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How To: CGI


What is CGI?

HTTP allows you to present text and images to your users on the world wide web, however the text and images are always static and there is no way for the user to input data. CGI scripts are probably the most popular and easiest ways to create web pages that are dynamic and allow your users to input data. The most popular languages used in CGI scripts are Perl and C. There are thousands of CGI scripts available on the Internet and if you can't find one you can write your own, or have one written for you. We have provided you with a few scripts that we have found useful and we think you may as well. They include a form processor and page counter. We also have a shopping cart system if you need one.

What you need to make CGI work:

The first thing you need to have in order to use CGI scripts is access to your servers CGI-BIN directory. All of our server packages include CGI-BIN directories with unlimited access to them.

You will then need to configure your script. This help section can't cover all of the aspects of configuring your scripts. The script you have should instructions on how to configure the script and install it. There are some settings that are fairly common to Perl scripts that you will find useful

  • The location of Perl. All Perl scripts require this and it will be on the first line of code. On our servers the location of Perl is:


Be sure that the first line of code is exactly as it is above.

  • Absolute paths and URL's are also common in script configurations. On our servers absolute paths usually start with the directory /virtual/yourdomain.com/. URL's should always start with http://yourdomain. If you are unsure of your absolute path please e-mail us at service@millcityweb.net and we'll e-mail you your abosolute path.
  • Many scripts need to use the sendmail and date commands. On our servers the location of sendmail is /usr/sbin/sendmail and the location of date is /bin/date.

Once your script is configured, upload it to the CGI-BIN directory on your server using your FTP client. Be sure to upload using the ASCII mode NOT Binary or your script will not work.

After uploading set the permissions on the script. The script's documentation should tell you what you need to set the permissions to. Many FTP clients have options to set the file permissions. If yours does not open a tech support ticket and request a file permission to be set and we will change it for you.

Pre-Installed Scripts:

We have included a few scripts that you may find useful and are already installed and configured in your CGI-BIN directory.



Forms are a common method of letting your users send you information. The FormMail script written by Matt Wright is an easily configured script which allows you to place a form on your web site and have the users input e-mailed to you. Go to Matt's Script Archive to see full documentation on this script and how to use it. There are certain options that must be configured by the user in order for the script to work properly.