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Instructional Laboratory Support - Mechanical Engineering

ME Web Services Migration/Upgrad

ME/Engineering Web Services

Getting Old Websites working again

In May of 2008, Mechanical Engineering completed the migration for the old Apache 1.3x based web servers to a centralized Zope/Apache 2.x based web cluster. If pages were not migrated prior to this change, then they stopped working. The only way to get these sites back up is to migrate them to the new cluster.

Requesting new site space

1) Send the request for the new/existing site to the E-shop (mesite@ecn.purdue.edu)

         Requests should include:
            - Name of site, username, lab name, lab group or course
            - System to host site (zope or apache, undergrads only can use apache)
            - If this is an entity, a ME faculty or staff member must approve the request

2) If its an Apache based site, a file space will be available in the web share on ME servers (tools and widget). This share has three root directories, 'me', 'entities' and 'users'. Undergraduates will have space in the 'me' folder, other person accounts will be in the 'users' space and all non-person accounts will be in the 'entities' space. This share will be available on all of the ME windows lab computers as the 'W' drive. Once you have located your directory,  simply place your content in this folder to post it. This folder is also available in the ME/ECN UNIX environment in the path \web.

Zope vs. Apache 2

When you migrate your site(s), you will be asked to choose between Zope and Apache. The Apache option is an upgraded version of the old web services. Zope is a true content management system. The Zope server as an option requires more effort to migrate but can provide many more features such as Wiki's, Surveys and database connection with very little development time. Undergraduate students must use the Apache 2.0 based server. 

How can I access the new web space

The new space given for your web site can be accessed in many ways. The actual file system is available on all UNIX and Linux machines in the path /web.
Additionally, you can do a 'Map Network Drive' to this path \\tools.ecn.purdue.edu\web

- Faculty, Staff and Graduate students will find their directory under 'users'.
       IE      /web/users/loganm
- Undergraduate Students will find their directory under 'me'.
       IE      /web/me/<login>
- Non-person accounts will find their directory under 'entities'.
       IE      /web/entities/ME274
- Non-person accounts with virtualhost configuration will find their directory under 'group'.
       IE      /web/groups/MECL
       IE - web accessible files  /web/groups/MECL/public_html

How do I create a web site

Fundamentally, a website is nothing more than a collection of HTML files.  These can be static files that end in html or dynamic content using scripts or programs to generate HTML pages on request. Given this, to create a website, you need to create an html document. Save this document as index.html and place it in your web space. Now, you have a web site.

'Public-Web' Directories

The new Apache server does not require a public-web directory. The file space you will be given is the root of your web space. If you use 'templeton', the root of the web space will be the 'public_html' directory. Templeton provides access to logs and a private directory space as well.

Permission Denied Errors when accessing files

The web server is a UNIX based system. In the process of placing files, especially when using a PC or Mac, the access permission can be set incorrectly. To correct these, you will need to open a command prompt on tools and use the 'chmod' command. To be web accessible, a file must be world readable or be set to the UNIX group www and group readable. For a directory to be accessible, it must either be world readable and executable or have its UNIX group set to www and have the group read and execute permissions set.

EXAMPLE: Making A file (index.html) and Directory (sp3) accessible for user loganm

tools: cd /web/users/loganm
tools: pwd

/web/users/loganm tools: ls -la -rwx------ 1 loganm other 67 Oct 26 2009 index.html drwx------ 2 loganm other 3 Jan 28 20:36 sp3
tools: chmod 744 index.html tools: chmod 755 sp3 tools: ls -la -rwxr--r-- 1 loganm other 67 Oct 26 2009 index.html drwxr-xr-x 2 loganm other 3 Jan 28 20:36 sp3


Using htaccess control files - 'dot htaccess' or '.htaccess'

If you plan to use access control, CGI files or other more complex options in your website, you may need to use a 'dot htaccess' file (.htaccess). This is a specifically named file that has a period as the first character. These files MUST be created and edited under UNIX to work correctly. Windows/Dos uses a different text file format which when used in UNIX, appends ^M characters to each line. This WILL break your website. Available editors include vi, pico and emacs. If not familiar with their use - use a search engine such as Google to find a suitable online tutorial.

Index.htm and specifying the default page to load in a Directory

On the new Apache server, the default index page for a directory is index.html or index.php. If you wish to use a different file name for the default page, you will need to specify it in your .htaccess file. An example file is given below for the file index.htm.

EXAMPLE: .htaccess file for index.htm as default page

DirectoryIndex index.htm

Posting Office 2007 XML Documents

If you are prompted to open/save a compressed zip file when posting Office 2007 documents, you will need to add this mime type definition on the server in your sites .htaccess file.

EXAMPLE: .htaccess file for Office 2007 Documents

ADDTYPE application/vnd.openxmlformats docx pptx xlsx

 Enabling CGI programs

The mechanisms for using active content may differ somewhat from the old web services. At this time, the Apache 2 based machine does not support mod_perl based scripts or extensions. Perl is still available but it will not have access to dynamic server modules as before. Also, to use CGI, perl and pythons programs, you must add information to the your .htaccess file. Below is an example of a file to allow cgi scripts with the .pl and .cgi extensions. 

EXAMPLE: cgi and pl file extensions for active content (placed in the .htaccess file)

Options +ExecCGI
AddType application/x-httpd-cgi .pl
AddType application/x-httpd-cgi .cgi


Many sites have areas or directories that you wish to have protected from the unknown viewer. In these cases, our apache web server offers two options to protect directories of information, I2A2 (career account) authentication and the generic Apache basic Authentication. Both of these options are implemented using a file in the web directory named .htaccess This file MUST be created and edited on the UNIX system. If you use Windows to create, edit or modify this file, it will cause a server error when the page is requested.

Detailed information for I2A2 Authentication can be found here. The Basic Authentication module is implemented using standard Apache mechanisms and documentation can be found here. ECN has made a small customization which required an 'AuthBasicProvider' directive for basic authentication to work. Be sure to include that if you use basic authentication.

EXAMPLE: .htaccess file for I2A2 authentication

# Require Specific logins to have access
require i2a2-user loganm

EXAMPLE: .htaccess file for Basic Authentication

# Configure the ECN Apache Server to use Basic Authentication
AuthBasicProvider file 
# Standard Apache Basic Authentication Commands
AuthUserFile /web/entities/MECL/htpasswd
AuthName "MECL Basic Authentication Protected Site"
AuthType Basic

require user meclmember mecladmin


Sometimes, you may wish to redirect portions of you website to other portions of your site to the other sites completely.  We offer a few methods to do this. The first is an automatic redirect and does not prompt the user or change the displayed URL. The second offers a page to let you know a site has moved and will re-write the displayed URL. The choice of mechanism is up to the user.

EXAMPLE: index.cgi file placed in a subdirectory for direct site redirection with no delay or URL rewriting.  (Be sure to Enable CGI scripts and set the correct Directory Index)

echo Location: https://engineering.purdue.edu/MECL/

EXAMPLE: index.html placed in old web directory for displaying a notice page prior to page redirection

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5; url=https://engineering.purdue.edu/~loganm">
<h1>This page has moved and you will be automatically redirected in 5 seconds</h1>

Mod Perl

Mod Perl is not available on the new Apache 2 web server.


PHP is available and fully configured on the new Apache server. Many modules are installed and loaded by default and and page ending in .php will automatically be processed and interpreted as PHP. (unlike other CGI scripts)

Page Wrappers

Page wrappers are supported but require a slightly different configuration to work correctly. Please reference this site for directions on enabling page wrappers on your site.

Undergrad Web Services

Mechanical Engineering has purchased a dedicated machine named silk.ecn.purdue.edu to provide web space specifically for undergraduate students. This machine is configured identically to charlotte.ecn.purdue.edu as an Apache 2.0 server. User web space is available using this URL: