Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Quick Info

Jacobs University Members can use free public web hosting on a LAMP stack. Visit , login with your JACOBS user account , create your virtual host(s) and ftp accounts, and upload data.

YOU ARE PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE for what you publish, collect, and process. Be sure to know and follow the legal implications!

Please read and understand ALL of the detailed information before beginning to use the service, especially Jacobs University Web Policy.

The MarCom can help in setting up web presences for Jacobs University purposes.


This system is no longer maintained and does not receive updates any more. It is in the process of being faded out. Please migrate your content to other platforms.

Detailed Information

Table of Contents


The userweb system allows Jacobs University Members to publish web content by using virtual hosts based on Linux operating system, Apache web server, Mysql database, and PHP scripting language. The system can be used for arbitrary purposes to the goals of Jacobs University and its members. This especially includes use in learning and teaching, research, and campus life.

Every Jacobs University Member can use the system without further requirement, but will have to sign the acknowledgement of the policy some time after starting to use the system, see Jacobs University Web Policy.

The virtual hosts created by users are public to the Internet.

Legal Information and Policies

Jacobs University Members employing the userweb service to provide web content are, by all legal means, personally responsible for the content and the links they publish, as well as the data processing they perform on stored or entered data, as content providers are. They are required to honor Jacobs University policies and guidelines as well as German and international laws regarding data protection, copyright, and have the obligation to not cause harm to Jacobs University as well.

Regarding data protection law, it is not allowed to collect person related data without expressed consent of the user whose data is gathered or processed, nor is it allowed to collect more data than needed for the application. If in doubt, please contact Jacobs University's "Datenschutzbeauftragter" (Data Protection Officer).

Regarding intellectual property infringements, especially copyright law, it is not allowed to publish unlicensed material. This includes, but not exclusively, audio, video and photographic material, software, and articles or books, in electronic form or scanned. Jacobs University can make users liable in case of copyright infringements.

Other German laws to abide to are especially the "Telekommunikationsgesetz" (TKG, telecommunications act), "Telemediengesetz" (TMG, telemedia law), "Bundesdatenschutzgesetz" (BDSG, federal data protection act), amongst others. Also note additional requirements, especially the "Impressumspflicht" (obligation to have an impressum with well-defined required information), "Datensparsamkeit" (obligation to only collect data needed for the intended use), "Linkhaftung" (liability for links), "informationelle Selbstbestimmung" (right of people regarding data about them), "Datenschutzgrundverordnung" (EU-DSGVO, General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR) etc.

Also Jacobs University policies have to be abided to, especially the "Richtlinie zur Nutzung von Informations- und Kommunikationsdiensten" (ICT Guideline), the Jacobs University Web Policy, the General Policy Governing the Appropriate Use of Computer Resources, and the Note of the President banning peer2peer software amongst other Policies. For further Jacobs University legal information information, see page Legal on teamwork.

Users have to ensure, that all of the software installed is always the most up-to-date version, this includes plugins, addons, themes, templates, etc. If software installed in a host is found outdated, IT might disable the host or initiate an automated software update, which potentially breaks the application.

If the host is used for Jacobs University's business, the look and feel used must comply with Jacobs University's web guidelines. If the host is not used for Jacobs University's business, the look and feel used must not appear as if representing Jacobs University.

Before leaving Jacobs University, users maintaining hosts for Jacobs University's business must transfer these hosts to another user who is still member of Jacobs University and who will then become new owner and maintainer of said host.

Users will have to acknowledge this policy by signing the "Userweb Policy Acknowledgement" after starting to use the system. Users not acknowledging this policy will get their hosts disabled and deleted.

Hosts not complying to this policy must be made compliant by the user, or will get disabled and deleted. Hosts showing outdated or no content, or that appear unused or unmaintained, might get disabled and deleted. Compliance checks will be performed.

To repeat, users employing the userweb service are personally responsible for the content and application they publish! Jacobs University can make users violating this policy liable for infringements.

Access Information

The control interface to manage virtual hosts and associated accounts is Login with your JACOBS user account.

The control interface provides all links, virtual host names, account names, passwords, and additional information needed to manage the virtual hosts.

In addition, the control interface has a link to a PhpMyAdmin installation to manage your database(s), and an option to install a working Joomla application with "1 click".

To access the file system of the virtual host for file up- and download, an FTP client is needed. Any will do, as long as passive mode is used, e.g. ncftp, WinSCP, CyberDuck, ...

Naming of Virtual Hosts

The domain names of all virtual hosts of the userweb system end in ""

The first virtual host of a user is always named the same as the account name of the user, e.g. the first vitual host of user account "jdoe" is called ""

Subsequent virtual hosts can be named by the user, but some restrictions apply. It is not possible for the user to rename a virtual host. You'll need to create a new virtual host with the new name, transfer and adapt all data, then remove the previous one. The first virtual host named the same as the account of the user can not be removed as long as there are additional virtual hosts associated with the account.

Additional virtual hosts can not be named the same as an existing account name. If at a later time an account comes into existence whose name is the same as an already existing virtual host name, IT will unconditinally rename the existing virtual host to make room for the new account name - please name your virtual hosts with this in mind. If the name is found to be inappropriate, IT will rename or remove the virtual host. If an account is renamed, the first virtual host name will also be renamed by IT.

If a virtual host, e.g. if created for a particular research project, shall receive an additional name (CNAME), including a name outside the domain, please contact Service Desk for Faculty and Staff.

There is a considerable propagation delay of names of newly created virtual hosts. It might take several hours, even days, to "reach every corner of the Internet". If you can not reach a newly created virtual host from outside Jacobs University, try again the next day.

Additional Details

The system provides virtual hosts with a LAMP stack, i.e. it runs on Linux, Apache, Mysql and PHP.

Here are various tidbits of relevant information for using the system:

  • Though there is disaster recovery backup of the system, there is no user-centric file data or database backup; if you trash your data, it's gone - perform regular backups including files and database!
  • Virtual hosts are served for three months after last login by that user to the userweb control interface; after that, all virtual hosts of the user are inactivated and unpublished, and eventually removed. Email reminders are sent 6 weeks before inactivation to provide time for login. Corollary: Because accounts of users who leave Jacobs University are inactivated, they can not login and their virtual hosts will become inactivated and eventually removed. If you need your data preserved, be sure to migrate it into the hands of some one else at Jacobs University before leaving Jacobs. Please also refer to the Richtlinie zur Nutzung von Informations- und Kommunikationsdiensten (ICT Guideline) regarding leaving Jacobs University.
  • Users have to ensure, that all of the software installed is always the most up-to-date version, this includes plugins, addons, themes, templates, etc.

    If software installed in a virtual host is found outdated, IT might disable the host or initiate an automated software update, which potentially breaks the application.
  • Each virtual host comes with an associated Mysql database, which is created and deleted with the virtual host.
  • Each user can create additional virtual hosts, and FTP accounts. The ftp accounts created for the first virtual host have access to all virtual hosts of the user; ftp accounts of additional virtual hosts have access only to the virtual host they were created for.
  • Ftp accounts have access to the access log and error log of their virtual host(s). IP addresses in logs are anonymized in the last octet, and are removed after a few days.
  • By default, web security is switched off, but can be switched on in the control interface. A self signed SSL certificate is provided; browsers will complain about that certificate but will allow access to the site after confirming a possible security problem. The provided certificate can be replaced via FTP by changing the files in the virtual host's "ssl" directory. The key file must not have a password.
  • Virtual hosts can receive email by IMAP4 and POP3 from any mail host by configuring the account data in the installed application.
  • Emails can only be sent by configuring the application to use as SMTP host, and using SMTP authentication with your JACOBS user account data. Phpmail via localhost does not work. Please use something like WP Mail SMTP instead.
  • PHP restrictions are: register_globals and short_open_tag are off.
  • References to files, e.g. entries in .htaccess file to point to password files, require full pathnames, i.e. /srv/www/FIRSTCHAROFUSERNAME/USERNAME/HOSTNAME/PATH/FILE
  • The system is currently in an "Open Beta" phase. Please use with caution, expect hickups, and have backups.


The following quotas are in effect:

Number of virtual hosts per user account5
Number of ftp accounts per user account5
File system usage per user account1 GB
Number of Mysql databases1 per virtual host
Data stored in all Mysql databases per user account100 MB
PHP maximum script execution time30 seconds
PHP maximum file upload size100 MB
Lifetime of virtual hosts since last control interface login3 months


Users employing the userweb service are basically required to "know what they are doing", or to learn the basics of web publishing.

A Userweb User Guide is available which describes the necessary steps to create a Wordpress or Joomla site. For a clean Wordpress site design, you can use the "Accelerate" theme, and amend it with this child theme.

If there is a technical issue with the system, please contact Service Desk for Faculty and Staff.



  • No labels