The Developer Day | Staying Curious



Starting services in a clean environment

I was working on a small web application that creates Subversion branches and tags. In short it just executes SVN commands on the repository. Whenever a user executes an SVN command the SVN client tries to check user’s local home folder for the .subversion configuration directory. The issue that I was running into was that for some reason apache’s home folder was pointing to our system’s administrator home folder which in turn would result in a permission denied error when apache would try to access the .subversion folder.

It just didn’t make any sense. Turns out if you start a service through /etc/init.d/ it starts that service with environment variables belonging to the user that started the service. In this case our system’s administrator started the service using his own user.

To start services in a clean environment a special utility called service should be used. It usually resides in the /sbin directory. So for example instead of starting apache like this:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/httpd start

It should be started like this:

$ sudo /sbin/service httpd start

Which will result in $HOME environment variable being empty and the SVN client not getting a permission denied error.

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