After moving a website folder on my local development machine to another drive, then moving it back, I got a 403 error. Most of this problem had probably to do with rights that got messed up. After deleting the code and restoring it from SVN, the rights seemed allright. The error stayed however.

The setup is a bit complex, as follows:

  1. I have Ubuntu 10.4 as development machine, trying to mimic the server as much as possible
  2. We use Eclipse + SVN and I create all projects in a local folder under my user account
  3. In /var/www-vhosts I create folders for each vhost, like this one: test.localhost
  4. test.local/index.php: includes the index file of the project
  5. test.local/.htaccess is a dynamic link to the htaccess file in a project subfolder

I get the following error in the apache error log:

[Thu Jul 08 15:55:56 2010] [crit] [client] (13)Permission denied: /var/www-vhosts/test.localhost/.htaccess pcfg_openfile: unable to check htaccess file, ensure it is readable

The problem seems to be the .htaccess file, or the link to it.

  1. When I empty the htaccess, nothing changes
  2. When I remove the link, the index-include produces some output (in the apache error log)
  3. When I remove the link and replace it with the actual file, I get another error:

[Thu Jul 08 16:47:54 2010] [error] [client] Symbolic link not allowed or link target not accessible: /var/www-vhosts/test.localhost/test

I'm lost here, don't know what to do next. Do you have any ideas what I can try? This setup has worked before, but I don't know what is different now.

1 Answer 1


It turned out that the parent folders of the project folder had only user-rights, no rights for other groups. After setting these rights back to normal, it works again.

  • in my case I had to add execution permission to the parent folder like chmod +x /home/myuser. The issue appeared when I moved the site from /var/www/html to /home/myuser/html.Your answer pointed me in the right direction.
    – wranvaud
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 12:34

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