Using the Safe Mode Hack

While trying to install Contao with the install tool, you might have seen a warning that the local configuration file is not writable.

File permission issues

The term "Safe Mode Hack" is actually misleading, because it implies that the problem was caused by the PHP safe_mode. However, it is caused by insufficient file permissions and can occur even if safe_mode is disabled, so it should be called "File Permission Hack" instead. PHP as an Apache module is typically run as wwwrun, www-data or nobody, whereas the files that you upload via FTP belong to you (e.g. web4 or ab5678). The server therefore denies the PHP script Contao access to those files.

Using FTP for file operations

To work around the permission problem, Contao establishes an FTP connection to modify files and folders. All you have to do is to enter your FTP login details. Take special care when entering the relative path from your FTP root directory to the Contao folder (e.g. html/, public_html/ or httpdocs/).

A few directories still require write permissions, because PHP will access them directly:

  • assets/images
  • assets/images/*
  • system/logs
  • system/tmp

The permissions (CHMOD 777) are set by the install tool automatically and do not have to be adjusted manually normally. Should it be necessary, please only adjust the three directories mentioned above – despite what you might have read in a tutorial or in the Contao forums!

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