Thursday April 17 2014
information technology central services at the university of michigan

FAQ: homepage

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How do I work with AFS ACLS?
Can I run CGI scripts in my home directory?
Can I use Frontpage extensions?
How do I improve my Google search results ranking?
Can I get a personal umich.edu domain name?

How do I work with AFS ACLS?

Sharing access of files in your IFS space is primarily an issue of getting your AFS permissions set correctly. This ITCS document should have all the information that you'll need to work with AFS permissions.

For example, files and directories inside my ~/Public/html directory need to be viewable by any user on the system to be accessed by the webserver. I could ensure that they are set properly by issuing this command from the unix prompt:

fs setacl ~/Public/html umweb:servers rl

To check that your permissions in the current directory are set correctly, you can issue this command:

fs listacl

You should see results similar to these:

Access list for . is
Normal rights:
  system:anyuser rl
  uniqname rlidwka

Can I run CGI scripts in my home directory?

Personal CGI scripts are currently not allowed on the www.umich.edu and www-personal.umich.edu hosts.

There are several reasons for this. The first and foremost reason is security. The web servers are run with access to several directories and files that other programs don't (and shouldn't have) access to. Since we don't have the time to police all the CGI script code out there, there isn't a way to enable them securely on our servers.

Another reason for not enabling CGI scripts is their ability to consume all of the processing power and/or bandwidth available to a given web server. We are mainly concerned with making sure that our servers stay up, active, and able to serve pages.

We do offer opportunities for allowing groups, departments, and schools the ability to run custom CGI scripts on a server maintained by Web Services. This service costs $40/month, billable to a University account number, and covers development CGI access to develop your own CGI scripts, and covers your own domain name if you need it. Let us know if you're interested in more information about this service.

Also, we maintain a collection of scripts that can be used by anyone for free. If you have suggestions for CGI scripts that would be of general utility to the WWW community at the University of Michigan, please send such suggestions to webmaster@umich.edu, and we will consider them. It will not be possible for us to implement all requests, especially requests that are of limited use to the general university community, but we will consider any reasonable request.

For documentation on what CGI scripts are available on the umich.edu web servers, check out the document at:

http://www.umich.edu/cgi.html

Groups may sign up for our virtual hosting service, which includes includes php support and mysql tablespace.

Can I use Frontpage extensions?

We are familiar with the Frontpage server extensions, and can certainly appreciate the convenience they would offer. However we can not install the Frontpage server extensions for security reasons and because the Frontpage server extensions are incompatible with the UM environment. This does not mean that you cannot use Frontpage to publish pages on our servers, it merely means that the UMCE is not structured in a way that would permit the server extensions to work.

Our web servers are completely separate from our file servers (the files you store in your IFS home directory are read by (but do not reside on) the UM web servers). This distributed file system (IFS) makes access to files extremely easy and convenient, but because of this setup we lose some ability to use software such as the Microsoft Frontpage server extensions that manipulate files in individuals' directories. Our web servers cannot safely be configured to have write access to user home directories. There are also security issues involved with running the Frontpage extensions on a server without the restrictions ours face.

It is also the case that Frontpage does not support secure FTP, so you can no longer utilize it to move files into your Public/html directory.

You can still use MS Frontpage as an editor for your HTML pages, of course.

How do I improve my Google search results ranking?

Google uses a sophisticated system called PageRank which boosts sites higher in searches that have more links pointing to it. Therefore, if the Google spiders can't find your site in their indexing of "known sites", they won't be able to find a "content island".

Google also takes the linked words into consideration. Instead of simply linking to your site using the URL as the link text, it may be a good idea to use the name. For example:

<a href="http://www.umich.edu/">University of Michigan</a>

There are a few interesting and entertaining articles on this topic.

Obviously, content should not be ignored. Search results will heavily depend upon the topics covered on your site. Google currently does not read text that is displayed using images, but instead examines the body text, meta and alt tags.

It may also be wise to simply tell Google that your site exists. You can Add your URL yourself to their list of sites to index. If you have further questions about their technology, you may want to contact univ-support@google.com.

Finally, Google suggests that you create a Sitemap so they can better find the pages on your site. They also offer a free download so you can quickly and easily generate your sitemap.

Can I get a personal umich.edu domain name?

The Standard Practice Guide sections 601.15-0 and 601.15-1 lay out the ground rules for the use of UM IP addresses and, by extension, servers. Personal domain names are expressly forbidden.

Please see:

http://spg.umich.edu/section/601/

We're sorry there isn't a more pleasing reply. There are many inexpensive web hosting companies on the Internet (some with services that cost less than $10.00 per month). Hopefully, one of them can satisfy your needs.