How to solve “[crit] [client xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx] (13)Permission denied: /var/lib/ejabberd/.htaccess pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable, referer: http://jabber.mydomain.com/” – Error Cause and Solution

While configuring JWchat domain, I've come across around an error:

pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable

The exact error I got in /var/log/apache2/error.log looked like so:

[crit] [client xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx] (13)Permission denied: /var/lib/ejabberd/.htaccess pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable, referer: http://jabber.mydomain.com/

The error message suggested /var/lib/ejabberd/.htaccess – is missing or not readable, however after checking i've seen .htaccess existed as well as was readable:

debian:~# ls -al /var/lib/ejabberd/.htaccess
-rw-r--r-- 1 www-data www-data 114 2012-01-05 07:44 /var/lib/ejabberd/.htaccess

At first glimpse it seems like the message is misleading and not true, however when I switched to www-data user (the user with which Apache runs on Debian), I've figured out the error meaning of unreadability is exactly correct:

www-data@debian:$ ls -al /var/lib/ejabberd/.htaccess
ls: cannot access /var/lib/ejabberd/.htaccess: Permission denied

This permission denied was quite strange, especially when considering the .htaccess is readable for all users:

debian:~# ls -al /var/lib/ejabberd/.htaccess
-rw-r--r-- 1 www-data www-data 114 2012-01-05 07:44 /var/lib/ejabberd/.htaccess

After a thorough look on what might go wrong, thanksfully I've figured it out. The all issues were caused by wrong permissions of /var/lib/ejabberd/.htaccess .You can see below the executable flag for all users (including apache's www-data) is missing :

debian:/var/lib# ls -ld /var/lib/ejabberd/drw-r--r-- 3 ejabberd ejabberd 4096 2012-01-05 07:45 /var/lib/ejabberd/

Solving the error, hence is as easy as adding +x flag to /var/lib/ejabberd :

debian:/var/lib# chmod +x /var/lib/ejabberd

Another way to fix the error is to chmod to 755 to the directory which holds .htaccess:

From now onwards pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable err is no more 😉

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