User Homepages

Students, faculty, and staff have several options for creating a web presence at the University of Minnesota. Any user with a valid account can create a homepage in their home directory. There are other options outside of this as well. The University provides multiple services outside of personal pages hosted from your home directory.

If none of these options fit your needs, please contact the CSE-IT Service Desk to discuss additional options.


Throughout this document the term public_html is used. This refers to the directory inside a user’s home directory that html files are served out of and are publicly accessible. You can choose to place these files in the www directory, .www directory, or public_html directory. We recommend using public_html. Multiple such directories are not supported. The term public_html will be used as the default directory for sites going forward in this document.

Creating Your Homepage

  1. Set Permissions

    1. For an overview of how Linux file permissions work, see Web Servers and File Permissions

    2. Make sure your Linux home directory has the world-executable bit set (o+x):

    3. Create a public_html/ directory in it.

    4. Your home directory, public_html directory, and all subdirectories inside the public_html directory must be world-executable, but not group or world-writable. If others are allowed to write to this directory, they could execute malicious code in your webspace. Directory and file permissions may be checked as follows:

  2. Create Content

    1. Create files in your public_html directory. You can use HTML, PHP or CGI Scripts. Helpful tutorials:
    2. Create a text file named index.html within your public_html directory. Use your preferred text editor to edit this file. Copy and paste the following code for a basic example site
    3. University of Minnesota policy requires that the following disclaimer appear on all personal pages and on all student organization pages:
      The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota.
      • To find and list any files without the disclaimer, use the following command:

        This command will look through all files below the current directory that have htm in their name, search through the text of all of them, and return the ones that do not contain the pattern "The views and opinions expressed in this". This should show you all files on your site that do not have the disclaimer.

  3. Test Your Homepage

    In a web browser, open where username is your Internet ID. Note the tilde (~) before your username in the URL.

File and Web Addresses

File Location Web Address Notes
~/public_html N/A  
~/public_html/index.shtml or Can be edited with your preferred programming editor
~/public_html/docs For documents you wish to share with the internet


Converting Documents to HTML

Some document formats can be converted to HTML using software like  latex2html, texi2html, makeinfo, docbook, openoffice, MS-Office, and gThumb. Pandoc can convert between dozens of formats. If HTML conversion is not possible, try converting to pdf using pdflatex from the teTeX software package.

Troubleshooting a User Page

  • Changes to htaccess syntax for Apache 2.4
    • The upgrade to Apache 2.4 changed the syntax needed for htaccess directives. Apache has documentation available with examples of both the old and new sytnax to update these files.
  • Python should change to Python3
    • With the end of life of Python 2, Python 3 is now the accepted Python interpreter and referred to using: If there are problems running python on a user page, check to make sure that all references to /usr/bin/env/python have been replaced with /usr/bin/env/python3
  • User pages are now load balanced, affecting location based htaccess checks
    • In order to maximize uptime, multiple user page servers are now load balanced so that should one go down, another will serve. The ramifications of this are that any and all traffic they see comes from the load balancer, which is on University networks. This means that should an .htaccess file have provisions for non-UMN IPs or hostnames, this will never trigger.
  • Directory Indexing
    • Directory indexing is a security threat that can lead to unauthorized access to restricted information. This option is disabled by default for user homepages. We provide an index.cgi file that can be used should a directory still require indexing. The file is located in /project/cseit-sharedfiles. This file must be copied to every directory that requires a directory index, and then marked as executable. For example, to copy the file your public_html directory, in a terminal: