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Compiling Nginx dynamically loadable modules

I’ve compiled plenty of dynamic loadable modules for Apache, but never for Nginx up until now. I must say compiling modules for Apache is a much easier process compared to Nginx.

I use Nginx as a SSL reverse proxy/terminator. I wanted to be able to remove certain http headers at the Nginx level rather than on my Apache backend. The way to achieve this is using a module called headers more , which is not part of core Nginx.

My Setup:
I’m using the nginx package installed via by the epel repository for CentOS 6.x. So compiling the module was a bit tricky initially.

Compilation Process:
1). Download the source code for the module, from

2). You need to find out the running version of Nginx:

$ nginx -v
nginx version: nginx/1.10.1

3). Download and extract the source code for that version of Nginx:

$ wget ''

4). Compilation:
On my first initial compilation, I mistakenly compiled the module using the following:

./configure --prefix=/opt/nginx \

Even though the module compiled successfully, when trying to load the module, it gave me the following error:

$ nginx -t
nginx: [emerg] module "/usr/lib64/nginx/modules/" is not binary compatible in /etc/nginx/nginx.conf:9
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test failed

It turns out the module has to be compiled using the same ./configure flags as my running version of Nginx, in addition to the --add-dynamic-module=/opt/headers-more-nginx-module/headers-more-nginx-module-0.32 flag. Luckily, this can easily been obtained by running the following:

$ nginx -V
nginx version: nginx/1.10.1
built by gcc 4.4.7 20120313 (Red Hat 4.4.7-17) (GCC)
built with OpenSSL 1.0.1e-fips 11 Feb 2013
TLS SNI support enabled
configure arguments: --prefix=/usr/share/nginx --sbin-path=/usr/sbin/nginx --modules-path=/usr/lib64/nginx/modules --conf-path=/etc/nginx/nginx.conf --error-log-path=/var/log/nginx/error.log --http-log-path=/var/log/nginx/access.log --http-client-body-temp-path=/var/lib/nginx/tmp/client_body --http-proxy-temp-path=/var/lib/nginx/tmp/proxy --http-fastcgi-temp-path=/var/lib/nginx/tmp/fastcgi --http-uwsgi-temp-path=/var/lib/nginx/tmp/uwsgi --http-scgi-temp-path=/var/lib/nginx/tmp/scgi --pid-path=/var/run/ --lock-path=/var/lock/subsys/nginx --user=nginx --group=nginx --with-file-aio --with-ipv6 --with-http_ssl_module --with-http_v2_module --with-http_realip_module --with-http_addition_module --with-http_xslt_module=dynamic --with-http_image_filter_module=dynamic --with-http_geoip_module=dynamic --with-http_sub_module --with-http_dav_module --with-http_flv_module --with-http_mp4_module --with-http_gunzip_module --with-http_gzip_static_module --with-http_random_index_module --with-http_secure_link_module --with-http_degradation_module --with-http_slice_module --with-http_stub_status_module --with-http_perl_module=dynamic --with-mail=dynamic --with-mail_ssl_module --with-pcre --with-pcre-jit --with-stream=dynamic --with-stream_ssl_module --with-debug --with-cc-opt='-O2 -g -pipe -Wall -Wp,-D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=2 -fexceptions -fstack-protector --param=ssp-buffer-size=4 -m64 -mtune=generic' --with-ld-opt=' -Wl,-E'

This is the tricky and annoying part. Since, the epel repo packaged binary of nginx was compiled with support of additional modules, the identical manual compilation that I was trying to do required some dependencies to be installed. In my case I just had to installed the following dependencies:

# yum install libxslt-devel perl-ExtUtils-Embed GeoIP-devel

After compilation completes. Then it's just a matter of adding the module to the nginx.conf config. In my case, I manually copied over the compiled module to /usr/lib64/nginx/modules, so my config looks like this:

load_module "/usr/lib64/nginx/modules/";

It is worth mentioning that Nginx is very picky on the order in which its configuration is set. For example. load_module option has be set before the events configuration block like this:

load_module "/usr/lib64/nginx/modules/";

events {
    worker_connections  1024;

Otherwise, you'll get the following error when trying to load the module.

# nginx -t
nginx: [emerg] "load_module" directive is specified too late in /etc/nginx/nginx.conf:14
nginx: configuration file /etc/nginx/nginx.conf test failed

One really important thing to keep in mind, is that you'll need to recompile the module each time Nginx gets updated.


Awesome Applications: 

Setting up Graphite on CentOS 6.x gotcha

I installed graphite-web via the EPEL repo, and I was getting an 500 error when accessing the Graphite web interface.
Error log:

[Sat Sep 12 00:56:27 2015] [error] [client] mod_wsgi (pid=17318): Exception occurred processing WSGI script '/usr/share/graphite/graphite-web.wsgi'.
[Sat Sep 12 00:56:27 2015] [error] [client] File "/usr/lib/python2.6/site-packages/django/db/backends/sqlite3/", line 344, in execute
[Sat Sep 12 00:56:27 2015] [error] [client] return Database.Cursor.execute(self, query, params)
[Sat Sep 12 00:56:27 2015] [error] [client] DatabaseError: attempt to write a readonly database

Fix: It turns out the sqlite3 database file Graphite write's too, was own by root. So it was simply a matter of updating the ownership to what ever user Apache is running under, in my case it's apache.

chown -R apache.apache /var/lib/graphite-web/


Awesome Applications: 

Server Move and Upgrades!

My little corner of the internet has a new home. My old $29.99 8GB RAM, 3.40GHz Intel Core i3 dedicated server was simply not enough to handle my server needs. Which apparently OVH doesn't even provide that service anymore. So instead I hoped to their mid-tear dedicated service service branch they call So you Start. I opted with their $49.00 SYS-IP-2 service. Now my server's specs is a follows:

  • 2.66 GHz+ Intel Xeon W3520 (4 cores/ 8 threads)
  • 32 GB ECC
  • 2 x 2 TB SATA drives (Software RAID)

I would've love the drives to be SAS and the RAID to be hardware based, but it's definitely not a deal breaker, and just $49.99 a month, it's not much to complain about.

CentOS 6 to CentOS 7 upgrade:
My server migration was fairly straight forward for the most part. I opted to re-create the KVM hypervisor and its guests from scratch. Mainly because I wanted to upgrade all of guests and host from CentOS 6 to CentOS 7. This is where I encountered my first problem. Since I rely on custom nat PREROUTING/POSTROUTING iptables firewall rules for my VMs to properly be able to talk to each other and to the internet. I realized CentOS 7 defaults to firewalld, so instead of trying to rewrite my firewall rules to be compatible with firewalld, I decided to continue to use CentOS 6 on my host operating system, and only upgrade my guests VMs to CentOS 7.

On a side note, my previous guest VMs were originally using raw image format (default cache settings) for its storage, and by god what a hell of a difference it makes changing to use native block storage via LVM. I/O performance on my old server was terrible, the I/O wait percentage was roughly about 6%, now it's less than 1%. Even with the software raid, I/O performance is much better on my new server.

PHP 5.3 to 5.6 upgrade:
Since I don't have anything heavily customized on any of sites, the PHP version upgrade was practically painless.

Apache 2.2 to 2.4 upgrade:
Luckily, upgrading Apache wasn't a big hassle. Anyone considering upgrading from 2.2 to 2.4, it's definitely worth checking out the official upgrade documentation since dropping the old 2.2 configs in onto a 2.4 environment won't work off the gecko. In my case all of my sites were returning 403 forbidden replies and non of my .htaccess files weren't being read by Apache. The fix was really simple.

                AllowOverride All
                Require all granted

I must say, I really like Apache 2.4 new authorization syntax. What used to be a three line configuration is now a single line configuration, and much more human readable.

Future Upgrade Plans:
I didn't tackle this during the server migration, but I'll definitely going to be upgrading to Varnish 4 and use PHP FastCGI via php-fpm and mod_proxy_fcgi.



Awesome Applications: 

Networking Quirk in CentOS 7 - Virtual IP not being assigned

I just realized the order of which the IP configurations are set in the /etc/sysconfig/networking-scripts/ifcfg-* file does matter.
For example the following config was failing to assign the virtual IP to one of my systems:


Systemd was spitting out the following errors:

Jun 14 01:04:19 webapps network: RTNETLINK answers: File exists
Jun 14 01:04:19 webapps network: RTNETLINK answers: File exists
Jun 14 01:04:19 webapps network: RTNETLINK answers: File exists
Jun 14 01:04:19 webapps network: RTNETLINK answers: File exists

Fix: It turns out that the DEVICE and NAME declaration needs to be assigned and specified before the networking information.



Automated SSL certificate expiration check

It is quite simple to automate checking for near expiring SSL certificates in CentOS. This is accomplished using the certwatch tool. This tool is part of the crypto-utils package.

yum install crypto-utils

Installing crypto-utils, will create the following cron job, /etc/cron.daily/certwatch. By default the /etc/cron.daily/certwatch script only checks for SSL certificates loaded by Apache (httpd -t -DDUMP_CERTS). So Apache users don't have to do any additional config changes to in order to automate the check of near expiring SSL certificates.

Since in I use Nginx as a SSL termination proxy for an Apache backend webapp on a different machine. I had to manually update the /etc/cron.daily/certwatch script to point to my SSL certificates directly.

    #certs=`${httpd} ${OPTIONS} -t -DDUMP_CERTS 2>/dev/null | /bin/sort -u`
    certs=`ls $INCLUDE_CERTS 2>/dev/null`

Here is an example of an expired SSL certificate alert

[[email protected] certs]# certwatch /etc/nginx/certs/www.rubysecurity.org_2014/
To: root
Subject: The certificate for has expired

################# SSL Certificate Warning ################

Certificate for hostname '', in file (or by nickname):

The certificate needs to be renewed; this can be done
using the 'genkey' program.

Browsers will not be able to correctly connect to this
web site using SSL until the certificate is renewed.

Generated by certwatch(1)

certwatch is far from perfect. It doesn't have any verbose output when doing a check, it solely relies on its exit status to verify if the check was successful. Excerpt from the man page is somewthat appalling.

The exit code indicates the state of the certificate:

The certificate is outside its validity period, or approaching expiry

The certificate is inside its validity period, or could not be parsed


Awesome Applications: 

System Update using Ansible


ansible centosbox -m yum -a 'name=* state=latest'


ansible debianbox -m apt -a 'update_cache=yes name=* state=latest'


Awesome Applications: 

Can't locate Time/ CPAN error on CentOS 7

So the default Perl installation that ships with CentOS 7 minimal install does not include Time::HiRes, which is necessary if you want to use CPAN.


Can't locate Time/ in @INC (@INC contains: /usr/local/lib64/perl5 /usr/local/share/perl5 /usr/lib64/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/share/perl5/vendor_perl /usr/lib64/perl5 /usr/share/perl5 /root) at /usr/share/perl5/Net/ line 313.


yum install perl-Time-HiRes



CentOS: Apache - Directory index forbidden by Options directive

By default, the CentOS Apache configuration does not allow index directory listings. So I enabled Indexes Option's for the directory that I wanted allow this feature within my custom vhost . To my surprise after I made the Apache config update, directory listing was not working and I was still getting the default CentOS Apache welcome page.

Apache error log:

[Sat Apr 26 14:42:11 2014] [error] [client] Directory index forbidden by Options directive: /www/mysecureshit/

It turns out the default /etc/httpd/conf.d/welcome.conf file option overrides the +Indexing Options that I explicity enabled within my custom vhost.

# This configuration file enables the default "Welcome"
# page if there is no default index page present for
# the root URL.  To disable the Welcome page, comment
# out all the lines below.

    Options -Indexes
    ErrorDocument 403 /error/noindex.html

The fix was to simply disable welcome.conf.


Awesome Applications: 

Setting up a Git Server in CentOS 6.5

Install git.

[[email protected] ~]# yum install git

Add the developers group, all git users will be part of this group.

[[email protected] ~]# groupadd developers

Create the git user which will own all the repos.

[[email protected] ~]# useradd -s /sbin/nologin -g developers git
[[email protected] ~]# passwd git
Changing password for user git.
New password:
Retype new password:
passwd: all authentication tokens updated successfully.

Update Permissions.

[[email protected] ~]# chmod 2770 /home/git/

Create an empty Git repo.

[[email protected] project1]# git init --bare --shared
Initialized empty shared Git repository in /home/git/project1/

Update file ownership and permissions.

[[email protected] project1]# chown -R git .
[[email protected] project1]# chmod 2770 /home/git/project1

Create a git user account.

[[email protected] git]# useradd -s /usr/bin/git-shell -g developers -d /home/git tony
useradd: warning: the home directory already exists.
Not copying any file from skel directory into it.
[[email protected] git]# passwd tony
Changing password for user tony.
New password:
Retype new password:
passwd: all authentication tokens updated successfully.

At this point a regular user should be able to checkout the project1 repo from the Git server.

[email protected]:~$ mkdir ~/testing_shit/git_test
[email protected]:~$ cd ~/testing_shit/git_test && git init
[email protected]:~/testing_shit/git_test$ git remote add origin [email protected]:/home/git/project1

Interestingly enough, an initial first commit has to be made onto the repo in order for any regular user to be able to push the repo, ie master branch. I received the following error when trying do so.

[email protected]:~/testing_shit/git_test$ git push origin master
[email protected]'s password:
error: src refspec master does not match any.
error: failed to push some refs to '[email protected]:/home/git/project1'


[email protected]:~/testing_shit/git_test$ git commit -m 'Initial'
[master (root-commit) 7bb7337] Initial
1 file changed, 0 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)
create mode 100644 README.txt

[email protected]:~/testing_shit/git_test$ git push origin master
[email protected]'s password:
Counting objects: 3, done.
Writing objects: 100% (3/3), 209 bytes | 0 bytes/s, done.
Total 3 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
To [email protected]:/home/git/project1
* [new branch] master -> master


Awesome Applications: 

Password protecting single user mode

I was surprise to find out how easy it was to password protect runlevel 1 aka single user mode in RHEL/CentOS.

Simply update the SINGLE variable in the file /etc/sysconfig/init


Single User mode password protected

If the root password cannot be retrieved/reset, then at this point the only option will be to boot into a rescue environment, assuming encryption hasn't been enabled.


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