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2010-11 Web Service Migration FAQ

Historically, web hosting in the College of Engineering has been provided by the same servers responsible for file storage and email. These servers are commonly referred to as home servers. This poses security risks which we are working to address by moving web sites off of the home servers and onto specialized web servers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is impacted by this change?

This change impacts faculty, staff, and students across all of the schools and programs in Engineering.

Will my current URL continue to work?

Yes. If you choose to keep your web site, all URLs currently in use will continue to function. These legacy URLs will redirect visitors to correct location.

I maintain another website on the domain, how can I ensure it is not retired?

E-mail with information on the site you maintain. Before any site is retired we will take several additional steps to contact you to confirm it is no longer needed.

My website provides access to a large amount of research data, will the new web service accommodate this?

We realize there are special cases which may require a non standard approach. We will work with you one-on-one to determine a solution which addresses our current security concerns.

If my site is disabled will the associated files be removed?

No, we are not removing any of your files. If you identify that you are no longer using the specified website we will simply tell our web server to stop sharing your files with the world. The files will remain in place.

What security risks are posed by the current web service?

The current web service is built on top of the standard ECN support model which requires each UNIX server to share its file systems with every other UNIX server. This allows for users to have a single home directory and consistent access to files across thousands of computers. The downside of running a web server under this model is that files never intended for distribution could be served on the web.

Generally, your non-web files are protected and a specific combination of events is necessary to for these risks to become reality. This will better protect your files by creating a clear line between web accessible and non-web accessible files on the ECN network.

Troubleshooting a Migrated Site

How do I access my new website files?

From the Web:

Your new website is accessible from the web via where username is replaced by your ECN account username.

ECN Supported Desktop:

From an ECN supported desktop computer you can access your website files from your N: Drive in the folder called ECNwebsite this folder was created during the automatic migration process and contains information about your website.

From a non-ECN supported Desktop:

From a non-ECN supported desktop you can map a drive to your new ECN website using the User Web Site instructions in the Accessing/Updating web pages on the Apache web server article. This approach is also useful if you are accessing a website owned by an account other than the one used to access your desktop.

I receive a “Forbidden” message when viewing my website


Files must be world readable (world executable for scripts) to be properly served on the new web server. Previously, files which were owned and readable by group “other” could also be served.


If you are familiar with ECN’s Unix environment you can change the permissions of a file from a command prompt using the chmod command.

> chmod o+r filename.html
> chmod o+rx filename.cgi

If you are unsure what all of this means, talk to your ECN computer support staff for assistance. If the files in question are not intended to be served on the web, you should move them outside of your web directory.

Server Side Includes are not working correctly


Server Side Includes are not enabled in your .htaccess file


Include the following lines in your .htaccess file to enable Server Side Includes:

Options Includes
AddHandler server-parsed .shtml

Additional AddHandler lines may be necessary if you wish for additional file extensions to be parsed.

My Index.html file is not showing by default


When a visitor requests a directory from the web server it looks for the first file from the following list and displays it to the user

  • index.php
  • index.cgi
  • index.html
  • index.htm

The ECN legacy web server modified this list to include index files with a capital “I” e.g. (Index.html, Index.htm, Index.cgi, etc.)

Solution #1:

Rename any uppercase “Index.html” files to lowercase “index.html”. This approach is recommended if you have a small number of index files in your website.

Solution #2:

Create a “.htaccess” file in the root of your website and add the following line:

DirectoryIndex index.php index.cgi Index.html Index.htm index.html index.htm

This line tells the web server to look for Index.html and Index.htm in addition to their lowercase counterparts. Additional default filenames can be added and the search order can be changed.

My wrapped .whtml files are not displaying correctly


The ECN legacy web server provided support for “Wrapped HTML” files with a .whtml extension. This functionality is not a standard in the Apache web server. To more easily maintain the new web server most of the non-standard functionality has been removed.

Solution #1:

Replace any .whtml files with static HTML files.

Solution #2:

Explicitly tell the web server to wrap your .whtml files by adding the following lines to the .htaccess file in the root of your website:

AddHandler add-wrap .whtml
AddType text/x-server-wrapped-html .whtml
Action add-wrap /ECN/whtml/wrapwhtml.cgi

SetEnv WrapTop /~username/header.html
SetEnv WrapBottom /~username/footer.html

Replace the values for the WrapTop and WrapBottom with the paths to your sites header and footer files. Entries for WrapTop and WrapBottom should already exist in your .htaccess file since you were using .whtml files, though the URL path to the header and footer may have changed.

My website restricted by a .htpasswd file is not working


The location of your files changed when the files moved to the new web server. It is likely that the location of the .htpasswd file specified in your .htaccess file is no longer correct. Additionally, the new web server does not have access to files outside of your web directory.


First, be sure that your .htpasswd file is located within your web directory, next update the location of your .htpasswd file in your .htaccess file.

Next, if you have not done so, your .htaccess file must contain the following for .htpasswd support:

AuthBasicProvider file

For more information please read Apache Web Server Authentication (using htaccess)

My website restricted by Purdue username is not working


The ECN legacy web server authenticated visitors using the Purdue Electronic Directory, now a new system is in place for authentication called I2A2.


For more information please read Apache Web Server Authentication (using htaccess)

I am prompted to download web pages when viewing


It is likely that an invalid content type is being specified for the file extension you are being asked to download.


Remove any AddType lines from your .htaccess file which correspond to the conflicting file type. For example, a line like the one shown below can cause this problem with .html files.

AddType text/x-server-parsed-html .html

I receive an “Internal Server Error” when viewing my site


Any number of things can cause this error message.

Solution #1:

If the problem occurs on every page within your website it is likely that a setting in your .htaccess file is preventing the web server from serving your site. The only option which you may need to set under the new web server is Includes (used to enable Server Side Includes)

Remove the FollowSymLinks, Indexes, and MultiViews from your option lines if they are set.

The Options enabled by the web server are: Options Indexes ExecCGI SymLinksIfOwnerMatch

This these tell the web server to show directory listings, execute CGI scripts, and allow symlinks only if the owner of the target is the same as the owner of the link respectively.

Other problems in a .htaccess file may cause an “Internal Server Error” throughout the site. Try clearing out the content of the .htaccess file and reinsert the lines one at a time until the setting causing the problem is identified.

Solution #2:

If the problem only exists with scripts it is likely that a problem is a result of an incompatibility. Request access to system error logs by sending e-mail to

Links to other files/pages on my website no longer work correctly


The links are not pointing the correct location of the files.

Solution #1:

Verify that the links do not explicitly reference the old web server. References to,,, etc. should be changed to relative links [link to description]

Solution #2:

Verify that the case of the link is correct. The legacy web server would try to find files even if the case of the directory names or file names did not match. For example, a link to “boxcar.html” would find “BoxCar.html” or “BOXCAR.html”.

I receive a “Security Information” warning when viewing my website


The web server uses SSL encryption to securely share information with visitors of your website. If your website includes references to images, css files, videos, or scripts on non-SSL (non-secure) web servers some web browsers alert the visitor that not all content is secure.

Solution #1:

Move all of the content for your website onto the server. This ensures that all content is served securely. If the content is already hosted on be sure you are using relative links to reference the content.

Solution #2:

If the content is hosted elsewhere and cannot be moved to the web server, determine if the content provider can provide a secure alternative. If you cannot find a secure alternative send e-mail to for assistance.

I can no longer access Apache error logs for my website


Error logs generated by the web server were previously readable by anyone with an ECN computer account. Access to logs is restricted to a specific group on the new web server.


Request access to the error logs by sending e-mail to

My CGI scripts are no longer working correctly


There are a number of problems which could impact a CGI script. Try to work with the person who originally wrote the script. Some

  • Verify that any paths referenced in the script are updated to reflect new file locations
  • Verify that the script is not trying to access any files outside of /web/ the web server does not have access to non-web files
  • Check environment variables used by your script. Many variables have changed format from “XVariable” to “Variable”


If you have a highly dynamic web application, contact to discuss options for alternate hosting arrangements.

How do I re-sync files from my old website?

ECN will handle the initial copy of your files from your website on your homeserver to If you would like to manually re-sync the files at a later time you can do so by logging into a UNIX shell and executing the following command from your home directory.

rsync -avH –progress public-web/ /web/users/[username]

Server Side Includes (SSI) files are no longer working

Server side includes are not enabled for .shtml or .html files by default. If you would like to use these in your website you will need to create a .htaccess file which contains the following directives:

Options Includes
AddHandler server-parsed .shtml
AddHandler server-parsed .inc

This will cause the server to parse .shtml and .inc files for SSI directives. If there are other extensions which should be parsed they can be added in the same fashion.

Last modified: 2015/04/27 15:50:0.430540 GMT-4 by curtis.f.smith.1
Created: 2010/05/19 08:39:43.962000 GMT-4 by brian.r.brinegar.1.



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