Launching Excel in a production web server on a Mac

Scott Ribe scott_ribe at
Tue Jan 28 23:21:50 UTC 2014

On Jan 28, 2014, at 4:01 PM, Anth Anth <lists at> wrote:

> I knew heading into this that this scenario was a longshot to work.  My
> question is is this even remotely possible?  If not, does anyone have
> any alternate suggestions?

I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work, but you have to get your users & permissions straight.

- Are you really running nginx as root? That's an odd, and insecure, thing to do. Remember, just because the process that launches it may have root privileges, does not necessarily mean the effective user is root.

- Your server will have to be logged into a user account. Unlike nginx and other servers, Xcel requires an active logged-in user to run. So basically, you want a user, you want to have the server auto-login to that user account on boot, and you want nginx to run under that user's account as well.

That's the basics. Now, to make this actually reliable on a server is another issue. You see, I do the same thing with MS Word on a Mac server, and here's what I have to cope with, and I assume it will be similar for Xcel:

- Of course if preferences are set to display the document gallery at startup, it will not open the document you tell it to. So you must set up the preferences to disable the document gallery.

- It will occasionally spontaneously reset that preference, so you're really best off setting up the preferences the way you want them, copying the file into your project somewhere, and replacing the application preferences with your cached copy before each launch.

- Every once in a while, launching the application will take extra long, up to about a minute. So if you're monitoring for a time-out, take that into account.

- As you repeatedly open and print documents, it will slow down. I keep a document count, and quit & re-launch Word every 100 documents--of course launching more often means that launch problems happen more often.

- Sometimes it just freezes. Sometimes it decides on quit to display a dialog about not being able to save the normal template or some other similar bullshit. So whenever you ask it to do something, you have to be prepared to time out and kill -9 it.

The good news is that all of the above problems have gotten much less frequent with Word 2011, *and* Word 2011 completely eliminated the nastiness where Word 2004 would corrupt the old emulation layer so completely that it would not run at all until you rebooted the server (even killing and restarting the "blued" stuff would not do it).

Enjoy yourself; I sure as hell did not ;-)

Scott Ribe
scott_ribe at
(303) 722-0567 voice

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