Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (1231 mails)

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Re: [opensuse] own environment variables in init scripts
Meike Stone said the following on 03/05/2013 03:40 AM:

Last question. Should I only avoid to set global variables, or is it
in general not recommended to use env variables with apache.

And in that wording you have it.

It seems to me that you are confusing 'variables' - that which gets
altered - with 'settings' - which don't.

If I'm understanding correctly, all this is in the context of Apache and
web services and not in the general context of J Random Program running
on the machine or cluster.

HOSTNAME is not a "global variable", it is a host level setting.
That doesn't make it 'global' in my mind. You might be running Apache
on a cluster of machines each with their own HOSTNAME. It is the
settings internal to the Apache services and how the Apache server
responds to an outside request that can be viewed as an 'identity' of
the server.

I mention this because I have in the past set up a 'load balanced'
arrangement using round-robin DNS Apache service with initially 2, later
3 and then just to show the point 5 host machines. Each machine had its
own HOSTNAME. As far as the client was concerned it was all one service.

That, within a shell, you can alter the environment variable HOSTNAME
has nothing to do with the system setting of the file /etc/HOSTNAME.
Look at 'man 1 hostname' for example.
Note, that only the super-user can change the names.

As others have pointed out, many services clear their environment
variables. Clearing HOSTNAME won't affect what's returned by
'gethostname(2)' or gethostname(3)'. Similarly the information returned
by 'uname(2)'.

I use this variables to set path variables for eg. logfiles,
certificates. If you have eg. 100 vhots, it is really easier to manage

This sounds like the way one of the ISPs I use for web services,
Dreamhost, has it set up. I gather its a pretty normal way to set up
such a service.

My colleges, who are responsible for this vhosts, only get the
variables. Configuration for pathes (eg. other mountpoint ..) changes,
so I only have to change the environment variables.
What makes it so dangerous to us this mechanism, provided by apache,
to use for set logfile path?

I don't think its dangerous. I think your understand of Apache and
vhosts is getting confused with that of a generic server.

The whole point of the vhost is that it shares an IP address but not the
'hostname'. Not the lower case.

The Apache docco gives an example of using DNS to map various hostnames
- not the lower case - all running on the same machine (and hence
sharing a HOSTNAME).

All these are SETTINGS not variables.
For any single vhost the location of the document root, the location of
the log files is SET and cannot be altered by the processes running
under that invocation of the server.

In my case with Dreamhost I have a an account (~anton) and when I want
to set up a web service of any kind the cPanel interface first asks me
which of my registered domains to use. I may have to create a new
subdomain of - for example - ''; blog, webmail,
gallery, wiki ... whatever. The cPanel interface then suggests
locations under ~anton for the document root etc. I can't put it under,
say, ~meikestone. The code behind the cPanel then creates the necessary
vhost and if necessary the domain.

All this has to match up.

Once done I can't alter the entry in /etc/http.d/conf/vhosts.d
What's in there is SETTINGS, not variables.

Maybe I'm stating a pile of stuff here that's obvious to you, but I'm
not sure. You do seem confused about something. I say 'confused'
because I think you are misunderstanding something very basic about how
Apache and vhosts work.

Look: there is a web service at '
If you run 'dig' you will see there is a
legitimate DNS entry:


Now if you ping '' you get
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from ( ...

That's 'cos 'ping' does a reverse DNS lookup of what it finds when it
does a forward DNS lookup on ''

The hostname is - that's what in the vhost

Of course being a shared server there are going to be many domain
entries that to the same IP address :-) That's the whole point of
shared services like vhosts.

So I'm in the same situation as the colleagues you mention.
I only get the end result of what the 'automated sysadmin' that is the
scripts behind cPanel sets. I don't have the authority to alter the
vhosts.d/* entries for the various domains and services
I've set up using cPanel.

Automation is a good thing; it means consistency and once you've
debugged it, reliable service. The constraints I have as a customer of
an ISP aren't a restriction as far as I'm concerned. If I was that
concerned I'd ask to have a 'real' virtual host and do all the admin
myself and probably buqqer something up. If I want to play, experiment
and learn from buqqering up things I have scratch machines for that sole

PS: HOSTNAME was only a example for a global variable ;-)

A bad example since its not a really variable. See above for reference
to the MAN pages.

Please also read the entry in the bash man page for HOSTFILE.

I suspect you getting confused with the way environment variables are
set and managed under DEC's VMS.

[1] Actually this example is for the mail or webmail server rather than
the generic web server, but the principle still applies.

The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with its credibility.
And vice versa.
Excerpt from the notebooks of Lazarus Long,
from Robert Heinlein's "Time Enough for Love"
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