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Frequently Asked Questions - CGI/PERL Scripts

Note: US Net Web servers use CGIWrap
CGIWrap is a gateway program that allows users to use CGI scripts and HTML forms without compromising the security of the http server.  Scripts are run with the permissions of the user who owns the script.  In addition, several security checks are performed on the script, which will not be executed if any checks fail.  

1. What is CGI?

CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface.  CGI programs are run on the Web server to enhance the abilities of Web pages, thus making them less static.  Example: CGI programs are counters, e-mail forms, and shopping cart programs.
2. How do I get to CGI access?
Your cgi access has already been activated when your account was set up.
3. How do I go about using my CGI scripts?

To use, initiate your CGI access, place your scripts into your /cgi-bin directory located in your home directory.  You may also use subdirectories that branch off of your cgi-bin directory if you need.  To call your script from a browser or an html page, use the following syntax:<your login name>/<your script name><your login name>

refers to the login name you use to upload your site.

4. In what language do my CGI scripts need to be?
Our server currently supports scripts written for Perl 5.0.1.
5. Where can I get some CGI programs to use on my site?
The CGI RESOURCE INDEX has over 1500 cgi resources.  They are located at
6. What is the difference between CGI and JAVA?
CGI is a scripting language that is run locally on the server and uses the servers resources to run your program.  Java is a programming language that runs on almost any platform.  Java is either embedded as a script in the Web page itself or it is a compiled program that is downloaded and run locally on the users computer.
7. Why am I getting a "premature end of script header" or other errors?

The major error you will see when calling your script will be the "Premature end of script Headers" error.  To fix this, check the following:

  • Make sure that you are calling Perl correctly (#!/usr/local/bin/perl) many times scripts call it with a (!#/usr/bin/perl).  You will find this line usually at the very top of your script.
  • Be sure that you have uploaded your cgi script(s) in ASCII mode, NOT binary.  CGI scripts are text files that need to be uploaded in ASCII format.  
8. My script is asking for a baseurl or basdir; what are they?

Many scripts need to know the working directory, (the directory that your script executes in) or the URL of your script.


On US Net, your base directory is /usr/local/www/htdocs/<login name>/cgi-bin/
For example, if your login name is someone then you would insert the following into your webpage or script:

The base URL usually refers to the URL to your website
For example,
However, sometime there is a CGIURL which will refer to the URL that your CGI is accessed.  
For example, /cgi-bin/cgiwrap/<username>/
9. My script needs to know the location of sendmail.
Sendmail is located at /usr/lib/sendmail
10. What scripts are available in the public cgi-bin directory?
We currently have a FormMail script which will send the contents of any form to you in e-mail.  We also have a counter script which will display a count of how many visitors come to your site.  The counter has many useful features and can also display the date and time if you wish.  Finally, we have installed an Excite search engine that you can use to enable visitors to search your website.
11. How do I use the FormMail script?

The FormMail script is a script created by Matt Wright, that will e-mail the contents of any form to an e-mail address you specify.  The quickest way to get started is to insert the following code into your script:

<form action="/cgi-bin/" method="POST">
<input type="hidden" name="recipient" value="">
<input type="hidden" name="subject" value="Put your e-mail Subject Here">....

More information about this script and it's other features can be found at Matt's Script Archive (FormMail Page).

12. How can I use the public counter program?

US Net uses a digital counter program called WWW Count designed by Muhammad A. Muquit and Kevin J. Walsh.  You will first need to go to our members section or type and add your counter.  Also, you can get started easily by inserting the following code into your HTML page

<img src="/cgi-bin/Count.cgi?df=yourname.dat" align=absmiddle>

Then, you will see a counter similar to this: This page has been accessed times.  More information on changing the digit styles and displaying the date and time are available at the WWW HomePage Access Counter.

13. How do I install the Excite search engine for my site?
To install the Excite search engine you will need to go to our members section or type and install the search engine.
14. Can I restrict which directories are searched?

Yes, in your home directory you will find an excite.filter file.  This file must exist at all times, so DO NOT DELETE IT or your site will not be indexed each night.  To exclude certain files or directories from being indexed, enter the following in your excite.filter file:

subdir cgi-bin (Prevents the cgi-bin from being indexed)
file private.html (Prevents your private.html file from being indexed)

15. I still need help — where can I get it?
Just e-mail if you would like help with your search engine.  Please include your domain name in this e-mail and a detailed description of your problem.
16. I am getting a 500 server error, how can I debug my script?
CGIwrap supports a debugging mode which can help to debug scripts.  To use it, call CGIwrap via the URL<your login name>/<your script name>.  Note: cgiwrapd is used instead of just cgiwrap.
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