Mr. Nobody owns my files

Sometimes I wonder if having so much control over my hosting account is such a good thing. It’s amazing how the tools we use to communicate and ‘enhance productivity’ end up costing us so much time.
I have been over the past week or so trying to customize a php based gallery ‘solution’ (is there a better word?) to use in upcoming projects and on a new section of my site 35togo. I had some problems with it and decided to delete the files from my server and start anew with some changes I had made. Unfortunately I couldn’t delete the files from the server, I kept getting a non-descript error message – after I opened a support ticket with my web host this is what I they responded with:

“The problem in this case seems to be that this directory is owned by the user “nobody.” The web server normally runs as the user “nobody,” and any files that it creates will be owned by this user. You won’t have permission to delete such files, by default. To remove these files, you’ll need to create a script to remove the files, then run that script as CGI. Since it will run as “nobody,” it will have permission to delete files with this ownership.”

It’s a good piece of knowledge. I wish they would have offered to delete the directory for me since they have root. Much of the software I use on my server write files and create directories. So unknown to me till now, I have acquiesced control of these files and directories to “Mr. Nobody”. In the future if I want to avoid this problem I should use CGIwrap or PHP CGIwrap (to run scripts under my own userID).
This is all I’m sure pretty basic stuff, especially to those who are unix and apache mavens, and I’m sure I will solve this. But do I really want to spend time on this? Sometimes I think I spend too much time learning to do too broad a spectrum of things. Instead of perfecting craft I become a master of nothing.

Leave a Reply