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[UPDATE] Website Downtime for Server Maintenance Soon

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Pauven
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[UPDATE] Website Downtime for Server Maintenance Soon

Post by Pauven » Sun Aug 14, 2022 11:37 am

I don't have a specific date/time just yet, but I wanted to go ahead and share that there will be some website downtime in the very near future. This will take the forums offline, and additionally will cause errors during CMC's check for updates on startup.

There's a small chance this outage may happen today, but if not today then sometime this week. I anticipate a few hours of downtime to make the switch and work out the kinks.

For those that are interested in the nerdy details, read on...

The downtime is occurring because I am having to migrate the website to a new server. The website is hosted by AWS, and I made the mistake of using a pre-built Bitnami LAMP stack that has an old version of PHP which cannot be upgraded. The main website is a Wordpress site which I keep updated with bug fixes and critical patches, but the old PHP version is now becoming a major obstacle and security risk. Sadly, this is now the 2nd time I've had to migrate due to this exact same issue. First time, shame on Bitnami for not providing a solution to this well documented limitation. Second time, why the hell is there a second time...

To make sure this never happens again, I have built a new AWS server from scratch, not using a pre-built Bitnami LAMP stack, but rather rolling my own, so now I am in full control of all component versions, and I can upgrade PHP easily in the future. So hopefully this will be the last major outage.

I'm also taking this opportunity to make better software choices, i.e. a MariaDB instead of MySQL, and a highly optimized "Amazon Linux 2" flavor of Linux, instead of something like Ubuntu which really isn't the best server OS. Hopefully the end result is a better performing website, unless I totally mess this up.

By building a new server in parallel, the current website remains up until I'm ready to make the switch. When I make the switch, I have to export/import the database to migrate both the WordPress website and the CMC forums to the new server. And then once I bring the new server online, there will be some functionality issues as I work on the last setup tasks, like installing an SSL Cert and making sure the server works correctly with the domain name - these are things hard to do before making the switch.
President, Chameleon Consulting LLC
Author, Chameleon MediaCenter

User avatar
Pauven
Posts: 2409
Joined: Tue Dec 26, 2017 10:28 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Contact:

Re: [UPDATE] Website Downtime for Server Maintenance Soon

Post by Pauven » Thu Aug 18, 2022 4:41 pm

As some of you may have noticed, the website has been down for most of the past 24 hours. This was due to the server migration. It's back up now - if you observe any issues, please let me know.

I thought I had the new web server setup and ready to go, but I was unable to fully test without moving the IP & domain name over to the new server. Of course, as soon as I moved it over, it became apparent that there were issues to be fixed.

I had no idea how bad it was, as it always felt like I was just around the corner from fixing everything. I was wrong, so very wrong.

I've learned a lot in the past 24 hours. From configuring Apache, PHP and MariaDB to work within the web server's tiny 512MB RAM (out of the box, these packages are configured for servers with many Gigs of RAM) - yes, lot of out of memory crashes there. Then I had to figure out the Rewriter Rules, directory owners, file permissions, update a dozen different config files for updated paths on the new server, add missing environment vars, and otherwise troubleshoot WordpPess plugins broken by the move.

At any point I could have reverted back to the old server, but like I said, it always felt like I was 15 minutes away from glory. So I continued to press on, always forward, never backward.

The good news is that the site is now back up, including the forums. Yeah, that's a "Captain Obvious" statement, since I was able to write this post, and you're able to read it.

The bad news is that I still have to update WordPress and all the plugins which are months out of date. That's right, I did all this work of moving to a new server and all that got upgraded was the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL/MariaDB, PHP). I actually had to reinstall an old version of WordPress just so I could move the database over.

I might have been a touch optimistic in my prediction that the new server would perform better. At the moment, I'm just thankful it's working and not crashing with out of memory errors. As part of my tuning for memory, I had to scale back a lot of performance settings, so it's probably not well optimized because I really don't have experience doing this.

There will probably be some website hijinks over the coming days as I work to upgrade the Wordpress plugins and WordPress itself. Quite often updates will break how something looks or works. Please be patient, and if you see issues let me know.
President, Chameleon Consulting LLC
Author, Chameleon MediaCenter

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