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29.11.2006 - Markus Litz
DLR (German Aerospace Center)
Simulation and Software Technology

This is a updated brief explanation about the ACP capable version of Catacomb. If you are looking for a how-to of the stable version of Catacomb please take a look at the Catacomb website at <http://catacomb.tigris.org>. This explains what this version of Catacomb is, what is different from the other versions and howto install and how to use it. Catacomb is a module for Apache [2] and repository interface for mod_dav <http://www.webdav.org/mod_dav>. The ACL version of Catacomb is still not stable, so be carefull with use in productive environment.



There are many web servers. Suppose you have one web server which has millions of documents. How would you find find particular documents whose author is Jim and which contain a key word such as java. A Catacomb is a perfect solution for that.

The Web-DAV protocol is an extension of HTTP and it enables the user to write to the HTTP server, give properties for resources and other functions. DASL is extension of Web-DAV and it enables the user to search resources in the Web server. Catacomb is a DASL implementation for Apache and mod_dav [1]. It also support basic access control mechanisms.

This document explains how to install the Catacomb module and use it.

What is Catacomb?

Briefly, it is :
  • DASL implementation for mod_dav and Apache.
  • MYSQL Back-ended storage system.
  • Access Control Protocol capable WebDAV Server.

DASL specifies the SEARCH method for searching and locating resources. In other words, it enables the user to search resources in the web server using the DASL protocol. Catacomb is the implementation of DASL which allows web server to support a search function.

To implement the search function, Catacomb uses MySQL. That means if you are saving some resources using PUT or MKCOL which are Web-DAV methods, all of the resources and their information are saved in not a file system, but in DBMS.

The access control protocol is used to grant or denys certain rights on the server on a specific user. This Catacomb Version introduces the basic access control protocol.


What do I need?

You need :

  • Linux or Unix system which can be installed Apache - MS-Windows with Cygwin may be possible as well, but is still untested und not recommended, same with AIX.
  • Apache 2.0.36 or higher version - at this time it's not possible to use Catacomb with Apache 2.2.X.
  • MySQL 3.2.33 or higher version
  • mod_dav_respo ACP version, currently only available from svn branch.
  • mod_auth_mysql or another apache auth mechanism.
  • subversion client

Software installation

You need MySQL, and you can download it from the MySQL Web Site. I assume that MySQL is already installed on your machine. There is no special MySQL option for mod_dav_dasl, so you don't need to reinstall MySQL for Catacomb, if MySQL is already installed. If you have some difficulties to install MySQL, please visit the MySQL homepage. The default MySQL installation directory is /usr/local. Please be sure you habe the header files of the MySQL client installed too. In most distributions the MySQL-client header files are a separate package.

You need Apache 2.0.36 or later version for Catacomb. You can download the latest Apache server from the Apache Web Site. When you install Apache, we need two options, -enable-dav and -enable-so. Catacomb is a mod_dav interface, so we need to enable mod_dav. The Catacomb object is a shared style object, so your Apache must support shared objects. The default Apache installation directory is /usr/local/apache2. You can enable two option by configuring with this command:

    <shell> ./configure --enable-so --enable-dav --enable-dav-fs
You may also set a alternative installation dir with -prefix=/home/whatever/apache, otherwise it installs in /usr/local/apache2.

Now, it is time to get and install Catacomb. You can find the subversion server with the ACP branch in the catcomb/tigris subversion repository [3]. A simple way to get the sources is to use the subversion console client and check out with:

    <shell> svn co http://catacomb.tigris.org/svn/catacomb/trunk/catacombsvn/branches/acp-branch/ catacomb-acl

When you configure the Catacomb, you need to select two options, -with-apache and -with-mysql. Using --with-mysql option, you need to specify the mysql C client library directory, and using -with-apache, you will specify the apache directory. The default directory is the /usr/local directory for MySQL and the /usr/local/apache2 directory for Apache. We recommend to use the -with-debug option so that you get full debug output.

    <shell> cd catacomb-acl
    <shell> ./configure --with-apache=/usr/local/apache2 --with-mysql=/usr/local --with-debug
    <shell> make
    <shell> make install
For mod_auth_mysql or other apache auth mechanism no catacomb specific options are necessary, so simply install like discribed in the specific manual.


We need two configurations such as:
  • Apache configuration
  • DBMS initialization
You want to add these lines into the /usr/local/apache2/conf/httpd.conf file.

language=c backgroundcolor= linewidth=110mm frameround=tttt keywordstyle=

\begin{lstlisting}[frame=trBL,caption=Apache modul declaration,label=lst:apache_...
...thName Catacomb-WebDAV-Server
require valid-user

Here are the directive explanations:

  • DavDBMSHost: specify your MySQL server.
  • DavDBMSDbName: Your DB name. To make new DB for Catacomb is recommended.
  • DavDBMSId: User id for the DB. Make sure the user has proper permission for the DB.
  • DavDBMSPass: User password for the id. If your id doesn't have a password, just omit DavDBMSPass directive.
  • DavDBMSTmpDir: Catacomb needs a temporary directory to manipulate the files. Make sure your HTTP daemon has writing permission in the directory.
  • DavDBMSFileDir: The directory to save files if not all should go into the database.
  • DavDMBSMaxFileSize: The (optional) filesize about wich files going to filesystems instead in db. Set to 0if you dont need that.
  • Location: specifies the URI information. You need to specify DAV provider as "repos". For ACL capabality we need two Locations. One for the repository, and one for all the data of the users and groups.

Second configuration job is creating DB and tables for mod_dav_dasl. DB which is already exist for other usage is reusable for Catacomb, but creating a new DB for Catacomb is strongly recommend. You can create new DB using the mysqladmin command:

    <shell>mysqladmin create reposDB

This command will create DB named reposDB. There are several tables used by Catacomb. You can create tables by importing table.sql in the Catacomb source directory using this command:

    <shell>mysql reposDB < table.sql

You might need -u and -p options for MySQL, if you specified a database user for the DB. Finally, you need to import data for your root information of the Catacomb enabled directory. In our example, the directory name is /repos. If you specified different directory name, you need to edit data.sql in the Catacomb source directory. Also, if you have more than two directory directives for Catacomb, you need to import data.sql several times with different directory data. This is the example of data.sql.

    INSERT INTO dasl_resource VALUES 
Make sure the third arguments in the example (/repos) is same as your Location in httpd.conf. You want to import the data.sql using this command:
    <shell>mysql reposDB < data.sql

Fire your Apache

    <shell>/usr/local/apache2/bin/apachectl start

DASL Clients

If you want to test your DASLed server very quickly, the simplest and best way is using telnet. Do telnet to your server and the port. Let's suppose our DASLed server is localhost and port is 8888. We can test by typing the OPTION method:

    ocean 10> telnet localhost 8888
    Connected to localhost.
    Escape character is '^]'.
    OPTIONS /dasl/ HTTP/1.1
    Host: localhost

    HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    Date: Wed, 08 May 2002 09:16:13 GMT
    Server: Apache/2.0.36-dev (Unix) DAV/2 DASL/0.1
    DAV: 1
    DAV: <http://apache.org/dav/propset/fs/1>
    MS-Author-Via: DAV
    DASL: <DAV:basicsearch>
    Content-Length: 0
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
If you can see SEARCH method in Allow field in the response, your DASLed server is working properly. You also may use the commandline base webdav client cadaver [4], which is great for testing webdav servers.

Read/Write resources

Unfortunately, you can not copy resources or make directory directly like usual Apache file system directories, since Catacomb use MySQL to save all resources and their data. So you need to use Web-DAV client to read/write your resources in the DASLed server. There are many WebDAV client programs. You can use one of these client and read/write your resources. If you want to only read your resources, a web browser are a good tool. For more information about WebDAV software, visit the WebDAV resource site.


So far, there is not many DASL clients. When we write this HOWTO, cadaver DASL patch is on developing. The cadaver [4] client will support DASL, when you read this HOWTO. Hopefully there will be lots of DASL clients very soon.


There are only a few ACL-capable WebDAV clients. For testing and reading ACLs DAVExplorer [5] is recommend. Setting new permissions should be done with WebDAVPilot [6], a plugin for the eclipse framework.

Trouble shooting

If your DASLed server doesn't work properly, reading error_log in the Apache's log directory is good idea. Here are simple check lists:
  • Did you configure Apache with -enable-so and -enable-dav option?
  • MySQL demon is running before Apache server is running?
  • Did you specify the right DB information in httpd.conf?
  • Temporary directory which is specified httpd.conf is readable and writable?
  • ...


The Catacomb support of the access control protocol has just started, so please support us with potential error descriptions. We hope Catacomb and this HOWTO could help your Internet environment.

Call for participation

Catacomb is open source project under Apache License. So anybody is welcome to the project. Please join our development mailing list : catacomb@webdav.org [7], if you have interest.


G.Stein mod_dav: a DAV module for Apachehttp://www.webdav.org/mod_dav

Apache Webserver - http://httpd.apache.org


Cadaver WebDAV Client - http://www.webdav.org/cadaver

DAVExplorer - www.davexplorer.org

WebDAVPilot, a webdav plugin for the eclipse framework - http://www.s-und-n.de

Catacomb Development mailing list - http://mailman.webdav.org/mailman/listinfo/catacomb

About this document ...

Catacomb_ACL Howto

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The translation was initiated by Markus Litz on 2007-01-12