Blog Pile

Arf Arf… Is This Thing On?

I’m back. I think. The last two days have been technically the worst of my career. This is a long story. The bottom line is that this blog is now running on a new URL but things are forarded nicely (.htaccess redirect) so all links to end up here. But that is just the last end around of a completely frustrating 32 hours.

Note: I think my perl elves made some progress while I am gone. It seems like this blog is resurrected. Ignore the stuff about moving.

And the timing could not have been worse. In about 9 hours I fly from sunny Phoenix to wintery frigid New York City for the League of Innovations conference followed by a trip to Boston to visit MIT. The server hijinks consumed the time I had planned to work on my presentations and the new openMLX skins.

So here is what transpired.

Around 5:00 PM Thursday, on doing some maintenance on our Xserve that hosted this blog and Feed2JS, upon restarting, my server and all of its functions were not reachable via the OSX Server Admin. The network connection was good, and the machine hosted correctly to its IP and DNS name.

Everything thing I could think of looked okay. As I had been having the issues with the weekly Saturday outages, I was luck that one of our local Apple system engineers, Al, swung by to check some things out. He found some oddities in missing system files and mangled system file permissions. I managed to reach AL at 6:00 PM, and he was doing some remote admin to check out the server. An hour later he called with the bad news that it would be best to re-install a new OS, but it would need to be on a fresh, unused drive. At least the server content and the OS were already on separate drives.

The bad news was that not only was our Jade server out of commission, our eportfolio one was done as well (they share the same IP as virtual host). This morning (Friday AM), Al came by and we spent 2.5 hours rebuilding a new OS on a spare drive. I learned a few things about the OSX server Admin that would help in future migrations (you can drag the little drive icon in the lower right to the desktop, and the configs for each service (web, ftp, etc) are saved and can be dropped back in on the same or a clone server.

Then it was another several hours getting some system files back in place, setting up user accounts, getting MySQL running. Luckily Feed2JS was up again by about 10:30 AM.

The only thing not going right was MovableType, as it was unable to locate the DBI database storage modules. I realized first I had not installed the XCode tools needed to compile perl modules. I tried installing via cpan, fink, command line, with not any luck at all. I got some remote help from D’Arcy as well as Derek, one of my former student programmers who is a Mac, Linux, and perl expert.

The bottom line is that while I had sprinkled DBI and DBD pieces all over the place, none were sufficient to make MovableType work. I tried several strategies written up elsewhere, Google Groups, MovableType Support forums.

When people as skilled as D’Arcy and Derek are stumped by the obscure nuances of perl module installs, well, I am not confident I can figure it out.

SO I thought of another end around- just move my MT blogs to one of my other Linux boxes that were already running MovableType. It was not trivial, but not as black magic as perl modules.

Since I had MT running already on this Realgar server, I just did a unix copy (preserve permissions) of the entire mt script directory to a a new directory and adjusted the config files. I created a new blank database to house the content. The tricky part was trying to export the database from the old server– I just had no luck doing the export that worked fine for smaller database using phpMyAdmin. But then I remembered that I had a backup script that wrote a mysql dump every hour, so I grabbed the 2Mb gzip file, popped it open, and found the dump file movabletype.sql just for the MovableType database on the Jade server. It was almost 9 Mb in size!

I struck out trying to load it via phpMyAdmin, so I ftpd the file to the server, and ran a command line import to my new database, which might be called newmt:

It took about 8 seconds to load.

Then when I log into the new MT installation, I was please to see all the blogs listed there. Now I had to rebuild, but first I had to copy all the images and external files form the old server, change the blog path variables in the new MT site, and run a rebuild.

Holy crap! It worked! The last step was adding a 3o1 Redirect to my .htaccess file on the old server, so all requests to URLs on the old server are auto bounced to the new, so a request for would be routed to the new location

I’ll have a few more blogs to migrate over next week when I find some time.

But this dog is back, a bit wobbly, but back.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.