Best way to set ownership of web root

October 27, 2014 1.2k views

I’ve created a droplet, but the owner and group is root.

In other set-ups, I’ve seen the web root have user and group of something like www-data or apache.

How do I emulate this set-up so I can read and write files to my web root without needing to run commands as sudo?

  • Mr Bean.

    It really depends on what you are attempting to do..

    If you are wanting to make it so you can write/edit with your regular user you should check out:

    by Justin Ellingwood
    The Apache web server is the most popular way to serve web content on the internet. Apache has the ability to serve multiple domains from a single server by using a mechanism called "virtual hosts". If a virtual host is configured correctly for each domain, the web server can correctly route traffic to the appropriate files based on the domain name requested. In this guide, we'll demonstrate how to configure Apache virtual hosts on an Ubuntu 14.04 VPS.
  • OK, so I’ve added my UNIX user (codemartin) to the www-data group. However, now when I try to clone my project’s source code into the directory (that is now owned by the www-data user and group) I get the following error:

    /var/www/.git: Permission denied

    What’s failing now? Does Git use a different user, even though it’s my account (martin) issuing the command?

1 Answer

The webserver runs as www-data on Debian-based systems, and apache or nginx on RHEL-based systems. You can change /var/www's ownership to your webserver's user so that it can write to it:

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www

Make sure you replace www-data with the actual user that your webserver is running as. Run the following command to find out what that user is:

sudo ps wwaux | grep "http|apache|nginx|fpm" | grep -v grep
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