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TIPS, INSIGHTS AND THE LATEST FROM THE EXPERTS BEHIND CAKEPHP

Lighty Story

I will tell you a story. Once upon a time... Seriously though, it was not too long ago in the past - but it happened and it is possible you can benefit from it.

What?

This tutorial will show how to make lighttpd 1.4.20 serve virtual hosts with CakePHP applications. Our scenario is quite simple:

  1. For admin purposes, lighttpd will listen on localhost, it will serve several CakePHP applications on several external ip addresses, without SSL.
  2. Virtual hosts will be organized in groups and every group will use one CakePHP core checkout for its virtual hosts.
  3. Every virtual host will have it own access log (this server will not run hundreds of virtual hosts, so we can afford to waste one file descriptor for each) and its own directory for caching of compressed static files.
  4. Management of virtual hosts, their default and custom settings should be as easy as possible, so we can delegate the management of some ip addresses or just groups of virthosts to someone else and sleep well, because nobody will have to touch our precious configuration files.

However, our scenario has some special requirements which we need to solve. By the way, I will be showing you how to do things the hard way from the start. In hopes to spare you a lot of headaches in future. Lighttpd is sweet piece of software, and is under active development. Unfortunately, there are things that are not easy to set up. For example - when using any of provided virtual host modules, it is impossible to set up different access logs and cache directories for compressed content etc. dynamically in a pure lighty config file without external scripts. Everything (except for per virtual host errorlog) is possible by writing necessary configuration by hand. But we willing to work more now, so we can be lazy later!

There are several approaches for bash, Ruby etc. However, nothing usable in PHP as far as I know. I will show you how easy it could be. Take this as a working example, I am sharing ideas here, not bullet-proof all-mighty solutions. Lets go for it - and utilize PHP and the include_shell command in our lighttpd configuration file. The motto of this article is: it is easier read generated configuration, then write it by hand.

How? Lighty!

Don't think this is not a good answer. Lets set up a decent lighttpd installation. We'll assume you have it compiled and installed. Lets also assume that you have PHP prepared for lighttpd's ModFastCGI and are just waiting for configuration and the first test run. Also, for shell commands which need to be executed under root account, I'll use sudo in following examples.

    sudo mkdir /usr/local/etc/lighttpd

First of all, we need a directory for our custom configuration. When in doubt, a fast look into its contents will tell you everything one should know about virtual hosts configuration.

    sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/www/data/default/webroot
    echo "<html><head><title>It works<body>It works" > /usr/local/www/data/default/webroot/index.html

Next we created a directory for our default webroot. It will be used on localhost only, with index.html.

    sudo touch /var/log/lighttpd.error.log /var/log/lighttpd.access.log
    sudo chown www:www /var/log/lighttpd.error.log /var/log/lighttpd.access.log

Now we need to create error and access log files. The first one will be common for whole server, the second will be used for localhost only.

    sudo mkdir -p /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/default
    sudo chown -R www:www /var/cache/lighttpd

The last thing we had to prepare was the default directory for caching of compressed static files.

In /usr/local/etc/lighttpd.conf we will setup a simple config file containing the common configuration we will utilize later:

    server.modules = (
        "mod_simple_vhost",
        "mod_magnet",
        "mod_redirect",
        "mod_access",
        "mod_auth",
        "mod_expire",
        "mod_compress",
        "mod_fastcgi",
        "mod_accesslog"
    )
    
    server.document-root = "/usr/local/www/data/default/webroot/"
    server.errorlog = "/var/log/lighttpd.error.log"
    accesslog.filename = "/var/log/lighttpd.access.log"
    server.port = 80
    server.bind = "127.0.0.1"
    server.username = "www"
    server.groupname = "www"
    server.pid-file = "/var/run/lighttpd.pid"
    index-file.names = ( "index.php", "index.html", "index.htm", "default.htm" )
    
    # shortened !!!
    mimetype.assign = (
        ...
    )
    
    url.access-deny = ( "~", ".inc" )
    
    static-file.exclude-extensions = ( ".php", ".pl", ".fcgi" )
    
    dir-listing.activate = "disable"
    
    etag.use-mtime = "enable"
    static-file.etags = "enable"
    
    $HTTP["url"] =~ "^(/css/|/files/|/img/|/js/|/images/|/themed/|/favicon.ico)" {
        expire.url = ( "" => "access 7 days" )
    }
    
    compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/default/"
    compress.filetype = ( "text/plain", "text/html", "text/xml", "text/javascript", "text/css" )
    
    fastcgi.server = (
        ".php" => ((
            "bin-path" => "/usr/local/bin/php-cgi -c /usr/local/etc/php.ini",
            "socket" => "/tmp/lighttpd_php5.socket",
            "min-procs" => 1,
            "max-procs" => 1,
            "bin-environment" => (
                "FCGI_WEB_SERVER_ADDRS" => "127.0.0.1",
                "PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN" => "4",
                "PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS" => "1000"
            ),
            "bin-copy-environment" => ( "PATH", "SHELL", "USER"),
            "broken-scriptfilename" => "enable"
        ))
    )
    
    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/www/data/"
    simple-vhost.document-root = "webroot"
    simple-vhost.default-host = "default"
    
    $HTTP["host"] =~ "^www\.(.*)" {
        url.redirect = ( "^/(.*)" => "http://%1/$1" )
    }

How far along are we? So far we have a configured webserver with few preloaded modules and simple common configuration.

Our sever is currently:

  1. Listening on localhost:80.
  2. Refusing directory listing or sending some filetypes as plain text.
  3. Using etags and sending expiration headers for a set of static resources to 7 days by default. This allows us to schedule an upgrade of any virtual host just a week before it will happen.
  4. Using compression and caching of compressed static files for several mimetypes.
  5. Starting PHP as FastCGI, with only one parent process (we are going to use opcode cache). We are allowing only few child processes for this example tutorial and killing fcgi child processes after every 1000 requests
  6. Using mod_simple_vhost for name-based virtual hosting (preconfigured for fallback to default webroot).
  7. Redirecting all domains using www subdomain to the shorter version.

You will probably want to tweak some other settings. I am not going to describe all the server.max* configuration options, or talk about other pretty obvious things like mod_evasive, mod_status, mod_rrdtool etc, don't worry. Two things you should consider if some of your visitors will use one of the major browsers.

    $HTTP["url"] =~ "\.pdf$" {
        server.range-requests = "disable"
    }

You do not want to cut off IE users from your pdf documents, right?

    compress.filetype = ( "text/plain", "text/html", "text/xml" )
    $HTTP["useragent"] =~ "Firefox" {
        compress.filetype  += ("text/javascript", "text/css" )
    }

If your visitors are using an old (and/or above mentioned undesirable) internet browser, you can control compression settings per useragent in this way. Instead of the above example, compressing all 5 crucial mimetypes.

Ready to go? Ok, start lighttpd and make sure you see what you expect at http://localhost/

    echo "<?php phpinfo(); ?>" > /usr/local/www/data/default/webroot/phpinfo.php

Just to be sure that fcgi works as expected, try to see info about your current PHP setup at http://localhost/phpinfo.php and watch /var/log/lighttpd.error.log.

Url rewriting

It is possible to use lighttpd's mod_rewrite and create pattern for our static files if we are sure they exist. This approach has downsides though. We want to setup this part of webserver up and forget it exists. This is not possible with mod_rewrite, because for example, we are not going to force our developers to forget about /js/something.js as url for some of application controllers. Instead, we will use mod_magnet and custom Lua script. Visit this thread at CakePHP Google Group. Save the provided script to /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/cleanurl-v6.lua and add the following line to bottom of /usr/local/etc/lighttpd.conf:

    magnet.attract-physical-path-to = ( "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/cleanurl-v6.lua" )

After restarting lighttpd, we are ready to remove all the .htaccess files from our filesystem and forget they exist. All requests for non-existing static files will be rewritten to /index.php?url=xxx like CakePHP requires.

Virtual hosts

Now we want to set up a directory structure and custom configuration for our virtual hosts and their groups. We will design a directory structure that can be used for dynamic configuration later, with no need to repeat anything obvious in configuration files. In this case, only logs folder matters (make sure it is writable by webserver). We will symlink everything else. Lets use the following directory structure with CakePHP core and our applications checkouts like our standard:

    # example.com (with redirect from www.example.com)
    /home/company/
                  logs/
                  www/
                      cake/
                      mainsite/
                               ...
                               webroot/
                      vendors/
    # dev-main.example.com and dev-product.example.com
    /home/development/
                  logs/
                  www/
                      cake/
                      mainsite/
                               ...
                               webroot/
                      product/
                               ...
                               webroot/
                      vendors/
    # stage-main.example.com and stage-product.example.com
    /home/staging/
                  logs/
                  www/
                      cake/
                      mainsite/
                               ...
                               webroot/
                      product/
                               ...
                               webroot/
                      vendors/
    # api.example.com, book.example.com, product.com ( with redirect from www.product.com)
    /home/product/
                  logs/
                  www/
                      api/
                          ...
                          index.html
                      book/
                               ...
                               webroot/
                      cake/
                      product/
                               ...
                               webroot/
                      vendors/

If you think the above directory tree is overcomplicated, or it seems too long for simple tutorial example, stop reading please, and feel free to come back any time later. It was nice to meet you :-) Things are only getting worse from here on in. For those brave enough to read on, you should have an idea of which domains will use which applications, and which applications will share one CakePHP core and folder for logs (not necessarily, read more).

Now we are getting somewhere - we need tell our webserver on which external ip addresses it has to listen for incoming connections, and which virtual hosts map to each ip address. Our www subdomains (redirected) should listen on a different ip address then their short versions. This allows us to use different SSL certificates for them later, if there is a need for secure connections. To show what is possible with our config parser, api.example.com will not use a /webroot/ folder, it contains just static html files. To make things even more tricky, api.example.com and book.example.com will not listen on same ip like their neighbour application product.com.

    cd /usr/local/etc/lighttpd

From now on, we will continue our work in this directory.

Lets say that we want to use ip 1.2.3.4 for domains example.com, api.example.com and book.example.com.

    sudo mkdir -p ./1.2.3.4:80/company
    sudo ln -s /home/company/www/cake ./1.2.3.4:80/company/cake
    sudo ln -s /home/company/www/vendors ./1.2.3.4:80/company/vendors
    
    sudo ln -s /home/company/www/mainsite ./1.2.3.4:80/company/example.com
    
    sudo mkdir ./1.2.3.4:80/product
    sudo ln -s /home/product/www/cake ./1.2.3.4:80/product/cake
    sudo ln -s /home/product/www/vendors ./1.2.3.4:80/product/vendors
    
    sudo ln -s /home/product/www/api ./1.2.3.4:80/product/api.example.com
    sudo ln -s /home/product/www/book ./1.2.3.4:80/product/book.example.com

What exactly did we just do? We created a folder named 1.2.3.4:80, containing 2 subfolders company and product. These will be used as groups of virtual hosts - their names should be the same as the name of their home directory (by default, path for logs can be adjusted). We will use them for setting paths to log files later. Both company and product have a symlinked cake and vendors folders and symlinks named as real domains and pointing to our app folders.

Lets continue - ip 2.3.4:5:80 will be used for rest of the group product.

    sudo mkdir -p ./2.3.4.5:80/product
    sudo ln -s /home/product/www/cake ./2.3.4.5:80/product/cake
    sudo ln -s /home/product/www/vendors ./2.3.4.5:80/product/vendors
    
    sudo ln -s /home/product/www/product ./2.3.4.5:80/product/product.com

That means only one virtual host for now.

Ok, ip 3.4.5.6 is going to be used for the www subdomains. No symlinks to existing applications are necessary here, because lighttpd will redirect requests coming to www.example.com to example.com automatically.

    sudo mkdir -p ./3.4.5.6:80/company/www.example.com ./3.4.5.6:80/product/www.product.com

We just had to create ip:port directory for the socket, group(s) of www virtualhosts and some domain-based directories just to have something to point default virtual host of this group at.

Staging and development checkouts will all share one ip 4.5.6.7.

    sudo mkdir -p ./4.5.6.7:80/development
    sudo ln -s /home/development/www/cake ./4.5.6.7:80/development/cake
    sudo ln -s /home/development/www/vendors ./4.5.6.7:80/development/vendors
    
    sudo ln -s /home/development/www/mainsite ./4.5.6.7:80/development/dev-main.example.com
    sudo ln -s /home/development/www/product ./4.5.6.7:80/development/dev-product.example.com
    
    sudo mkdir ./4.5.6.7:80/staging
    sudo ln -s /home/staging/www/cake ./4.5.6.7:80/staging/cake
    sudo ln -s /home/staging/www/vendors ./4.5.6.7:80/staging/vendors
    
    sudo ln -s /home/staging/www/mainsite ./4.5.6.7:80/staging/stage-main.example.com
    sudo ln -s /home/staging/www/product ./4.5.6.7:80/staging/stage-product.example.com

Four virtual hosts on one ip from different home folders (therefore placed in different groups).

The hard part is complete. Lets go through the bothering part of this custom setup. Did I said already that everything is a file? Don't be scared from amount of necessary steps, it will all be worth it in the future.

Lets look what we have done in directory /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/:

    1.2.3.4:80/
               company/
                        cake/        <-- /home/company/www/cake
                        example.com/ <-- /home/company/www/mainsite
                        vendors/     <-- /home/company/www/vendors
               product/
                        api.example.com/  <-- /home/product/www/api
                        book.example.com/ <-- /home/product/www/book
                        cake/             <-- /home/product/www/cake
                        vendors/          <-- /home/product/www/vendors
    2.3.4.5:80/
               product/
                        cake/        <-- /home/product/www/cake
                        product.com/ <-- /home/product/www/product
                        vendors/     <-- /home/product/www/vendors
    3.4.5.6:80/
               company/www.example.com/ <-- empty directory (redirected), necessary for default virtual host 
               product/www.product.com/ <-- empty directory (redirected), necessary for default virtual host
    4.5.6:7:80/
               development/
                        cake/                    <-- /home/development/www/cake
                        dev-main.example.com/    <-- /home/development/www/mainsite
                        dev-product.example.com/ <-- /home/development/www/product
                        vendors/                 <-- /home/development/www/vendors
               staging/
                        cake/                      <-- /home/staging/www/cake
                        stage-main.example.com/    <-- /home/staging/www/mainsite
                        stage-product.example.com/ <-- /home/staging/www/product
                        vendors/                   <-- /home/staging/www/vendors

Some new folders with symlinks.

Are you still with me? For those who know mod_simple_vhost, you should be already be pretty clear where we are going. Besides the accesslog path and compress folder path, we will also switch simple-vhost.server-root and simple-vhost.default-host in dependency of used socket and some hostname condition for virthost group. Actually, there is a bit more as well that I will show you.

The above directory structure shows that we have 7 groups of virtual hosts in 4 sockets, so lets create 7 simple configuration files for our groups of virtual hosts. Configuration file for group is not required in very special case - no regex pattern for this group, only one virtual host inside and - either only group in socket, or (alphabetically) last one.

<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/1.2.3.4:80/company/config.php
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^example\.com',
        'default' => 'example.com'
    );
?>
<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/1.2.3.4:80/product/config.php
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^(.*)\.example\.com',
        'default' => 'book.example.com'
    );
?>
<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/2.3.4.5:80/product/config.php
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^product\.com',
        'default' => 'product.com'
    );
?>
<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/3.4.5.6:80/company/config.php
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^(.*)\.example\.com',
        'default' => 'www.example.com'
    );
?>
<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/3.4.5.6:80/product/config.php
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^(.*)\.product\.com',
        'default' => 'www.product.com'
    );
?>
<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/4.5.6:7:80/development/config.php
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^dev-(.*)\.example\.com',
        'default' => 'dev-main.example.com'
    );
?>
<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/4.5.6:7:80/staging/config.php
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^stage-(.*)\.example\.com',
        'default' => 'stage-main.example.com'
    );
?>

And that's it. Every group (subfolder of ip.ad.dr.es:80 socket folder) has the required minimal configuration, and everything is properly set up. So lets see what we can take off from it.

Dynamic configuration

Extract this file in folder /usr/local/etc/lighttpd.

    sudo chmod a+x ./simple_config.php

Make simple_config.php executable for everyone.

Now run it as a non-privileged user.

    ./simple_config.php | more

You should see a basic generated configuration for your sockets, virthosts and virthosts groups.

Now we are already looking at a snippet of the generated configuration.

    #
    # Simple configuration parser output
    #
    # ERROR logfile /home/company/logs/example-access_log can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/example.com/ can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR logfile /home/product/logs/api-access_log can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/api.example.com/ can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR logfile /home/product/logs/book-access_log can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/book.example.com/ can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR logfile /home/product/logs/product-access_log can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/product.com/ can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR logfile /home/company/logs/www-access_log can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/www.example.com/ can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR logfile /home/product/logs/www-access_log can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/www.product.com/ can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR logfile /home/development/logs/dev-main-access_log can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/dev-main.example.com/ can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR logfile /home/development/logs/dev-product-access_log can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/dev-product.example.com/ can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR logfile /home/staging/logs/stage-main-access_log can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/stage-main.example.com/ can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR logfile /home/staging/logs/stage-product-access_log can not be created, SKIPPING
    # ERROR compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/stage-product.example.com/ can not be created, SKIPPING
    #
    
    $SERVER["socket"] == "1.2.3.4:80" {
            $HTTP["host"] =~ "^example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/1.2.3.4:80/company/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "example.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "example.com" {
                    ....

You can see which files this script is trying to create. It will create all of them when you will run it as root once. But there are two things we would like to fix first: access logs /home/company/logs/www-access_log and /home/product/logs/www-access_log are generated for our redirected domains.

Lets redirect these logs to those used by domains example.com and product.com:

<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/3.4.5.6:80/company/config.php
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^(.*)\.example\.com',
        'default' => 'www.example.com'
    );
    $config['virthosts'] = array(
        'www.example.com' => array(
            'log' => 'example'
        )
    );
?>
<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/3.4.5.6:80/product/config.php
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^(.*)\.product\.com',
        'default' => 'www.product.com'
    );
    $config['virthosts'] = array(
        'www.product.com' => array(
            'log' => 'product'
        )
    );
?>

Running ./simple_config.php as unprivileged user again shows this script is no longer trying to create any www-access_log files. We will not care about directories for compressed content, they can be used later, but we will never serve different content on example.com and www.example.com, so it is logical that they share one log file. Every decent logfile parser can handle several domains in one log file.

Now, you can run this script as root:

    sudo ./simple_config.php

and result will look much better now:

#
# Simple configuration parser output
#
# NOTICE created logfile /home/company/logs/example-access_log
# NOTICE created compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/example.com/
# NOTICE created logfile /home/product/logs/api-access_log
# NOTICE created compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/api.example.com/
# NOTICE created logfile /home/product/logs/book-access_log
# NOTICE created compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/book.example.com/
# NOTICE created logfile /home/product/logs/product-access_log
# NOTICE created compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/product.com/
# NOTICE created compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/www.example.com/
# NOTICE created compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/www.product.com/
# NOTICE created logfile /home/development/logs/dev-main-access_log
# NOTICE created compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/dev-main.example.com/
# NOTICE created logfile /home/development/logs/dev-product-access_log
# NOTICE created compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/dev-product.example.com/
# NOTICE created logfile /home/staging/logs/stage-main-access_log
# NOTICE created compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/stage-main.example.com/
# NOTICE created logfile /home/staging/logs/stage-product-access_log
# NOTICE created compress cache /var/cache/lighttpd/compress/stage-product.example.com/
#

    $SERVER["socket"] == "1.2.3.4:80" {
            $HTTP["host"] =~ "^example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/1.2.3.4:80/company/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "example.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/company/logs/example-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/example.com/"
                    }
            }
            else $HTTP["host"] =~ "^(.*)\.example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/1.2.3.4:80/product/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "book.example.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "api.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/product/logs/api-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/api.example.com/"
                    }
                    else $HTTP["host"] == "book.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/product/logs/book-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/book.example.com/"
                    }
            }
    }
    $SERVER["socket"] == "2.3.4.5:80" {
            $HTTP["host"] =~ "^product\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/2.3.4.5:80/product/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "product.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "product.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/product/logs/product-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/product.com/"
                    }
            }
    }
    $SERVER["socket"] == "3.4.5.6:80" {
            $HTTP["host"] =~ "^(.*)\.example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/3.4.5.6:80/company/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "www.example.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "www.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/company/logs/example-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/www.example.com/"
                    }
            }
            else $HTTP["host"] =~ "^(.*)\.product\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/3.4.5.6:80/product/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "www.product.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "www.product.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/product/logs/product-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/www.product.com/"
                    }
            }
    }
    $SERVER["socket"] == "4.5.6.7:80" {
            $HTTP["host"] =~ "^dev-(.*)\.example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/4.5.6.7:80/development/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "dev-main.example.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "dev-main.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/development/logs/dev-main-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/dev-main.example.com/"
                    }
                    else $HTTP["host"] == "dev-product.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/development/logs/dev-product-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/dev-product.example.com/"
                    }
            }
            else $HTTP["host"] =~ "^stage-(.*)\.example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/4.5.6.7:80/staging/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "stage-main.example.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "stage-main.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/staging/logs/stage-main-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/stage-main.example.com/"
                    }
                    else $HTTP["host"] == "stage-product.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/staging/logs/stage-product-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/stage-product.example.com/"
                    }
            }
    }

Getting close to what we need from this setup.

I will process several steps now, and then I will paste here final output of config parser for you to compare with above one.

We have another domain manual.example.com (with no virthost set) and we want to redirect it to api.example.com with configuration only, it will be using its own manual-access_log. Furthermore, we want book.example.com condition happen sooner then the condition on api.example.com, because book is gaining more traffic, and attach domain aliases bibliotheca.example.com and bookstore.example.com to book.example.com. Also, expire headers for book should be set for 2 years and as previously mentioned api.example.com is not using /webroot/ folder.

<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/1.2.3.4:80/product/config.php
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^(.*)\.example\.com',
        'default' => 'book.example.com'
    );
    $config['virthosts'] = array(
        'book.example.com' => array(
            'expire' => array(
                '^(/css/|/files/|/img/|/js/|/images/|/themed/|/favicon.ico)' => 'access 2 years'
            ),
            'aliases' => array(
                'bibliotheca.example.com',
                'bookstore.example.com'
            )
        ),
        'api.example.com' => array(
            'webroot' => '/'
        ),
        'manual.example.com' => array(
             'redirect' => 'http://api.example.org/'
        )
    );
?>

All of it is fixed now. We even do not need folder/symlink for manual.example.com in this case.

Important note: we do not have to create folders for domains bibliotheca.example.com and bookstore.example.com, because they are aliases for book.example.com and it is used as default virtual host for this group! If you will set alias for non-default virtual host, you have to symlink aliased application several times to group folder - every time with a different domain name.

We want all staging sites to store logs in /home/development/logs. Also all staging and development sites should use expire headers for 5 minutes only and have to use http auth (one common file for now).

<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/4.5.6:7:80/development/config.php 
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^dev-(.*)\.example\.com', 
        'default' => 'dev-main.example.com', 
        'expire' => array(
             '^(/css/|/files/|/img/|/js/|/images/|/themed/|/favicon.ico)' => 'access 5 minutes' 
        ), 
        'auth' => array( 
            'backend' => 'htpasswd', 
            'file' => '/var/projects/company/.trac.htpasswd', 
            'protect' => array( 
                '/' => array( 
                    'realm' => 'Development Access', 
                    'require' => 'valid-user' 
                ) 
            )
        ) 
    );
?>
<?php # /usr/local/etc/lighttpd/4.5.6:7:80/staging/config.php 
    $config['group'] = array(
        'host' => '^stage-(.*)\.example\.com', 
        'default' => 'stage-main.example.com', 
        'expire' => array( 
            '^(/css/|/files/|/img/|/js/|/images/|/themed/|/favicon.ico)' => 'access 5 minutes' 
        ),
        'logs' => '/home/development/logs', 
        'auth' => array( 
            'backend' => 'htpasswd', 
            'file' => '/var/projects/company/.trac.htpasswd', 
            'protect' => array( 
                '/' => array( 
                    'realm' => 'Staging Access', 
                    'require' => 'valid-user' 
                ) 
            )
        ) 
    ); 
?>

This has all been fixed now.

Now our simple_config.php returns this:

    #
    # Simple configuration parser output
    #
    
    $SERVER["socket"] == "1.2.3.4:80" {
            $HTTP["host"] =~ "^example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/1.2.3.4:80/company/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "example.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/company/logs/example-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/example.com/"
                    }
            }
            else $HTTP["host"] =~ "^(.*)\.example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/1.2.3.4:80/product/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "book.example.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] =~ "^(book\.example\.com|bibliotheca\.example\.com|bookstore\.example\.com)" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/product/logs/book-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/book.example.com/"
                            $HTTP["url"] =~ "^(/css/|/files/|/img/|/js/|/images/|/themed/|/favicon.ico)" {
                                    expire.url = ("" => "access 2 years")
                            }
                    }
                    else $HTTP["host"] == "api.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/product/logs/api-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/api.example.com/"
                            simple-vhost.document-root = "/"
                    }
                    else $HTTP["host"] == "manual.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/product/logs/manual-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/manual.example.com/"
                            url.redirect = (
                                    ".*" => "http://api.example.org/"
                            )
                    }
            }
    }
    $SERVER["socket"] == "2.3.4.5:80" {
            $HTTP["host"] =~ "^product\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/2.3.4.5:80/product/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "product.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "product.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/product/logs/product-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/product.com/"
                    }
            }
    }
    $SERVER["socket"] == "3.4.5.6:80" {
            $HTTP["host"] =~ "^(.*)\.example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/3.4.5.6:80/company/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "www.example.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "www.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/company/logs/example-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/www.example.com/"
                    }
            }
            else $HTTP["host"] =~ "^(.*)\.product\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/3.4.5.6:80/product/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "www.product.com"
                    $HTTP["host"] == "www.product.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/product/logs/product-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/www.product.com/"
                    }
            }
    }
    $SERVER["socket"] == "4.5.6.7:80" {
            $HTTP["host"] =~ "^dev-(.*)\.example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/4.5.6.7:80/development/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "dev-main.example.com"
                    $HTTP["url"] =~ "^(/css/|/files/|/img/|/js/|/images/|/themed/|/favicon.ico)" {
                            expire.url = ("" => "access 5 minutes")
                    }
                    auth.backend = "htpasswd"
                    auth.backend.htpasswd.userfile = "/var/projects/company/.trac.htpasswd"
                    auth.require = (
                            "/" => (
                                    "method" => "basic",
                                    "realm" => "Development Access",
                                    "require" => "valid-user"
                            )
                    )
                    $HTTP["host"] == "dev-main.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/development/logs/dev-main-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/dev-main.example.com/"
                    }
                    else $HTTP["host"] == "dev-product.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/development/logs/dev-product-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/dev-product.example.com/"
                    }
            }
            else $HTTP["host"] =~ "^stage-(.*)\.example\.com" {
                    simple-vhost.server-root = "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/4.5.6.7:80/staging/"
                    simple-vhost.default-host = "stage-main.example.com"
                    $HTTP["url"] =~ "^(/css/|/files/|/img/|/js/|/images/|/themed/|/favicon.ico)" {
                            expire.url = ("" => "access 5 minutes")
                    }
                    auth.backend = "htpasswd"
                    auth.backend.htpasswd.userfile = "/var/projects/company/.trac.htpasswd"
                    auth.require = (
                            "/" => (
                                    "method" => "basic",
                                    "realm" => "Staging Access",
                                    "require" => "valid-user"
                            )
                    )
                    $HTTP["host"] == "stage-main.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/development/logs/stage-main-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/stage-main.example.com/"
                    }
                    else $HTTP["host"] == "stage-product.example.com" {
                            accesslog.filename = "/home/development/logs/stage-product-access_log"
                            compress.cache-dir = "/var/cache/lighttpd/compress/stage-product.example.com/"
                    }
            }
    }

Now it looks like we are set with everything we needed.

One last line for /usr/local/etc/lighttpd.conf is:

    include_shell "/usr/local/etc/lighttpd/simple_config.php"

And that's all.

Before you will start or restart lighttpd, try and see if it can parse the new configuration (with our include) without errors, or inspect how it sees configuration after parsing:

    lighttpd -t -f /usr/local/etc/lighttpd.conf
    lighttpd -p -f /usr/local/etc/lighttpd.conf

It is better to run the above commands as root, off course.

Now what?

Think twice about patterns for groups - don't be surprised if you get 'It works' page or default virthost of another group, if you are too lazy to read the generated configuration! Groups are processed in alphabetical order - just so you know which patterns are going to be checked first. Well, it is possible to change order of groups - change name of some company group folder to xxx_company and:

    $config['group'] = array(
        'name' => 'company',

Now you should be fine - this group in folder named xxx_company instead of company, and everything will still work.

Everything that is necessary should be up and running now. Lighttpd should serve all virtual hosts from groups in sockets from now on. Read how to clear cache for mod_compress too. Smart brain should ask now, why we are using mod_simple_vhost, if our parser generates configuration for every virtual host it founds in our configuration files and directory structure. We don't do it, but you can - read code. Note for these who do not want or can not follow our default logs location, home directories, cache directories, user account lighttpd will use, or want to store directory structure with sockets/groups/virthosts somewhere else - read code too ;-) Reason why we set mod_simple_vhost for this example as default is simple - to get some domain serving some application, we need only one simple thing: symlink to app directory with domain name, placed in some virtual group in proper socket. This virtual host will be accessible immediately - although, restart of webserver is still necessary to have configuration for access logfile and compress directory for this virtual host (otherwise default accesslog and compress dir will be used), but not required.

A few questions remain, what and how needs to be done in obvious use cases - adding new ip addresses, groups, virthosts, or moving whole groups over sockets, moving virthosts over sockets, etc... I assume this part will be sweet piece of cake for you. Definitely - feel free to call simple_config.php as often as you want to. It is highly reccommended to save functional configuration to a backup file by redirecting the output. Sure, one can use include "/some/path/generated_output.conf" exclusively, instead of include_shell - it is up to you.

Backup, backup, backup. This is nothing more then a functional example, but the entire code lives in one class, so feel free to change or extend it for your needs. It is released under MIT license and is provided as it is, so you can do anything you want with it (except for removing license and copyright note). Keep in mind it was not tested in all possible situations and some of things I did not mention in this tutorial (but they are implemented in code) were not intensively tested yet.

If you feel that some of the subdomains used in this tutorial sound familiar to you, you are probably right. I didn't said it was going to be a fairy tale. I said, I will tell you a story. To be continued...

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Quick glossary: DevOps

Has your team gotten you down with the use of so many terms that seem so unfamiliar? Don’t despair! The ability to rapidly develop, deploy and integrate new software is essential to success - but you should be aware of the terms that the dev ops team will be using! First starting off with devops - which is a mash-up of two terms: "software development" and "information technology operations. But there are more A/B testing A technique for testing new software or new features whereby two or more versions are deployed to users for testing. The metrics from each variant are then compared and assessed based on the testing criteria. Acceptance testing The testing performed near the end of the development cycle that determines whether software is ready for deployment. Agile development Agile development refers to a methodology that emphasizes short iterative planning and development cycles. The idea is that iterative development affords more control and establishes predictability.   Behaviour driven development A development methodology that asserts software should be specified in terms of the desired behavior of the application, and with syntax that is readable for business managers. Build Automation Tools or frameworks that allow source code to be automatically compiled into releasable binaries. Usually includes code-level unit testing to ensure individual pieces of code behave as expected. CA Release Automation CA Release Automation is an enterprise-class, continuous delivery solution that automates complex, multi-tier release deployments through orchestration and promotion of applications from development through production. Continuous delivery Continuous Delivery is a set of processes and practices that radically removes waste from your software production process, enables faster delivery of high-quality functionality and sets up a rapid and effective feedback loop between your business and your users. Deployment Manager Cloud Deployment Manager allows developers to easily design, deploy, and reuse complex Cloud Platform solutions using simple and flexible declarative templates. From simple web servers to complex highly available clusters, Deployment Manager allows teams to spend less time managing, and more time building. Delivery pipeline A sequence of orchestrated, automated tasks implementing the software delivery process for a new application version. Each step in the pipeline is intended to increase the level of confidence in the new version to the point where a go/ no-go decision can be made. A delivery pipeline can be considered the result of optimizing an organization’s release process. Functional testing Testing of the end-to-end system to validate (new) functionality. With executable specifications, Functional Testing is carried out by running the specifications against the application. Gitlab GitLab is a web-based Git repository manager with wiki and issue tracking features. GitLab is similar to GitHub, but GitLab has an open source version, unlike GitHub. Github GitHub is a web-based Git repository hosting service, which offers all of the distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) functionality of Git as well as adding its own features. Unlike Git, which is strictly a command-line tool, GitHub provides a web-based graphical interface and desktop as well as mobile integration. Lean “Lean manufacturing” or “lean production” is an approach or methodology that aims to reduce waste in a production process by focussing on preserving value. 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Ed Finkler - Founder, Open Sourcing Mental Illness

Do you know who Ed Finkler is or what OSMI does? If you are in the developer community, then it definitely is a name you should get to know. Open Sourcing Mental Illness is a non-profit organization  dedicated to raising awareness, educating, and providing resources to support mental wellness in the tech and open source communities. CakeDC and CakePHP has long supported and stood behind OSMI - Ed Finkler has been instrumental in making mental health a topic of discussion, and opening up lines of support for mental wellness in tech. Mental health and wellness are close to our hearts and we want to share with you OSMI and why you should support it. Ed has been active in bringing forward a previously rarely discussed topic - mental health. Being an advocate of mental health awareness and using his own experiences as a developer, he has recently announced that he is now able to go full time into OSMI. This is really fantastic news and CakeDC stands 100% behind him. We caught us with him to find out more. We love that you are now putting all your time into OSMI - but what was the Catalyst for your decision to focus full time into OSMI?
What we found is that we simply had to much to do, and not enough time to do it. Everyone at OSMI are volunteers, and it was becoming increasingly challenging to find the bandwidth for anyone to complete major tasks. We are ambitious, and our ambition far exceeded the time available. I couldn’t ask it of anyone else, but I could make a decision myself -- that I would step away from my CTO role at a tech startup and dedicate myself to OSMI full-time.
What is your favorite thing to do out of ‘office’ hours (Hobbies/activities etc)?
Generally I find myself watching movies or good TV shows, or playing video games (I’m deep in Mass Effect: Andromeda right now). I also write electronic music, which you can hear at deadagent.net.
Do you think that companies are becoming more receptive to your message and becoming more open about speaking about mental health?
Yes, I think so. Companies in general are gradually becoming more aware of the need to discuss mental health openly, the same way we discuss other serious public health issues, like cancer and heart disease. But there’s a long, long way to go, and we are just taking our first steps as an industry to deal with this in a healthy way.
Have you seen a marked difference in people opening up about their personal experiences?
I definitely have observed, over and over, that when someone takes that first step forward, others follow. Fear is the thing that keeps mental illness hidden, and fear is why so many suffer in silence. Seeing someone speak without fear about their own issues empowers the listener. They may not need to stand up on stage like I do, but I’ve had numerous people tell me that hearing someone speak openly was what allowed them to seek help and/or start speaking openly about the subject.
What would you say is the biggest misconception that you have encountered when speaking about and sharing your personal experiences?
I think the biggest misconception I encounter is companies believing that by simply offering some level of mental health care in medical coverage, they’ve done all they can. That would be fine if we treated mental disorders like we do cancer or heart disease or diabetes, but we don’t -- we are afraid to discuss it, and as a consequence, we don’t know what to look for, why it matters, and how to seek help. In the absence of consistent, positive affirmation that it’s a safe topic, our default is to be afraid to discuss it. That keeps people from seeking the help they need.
Biggest piece of advice that you would give someone battling with mental health issues
You are not alone. Lots of people are like you. There is no shame in what you deal with. You are stronger than you know.
You recently spoke about mental health breaks on the OSMI blog, how would someone know they are in need of one and how would you suggest for employees to bring this topic up with their employers?
I am leery of giving specific health advice, but in general I’d say this: listen to your mind and your body, and remember that your own health is far, far more important than any job. Plus, if you’re healthy, you’ll be able to do your job much better.
In the last 5 years, you have achieved incredible breakthroughs and achievements in bringing this to the fore - where do you see OSMI and mental illness awareness in the next 5 years?
Ultimately, those two things are intertwined. OSMI will continue to grow because so many of us suffer from this, and more and more of us are realizing that we aren’t alone. That we aren’t broken. That we aren’t without hope. OSMI is about giving hope to those that felt they had none. Giving compassion to those who are hardest on themselves.
It’s my sincere hope that OSMI will drive the awareness of mental health in the tech workplace and change what we choose to value in employers and employees. However we get there, I believe we will succeed.

As someone suffering and wanting to find out more or be involved, how do we reach out, what should we expect and where should we go?
There are lots of ways to help OSMI, and all you really need is a willingness to spend some of your time working with us. You should visit https://osmihelp.org and learn more about our work, and then email info@osmihelp.org to talk to us about volunteering.
As a business with employees in the tech industry, what should we do to make mental health more accessible
For each employer there’s a different answer, but there are some general things to keep in mind. The biggest one is that the well-being of your employees must be a top priority. It’s an easy thing to say, but if you truly value it, you’ll avoid doing what so many organizations do: rewarding overwork and unhealthy “loyalty.” Ping pong tables and bean bag chairs don’t make people healthier, and neither do free snacks and beer at the office. They’re short-term tricks to get people to come to you and maybe stay in the office longer, but they don’t encourage a healthy work/life balance. Too many developers think their work IS their life. That’s a mistake.
Long term, what works are reasonable work hours, easy access to mental and physical health care, and promoting healthy preventative habits. Employees who feel that their well-being is demonstrably valued will be more productive and stay with your organization longer.
I also strongly encourage everyone in a leadership position to take Mental Health First Aid <https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org>, a program that teaches the skills to respond to the signs of mental illness and substance use.
Quote to live by or key advice to follow every day
One time I was encouraged to do a six-word memoir, and this is what I came up with:
“By helping others, I save myself.”
Thanks to Ed! We absolutely loved catching up with him about OSMI, we hope that you take a moment to check out the links and find out more to get involved and continue this important conversation! For more information, be sure to check out https://osmihelp.org/about/about-osmi Recently, OSMI launched donation gifts - be sure to check it out and donate!

Color Accessibility – UX Best Practices for Using Color in Design

Designing websites can be fun, challenging and exciting. Even if you are just managing the process behind the website design, it is important to be aware of best practices of color use in web design. Color is one of the most powerful tools when designing. Color can introduce personality into your web page, it can bring across your brand and your message, it can make the user feel more at ease. But it can also alienate and confuse people - imagine being color blind and navigating a site that hasn’t thought about this intricacy. Have you considered your end user in your color choice for your web design? Other factors that you should take into consideration are how our brains see color, the way color affects usability, and the cultural connotations of color. Color plays a role in the readability and user experience. For instance, overlaying colors on opposite ends of the color wheel can make reading easier. Designing with accessibility in mind is not a barrier to innovation, guidelines to help you design for a diverse set of end users will challenge you to find the best solution to your design problem. Some tips for designing with color accessibility in mind Don’t use color as the only visual means of conveying information Find and use alternative visual means to convey information - Use both colors and symbols. For instance, a required field left blank could be conveyed with a red border. However, if you are finding color difficult to visualise, then this wouldn’t be too useful. Another method would be to include a hazard triangle in the empty field to visualise and convey that the field has been left blank. This will help users who are unable to, or have difficulty with, distinguishing colors. Always ensure sufficient contrast between text and background Ideally it is said that the contrast ratio between text and its’ background should be at least 4.5 to 1. If your font is at least 24px or 19px bold, the minimum drops to 3 to1. But why you ask? Imagine if you are color blind, if the contrast is not there, the text and the background will just fade into each other. Quick rule of thumb - don’t overlay light-on-light or dark-on-dark and do overlay colors with varying values to help with readability. Keep it minimal Limit the color palette you use for your website - allow for fewer instances of confusion. Stick to a core group or core set of colors to best represent your design or brand. Minimalistic design is timeless and a current trend - it also is very useful if you are designing for color accessibility. Avoid these color combinations Here are a few combinations to avoid - depending on the type and severity of a user’s color blindness - these combo’s may be a potential nightmare

  • Green and red;
  • Blue and purple;
  • Green and brown;
  • Green and blue;
  • Light Green and yellow;
  • Blue and grey;
  • Green and grey;
  • Green and black;

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