Category Archives: WordPress

WP redirects confuse IE

Some users were having problems on a community site that was implemented using WordPress+BuddyPress. After some testing the issue involved users visiting the site with Internet Explorer (IE). These users were receiving error pages instead of site content. Other web browsers did not have similar issues.

The cause of the problem turns out to be a confluence of issues:

  • The site is hosted on a Windows+IIS server, a rare platform for WordPress (and even more so for BuddyPress) and one that probably doesn’t receive full attention during quality assurance testing.
  • How WordPress performs redirects on IIS is a bit quirky. BuddyPress issues a lot of redirects so this redirect quirk comes into play quite often. The issue is that when WordPress needs to perform a redirect on IIS it returns a “refresh” header pointing to the new page rather than a “location” header.
  • IE’s attempt to make the Internet more friendly; specifically IE’s use of “friendly error pages.” These friendly error pages replace the content delivered by the server (if that content falls below a certain size in KB).

Normally none of these issue are a problem by themselves and a web browser (including IE) will load the page indicated by the redirect. However, all three of the above issues taken together result in a situation where IE never sees the header refresh and so doesn’t redirect the user to the correct location.

The fix is fairly simple: change the headers that WordPress sends to include the standard “location” header. To do this you modify wordpress/wp-includes/pluggable.php@wp_redirect() so that it reads as follows (line 14 is new):

function wp_redirect($location, $status = 302) {
	global $is_IIS;
	$location = apply_filters('wp_redirect', $location, $status);
	$status = apply_filters('wp_redirect_status', $status, $location);
	if ( !$location ) // allows the wp_redirect filter to cancel a redirect
		return false;
	$location = wp_sanitize_redirect($location);
	if ( $is_IIS ) {
		header("Refresh: 0;url=$location");
		header("Location: $location", true, $status);
	} else {
		if ( php_sapi_name() != 'cgi-fcgi' )
			status_header($status); // This causes problems on IIS and some FastCGI setups
		header("Location: $location", true, $status);

suhosin to WordPress: go on a diet

We were seeing a lot of suhosin alerts in the system messages log of the type:

ALERT – script tried to increase memory_limit to 268435456 bytes which is above the allowed value (attacker SERVER_IP_ADDRESS, file WP_MAIN_ADMIN_PAGE, line 96)

The source of the issue is WordPress. The application is trying to raise the memory limit and suhosin won’t let it. Apparently WordPress will try to set a 256MB memory limit before executing certain functions. The necessity of adjusting this setting seems questionable to me, but I also understand that it’s often better to play it safe when developing software for public consumption.

I don’t particularly like applications attempting to specify their own resource usage in a web environment. In my mind applications should specify a required/recommended memory limit in the system requirements and stay away from adjusting this setting behind-the-scenes. Tell me during setup if the current setting may result in non-optimal performance or even a halt in script execution. That’s not how it’s done here, but really no harm is done in the long run beyond the annoyance of suhosin throwing errors at the system logs.

There are two easy fixes to the problem:

  1. Set the PHP memory limit to 256MB
  2. Modify the suhosin.memory_limit parameter to 256MB

In our particular situation it’s just as easy to set the PHP memory limit. There’s always a risk of overloading the physical resources, but this site receives little enough traffic that I’m not concerned about the right confluence of request occurring to cause a crash.


ALERT – script tried to increase memory_limit to 268435456 bytes which is above the allowed value

WordPress Unified User Database

In order to simplify user management of WordPress blogs hosted on our site I wanted to find a way to share users between two separate set ups. This is much easier to do than I had expected. For each setup you need to make sure WordPress uses the same database but different table prefixes.

The first step is to set up the initial blog. Next, set up any additional blogs. For each additional blog you need only add two lines to the wp-config.php file:

define('CUSTOM_USER_TABLE', 'wp_users');
define('CUSTOM_USER_META_TABLE', 'wp_usermeta');

wp_users should point to the original blog user table. wp_usermeta should point to the original blog user metadata table. From here on out you can configure and manage your blogs as normal. The only difference will be that users who have not been assigned a role for a specific blog setup will be listed under the “No role for this blog” category on the Users tab.