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Learning Something New.

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on February 29, 2012 in Internet |

Life is full of new experiences, let’s be honest, it would be a fairly dull time if it wasn’t! With the (still) pending move of this Blog to a new server I have been able to learn how things work on the backend of the Internet. Not the real backend, as in, nodes and relay stations and all that, but the servers which, once the information has been uploaded and installed and they are connected to one another, form the backbone, the life of the Internet. Perhaps we take it all for granted now, since the Internet has been around for a complete generation and some of us, me included, hardly know a time when the Internet wasn’t there in one way or another.

It’s not just a case of putting a bit of software onto a computer, installing it, writing something and then going online. I was amazed, for example, to discover that the average server has a storage space of fifty Gigabytes. How many home computers, laptops and notebooks are on the market today with less than two hundred and fifty? And the question arises, if a server can get by with such a small (!) amount of space, why can’t our home computers do the same?

However, that isn’t what I wanted to write about today, it was merely a passing thought.

I have discovered that the basic size of my Blog, what you are looking at now, when downloaded comes to about one hundred and seventy-five megabytes. Added to that the databank is about fifteen megabytes. Most of my space is taken up with the many photographs that I have stored and linked, a little more than half in fact. And that’s with them compressed.

Now comes the interesting stuff, for me anyway.

To set my Blog up on the new server, which has a different interface to the old server, the webmaster needs to download all the installed files. That itself is not a great problem. Then comes the databank. This gets downloaded and saved as a sql file. But, since it is fifteen megabytes in size, it can’t be uploaded to the new server since the new server only allows a databank upload of eight megabytes. It needs to be packed into a zip file. Also, not a problem.

The downloaded databank file has to be opened first, the command to create a new databank has to be removed, and then it has to be saved again. The new server doesn’t allow the straight creation of a new databank from an imported command. Create new databank, import changed file.

Since the databank is new, all the configuration files have to be changed with new databank names, users and passwords. The new server assigns a databank and user name rather than allowing self-creation. Another down point.

All of this is due to take place tomorrow ready for the new server to come online Saturday afternoon.

Added to which, the mail addresses all have to be recreated.

Then there is the question of where the website, when it comes online again, is. This one, as you will have seen, does not use the www prefix which, these days, is outdated and unnecessary. I want to keep it that way because the many thousands of links to my Blog all point to the site without www. That means that the software needs to be installed outside the www folder already created on the new server. Also not a problem. Except that there is nothing pointing to the www site, which also comes online at the same time: two sites for the price of one! In theory I could produce two completely different sites and have them both online at exactly the same time, one for www and one without www.

That means that we need to create a redirect from the www site, since there are still some people who insist of using www, to the real one. On the new server there is no DNS access, unlike the old server which operated with Plesk 10. So, a script, once the whole is online Saturday afternoon. We have to wait until then because, most annoying, the site once uploaded cannot be seen until the change. There is no preview function on the new server. Likewise, we cannot see if the mailboxes are correctly configured and cannot put all the necessary details – such as return address, sender, address book and so on – in place.

Most annoying for the webmaster is the information he was given by the host. There are no servers with Plesk or php 5.2.3+ available unless he takes a root server, which he doesn’t want. Except: another user near here has confirmed that he has a V server – not root – with Plesk 10.4 and php 5.2.6 … from the same host.

For those of you who are used to all this stuff, who have their own servers or a bit more knowledge of the inner workings than I do, this probably seems all quite normal. For me, though, as an introduction, it was fascinating. Now you know why I am so happy just sitting in front of my small computer and letting other people do all the work!

Still, just a couple more sleeps and we’ll see whether it has all worked or not. Happy 29th everyone!

Love & Kisses, Viki.

Photo Sources: Tumblr.

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2 Comments

  • Francois Demers says:

    You may want to consider the following (translation: the sinking of Atlantis could happen again).

    Assuming the server runs Apache under Linux, the www directory is not the same as a www. alias to your domain name. Same story if not Apache or not Linux…

    Unless you have direct access to Linux and Apache configuration files, your hosting provider probably wants your web site (be it a blog, an online store, or a photo album) in the www DIRECTORY even if it does not have a “www.” alias. Hosting providers configure Apache to point all outside connection requests to the www directory.

    If you do have root USER access to the (physical, not virtual) server, you still probably do not want your web site at the root LEVEL of your architecture. There are very good security and operational reasons to put http – accessible content where it belongs. Typically, that is in a folder named “www” or “web”. You can thank the Unix people and the kind folks at IBM for using the same terms to mean different things.

    The www ALIAS in, let’s say http://www.viktoriamichaelis.com, is not a subdomain the way photography.viktoriamichaelis.com would be. In the DNS zone file (another limpid term), an alias means: “www.viktoriamichaelis.com and viktoriamichaelis,com are really the same site and can be found at the same IP address (in the default www folder the way God wants it)”.

    The reason you may want to consider (translation: need) this alias is that most browsers insert a “www.” before and a “.com” after any string of characters when you enter it in the navigation bar and type control-enter. You can try it: type army-of-frogs, press control-enter, look at the URL your browser creates (and a picture of a frog skeleton).

    No, having this “www.” alias would not require rewriting all the netlinking in the universe. It would require doing exactly nothing at all as long as the primary domain name is correctly regitered in the DNS zone file. In other words: if “viktoriamichaelis.com” points to the right IP address, ANY alias will go there.

    Another nice kind of alias entry is “@”. If that is in the zone file, then anything prior to viktoriamichaelis.com goes to your blog. I could type “somepeopleneedahighfiveinthefacewithachair.viktoriamichaelis.com” in my navigation bar, the “@” would send me to your blog. Not that I would write such a thing in real life (I use rusty iron shovels myself) but it’s nice to have.

    The “www” prefix became useless and outdated the day all browser coders forgot to default there for faster keyboard entry. That would be on your 25th birthday (did you have fun?)

    About email addresses, no, they do not have to be re-created. The IP address for the MX field in the DNS zone file just needs to be changed.

    If you wish to avoid these joys in the future, make sure your domain registrar and hosting providers are different companies (keeps them on their toes, providing service)

  • Francois Demers says:

    I own way too many keyboards: “*”, not “@”.
    @ is for redirecting any non-existent email address

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