After a recent hardware failure (*) I’ve been setting up a new LAMP sandbox, this time using Ubuntu 9.04 running in a virtualised environment.

Everything was going fine, but after importing a database backup into MySQL, PhpMyAdmin started misbehaving, giving a White Screen of Death after login. View source revealed an empty file.

The problem was permissions related - the /etc/phpmyadmin/config-db.php file had been rewritten, and now belonged to the www-data group. Since the file was inaccessible to the user running apache, PhpMyAdmin was silently crashing.

In my case, the solution was to grant wider read-access to the file - safe because this is a private sandbox, for testing, and never to be exposed to the harsh realities of the wider world. For a production server, I’d need to work out why the group changed and fix the underlying fault.

Posted in the hope that this will save someone else a few hours troubleshooting.

(*) Our Kidputer suffered a motherboard failure. To get it up and running again, I sacrificed my test server, leaving me with no sandbox environment.

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