Monthly Archives: November 2011

The basics of installing Railo on Linux


With the advent of the automated installer, installing Railo has never been easier. However, the one thing I see quite often are permission errors because the Railo user does not have write access to the folders it needs access to. Please take everything I am about to say here with a grain of salt because this is my opinion of how things should be done. I have installed multiple systems and regardless which distribution you use it should work equally well.

Lets assume we have created a new stock installation of Linux. If I am logged in as root, the very first thing I do is create a new user account and make sure your account is in the sudoers file. Once that is accomplished login with your new user account and make sure you have access to sudo. If everything went well, go ahead and lock down your sshd configuration to block the root user from remote login. In this example my new username will be robert.

I will do a little forward thinking here. I like to host my websites in my home directory so I do not have to go digging through the file system when I want to add a web site. I like to keep things organized so I will create a folder in my home directory mkdir ~/sites. While I am at it, I may as well create a location for the default web site so I will also mkdir ~/sites/localhost.

Now comes the fun stuff. First we will need to install Apache. Assuming you are running a Debian distro this is as simple as running sudo apt-get install apache2. Since I plan on serving sites out of my home folder I am going to go ahead and set Apache to run as my user account. Depending on your distribution you will either find these set in your httpd.conf file or in the case of Deb based systems you can find these variables in /etc/apache2/envvars. Here are the lines I modified on my system in envvars:

export APACHE_RUN_USER=robert
export APACHE_RUN_GROUP=robert

With those changes made I saved the envvars file. While we are at it, lets go ahead and modify the default Apache host in /etc/apache2/sites-available/default:

<VirtualHost *:80>
 ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
 ServerName localhost
 DocumentRoot /home/robert/sites/localhost
 DirectoryIndex index.cfm
 <Directory />
  Options FollowSymLinks
  AllowOverride None
 </Directory>
 <Directory /home/robert/sites/localhost/>
  Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
  AllowOverride None
  Order allow,deny
  allow from all
 </Directory>
 ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
 # Possible values include: debug, info, notice, warn, error, crit,
 # alert, emerg.
 LogLevel warn
 CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined
</VirtualHost>

Next I will use an editor and create /home/robert/sites/localhost/index.cfm. This is generally just a file with “It works” in it just to make sure everything is in working order and restart Apache with sudo service apache2 restart just to make sure all the changes I have made are in working order.

Now that has been accomplished I will grab the latest copy of the Railo installer. If I am not already in my home directory, I will cd to get back. Now I am ready to use wget to download the latest file with wget http://www.getrailo.org/down.cfm?item=/railo/remote/download/3.3.1.000/tomcat/linux/railo-3.3.1.000-pl1-linux-x64-installer.run. I generally grab the version that includes its own JRE because I have occasionally had issue with OpenJDK, again, this is my preference, your mileage may vary. Make the file you downloaded executable with chmod +x railo-3.3.1.000-pl1-linux-x64-installer.run and then run the installer. You must be root to run the file so, sudo ./railo-3.3.1.000-pl1-linux-x64-installer.run and you will be in business.

The Railo installer does a pretty good job of detecting your system and determining your default values for you. When Railo asks you what user to run Railo as I will choose my username (robert). Once the installer has finished doing its thing it is time to take a look at our installation and make sure everything is on the up and up. First, lets take a look at our Railo installation directory and make sure I own it by ls -la /opt.  If all went well it should show the railo directory owned by robert:robert. If not, I will make sure I own the directory with sudo chown -R robert:robert /opt/railo.

Once that has been done I generally edit my server.xml and point the default host localhost  docBase to my newly created locahost directory in ~/sites/localhost. This probably isn’t necessary, but I like keeping everything nice and homogeneous.

<Host name="127.0.0.1" appBase="webapps"
      unpackWARs="true" autoDeploy="true"
      xmlValidation="false" xmlNamespaceAware="false">
     <Context path="" docBase="/home/robert/sites/localhost" />
</Host>

Once that is completed, the only thing left to do is restart Railo with sudo /opt/railo/railo_ctl restart. If my changes were successful I should now see a WEB-INF folder in /home/robert/sites/localhost and by pointing my browser to the IP address of my server I should see my “It works!” page.

I suppose there is probably as many different configurations out there as there are admins. This configuration works fine for me as I am generally the only person working on my server. In situations where you have multiple users this is definitely not the best scenario and you would probably want a solution based on group permissions.

One thing I do see a lot that just makes me cringe are folks who run the Railo process as the root user. One one hand I could see where this would be beneficial since root has write access anywhere on the server and this does alleviate many issues folks new to Linux face. On the other hand, it can potentially be a huge security risk because if your web server is compromised the attacker holds the key to your kingdom (or server in this case). For this reason I always suggest running Railo on a non-privileged account.

Adding new sites to Railo demystified


One of the questions that comes up quite often on the Railo Google Group is how to add sites to Railo after the initial installation. I can understand the frustration many new users feel because I was in their shoes many moons ago. I will agree that ACF does a fair bit of magic with the JRun connector, but with a little know how you will have your sites up and running in no time at all.

As a rule of thumb, every site you configure with Railo requires you to edit two configuration files no matter what OS you are running on. First you will need to add an entry in Railo’s server.xml to make it aware of your new site and finally add the site to Apache. I am going to assume you are using Jordan’s excellent Railo installer and you have completed the install process and Railo is connected to Apache. If you are on Windows you can refer to this post which covers installing the Apache connector.

First let us add our new context to Railo. Assuming you used the installer with your default options you can find your server.xml file in /opt/railo/tomcat/conf. The default context is already configured for you and we won’t mess with that. Commented out you will see a template for adding additional sites.

<!--
  Add additional VIRTUALHOSTS by copying the following example config:
  REPLACE:
  [ENTER DOMAIN NAME] with a domain, IE: www.mysite.com
  [ENTER SYSTEM PATH] with your web site's base directory. IE: /home/user/public_html/ or C:\websites\www.mysite.com\ etc...
  Don't forget to remove comments! ;)
-->
<!--
  <Host name="[ENTER DOMAIN NAME]" appBase="webapps"
       unpackWARs="true" autoDeploy="true"
       xmlValidation="false" xmlNamespaceAware="false">
       <Context path="" docBase="[ENTER SYSTEM PATH]" />
  </Host>
-->

So using this as a template, we are going to add in a new Railo host

<Host name="www.domain.com" appBase="webapps"
     unpackWARs="true" autoDeploy="true"
     xmlValidation="false" xmlNamespaceAware="false">
     <Context path="" docBase="/var/www/www.domain.com" />
</Host>

As you can see, we are adding a new host for http://www.domain.com where the template had [ENTER DOMAIN HERE]. Next we enter the docBase where [ENTER SYSTEM PATH] is the location of the web root in the file system. In this case I have my webroot in /var/www/www.domain.com. This is important because the WEB-INF for this context will be created in this directory. Also note that this directory must be writable to the user assigned to the Railo service otherwise Railo will not be able to write the WEB-INF folder and all sorts of tomfoolery will happen. After saving the file you will need to restart the Railo service for your changes to take effect. On Linux this is easy as:

sudo /opt/railo/railo_ctl restart

If your changes were successful you should now be the proud new owner of a WEB-INF folder in /var/www/www.domain.com. If everything went smoothly here you are ready to move to the next step, which is adding your host configuration to Apache. If the folder is not there, more than likely there is a permission issue with your Railo user account. To see which user your Railo service is running under go to open up /opt/railo/railo_ctl with your favorite editor or just cat the file and look for the $TOMCAT_OWNER variable and check the permission on your webroot and make sure that user has write access to the folder.

So assuming everything went smoothly getting your site setup in Railo the next step is getting your virtual host configured in Apache. The location of your configuration files depends on your distribution, but assuming you are running Apache 2.2 on a Debian-based distribution you will need to add a new virtual host into /etc/apache2/sites-available.

Here are the contents of the /etc/apache2/sites-available/www.domain.com.conf file:

<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
        ServerName www.domain.com
        DocumentRoot /var/www/www.domain.com
        DirectoryIndex index.cfm
        <Directory />
                Options FollowSymLinks
                AllowOverride None
        </Directory>
        <Directory /var/www/www.domain.com/>
                Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
                AllowOverride None
                Order allow,deny
                allow from all
        </Directory>

        RewriteEngine on
        RewriteRule ^/railo-context/admin/(.*) - [F]
        RewriteRule ^/securelocation/(.*) /railo-context/admin/$1 [PT]

        ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/www.domain.com-error.log

        # Possible values include: debug, info, notice, warn, error, crit,
        # alert, emerg.
        LogLevel warn

        CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/www.domain.com-access.log combined

</VirtualHost>

This is a basic virtual host configuration file. I set the DocumentRoot for this host. It should exactly match the docBase set when adding the Railo host. We also set the Apache directory permissions for the web root directory. For extra credit we are also adding some default rewrite rules to hide the Railo administrator and move it to a more secure location. The rewrite rules require that mod_rewrite is enabled on your server so check your main httpd.conf file to ensure it is enabled otherwise you will receive an error when trying to start Apache and it will fail.

To enable the new site we will need to create a symlink in /etc/apache2/sites-enabled. Forgive me if the parameters are wrong below, I am just doing this from memory.

sudo ln -s /etc/apache2/sites-available/www.domain.com.conf /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/www.domain.com.conf

Now it is time to restart Apache to start serving from your new virtual host. This is generally as simple as sudo service apache2 restart, but this may vary from distribution to distribution.

Once Apache is restarted, you should now be able to point your browser to http://www.domain.com and view your web site. You can reach your admin pages by going to http://www.domain.com/securelocation/web.cfm.

See which tags are supported in CFScript in Railo


I cannot take credit for this little snippet of code, Micha posted this in the Railo newsgroup a while back.

<cfscript>
tags=getTagList().cf;
keys=StructKeyArray(tags);
ArraySort(keys,"textnocase");
loop array="#keys#" index="name"	{
	tag=getTagData("cf",name);
	echo("<b>cf"&name&"</b> - ");
	echo(StructKeyExists(tag,'script'));
	echo('<br>');
}
</cfscript>

You can also easily get this information by checking the Tag Reference in the Railo admin, but it is nice to be able to see  a list of all the tags and whether or not it is supported in cfscript in one place.

Edit:
I have a modified version that just shows the script ready tags you can view.