Install GeneWeb in CGI mode
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When daemon mode of GeneWeb is forbidden or cannot be activated, you must use CGI mode. It's mostly the case on a shared hosting account.
When running in CGI mode, GeneWeb sits behind a general purpose HTTP server such as Apache, and is launched by the server as a CGI command. As such, the first step in installing GeneWeb consists in verifying the operation of the HTTP server and of its CGI calling function.
The second step is to install GeneWeb itself in a folder organisation adapted to your environment. You must indeed Download the GeneWeb version corresponding to your machine architecture (processor, 32/64 bits, OS).
Verifying Web and CGI service
Web service is verified by displaying from a web browser the content of index.html:
(server):~#ls -al index.html -rwxr-xr-x 1 username usergroup 290 Nov 22 22:29 index.html (server):~#cat index.html <!DOCTYPE html"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <body> This is a minimal index.html page </body> </html> (server):~#
Typing the following in your browser window:
This is a minimal index.html page
CGI service is verified by executing the file test-cgi.sh
(server):~#cd cgi-bin (server):~/cgi-bin#ls -al test-cgi.sh -rwxr-xr-x 1 username usergroup 290 Nov 22 22:29 test-cgi.sh (server):~/cgi-bin#cat test-cgi.sh #!/bin/sh echo 'Content-type: text/html' echo echo '<!DOCTYPE html">' echo '<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">' echo '<body>' echo 'This is a test for cgi commands' echo '</body>' echo '</html>' (server):~/cgi-bin#
Typing the following in your browser window:
This is a test for cgi commands
Note the ownership and read/write/execute characteristics if these files. See #Access rights and protection for a more detailed analysis.
Service specific comments:
Depending on your hosting service, the location of the system root (where you end up if you execute
cd), web root and cgi-bin folders may vary!
- OVH-Webm: (Web hosting) The server and web roots are at
wwwand the cgi-bin folder is at
- OVH-VPS: (Cloud service) The server root is at
/root, the web root at
/var/wwwand the cgi-bin forlder is at
- 1&1: The server and web roots are at
~and the cgi-bin folder is at
(to be continued)
The cgi-bin folder
cgi-bin folder contains the cgi commands launching the gwd server software for each request from a browser client.
The content of
(server):~/cgi-bin > cat gwd.sh #!/bin/sh BIN_DIR=/root/geneweb-distribution/gw BASE_DIR=/root/geneweb-bases OPTIONS="-robot_xcl 19,60 -allowed_tags ./tags.txt -hd ./" $BIN_DIR/gwd -cgi $OPTIONS -bd $BASE_DIR > ./gwd.log 2>&1
gwd-7.00.sh file is a shell script that launches
gwd with the appropriate parameters:
It contains the following definitions:
- DIR points to the
gwfolder holding the various executables files of GeneWeb (see distibution).
- BASE_DIR points to the folder holding your genealogy bases (see bases).
- Details of these two pathnames may vary according to your hosting service and your folder organisation (see #Example folder organisations).
- OPTIONS holds the set of start parameters for gwd, see gwd for details.
You may maintain in this folder several
gwd-xx.sh files pointing to their respective
DIR location holding different versions of GeneWeb, or starting with a different set of
As discussed in ???, the set of gwd start parameters can also be provided through a file named
gwd.arg sitting in the
gw forder. Note that in this file, the parameter and its value are on two separate lines.
(server):~ > cat /home/geneweb-distribution/gw/gwd.arg -cgi -bd ~/bases -hd ./ -robot_xcl 19,60 -allowed_tags ./tags.txt (server):~ >
The distribution and bases folders
The remainder of the folder organisation follows the same structure as in the classical install, with one or more GeneWeb distribution (detailed organisation of one distribution folder), and the GeneWeb-Bases folder containing one or several genealogy bases
Example folder organisations
The following folders organisation have been tested on several hosting services:
Connecting style files
In a hosted CGI server environment, the style (
.js) files are sent to your browser by the HTTP server (Apache) rather that gwd. You therefore have to install at the web_root a link to the repository holding the style files.
The example below is taken from a OVH-VPS hosted server.
root@vps265730:/var/www# ls -al total 660 drwxr-xr-x 7 root root 4096 Sep 25 18:40 . drwxr-xr-x 12 root root 4096 Apr 16 2016 .. drwxr-xr-x 4 root root 4096 Nov 23 15:41 gw -> /root/GW/GeneWeb-7.00/gw -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 3514 Jun 23 13:19 index.html drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Apr 16 2016 private drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Apr 16 2016 public -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 27 Apr 28 2016 robot.txt root@vps265730:/var/www#
In order to instruct gwd to use this path, you must add in your
.gwf configuration file the following variable:
Note the leading
.. due to the fact that the script launching gwd executes one level below the web_root of your server.
1&1 hosting, GeneWeb 5 and 6
(Kept here for historical reasons)
The following applies to 1&1 hosting, and may differ on other hostings. On this web site, we can easily switch between two versions of GeneWeb: 5.00 and 6.00.
Directories and files
- mybases: The bases directory, beside the CGI-root directory.
- root: The CGI-root directory.
- basesxg: An alternative bases directory.
- css: A copy of the gw/css directory. This directory is used by the Apache server.
- gw: The gw directory of the GeneWeb distribution.
- gwenv: The gw directory of the Geneweb-5 distribution.
- igw: The images directory for Geneweb-5.
- images: A directory with copies of
- pub: A directory where are readable copies of the CGI scripts (this website is a demo site).
- gw6.cgi: The CGI script which launches GenWeb-6.
- gw5.cgi: The CGI script which launches GenWeb-5.
- issue6.cgi: A test script which displays information about the environment of the server and checks size and md5sum for the gwd binary file.
- issue5.cgi: The same script, but for the GeneWeb-5 version
You need the “exec” permission on the files
gw/gwsetup, and files used by gwsetup (gw/gwc*, gw/gwu,gw/consang, gw/update_nldb). The
gwd.arg file is empty.
The databases folder
bases must be protected either by a .htaccess file, either by a location out of the HTTP server scope. It does not need to be accessible by the HTTP server.
Description of the CGI script
PWD=$(pwd) LNG="fr" GENEWEBSHARE=$PWD/gw GENEWEBDOC=$PWD/gw/doc GENEWEBDB=$PWD/../bases DAEMON=$GENEWEBSHARE/gwd LOGFILE=$GENEWEBDB/gw.log
The CGI working directory. The language for the user interface. The programs folder. The documentation folder (obsolete). The databases folder. The program gwd itself. Gwd log file, it helps to solve problems.
Note that although called DAEMON, gwd does not run in
-daemon mode but in
Be carefull when using a log file, its size can increase quickly, don’t forget to delete it from time to time.
OPTIONS="-blang -robot_xcl 40,70 -max_clients 15 -conn_tmout 120 -min_disp_req 30 -images_url http://myserver.net/gw/images" # -allowed_tags $GENEWEBDB/tags.txt cd $GENEWEBSHARE $DAEMON -hd$GENEWEBSHARE -dd$GENEWEBDOC -bd$GENEWEBDB -lang$LNG -log$LOGFILE -cgi $OPTIONS 2>/dev/null
- robot_xcl: To protect your data from HTTrack or WebSite Extractor.
- conn_tmout: For statistics on the bottom line.
- images_url: Icons and images are not sent by GeneWeb, but by your HTTP server (not CGI).
- allowed_tags: Usefull option if you use HTML tags not in default_good_tag_list.
Under Windows calling a CGI script using batch and cmd.exe can be tricky. An alternative is to directly call a copy of
gwd.exe with its arguments file
gwd.arg in Apache /cgi-bin/ directory file.
Gwd will work behind Apache calling http://localhost/cgi-bin/gwd.exe.
gwd.arg to point your local GeneWeb installation, for example if it is
C:\Program Files (x86)\geneweb\:
-hd C:\Program Files (x86)\geneweb\gw -bd C:\Program Files (x86)\geneweb\bases -log C:\Program Files (x86)\geneweb\geneweb.log -images_dir C:\Program Files (x86)\geneweb\gw\images -cgi
-images_dir parameter create links to local image files like
file:///c:\path\to\myimage.jpg that are not shown for security reason under some browser (like Chrome for ex.). An alternative to previous configuration is to switch to
-images_url parameter so that gwd uses relatives paths for images and to create a virtual directory in your httpd server.
In gwd.arg, modify:
If you use Apache, edit httpd.conf to have those lines, then restart httpd.exe:
LoadModule access_compat_module modules/mod_access_compat.so LoadModule alias_module modules/mod_alias.so Alias /images " C:\Program Files (x86)\geneweb\gw\images" <Directory " C:\Program Files (x86)\geneweb\gw\images"> Options None AllowOverride All Order allow,deny Allow from all </Directory>
Script to upload a copy of a base
The files below are supplied to experienced users knowledgeable with shell scripts and the subtelties of Linix. "Use at your own risk" is the traditionnal caveat! Report for errors or improvements are indeed welcome.
base-upload.sh (download it) takes a
base_name as an argument, and optionally
src. It uploads a fresh base on your server, or a fresh copy of the
src/base folders. It performs the following steps:
- creates a fresh base.gw file from the base on your personal computer.
- extracts a listing of the content of
- creates a
remote-files.shremote.sh file (see below).
- creates a tar file containing $BASE.gw, history remote.sh and the three
- sends the tar file to the remote server.
- triggers on the remote server unfolding of the tar file and execution of the
remote.shscript. Depending on the availability of
/usr/bin/mailon your server, the result of this remote execution can be a mail containing the
remote.logand three diff between images folders.
This procedure saves the previous folder of the base or its images and src folders with a "yyyy-mm-dd-hh:mm:ss" date tag. As time progresses, you may want to clean-up this accumulation of saves.
When uploading a base, the following
remote-base.sh shell script is executed on your remote server, and installs your base at the proper location (according to the overall set-up described here).
If you launch the
base-upload.sh script with the additionnal parameter
src the script
remote-files.sh is executed on your remote server, and installs the
src/images folders for your base at the proper location (according to the overall set-up described here).
Depending on the size of your images folders, and on the number of new images requiring upload, you may prefer to upload images individually with your preferred
ftp client rather than doing the bulk upload proposed here. Remember that the base upload script reports a form of comparison between the images folders on your personal computer and your server.
Debugging your remote server
Debugging your remote server may be tricky, but some systematic approach and several tools will help.
- Verify first that your HTTP server works properly. This is achieved by typing
your_server_namein the URL window of your browser which should return the content of
- Verify that the cgi mechanism works. This is achieved by typing
your_server_name/cgi-bin/test-cgi.shas seen above (see #Folders and files).
- If your server returns a "Internal server error", several hypothesis should be examined:
- Your script test-cgi.sh does not work properly. Run it directly on a terminal window by typing
./test-cgi.sh(see #Folders and files).
- Your server accepts only files with extension
test-cgi.cgiand try again.
- The first two lines returned by your test-cgi.sh script are not exactly as shown (the second one should be a blank line, Note also that "Content-type text/html\n\n" did not work in my tests).
- You also may want to verify that your "End-of-Lines" are correct for your server environment. Remember that there are three different such
EOLencoding for Windows, Mac, and Linux!!
- Examine the HTTP server log file on your server by typing:
- (your environment may store access logs somewhere else, but this is the most likely place)
- Examination of the log file may give you a hint as to the nature of your problem.
- Your script test-cgi.sh does not work properly. Run it directly on a terminal window by typing
- Another typical issue is that of ownership of the various files associated with GeneWeb. In the case described here, ownership is
userand group ownership is
ftpusers. Depending on the specific method you have used to install GeneWeb, this may vary. Some discussions on the Yahoo! group forum about GeneWeb mentions geneweb for group ownership!
- You may also want to look at the gwd log file if your GeneWeb server works only partially (welcome page is ok, but other pages do not work properly). This log file is specified in the gwd launch command. In our example, it sits at
$DIR/gwd.logwhere $DIR depends on the specific version of GeneWeb you are currently running (see details in #The cgi folder section above).
- Remember that some of the files needed for proper display are fetched by the HTTP server rather than by GeneWeb.
Access rights and protections
In CGI mode, gwd runs behind a standard HTTP server, typically Apache. As such, the owner of the gwd process is the owner of the HTTP server. For instance, with Apache, this owner is defined in the http.conf file and its default value is set to
user: _www and
group: —www. When running within a hosting environment, such as 1&1, you typically do not have access to this parameter. You must therefore organise the protection level of the various folders involved with GeneWeb appropriately:
- read access is usually allowed by default
- for wizards, gwd needs write access to
bases/cnt/robot(if you have activated the -robot_xcl parameter)
- and when modifications are performed, gwd needs write access to
Creating those files, and doing a
sudo chown _www filename seems to be sufficient.
Access problems are reported in the HTTP error log file, unfortunately not always available in the case of shared hosting services!!
Access to various files through your hosted HTTP server is also controlled by your hosting service and through .htaccess files spread across your folders. Managing a coherent set of .htaccess files is not trivial and error prone!! The examples below apply to Apache version 2.4 only (earlier versions have different directives!!).
Options +FollowSymLinks should allow following symbolic links
Require all denied prevents access to this folder to all users.
Require all granted allows access to this folder to all users.
AllowOverride AuthConfig AuthType Basic AuthName "Username/Password required" AuthUserFile /Users/Name/SomeFolder/htfriends.auth Require valid-user
should restrict access to this folder to users supplying a valid password as defined by the
htpasswd /Users/Name/SomeFolder/htfriends.auth UserName will trigger the process to add a new user to the list.