Archive for the 'Setting up a server' Category

Switching your domain to Google Apps

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Running a mail server is hard work. This is largely because it puts you on the front line of the battle with the internet’s biggest scourge: spam. My recommendation: don’t do it.

When I setup a new web site and domain, or when I am helping another organization setup their Email etcetera my preference is to sign-up for Google Apps and Gmail Email.

What is now Google Apps started with “Gmail For Your Domain” and now includes Gmail, Docs (documents), Groups, Sites and Chat. The standard edition is free for 50 accounts or less, above that it’s $50 per user per year.

The best part is Google handles all the spam filtering, gives users a number of Gigs of storage (7Gigs the last time I checked) and handles all the redundancy, backup etc, but it is worth noticing their no enterprise-esh recovery options.

There is even a Canadian connection in that Lakehead University in Thunder Bay was one of the first major domains to migrate everyone’s E-Mail. Many of the faculty objected to their Email being routed through the united states, but at least they were able to setup their iPhones with their work Email on Christmas day.

The most compelling reasons is that you get your mail via the best web interface going, as well as POP, IMAP, and SMTP servers that are all encrypted. Plus I’m a big fan of Google calendar system — I’m a big fan of calendar’ing systems in general.

Google Docs can be a bit of “lifestyle” change, but if you are interested working on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online it’s a great service, espcially if you want to either work with others collaboratively in a work-flow or for sharing with an audience.

You are being tracked! By me, and Google.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

FYI: I just turned on Google Analytics again on my site.

I’m trying to reduce the load on my server as much as possible for the inevitable day when the site goes viral. I’ve also been tracking the whole site via the excellent AW Stats tool at — which is intentionally public.

I’ll keep using AW Stats for a bit, but once the site’s viral, it’s coming off — or when I get around to it. We’ll see which comes first.

Updated URL

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I changed the URL of my blog!

It all started with because that’s the software I chose to use to use back when I wanted to try this blogging thing out in 2004.  Shortly after that I regretted the choice (or lack there of) of the url  A much better choice would have been

It took a lot of work to get the pretty URLs working, plus there’s the issue of visitors to my blog and search engines still having the old URLs.  Because of this I was hesitant to change the URL, but today after a lot of research and modelling, I finally switched the URL.  I had been testing redirecting /blog to /wordpress since I re-did the main page of my website, but  today I took the big plunge.

The most important thing was to setup the redirect via the Apache web server I use in a way that preserved my Google ranking.  The trick (according to Google) is to send the 301 header with the redirect.

The “httpd.conf” config line was

RewriteRule /wordpress(.*) /blog$1 [R=301,NC,L]

Please let me know if you see anything that doesn’t work anymore!

Building-Up CentOS 5 Linux Operating System

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

HyperVM admin pageWhen setting up my VPS server there were a number of options for building it. The VPS admin tool gives you “virtual” control over the power switch and the ability to rebuild the server with a fresh OS image at any time. A2 Web Hosting has a few flavours of Linux to choose from: CentOS (the GPL-based rebuild of Red Hat’s Enterprise Server 5), Gentoo and Ubuntu. I went with CentOS as I use it at work, and Enterprise-Grade always seems good to me.

From here on I’ll assume that you know something about the command line, and that you’ve got a good SSH client like the OS X Terminal or Putty and a way to upload files via an SFTP client like Cyberduck or Filezilla.

One my first steps with a pristine Linux operating system is to create a folder called “backup” and an “etc_original” folder in there and copy all of the original etc folder files there for reference.
mkdir /backup
mkdir /backup_original
cp -r /etc/ /backup/etc_original

What you’ll need on your server

Depending on the install/image you use you may have everything you need right there, but here are the packages I install out of the gate:

First off I install the screen tool (more about screen at so that I can walk away and reconnect to this process, rsync for moving things and backing things up and telnet for testing ports/servers:
yum install screen rsync telnet
Make sure Apache’s installed and that we’ve got all the PHP modules we need:
yum install httpd php php-cli php-zip php-mysql php-mcrypt php-mbstring
Also get some SSL support:
yum install mod_ssl openssl
Install MySQL client and server:
yum install mysql mysql-server
Install the firewall
yum install iptables

Once all of those packages are installed you’ll need to set them up.