consuming external solution
  • ScriptAlias directive (mod_vhs) only works for one global directory for all sites or not at all (mod_vdbh)
  • These modules are unmaintained, if something better comes out there is the whole hassle of migration to contend with.
  • A new version of apache may break old modules, but flat files will always be supported.

This is a serious problem if, like me, you are used to setting up vhost accounts in such a fashion:

/home/user/website.com/htdocs
/home/user/website.com/log
/home/user/website.com/cgi-bin

How can using flat files for mass virtual hosting be as easy to manage as databases one might ask? The answer is simple: generate the flat files from data stored in a database.

My configuration front-end sits on a web server that is independent from the one that serves the 'public' virtual hosts. This necessitated the ability to execute commands remotely as root, such as creating the directories for a new host, while at the same time taking into consideration the security implications of average users being able to pass data to the server as root.

My solution came in the form of a two-part system; a shared database that is used to pass sanity-checked data from the configuration interface and an administrative upkeep script run as root by cron every 5 minutes on the virtual hosting server. The script executes appropriate commands with the data set provided then flags its tasks as completed in the database. By storing arrays of raw data and indicating the job type one can avoid altogether the inherent problem of sending straight-up command line commands to the remote server. Careful variable checking in both the configuration interface where the data is added, then in the upkeep script where the tasks are then run can result in rock solid security, despite the fact that we are talking about translating a user's actions on a web page to root-privileged commands.

In my frustration with the database modules for Apache I realized that the same system could be adapted to write, delete and overwrite individual apache configuration files based on back-end information. It helps to think of the situation like when one uses memcache or APC variable caching with an SQL database; the actual driving force behind the application is the database information but as it is pulled into memory the cache sits between them. By simply dropping the files into a directory and using a wildcard with an Include directive all it takes is reloading apache once updates have been performed for changes to take effect. Through maintaining a master database from which the files are generated one could easily delete the entire directory, run a regeneration script and they would all reappear.

It's at this point one may find one's head shaking: one of the prime benefits of database-backed configuration is that the apache server does not have to be restarted when a new vhost is added. Indeed, it is the very reason most people seem to switch to the solution. However I didn't say restart, I said reload - it seems a lot of people have overlooked apache's ability to reload configuration files gracefully - that is without being restarted all at once and without dropping open connections. Fortunately, I have not.

One of the major benefits of this approach weighed against database-only configuration is once apache has been reloaded all of the configuration is loaded into RAM; there is no need to worry about thread safety or hundreds of redundant connections and queries to your database server - a problem that becomes worse as your platform scales up without the aide of some sort of abstraction layer like pooled connections (mod_dbm support currently still in development (or not) for mod_vhs) or caching as could be implemented with much hackery and mysql-proxy.

This article will show you - in much simpler and specific detail - how I have implemented what I call an upkeep system that can manage virtual hosts and run privileged commands passed to it (from Joe User in his web browser) safely on a local or remote server with nothing more than PHP and MySQL. It is not at all hard to imagine this system being adapted to manage multiple servers, the workload distributed or logically divided among them given some automated mechanism or instruction from the configuration interface.

Bear in mind that it's not the norm to use PHP for server-side-only scripts and you may wish to implement the idea in PERL or Python or something more traditional - but the application is sound, I'm good at PHP and I am secure in my masculinity :) PHP should be available on the web servers we intend to manage anyway, but may be more trouble than it's worth to install it on, say, an NFS-only server if you want to split up file-related commands from configuration tasks.

The other drawback to this approach is the 5-minute delay between runs of the upkeep script. To address this I simply add a notification event to the database which the configuration interface searches for and reports to the user if they have any tasks pending completion.

First, create the shared table on a mutually-accessible SQL server. Remember to use one account for administration and one for the upkeep script, applying permissions frugally.

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `upkeep` (
 `id` bigint(20) NOT NULL auto_increment,
 `uid` int(11) NOT NULL default '0',
 `date` int(11) NOT NULL default '0',
 `completed` int(11) NOT NULL default '0',
 `status` varchar(30) NOT NULL,
 `type` varchar(30) NOT NULL,
 `data` longtext NOT NULL,
 PRIMARY KEY  (`id`)
)

And we need one for the virtual hosts:

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `virtual_hosts` (
 `id` int(11) NOT NULL auto_increment,
 `date` int(11) NOT NULL,
 `user` varchar(255) NOT NULL,
 `yuid` int(11) NOT NULL,
 `appid` int(11) NOT NULL,
 `server` char(255) NOT NULL,
 `environment_variable` char(255) default NULL,
 `subof` int(11) NOT NULL,
 `firewall` longtext NOT NULL,
 `errorpages` longtext NOT NULL,
 PRIMARY KEY  (`id`),
 KEY `yuid` (`yuid`),
 KEY `server` (`server`)
);

I'm using the uid field in the first table and the yuid field in the second to store the administrative interface's account ID number or the person who uses the functions. Next we're going to need some functions for the administration front-end to interface with:

function hostedUPKEEP($type, $data, $uid=0)
{
 if(is_array($data))
 $data = serialize($data);

 $data = mysql_real_escape_string($data);

 mysql_query("insert into `upkeep` (`uid`, `date`, `status`, `type`, `data`) values ('$uid', '".time()."', 'pending', '$type', '$data')");
}

function hostedUPKEEPMkdir($user, $group, $path)
{
 $data['user'] = $user;
 $data['group'] = $group;
 $data['path'] = $path;

 hostedUPKEEP('mkdir', $data);
}

function hostedVHOSTAddHost($user, $yuid, $appid, $server)
{
 $firewall = $errorpages = serialize(array());
 $date = time();

 mysql_query("insert into `virtual_hosts` (`user`, `date`, `yuid`, `appid`, `server`, `firewall`, `errorpages`) values ('$user', '$date', '$yuid', '$appid', '$server', '$firewall', '$errorpages')");
 $idgrabr = mysql_query("select * from ``virtual_hosts` where `user` = '$user' and `server` = '$server'");
 $idgrabo = mysql_fetch_object($idgrabr);

 hostedUPKEEPMkdir('root', 'root', "/home/$user");
 hostedUPKEEPMkdir($user, 'hosted', "/home/$user/$server");
 hostedUPKEEPMkdir($user, 'hosted', "/home/$user/$server/htdocs");
 hostedUPKEEPMkdir($user, 'hosted', "/home/$user/$server/log");
 hostedUPKEEPMkdir($user, 'hosted', "/home/$user/$server/cgi-bin");
 hostedUPKEEP('vhost', $idgrabo->id);
 hostedUPKEEP('notification', 'jobs pending notification', $yuid);
}

Since staff may edit user settings I pass the affected user's front-end UID to a notification event, the user's front-end will look for events marked pending with their UID and report that they must wait a little while for changes to take effect. Before passing any data to these functions it is important that you make sure it has been as carefully sanitized as possible. The following is a simple upkeep script that you can drop into /sbin/, chown root: and chmod 700 then add to cron at your preferred interval:

#!/usr/bin/php
<?php

$sql_host = '';
$sql_user = '';
$sql_pass = '';
$sql_base = '';

$sql_h = mysql_pconnect($sql_host, $sql_user, $sql_pass);
$sql_d = mysql_select_db($sql_base, $sql_h);

$forbidden_users = array('www',
'ftp',
'sql',
'mysql',
'database',
'db',
'sftp',
'ftps',
'sync',                                                                                                                          
'shutdown',                                                                                                                
'halt',                                                                                   
'mail',                                                                                                                 
'news',
'uucp',
'operator',
'calendar',
'docs',
'man',
'postmaster',
'cron',
'ftp',
'sshd',
'ssh',
'at',
'squid',
'gdm',
'xfs',
'games',
'named',
'postgres',
'apache',
'admin',
'administrator',
'cyrus',
'vpopmail',
'alias',
'qmaild',
'qmaill',
'qmailp',
'qmailq',
'qmailr',
'qmails',
'postfix',
'smmsp',
'portage',
'guest',
'nobody',
'clamav',
'amavis',
'vmail',
'ntp',
'deleted',
'mrtg',
'sockd',
'lighttpd',
'memcached',
'smokeping',
'rpc',
'anon',
'site',
'sites',
'anonymous',
'pop',
'pop3',
'smtp',
'sendmail',
'information_schema',
'test');

function checkname($string)
{
 global $forbidden_users;
 foreach($forbidden_users as $fuse)
 {
 if($fuse == strtolower($string))
 die("Forbidden User");
 }
}

$result = mysql_query("select * from `upkeep` where `status` = 'pending' order by `date` asc");
while($object = mysql_fetch_object($result))
{
 if($object->type == 'mkdir')
 {
 $data = unserialize($object->data);
 checkname($data['user']);
 checkname($data['group']);
 exec("mkdir -p ".escapeshellcmd($data['path']));
 exec("chown ".escapeshellcmd(ereg_replace("[^A-Za-z0-9]", '', $data['user'])).":".escapeshellcmd(ereg_replace("[^A-Za-z0-9]", '', $data['group']))." ".escapeshellcmd($data['path']));
 }

 if($object->type == 'vhost')
 {
 $id = $object->data;
 $vhost_result = mysql_query("select * from `virtual_hosts` where `id` = '$id'");
 $vhost_object = mysql_fetch_object($vhost_result);

 $domain = $vhost_object->server;
 $user = ereg_replace("[^A-Za-z0-9]", '', $vhost_object->user);

 checkname($user);

 $errarray = unserialize($vhost_object->errarray);
 if(!empty($errarray[0]))
 {
 $errorpages = '';
 foreach($errarray as $code => $loc)
 {
 $errorpages .= "\n\tErrorDocument $code $loc";
 }
 }
 else
 {
 $errorpages = '';
 }

 $fwarray = unserialize($vhost_object->fwrarray);
 if(!empty($fwarray[0]))
 {
 $firewall = '';
 foreach($fwarray as $address)
 {
 $firewall .= "\n\tDeny from $address";
 }
 }
 else
 {
 $firewall = '';
 }

 $domainesc = str_replace('.', '\.', $domain);

 $file = "<VirtualHost *:80>
\tServerName $domain
\tServerAlias www.$domain
\tDocumentRoot /home/$user/$domain/htdocs
\tScriptAlias /cgi-bin/ /home/$user/$domain/cgi-bin/
\tErrorLog /home/$user/$domain/log/error_log
\tTransferLog /home/$user/$domain/log/access_log{$errorpages}
\t<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
\t\tRewriteEngine on
\t\tRewriteCond %{REQUEST_METHOD} !^(GET|POST|HEAD)$
\t\tRewriteRule .* - [F]
\t\tRewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.$domainesc$ [NC]
\t\tRewriteRule ^(.*)\$ http://$domainesc/\$1 [R=307,L]
\t</IfModule>
\t<IfModule mod_access.c>
\t\tOrder Allow,Deny
\t\tAllow from all{$firewall}
\t</IfModule>
</VirtualHost>";

 $fh = fopen("/etc/apache2/hosted.d/{$user}_{$domain}.conf", 'w');
 fwrite($fh, $file);
 fclose($fh);

 exec("/etc/init.d/apache2 reload");        // Change the path to your apache2ctl if the init script does not support reload.
 }

 mysql_query("update `upkeep` set `status` = 'completed', `completed` = '".time()."' where `id` = '{$object->id}'");
}

?>

Now create the directory /etc/apache2/hosted.d (or whatever you prefer) and add this directive to the end of your httpd.conf:

Include /etc/apache2/hosted.d/*.conf

Mass Virtual Hosting Part Five: Dynamic MySQL Based Apache vhost Configuration with mod_vdbh

Please skip to Part 6 for advanced vhost configuration with database-backed flat files.

mod_vdbh is a relatively obscure gem of an Apache module. It doesn't look like it has been maintained in years and its website is gone so Google (at present) won't give you much on it except the usual package list results and odd blog post like this. Despite living in a day of quadruple-digit version numbers, some software reaches a point where it's "just done." (if you don't believe me look at qmail). I'm hoping that's the case here, because if there's any 0day or problems with future versions of apache we're SOL. FreeBSD and Gentoo keep it in their package managers and that's more or less good enough for me.

The README is hard to find so I'm posting it below for your viewing pleasure:

Configuring mod_vdbh in Apache Configure Files

In order to use mod_vdbh with Apache Web Server server configuration blocks will need to be configured with mod_vdbh configuration directives described in the table below. mod_vdbh configuration directives must be located in a server configuration block (ie <VirtualHost></VirtualHost>).

vdbh    This switch makes mod_vdbh active for the specified server.
vdbh_CLIENT_COMPRESS    Enables the CLIENT_COMPRESS option with a MySQL server allowing the connection data to be compressed. Using this option will likely require more cpu time and less network bandwidth.
vdbh_CLIENT_SSL Enables the CLIENT_SSL option when communicating with a MySQL server.
vdbh_MySQL_Database     Sets the database name to use when running a query for file name translations.
vdbh_MySQL_Table        Sets the table name to use when running a query for file name translations.
vdbh_MySQL_Host_Field   Sets the name of the host field in the table specified by vdbh_MySQL_Table.
vdbh_MySQL_Path_Field   Sets the name of the path field in the table specified by vdbh_MySQL_Table.
vdbh_MySQL_Environment_Field    Sets the name of the environment field in the table specified by vdbh_MySQL_Table. This optional field contains data that will be set to the VDBH_ENVIRONMENT variable.
vdbh_MySQL_Host Sets the internet hostname where the MySQL server is located at. This option is not required and defaults to localhost.
vdbh_MySQL_Port Sets the port number to connect to when making a connection to a MySQL server. This option is not required and defaults to 0 for using a UNIX domain socket.
vdbh_MySQL_Username     Sets the username required to gain access to the MySQL server. This option is not required.
vdbh_MySQL_Password     Sets the password required to gain access to the MySQL server. This option is not required.
vdbh_Path_Prefix        Sets an optional location to prefix translations by. This option is not required.
vdbh_Default_Host       Sets the default host to use if a non-HTTP/1.1 request was received. This option is not required and usually won't do anything because the Apache Web Server by default catches these errors.
vdbh_Declines   Sets a list of glob patterns to match URIs against. If any match occurs then the URI is declined to the next translate phase.

The vdbh_MySQL_Host_Field and vdbh_MySQL_Path_Field along with vdbh_MySQL_Environment_Field are available as environment variables and can be included in logs if a LogFormat is defined for them. The environment variables are labled VDBH_HOST, VDBH_PATH, and VDBH_ENVIRONMENT. Information on how to use LogFormat is available at http://httpd.apache.org/docs/mod/mod_log_config.html. An example configuration may look something like this.

NameVirtualHost 206.9.161.29

<VirtualHost 206.9.161.29>
vdbh On
vdbh_CLIENT_COMPRESS On
vdbh_MySQL_Database virtual_hosts
vdbh_MySQL_Table virtual_hosts
vdbh_MySQL_Host_Field server
vdbh_MySQL_Path_Field path
vdbh_MySQL_Environment_Field environment_variable
vdbh_Default_Host julia.fractal.net
vdbh_Declines .htpasswd *.txt
</VirtualHost>

The corresponding database schema would look like this.

CREATE TABLE virtual_hosts (
server char(255) NOT NULL,
path char(255),
environment_variable char(255),
PRIMARY KEY (server)
);

INSERT INTO virtual_hosts VALUES ('julia.fractal.net','/export/home/mlink/public_html','julia.fractal.net');
INSERT INTO virtual_hosts VALUES ('visualphixation.com','/export/home/carlosp','visualphixation.com');
INSERT INTO virtual_hosts VALUES ('www.visualphixation.com','/export/home/carlosp','www.visualphixation.com');
INSERT INTO virtual_hosts VALUES ('www.fractal.net','/export/web/www.fractal.net','www.fractal.net');
INSERT INTO virtual_hosts VALUES ('fractal.net','/export/web/www.fractal.net','fractal.net');

Other handlers should still work accordingly.  mod_vdbh declares its translate_name phase as AP_HOOK_FIRST so it can run before other translations.  An example configuration allowing mod_tcl in specific directories follows.

<VirtualHost 206.9.161.29>
vdbh On
vdbh_CLIENT_COMPRESS On
vdbh_MySQL_Database virtual_hosts
vdbh_MySQL_Table virtual_hosts
vdbh_MySQL_Host_Field server
vdbh_MySQL_Path_Field path
vdbh_MySQL_Environment_Field environment_variable
vdbh_Default_Host julia.fractal.net
vdbh_Declines .htpasswd *.txt

<Directory /export/web/www.fractal.net>
AddHandler tcl-handler tm

Tcl_ContentHandler content_handler
</Directory>

<Directory /export/web/www.fractal.net/images>
SetHandler default-handler

Options Indexes FollowSymLinks

AllowOverride None

Order allow,deny
Allow from all
</Directory>

<Directory /export/web/www.fractal.net/files>
SetHandler default-handler

Options Indexes FollowSymLinks

AllowOverride None

Order allow,deny
Allow from all
</Directory>
</VirtualHost>

Additional Information

mod_vdbh assumes that its connection to the MySQL server is persistent. If there are excessive disconnections try setting the wait_timeout variable for MySQL to a larger value. Apache Web Server 2.0 is required, and at least MySQL 3.23 is required.

References

mod_vdbh is an Apache 2.0 module using MySQL libraries, more about Apache Web Server can be found at http://www.apache.org/. Documentation regarding MySQL can be found at http://www.mysql.com/

That's right. That's all there is to it. If you've been following the other parts in this series on Mass Virtual Hosting you should have a keen eye for the ways MySQL-backed services can be used (sexually?) to integrate into your custom web hosting front-end - or anything that interfaces with MySQL/ODBC!

Remote Ethernet Packet Capture with Wireshark and tshark over SSH

Wireshark is a powerful and popular packet capture and analysis suite that runs on Windows and most flavours of UNIX. Often one finds one's self in need of its GUI's abilities on remote, headless servers without X windows (and who wants to install X on a server if they don't have to?). One has three options: use a text/ncurses based packet capture system like ettercap to analyze the traffic on the server itself, save packet capture files and move them to your Wireshark host or pipe the output from tshark - Wireshark's text interface - to your client in real-time. The last option suits me best; I don't want to have to learn two packet capture suites if I can only use one and it is often useful to see the packets fly by as they come.

To compile Wireshark without the GUI, and therefore all of its X windows dependencies, on Gentoo:

# USE="-gtk" emerge wireshark

Or disable the GTK use flag in your /etc/make.conf.

The next step is to establish passwordless root ssh access to the target machine. This should only be temporary as it is best practice to disallow any form of remote login for the root user. Please read my previous article, Passwordless or Single Password SSH with Key Exchange but be sure to use a blank passphrase for your key and disregard the part about restricting root access. Once this has been completed and you are able to log in to the target server by simply typing ssh hostname you are ready to begin your packet capture.

On the client which runs the GUI version of Wireshark, open up a shell as root and run the following:

wireshark -k -i < ( ssh -l root xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx /usr/bin/tshark -i eth0 -w - )

Be sure to change the path to tshark if this does not reflect your installation. Adjust the interface (-i flag) to match your target.

Mass Virtual Hosting Part Three: Disk Quotas (including NFS)

Disk quotas allow one to limit the amount of space a user or group may use on a particular filesystem. The traditional linux quota implementation allows two sorts of limit: soft limits, which the user/group may exceed for a given grace period and hard limits which may not be exceeded at all. Soft limits are great in situations where users may need significant amounts of storage only temporarily, as in the case with burning ISOs or intensive rendering software and other temporary-file generating activity. In a webhosting environment one typically offers different plans with a set limit of storage, so soft limits are probably redundant for our purposes. Since quotas can be applied to any user or group they can also be used to ensure particular daemons do not run roughshod over the filesystem, like apache access logs might during an HTTP GET denial of service attack.

If you will be using NFS to remotely mount filesystems you intend to implement quotas on you must implement them on the NFS server and use some sort of UID/GID consistency like NIS or libnss-mysql. Your kernel must be compiled with quota support or have it available as a module to enforce the limits. It is possible to set up quotas on a system running a quota-incapable kernel then activate them later by incorporating quota support. In menuconfig, set this option to module or compiled-in, if you choose to compile it as a module ensure that it is automatically loaded:

  • File systems
    • Quota support

You must also install the userspace tools, emerge quota on Gentoo. Next add usrquota and/or grpquota depending on your needs to the options field of the target filesystem(s), i.e:

/dev/sdX1               /mnt/storage     ext3            defaults,nosuid,noexec,nodev,noatime,usrquota,grpquota   0 0

In this example we are also disabling binary execution and some potentially dangerous filesystem options such as SUID and device files for security purposes. You may remount the filesystem to apply the changes:

# mount -o remount /mnt/storage

Now in the root of every filesystem to have quotas create and secure the quota files:

# touch /mnt/storage/aquota.user
# touch /mnt/storage/aquota.group
# chmod 600 /mnt/storage/aquota.user
# chmod 600 /mnt/storage/aquota.group
# /usr/sbin/quotacheck -avug

Unless you will be exclusively using XFS you must add the quota init script to your runlevel. On Gentoo:

# rc-update add quota boot

Next you must decide how often the quotas are checked, in other words how often the total recorded space users and groups are consuming  is updated. You must weigh the importance of accurate reporting against the potential resource load scanning the filesystem(s) may incur. Drop this scriptlet into a /etc/cron.* directory and chmod +x it:

#!/bin/bash
/usr/sbin/quotacheck -avug

Quotas can be edited by the program edquota, with the -u flag and a user's name or a -g flag and a group's name respectively. Use the -f flag and the target filesystem's mountpoint to restrict operations to one particular filesystem, otherwise edquota will default to all filesystems with quotas enabled. Edquota uses your EDITOR environment variable to load a temporary file containing a tabular representation of a user's soft and hard quotas as well as currently used space. Simply change the soft and hard quota limits and save the file, the new values will be applied immediately. This is how user test's quota looks like when edited with nano:

# edquota -f /mnt/storage -u test

Disk quotas for user test (uid 5000):
  Filesystem                   blocks       soft       hard     inodes     soft     hard
  /dev/sdX1                         0          0          0          0        0        0

It should be noted here that quotas can also be set on the number of inodes a user or group may use, effectively limiting the total number of files they can create. This is probably not practical for our needs, where space is the concern and we will mostly be hosting websites composed of relatively many, relatively small files. The blocks and inodes fields tell us how much the user was using the last time quotacheck was run while the soft and hard fields are their limits respectively. Once you have finished configuring the user or group's quotas simply save and exit the editor and the changes will be saved.

We can use repquota to see a filesystem's overall use on a per-user basis, simply specify the mountpoint of the filesystem in question:

# repquota /mnt/storage/
*** Report for user quotas on device /dev/sdX1
Block grace time: 7days; Inode grace time: 7days
                        Block limits                File limits
User            used    soft    hard  grace    used  soft  hard  grace
----------------------------------------------------------------------
root      --  180240       0       0              7     0     0
test      +- 1738760     500     500  3days       5     0     0

The output is similar to edquota. Note the -- and +- column: the first character indicates whether the user's hard quota is over limit or under limit, denoted by the + and - symbols respectively, and the second character represents the soft quota. In this example we can see user test is very much over their 500 block hard limit. They will not be able to create any more files until they have cleared out enough space to put them back under the limit.

Quotas are fully enforced on an NFS server, but to share information about the quotas to NFS clients you must ensure rpc.rquotad is running. On gentoo alter /etc/conf.d/nfs to reflect:

# Optional services to include in default `/etc/init.d/nfs start`
# For NFSv4 users, you'll want to add "rpc.idmapd" here.
NFS_NEEDED_SERVICES="rpc.idmapd rpc.rquotad"

Then restart your nfs init script:

# /etc/init.d/nfs restart

On the NFS client change the share's fstab column so that the options field contains quota, for example:

nfs-server:/mnt/storage        /home   nfs             rsize=32768,wsize=8192,soft,timeo=10,rw,intr,nosuid,noexec,nodev,quota          0 0

Remount the filesystem and you should be able to interface with the quotas on the remote NFS server. Be sure to use the -r flag when modifying quotas from the client(s).