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It was SELinux causing the problem, looking at the auditlog and running "audit2allow -w -a" provided the information on fixing it. I actually just set SELinux to be permissive instead of enforcing (the machine doesn't have internet access).
@R_J I completely removed the forums directory, used wget to get the vanilla zip, unzip it. I chown -R apache forums, and chmod -R 777 forums but I still ended up with the same issue.
I went ahead and added:
to config-defaults.php, when I do this I get the following
fopen(/var/www/html/forums/conf/8827847255901046faeb24.tmp): failed to open stream: Permission denied
but if I do the following manually the file is created properly (I have also confirmed that my apache server is using the 'apache' user)
[root@localhost forums]# su apache -s /bin/sh -c 'echo Hello > /var/www/html/forums/conf/8827847255901046faeb24.tmp' [root@localhost forums]# su apache -s /bin/sh -c 'cat /var/www/html/forums/conf/8827847255901046faeb24.tmp' Hello
Just as a test i modified 'library/core/functions.general.php" and added a bunch of print statements to the 'isWritable' function to see if I could get more information. The interesting thing is that the 'fopen' call fails for both the 'conf' and 'cache' directory but succeeds for the 'uploads' directory. As best as I can tell these 3 directories are configured identically
drwxrwxrwx. 3 apache root 49 Apr 26 15:54 cache drwxrwxrwx. 2 apache root 4096 Apr 26 16:43 conf drwxrwxrwx. 2 apache root 21 Apr 26 16:43 uploads
The only difference I can see is that uploads is an empty directory, cache has the 'Smarty' directory and conf has the configuration files.
Apache is being run as a daemon (sudo systemctl start httpd), I'm a bit rusty on my Linix but is it possible when that process is running it has restricted access for some reason, e.g. selinux (even though it owns the directory and files)? I will have to investigate this further if you don't know off the top of your head.
@kopana Do you think the .htaccess file would cause this issue? If you can point me to a 2.2.1 version I'll give it a try (I'll try find it myself in the mean time)
Thanks for all the great input, you've been very supportive.