The Extra Mile 3: Antu Stephen

We’ve had a steady stream of appreciative comments on our previous “The Extra Mile” posts and it’s great to hear your insightful comments that help us improve our support. This week, ResellerClub’s support team was posed an issue that required a substantial level of ingenuity, initiative and commitment to be tackled and our superb support team got it spot on!

Our Support Executive:
Antu Stephen, a member of our support team, has been with us for about 2 years. He enjoys handling challenging issues and regards this recent instance as one of the trickiest and therefore satisfying solutions he has provided.


The Issue:
One of our resellers, Mohit Sabharwal wished to upgrade to a VPS package to use a new feature in Apache. The VPS plan that he chose had cPanel as an add on and the new feature which Mohit wanted was not compatible with cPanel by default.

The Complication:
Uninstalling cPanel to accommodate the features which it didn’t support was not an option as all his domains and email accounts were created with cPanel and would have been lost. Also, when Antu started investigating, he discovered that the required module was not enabled in the Apache configuration file using “LoadModule” tag.

Our Solution:
Although cPanel forums stated that cPanel did not support the SPDY module by default, Antu recognized that it could be installed manually but would recompilation of mod_ssl modules. Antu knew that while installing SPDY, the mod_ssl module in cPanel has to be modified a bit and a patch has to be applied to enable NPN support.
Having understood the problem well, Antu attempted to rectify the issue and followed these steps:
1. Compile and setup an alternate version of Apache of the same version installed by cPanel. Then, generate the mod_ssl and mod_spdy binaries ( ie .so files) from this newly compiled Apache.
2. Run Easyapache to compile the original Apache used by the server to enable mod_ssl as a dynamic module by using cpanel Easyapache custom modules. This would allow the replacement of file generated by Easyapache by the patched binary file generated during compilation of alternate Apache version.
3. Once this was done, load the SPDY binary file in the Apache configuration file to enable SPDY in the server.

The compilation of alternate Apache version went smoothly and the SPDY and SSL binaries were created.

However the Easy Apache compilation using cPanel custom mods gave an error – “Failed to generate a syntactically correct Apache configuration”

Configuration problem detected on line 213 of file /usr/local/apache/conf/httpd.conf.1410117833:

Invalid command ‘SSLPassPhraseDialog’, perhaps misspelled or defined by a module not included in the server configuration

This error showed up because Mod_ssl was not enabled in the Apache configuration file using “LoadModule” tag. Usually Easyapache compiles Mod_ssl as a static module, therefore there’s no need to include the module in the configuration file. However, this was the cause of the issue. Having understood the length and breadth of the problem, Antu was needed to load the mod_ssl and mod_spdy modules manually in Apache configuration file and restart Apache. This was the final piece of the jigsaw – mod_spdy was now enabled.

Now Mohit is using mod_spdy along with cPanel without any issues, he was extremely relieved and happy with how Antu managed the issue for him.
This is particularly a huge achievement as the process which Antu came up with and followed is not documented anywhere. Antu’s knowledge and expertise equipped him to devise a way to make SPDY work in cPanel.

Shridhar Luthria

General Manager & Business Head