New Site New Server

Posted:   |  More posts about System Administration Services is now running on a new server, in Australia. I also took the opportunity to replace my personal website, HTTP server and change my mail setup. Rather than coming out scarred, I've come through enlightened and more enthusiastic than ever.

I saw Ransom IT on Low End Box and found that not only were they Australian with IPv6 and KVM but they were also quite affordable. I have a special deal for $21 a quarter for a 512MB/2 CPU/10GB VPS. They've been around for a few years and reviews are good - and so far for me they've been great.

Since I was going to move server I decided I should change a few things along the way.

Firstly I decided that I wanted to get rid of my Django based website because I don't really use it enough to justify the attack surface it presents. It was an interesting project that I learned a lot from but it was time for it to end. I've replaced it with the Nikola static site generator. It's not perfect but it's quite good enough for me. If you just want a blog and a few pages then it's excellent. I wanted to set it up so that I have "articles" separate from my blog but it hasn't quite worked out nicely - but close enough. The migration of my old content was fairly easy (if a little manual).

I have also switched from self signed certs to using the gratis StartSSL CA. This has the advantage of not presenting a warning to plebs running Internet Explorer or Chrome (but Firefox does not contain the root cert for StartSSL).

Next I decided that I wanted to move over to a lighter and faster (and more interesting) HTTP server. I've played with Nginx before - but this is the first time I've seriously used it. It seems to have improved a bit in terms of documentation since I last used it. Community support for configuration is a little problematic at times because there are quite a few bad or out of date examples - but once you sort through it all you can pick the bad examples easily and start creating your own (hopefully better) configuration. I was hoping to get rid of PHP from my server but the fact is that just isn't any real alternatives to Roundcube and ownCloud. I've hooked PHP-FPM into Nginx and it works great - and a lot less scewing around than the with the old FastCGI wrapper scripts and other garbage. My server is much more responsive than the old one not only because of better network latency - but faster performance in general.

MySQL works fine (for the moment) but there is no point staying with MySQL when there is MariaDB so I switched. It is indeed a drop-in replacement.

Migration of the mail server was the part I was most dreading. Mail servers are one of those things that you struggle to set up and then you don't play with it at all for fear of breaking it. Since I was moving I decided to downscale my virtual hosting setup - take away the databases and the PHP management application to make it more secure and robust. I also decided I would step up the spam filtering a bit (not that I was getting much spam in the old setup). It was a fair bit of work trying to understand exactly how my setup was to work, but I am really happy with the result and what I've learned. I am intending on releasing documentation on my setup (lots of private notes already written) and even a ncurses style management tool so that people can enjoy my setup and control their own data. There were a couple of hiccups with DKIM and SPF initially but they were simple to fix. I really didn't expect to come out of the experience so positive.

The only thing left that isn't quite done is the redirection of old URLs. They only half work and I really don't understand why. I have checked and rechecked the regex but there are some resources that refuse to rewrite correctly and there are no obvious characteristics that differentiate them from the resources that are rewritten successfully.

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