Dreamhost, mod_rewrite, and logged status codes

I’ve done some more testing on the problem I mentioned before of all requests showing up as 200‘s in the Apache log on my Dreamhost shared server. I’m pretty sure it’s specific to their mod_rewrite module. I set up a test host with a limited set of files:

  • .htaccess
    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
        RewriteEngine On
        RewriteRule ^rewrite/?$ rewrite.php [L]
        RewriteRule ^404/?$ 404.php [L]
        RewriteRule ^50[\w]/?$ 50x.php [L]
    </IfModule>
    ErrorDocument 404 /404.html
    
  • 404.html
    &lt;toby&gt;<br />404
    
  • 404.php
    <?php
    header('HTTP/1.0 404 Not Found');
    
  • 50x.php
    <?php
    foo();
    

I threw in the 404.html just to rule out any problems with a missing ErrorDocument.

The following routes yield the following HTTP status codes in Apache logs and the headers shown incurl requests:

  • /404: 200 in logs, 404 in headers
  • /404.php: 404 in logs, 404 in headers
  • /500: 200 in logs, 500 in headers
  • /50x: 200 in logs, 500 in headers
  • /50x.php: 500 in logs, 500 in headers
  • /rewrite: 200 in logs, 404 in headers
  • /rewrite.php: 404 in logs, 404 in headers
  • /z: 404 in logs, 404 in headers

All the ones where they don’t match happen to be the ones that are going through mod_rewrite. They match in all instances where mod_rewrite isn’t invoked, including the direct invocation of the PHP error scripts, ruling out PHP. Running the same files locally (when display_errors = Off), the codes matched. They’ve always matched locally and on the servers I’ve worked with at work.

All of this leads me to believe that it must be something with the mod_rewrite that Dreamhost uses. I found one other blog post mentioning the same problem, plus several other pages that seemed to be related but without enough information to conclusively connect them. I’m tempted to mention something to support, but it might take some effort to explain and convince them of the problem. Considering how many sites use mod_rewrite, I’m not sure why so few people are having / noticing this problem. Obviously, it has existed since at least 2013.

It would be nice for logging purposes, especially since I use awstats, to be able to see the proper status codes. As is, I can’t really see where errors are or get a good idea of what actual pages people are visiting. I may be stuck with all 200‘s until I switch to a VPS.

[Update]After discussing with Dreamhost, the conclusion was that their configuration was “meant to meet the most common webapp and customer requirements” and I should switch to a VPS solution if I want something different.[/Update]

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Toby

I am a quiet person from Northeast Ohio. I work as a web developer. I like computers, music, and many other things.

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