Giving up on PHP

Quick and dirty prototyping in python instead of PHP (+MySQL).

Original date: 2008-12-22

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get my time registration app (php + mysql) up and running on my old FreeBSD laptop. After several unsuccessful attempts, abscence of properly installed mod_php and perhaps a lot of other things gave up. I can quickly do the minimal thingy using python!

I have added .py to the cgi script handlers:

AddHandler cgi-script .py

Made a simple script to connect to the MySQL database, but it failed miserably. No output was generated. After several attempts it seems that the import statement fails. Ok, put a try/except clause around and output the result. Hmmm, the result is rather interesting:

(Can’t extract file(s) to egg cache The following error occurred while trying to extract file(s) to the Python egg cache: [Errno 13] Permission denied: ‘/nonexistent’ The Python egg cache directory is currently set to: /nonexistent/.python-eggs Perhaps your account does not have write access to this directory? You can change the cache directory by setting the PYTHON_EGG_CACHE environment variable to point to an accessible directory. )

Ok, it seems that my www user (which does not have any home folder of course!) attempts to create cache folder under his (non-existing) home folder. Adding (perhaps not very secure)

SetEnv PYTHON_EGG_CACHE /tmp/apache/

to the virtual host configuration helped for now (you need mod_env for this). The cache can be created.
Ideally you would need a proper home directory with a restricted access for the apache user account.

If the server comes up with a very descriptive message like

Internal Server Error

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

This may simply means that your beauty (script) contains just a small typo. Very handy indeed. The following two lines help a lot:

import cgitb