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Practical Linux: A Is for Apache

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The next piece of the LAMP stack is the Apache Web Server.

In the first article of this series, I implied I didn't know much about Apache. To be precise, I said I can barely speak Apache. That may have been a bit of a misstatement; I've done a fair amount of work with Apache over the years. But it's been a long time since I did any serious Apache configuration, so a lot of it is as new to me as it may be to you. But once again, we're rescued by the glorious YouTube videos from Catherine Gaughan-Smith.

In this case, we'll follow along with video number two in the Ubuntu series. As I did with the first video, I'll follow much of what Catherine did, but because of my unique requirements, I'll diverge a little from her path. When I do, I'll make sure to let you know what I did and why.

Timeline of Part 2

Part 2 of 4 is a little more involved, with about a dozen different steps. The first 30 seconds are a recap of part 1. The next 90 seconds are used to create a user group. While Catherine uses the built-in SSH terminal in her Mac, we’re instead going to use the Eclipse PDT we installed in the second article in this series. The next 30 seconds use the SSH terminal to show the new group, followed by a minute of changing the permissions for the primary HTML folder. Step 4 installs some additional guest software. We may not need all of it, but since I’m not sure what I need and what I don’t, I just install it all. Time to reboot!

The next section starts with nearly two minutes (ending about 7:15 of the video) devoted to setting up the vboxshare folder, which Catherine uses to share things between her virtual machine and her desktop. Since we’re using PDT, we have direct access to the files on our virtual machine and don’t need to use this shared folder, so you can ignore that entirely. Catherine then creates a simple index.html page in the shared folder, which she will eventually copy into the HTML folder. As it turns out, Ubuntu already has a very nice default index.html page, and we’re going to use that as a test before we edit it for ourselves. Because of that, we can ignore all the way up to 8:30 in the video.

The next three minutes focus on cloning the default configuration file and modifying the clone. I diverge from the video in a couple of key areas, and I’ll detail those differences later. Some of the most important changes have to do with the fact that I’m using a static IP address and not using port forwarding (this actually simplifies a number of things). The last 30 seconds of this section shows how to disable the default site and enable the new site. At this point, I’ll show you how to bring up the default Ubuntu welcome page in your browser, which presumes that you’ve configured Apache correctly.

In the last section, Catherine copies her index.html into the HTML folder, but we’re instead going to save the existing index.html and then modify it. Her video shows you the custom index page and also uses the server status directive that we configured earlier in the process (around step 7) to show the status of our newly created server. The section ends by installing a few additional packages, and we’re done!

Configuring Ubuntu Using Eclipse PDT

As I’ve said before, you can just follow the videos exactly as Catherine has posted them and you’ll have a working virtual machine. It will be a port-forwarded machine (which means you’ll have to map ports for all of your applications), but it will work perfectly adequately. On the other hand, if you want to follow my lead with statically configured machines, you’ll need to do a few things slightly differently, and this next part of the article will show you where those differences lie.

And the differences start immediately, because the first thing we need to do is create a user group. User groups in Linux are similar to user groups on the IBM i, allowing us to assign permissions and authorities to groups of users simultaneously. Catherine uses the command line from her SSH terminal to do this, but if you recall from the previous article, we're going to use the Eclipse PDT to access our Ubuntu VM. So, at right about the 30 second mark of the video, Catherine mentions that she's accessing via her SSH terminal. You should instead have started your Eclipse PDT and opened a terminal the way we did in the previous article. Other than this different access method, though, you can then continue to follow along. Let me show you a screenshot of what my terminal looks like after executing the first command from the video.

Practical Linux: A Is for Apache - Figure 1 

Figure 1: The terminal from PDT provides easy-to-use access to your Ubuntu VM.

Now that you're successfully entering commands, you can follow along with the tutorial until about the 05:30 mark. At this point, Catherine spends a lot of time working on the shared folder. With this technique, you create a folder on your host and share it so that the virtual machine also thinks it's a local folder. This is a relatively simple way to allow a developer to use host tools to update files for the virtual machine. Catherine creates a new index.html file in the shared folder so she can use her desktop tools to edit the file. She does this because she can't directly use her tools on the virtual machine files. Since we use Eclipse PDT, we can access any files on the host (with a very few exceptions), so you can ignore all of this all the way to about the 08:30 mark.

Create the Virtual Machine

Starting at 08:30, the tutorial walks you through the steps to create a new web server. Follow along, except that anywhere you see the word "techbox," instead substitute in your selected server name. Since I called my server Test1, I'll use that instead. You'll copy the default configuration and edit it. The big difference here is that since you need elevated privileges to edit the file, you can't just edit it using the standard PDT editor. Instead, you have to do it from a command line inside the virtual machine. You can use the VirtualBox screen (which we haven't used since the very first article), or you can use the terminal from PDT. The problem is that PDT doesn't work well with Catherine's editor of choice (nano), so instead you'll need to use vi. The vi editor is not at all intuitive for people who don't come from a UNIX background. You can find various tutorials on the Internet; click here or here for text tutorials, and here for a Youtube tutorial. Remember, you'll only need to do this when you're modifying the various Ubuntu configuration files, something you don't need to do that often. When you're editing normal content, you'll use PDT and you'll love it.

While you're following along with Catherine, you can skip the part where she adds the port 8080 listener (at 09:45), but other than that, follow along right up until the 11:00 mark. At this point, Catherine uses a syntax that I don't think works anymore; it's sort of a hybrid between an older syntax and a newer one. I had to change the definitions slightly in order to get the server to work correctly. Here are the changes:

<Location /server-status>

SetHandler server-status

Order allow,deny

Allow from all

Require all granted

</Location>

Listing 1: These are the directives from the tutorial.

<Location /server-status>

SetHandler server-status

Require all granted

</Location>

Listing 2: Deleting the Order and Allow directives makes the server work properly.

After saving the configuration, Catherine edits a file to allow the server to listen on port 8080. Because we're using a static configuration, you can ignore that part entirely, all the way up to 11:35.

Next, the tutorial shows you how to disable the current site and enable the new site. Do that exactly as shown (except, of course, using your selected configuration file name). Then, at 12:05, Catherine copies the file she created in the shared folder into the web server's working folder. You don't have a shared folder (on purpose!), so skip ahead to 12:30 where she restarts the server. Trust me, there's a method to my madness.

Follow along to the 13:20 mark, where Catherine opens a browser and types in the link to the automatically generated server status page. Since I never configured a name in my hosts file, I just use the IP address and I also don't specify port 8080, since I'm not mapping the port. If you're doing the same thing, you'll enter an address similar to this:

http://10.99.99.101/server-status

If everything we've done works as planned, you'll see something like this:

Practical Linux: A Is for Apache - Figure 2 

Figure 2: The server status page from Apache2 looks like this.

That's the server status page. At time mark 13:50, she brings up the index page by simply typing in the server name. Again, I use the IP address directly and I don't use port 8080, I use the default port, so my address is simpler:

http://10.99.99.101

And technically I don't even need the http:// part; the browser is usually smart enough to assume that. Remember, though, that I didn't overwrite my index.html file the way the tutorial did. So instead of the simple page from the tutorial, I see the default Ubuntu index page:

Practical Linux: A Is for Apache - Figure 3 

Figure 3: This is the default Ubuntu welcome page for Apache2.

I think this is pretty spiffy.

Now let's do the last piece of the puzzle, which is to edit that file for ourselves. We can actually make a web page that looks exactly like what the tutorial has, but we can use Eclipse's editor to do it.

Practical Linux: A Is for Apache - Figure 4 

Figure 4: Open up the Sftp Files by clicking on the arrow.

First, we use the Remote Systems view to drill into the virtual machine. You will be directly accessing the files on the host, so use secure FTP (or SFTP). As long as the file doesn't require elevated permissions, you'll be able to do this. Open the folder, expand the Root subfolder, and then continue to drill into /, then var, then www, then finally html. Here you'll see the current index.html, which you'll rename.

Practical Linux: A Is for Apache - Figure 5 

Figure 5: Rename the index.html file.

Practical Linux: A Is for Apache - Figure 6 

Figure 6: Call it index (old).html.

Now you can right-click on the html folder and select option New > File. Fill in the name index.html.

Practical Linux: A Is for Apache - Figure 7 

Figure 7: Create a new, empty index.html file.

Double-click on that file to bring it up in the HTML editor, and now you can create your new page. Type in the source Catherine used for her index.html page:

<!DOCTYPE html>

<html>

<head lang="en">

      <meta charset="UTF-8">

      <title>Test 1</title>

</head>

<body>

      <h1>Welcome to my LAMP server</h1>

</body>

</html>

Listing 3: This is the very basic index.html page, with just the server name changed.

Refresh your browser, and you'll see this:

Practical Linux: A Is for Apache - Figure 8 

Figure 8: The new, simple index.html page!

Isn't that great? At this point, in a relatively short time, you've managed to create a virtual machine, install Ubuntu, install Eclipse PDT to communicate with the new VM, configure the Apache2 web server, and create web content. That's pretty impressive!

Coming Up

Now that you've done all this, the fun is just starting. Next, we'll configure SQL and PHP, and finally we'll get our web server talking to the IBM i. But just as importantly, we'll get the IBM i to query data from the Linux machine. This is starting to get very interesting!

Joe Pluta

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i, E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at joepluta@plutabrothers.com.


MC Press books written by Joe Pluta available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i
Joe Pluta introduces you to EGL Rich UI and IBM’s Rational Developer for the IBM i platform.
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    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption

     

     

  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.