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Facilities and requirements for DS-Web

Facilities available

The web server is an Apache configuration. The manual is available.

  • A list of recognised file types and other updated information may be found in the manual - files with suffixes other than those listed on this page may be wrongly served. If there is a particular reason a filetype should be made available, please contact and the request will be considered.
  • Simple directory indexing is turned on by default. 'AllowOverride indexes' is enabled as well. 'FancyIndexing' is turned off by default. Index files named index.html or index.htm or index.shtml will be served by default in that order of appearance.
  • Per-directory configuration files (.htaccess files) can be used in any directory, but on DS-Web are named htaccess. Errors in htaccess files will lead to web pages declaring an internal server error in the directory or directories affected.
  • Access by search engines has not been disabled so files that are linked to may be indexed as and when they are found by search engines.
  • Pages can be set up to be viewable only in *.cam.ac.uk or by Raven authentication. Make a directory named ucamonly within any webspace directory and place such files within it. Any content will be viewable only within *.cam.ac.uk or by Raven authentication and will not be indexed by external search engines.
  • There is no default character encoding. You can apply character encoding by adding the following line in the head part of your web page, adding a suitable charcter set, for instance:
  • <meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=gb18030" />
    A list of character encodings that may be applied may be found in the manual. Apache can also accept alternate character encodings by appending the filename with the extension, for instance index.html.latin5.
  • Server Side Includes (SSI) may be used.

Facilities not available

  • Access control by password and/or IP address (other than ucamonly, described previously)
  • Access counters (for a variety of reasons these are seldom to be trusted)
  • CGI scripts, ASP and PHP, and other forms of dynamic content handled by the server (other than SSI)
  • Access to logfiles
  • Symlinks (Unix), Shortcuts (Windows) or Aliases (Mac) are not followed by the web server.

Other points and guidelines

  • Apparently abandoned or malfunctioning pages may be removed. Desktop Services accounts may be suspended if guidelines are contravened.
  • Browser-specific pages should be avoided. Browser scripting and programming facilities (e.g. JavaScript, Java) should be used sparingly. You must ensure that your pages work on several browsers and on other platforms than just Windows.
  • HTML documents should be validated to conform to a DTD in order that they are usable by a maximum number of users.
  • There are some easy ways to test, validate and check accessibility of your pages more thoroughly by using the Firefox browser with some extensions. The web developers toolbar extension and the Total Validator extension are particularly useful. You can install them into your DS account. See https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/search?q=&cat=1%2C4 for a list of web developer extensions.
  • When a user account is cancelled, personal web pages will cease to be served.

Web pages published from public_html on DS-Web

Each directory and sub directory should have a valid index file (usually index.html) that is the 'entry' page for the directory, else a directory listing will be served.

File and directory naming

  • Filenames must have a suffix indicating the type of document (see list in the manual Although the DS web server is not case-sensitive, we recommend filenames should only contain lowercase letters (a-z), digits (0-9), and the punctuation characters ".", "-" and "_". For the file to be served, the "." character must not appear at the start of a filename. For maintenance and ease of use, shorter and obvious filenames are better.
  • PC and Macintosh browsers are not case sensitive and, when used locally on a PC or Mac, will recognise the names in lower-case even if file names of documents are seen as upper-case. Unix/Linux is a case-sensitive operating system and users of Linux should be aware of the difference.
  • We recommend directory names should contain only the characters listed above and be short for ease of use.

Last Updated: December 2016