The Fedora Core 3 Linux distribution includes a very powerful new security feature called SELinux. In my (very) limited understanding, SELinux overlays another set of policies and permissions over the basic UNIX-style security to produce a far more secure product. However, it can also trip up the unsuspecting. At last night’s LAMP class, we got caught. Installing Virtual Hosts as we had with Fedora Core 2 threw permission errors, despite everything we could think of. As it was a beginner class, we just settled for placing the virtual hosts under the standard DocumentRoot at /var/www/html and continuing on with our exercise, with a promise that we’d investigate and explain to the students what went wrong at the next class.
The Fedora web site provides guidance at “.” I was also pleased to see that a WebMin module is under development to simplify SElinux management at http://www.selinux.hitachi-sk.co.jp/en/tool/selpe/selpe-top.html
UPDATED: Indeed, it was the SELinux that was causing the problem. Turning that off (requiring one of the very rare reboots in the Linux world) and fixing a problem with rights (the parent home directory needs x permissions for searching, as pointed out in the Apache FAQ) solved the problem. We’ll be able to present the solution to the class, along with a little side-talk on how to figure these things out, at the next class.