Tag Archives: SELinux

Install WordPress on CentOS 7 with SELinux

I’ve been frustrated lately with the number of tutorials for installing WordPress on CentOS 7 that say to simply turn SELinux off. This is an unacceptable workaround. It’s simply lazy administration. SELinux is not designed to make your job harder (although it can do that pretty well), it’s there to make your system safer.

I have scoured the internet and pieced together bits of information from several sources – mainly here, here, and here to put together a tutorial that walks you through how to install WordPress in CentOS7 while keeping SELinux turned on.

It took a lot of reading to understand SELinux, but once you understand it, it makes a whole lot more sense. Go figure.


Install required packages:

sudo yum -y install httpd
sudo systemctl enable httpd

Modify apache config to allow mod_rewrite:

sudo sed -i /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf -e 's/AllowOverride None/AllowOverride All/g'

Open necessary firewall ports:

sudo firewall-cmd --add-service=http --permanent
sudo systemctl restart firewalld

Start apache:

sudo systemctl start httpd

Navigate to your new site to make sure the testing page comes up.

Update 11/4/2016: If you are behind a reverse proxy such as varnish or a web application firewall, you will want to modify your apache configuration to log x-forwarded-for IPs to make the logs more meaningful:

sudo sed -i /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf -e 's/%h/%{X-Forwarded-For}i/g'



sudo yum -y install mariadb-server mariadb
sudo systemctl enable mariadb

Run initial mysql configuration to set database root password

sudo systemctl start mariadb
sudo mysql_secure_installation

Create a wordpress database and user:

mysql -u root -p 
#enter your mysql root password here
create user wordpress;
create database wordpress;
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON wordpress.* To 'wordpress'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';


Install PHP and restart apache

sudo yum -y install php php-mysql php-gd php-ldap php-odbc php-pear php-xml php-xmlrpc php-mbstring php-snmp php-soap curl
sudo systemctl restart httpd

Configure base wordpress directory

Download, extract, and set permissions for your wordpress installation:

wget https://wordpress.org/latest.zip
sudo unzip latest.zip -d /var/www/html
sudo chown apache:apache -R /var/www/html/wordpress

Optional: Change Apache document root so you don’t need to tack /wordpress at the end of the url:

sudo sed -i /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf -e 's/DocumentRoot \"\/var\/www\/html/&\/wordpress/g'
sudo systemctl restart httpd

Configure upload directory

If you want users to upload content, then you will want to assign the http_sys_rw_content_t selinux security context for the wp-uploads directory (create it if it doesn’t exist)

sudo mkdir /var/www/html/wordpress/wp-content/uploads
sudo chown apache:apache /var/www/html/wordpress/wp-content/uploads
sudo semanage fcontext -a -t httpd_sys_rw_content_t "/var/www/html/wordpress/wp-content/uploads(/.*)?"
sudo restorecon -Rv /var/www/html/wordpress/wp-content/uploads

Run the wizard

In order for the wizard to run properly we need to temporarily give the wordpress directory httpd_sys_rw_content_t selinux context

sudo chcon -t httpd_sys_rw_content_t /var/www/html/wordpress/

Now navigate to your new website in a browser and follow the wizard, which will create a wp-config.php file inside the wordpress directory. Once your site is properly set up, restore the original security context for the wordpress directory:

sudo restorecon -v /var/www/html/wordpress/

Success! Everything is working within the proper SELinux contexts.


Permission denied when accessing /wordpress

The obvious thing to check is to make sure the directory /var/www/html/wordpress has the ownership set to apache. That didn’t fix my issue, though. Thanks to serverfault I narrowed this down to a selinux permissions issue.  Changing the selinux context to httpd_sys_content_t for the wordpress folder fixed the issue.

sudo semanage fcontext -a -t httpd_sys_content_t /var/www/html/wordpress/
sudo restorecon -v /var/www/html/wordpress/

Sorry, but I can’t write the wp-config.php file.

“You can create the wp-config.php manually and paste the following text into it.”

I had a suspicion that writing files was also a selinux issue. This was confirmed when I decided to tail /var/log/audit/audit.log and found this when the wordpress installer tried to write wp-config.php:

type=AVC msg=audit(1475596102.558:16868): avc: denied { write } for pid=5751 comm="httpd" name="wordpress" dev="dm-0" ino=68494934 scontext=system_u:system_r:httpd_t:s0 tcontext=system_u:object_r:httpd_sys_content_t:s0 tclass=dir
type=SYSCALL msg=audit(1475596102.558:16868): arch=c000003e syscall=21 success=no exit=-13 a0=7f9f4b931478 a1=2 a2=0 a3=1 items=0 ppid=5740 pid=5751 auid=4294967295 uid=48 gid=48 euid=48 suid=48 fsuid=48 egid=48 sgid=48 fsgid=48 tty=(none) ses=4294967295 comm="httpd" exe="/usr/sbin/httpd" subj=system_u:system_r:httpd_t:s0 key=(null)

This led me to find this great explanation from Francis Pereira on how to get wordpress and selinux to peacefully coexist. Also thanks to the excellent Redhat Manual for more information on what to do, combined with this very helpful guide from serverlab.

First, we need to temporarily grant httpd_sys_rw_content_t to the wordpress directory. This is to allow the initial wizard to create the wp-config.php file.

sudo chcon -t httpd_sys_rw_content_t /var/www/html/wordpress/

Now you can run the wizard and it will work properly.

Once your site is set up, restore the context to http_sys_content_t

sudo restorecon -v /var/www/html/wordpress/

Troubleshoot RSA SecurID in CentOS 6

Unexpected error from ACE/Agent API.

In following this guide for configuring a CentOS 6 system to authenticate with RSA SecurID I came across an unusual error message that had me scratching my head:

Unexpected error from ACE/Agent API.

The problem stemmed from having an incorrect value in the /var/ace/sdopts.rec file for CLIENT_IP. For some reason I had put the IP address of the RSA authentication server in there. CLIENT_IP is the IP address of the RSA client, or rather, the machine you’re working on. The client uses whatever’s in that file to report to the RSA server what its IP address is. If the RSA server gets an invalid IP response from the client, it won’t authenticate.

SELinux issues

Much blood and tears were shed in dealing with getting SELinux to exist harmoniously with RSA SecurID. The problem was exacerbated my the fact that there is a lot of half solutions and misinformation floating out there on the internet. This will hopefully help fix that.

The message entry does not exist for Message ID: 1001

At this point acetest worked beautifully but I could not use an RSA passcode to SSH into the system. Digging into the log revealed this error message:

sshd[2135]: ACEAGENT: The message entry does not exist for Message ID: 1001

Thanks to this post, I realized it was due to selinux. Modifying the selinux config information to allow /var/ace to be read, per the commands below, seemed to fix the issue.

setenforce 0
chcon -Rv --type=sshd_t /var/ace/
setenforce 1

But alas! The solution was not a very good one. The commands above have two problems with them: first, the chcon command is temporary and does not survive selinux policy relabels; second, it assigns the type sshd_t, which does allow SSH to access it, but revokes RSA SecurID’s ability to write to the directory. This is a problem if you ever need to clear node secrets. The server will initiate the wipe but the client will not be able to modify that directory, resulting in node secret mismatches.

I finally decided to RTFM and landed on this documentation page, which explained the issue I was having: selinux mislabeling. The proper solution to this problem is use a label that both SecurID and SSHD can write / read to. Thanks to this SELinux Manpage (it really pays to RTFM!) I discovered that the label I want is var_auth_t (the default label applied when creating /var/ace is var_t, which SSH can’t read.) 

To survive relabeling, use the semanage command, which is not installed by default. Thanks to this site I learned I must install policycoreutils-pithon:

yum install policycoreutils-python

Once semanage is installed, use it to change the label for /var/ace and everything inside it to var_auth_t, then apply the changes with restorecon:

semanage fcontext -a -t var_auth_t "/var/ace(/.*)?"
restorecon -R -v /var/ace

Finally, both RSA SecurID and OpenSSH can read what they need to and authentication is successful.

First acetest succeeds but subsequent ones fail

If you followed the bad advice of relabeling /var/ace to sshd_t you might run across a very frustrating issue where acetest would succeed, but any attempts to SSH into the box or even run acetest again would fail. The error message on the RSA SecurID server was

Node secret mismatch: cleared on server but not on agent

The problem is due to the improper SELinux labeling mentioned above. The fix is the same:

yum install policycoreutils-python
semanage fcontext -a -t var_auth_t "/var/ace(/.*)?"
restorecon -R -v /var/ace

SSH access denied even with successful acetest

If acetest succeeds and you’ve loaded the module into PAM but still get access denied, it could be due to your SSH configuration. Ensure the following options are set:

ChallengeResponseAuthentication yes 
UsePrivilegeSeparation no