Implementing the virtual guestbook

So how about implementing the virtual message board?  I’ll try it in a virtual machine first.

The VM

Create a new Virtualbox VM, give it 32MB of RAM, and get it to boot of the x86 image.  Give it two network adapters: one on an “internal network” – this will represent the wireless network – and one set to NAT, this will be the ethernet port that we can log in with.  You can forward a port through the second adapter for telnet access, that way you can cut and paste stuff.  Start it up.

Cleaning up

We don’t need anything related to the GUI configuration, since it probably won’t work when we’re done.  Remove any packages starting with luci, then remove lua and uhttpd.  opkg doesn’t seem to have the concept of an automatically installed package, so you’ll need to remove dependent packages yourself.


The “wireless” network needs a static IP address, because it needs to be the DNS and DHCP server for whatever connects.  The other network adapter is used to get to the internet, and needs connect to some other gateway instead.  I put this in /etc/config/network:

config interface lan
	option ifname eth0
	option proto static
	option auto 1
	option ipaddr
	option netmask

config interface wan
	option ifname eth1
	option proto dhcp
	option auto 1

The web user

Add a user to run the web server as.  There doesn’t seem to be a command to do this, so add this to /etc/passwd:


The web server

Install Hiawatha.  It doesn’t seem to come with a startup script, so stick this in /etc/init.d/hiawatha:

#!/bin/sh /etc/rc.common



start() {
  mkdir -p /var/lib/hiawatha
  mkdir -p /var/log/hiawatha
  service_start /usr/sbin/hiawatha -d

stop() {
  service_stop /usr/sbin/hiawatha

The OpenWRT init scripts are a bit unusual, but it keeps track of the process ID and things like that.

Run /etc/init.d/hiawatha enable to make the script work.


Some basic Hiawatha configuration. These go in /etc/hiawatha/hiawatha.conf:

I’d like to limit the size of POST messages, so nobody fills up the disk. Hiawatha has an option for this (this sets it to 4kB):


This doesn’t work with the (rather dated) version of Hiawatha in OpenWRT.
It should run as our www-data user:

ServerId = www-data

Hiawatha needs to be told what to do when it sees a PHP file.  I’ll use FastCGI so I can limit the maximum number of PHP processes that run at once:

FastCGIserver {
        FastCGIid = PHP5
        ConnectTo = /tmp/guestbook-fastcgi
        Extension = php
        SessionTimeout = 30

This describes how to handle the “php” extension, but it doesn’t tell it to actually use it.  Note the “FastCGIid” line, this needs to go later in the file where the “default” site is configured – that is, where WebsiteRoot is.

UseFastCGI = PHP5

There will be more configuration later.


Install php-fastcgi.  We’ll need a socket for the web server to talk fastcgi to, so put this in /etc/config/php5-fastcgi:

config php5-fastcgi
        option enabled 1
        option port /tmp/guestbook-fastcgi

I’m sure /tmp isn’t the place to put this but since /tmp is a ramdisk and is empty on each boot, this should be fine.

I had to add this near the top of /etc/init.d/php5-fastcgi to stop it running as root:


Also, to limit the number of connections that PHP handles at once, change the service_start line to look like this:

        PHP_FCGI_CHILDREN='4' \
        PHP_FCGI_MAX_REQUESTS='50' \
        service_start /usr/bin/php-fcgi -b $port

Hopefully this means that if more than 4 clients connect, the others will have to wait until another request finishes.


I want to get clients to connect to some website – presumably their home page – to be redirected to the guestbook.  One way to do this is to change each name lookup to redirect to the router instead.

It turns out that’s not hard; this goes in /etc/dnsmasq.conf:


This tells dnsmasq to resolve all adresses to the router.

It’s also probably bad to do this on the wired interface though, so this line should do this:


(or whatever the wired interface is)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: