Upgrading to PHP 4.4.4 on RHEL & CentOS

January 25, 2007 by · 2 Comments 

Yeah, I know, some of you don't like PHP 5. Some don't like it because it breaks some of their (poorly written) software. Some don't like it because there aren't any RH-approved packages for upgrading. Some don't like it for good reason because PHP 4 is actually faster at many tasks when compared to PHP 5.0.x or 5.1.x (I'm stopping there, 5.2.0 is wicked fast for me). For those people, I'm going to toss this out quickly so that you have an easier time moving to the newest version of PHP 4 without compiling from source.

If anyone reading this uses the Plesk Management Panel then you're probably familiar with AtomicRocketTurtle. "Back in the day" Scott used to provide RPMs for PHP 4.4.4 on RHEL/CentOS 3 & 4. He has since dropped support for that version (unless you're one of this paying customers) but he's still got the src.rpm available for anyone. That src.rpm makes it very easy to upgrade your system to PHP 4.4.4.

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Upgrading to httpd 2.2.4 on RHEL and CentOS

January 17, 2007 by · 20 Comments 

Well, a new version of httpd was just released the other day. I kind of expected this to open a flood of people requesting a how-to on upgrading to the newest release of Apache's httpd 2.2.4 on RHEL & CentOS 4 and I wasn't wrong. I've had a few people searching for "apache 2.2.4" and "httpd 2.2.4" on my site search today so I figured, "Hey? Why not give the masses what they want?"

As it turns out, if you followed my how-to on upgrading to httpd 2.2.3 then this is going to be a pretty easy upgrade for you. If not, don't worry, I'm going to start including pre-modded SRPMS and occasionally complete RPMs (x86 only) at the bottom of these tutorials. That should give some of you that have had problems an easier time with the upgrade.

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Upgrading to MySQL 5.0.33 on RHEL and CentOS

January 12, 2007 by · 11 Comments 

If you follow the MySQL Announcement list then you already know that version 5.0.33 was just released. Unfortunately, those of you on RHEL/CentOS (and even Fedora, at least for the time being) do not have any way to install it unless you compile from the tar.gz source because MySQL has decided to only regularly release binaries to those that pay them for the Enterprise version. Compiling from source, by the way, is something that MySQL does NOT recommend that you do, even though, at current, this is the only option that they give you. Funny, isn't it?

That said, I've taken a slightly different approach to this tutorial as compared to my "Upgrade to MySQL 5.0.27" tutorial. That how-to dealt with rebuilding the src.rpm from the FC7 development tree so that it would work on RHEL & CentOS 4. This how-to uses the spec file from the official MySQL src.rpm for 5.0.27, upgrades the source to 5.0.33, and then adapts it so that it generates RH/Fedora-style RPMs for an easy upgrade.

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The New Apple iPhone

January 10, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

If you haven't seen the new Apple iPhone yet (or whatever they call it), go check it out before you read the rest of this post.

Now that you're familiar with this "breakthrough device", tell me, how, exactly, does Apple expect this thing to be a hit? I've read that their goal is to have 1% of the market within 12 months of first availability. That means that within the next year 1 out of every 100 cell phone users is going to lay out a week's pay (plus or minus) to get a new iPhone. Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm still using the same Motorola V600 I got when I first signed with Cingular. The only thing that would make me spend the money to get a new one is if this phone stopped working.

Back to the iPhone, sure, it's cool looking and the widescreen display is definitely a plus if you want to watch a movie on the go. Yes, it would be great to get high-quality audio and make/receive phone calls from a single device (although a decent smartphone and an iPod nano would cost quite a bit less). But really though, $600? Wait, what's that, I need a two-year contact with Cingular as well? I'd be willing to bet that they're at least $1000 if you don't want the contract (or are one of those people who keeps renewing to get new phones and aren't currently eligible). Oh, and yeah, I know that it's only $500 if you want the 4GB model instead of the 8GB, but do you honestly think that anyone who is kicking out this much cash is going to skimp out and get the cheap model? It's like buying a luxury car and not paying the extra $800 for the upgraded stereo or the heated seats...

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We Have Drop Shadows!

January 7, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Alright then! We've got drop shadows! The designer of this K2 skin put out a new version that includes drop shadows around the post area. The three skin images are still bugged though. Every single one is a JPEG and they're all way larger than they need to be. I slimmed them down from 65KB to 4.5KB (using Paint.NET and pngcrush), putting the front page of this site under 80KB, including HTML, images, CSS, and JavaScript.

Next up to bat, fixing the problem with the right edge of italic text being cut off if it hits the edge of the content column. If anyone knows how to fix that, let me know.

Run your own Home/SOHO PBX with AsteriskNOW

January 4, 2007 by · 10 Comments 

The second beta of AsteriskNOW was released yesterday and I just now got a chance to download and try it out. I have to say, this "beta" product looks and feels better than many commercial suites that I've tested and is definitely worth a look if you are looking for a PBX system for your home (perhaps to compliment a VoIP phone line) or office.

About 18 months ago the company I work for decided that it was time to move from having a few (4, to be exact, not counting the fax) analog phone lines to using a PBX system. At the time we did some research and eventually decided that a system that would allow us to use a mix of analog and VoIP lines was what we were looking for. Not wanting to be locked into a single hardware vendor, we decided to go with a system based on the open-source Asterisk software, specifically [email protected] (now Trixbox).

As can be gathered from the name, it was not terribly suited to business use and both systems we deployed were retired within a few months and replaced with a system from SwitchVox. While that system has a few bugs, all in all, it's a very stable platform. It's also not free (solutions start at $1000 and move up rapidly) which can be a real turn-off for a home or small office user. That's where AsteriskNOW comes in.

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Happy New Year 2007!

January 1, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

I hope everyone had a good time last night celebrating (or sleeping, if you didn't stay awake). I'm just going to toss out a quick post to say Happy New Year to everyone. Here it goes...

Happy New Year!

“Servers” and IDE/SATA Hard Drives

December 29, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

As has already been mentioned a few times, The company I work for runs quite a few vBulletin forums. As such, I spend a decent amount of time over on the vbulletin.com forums, particularly in the vBulletin Hosting Options and Server Configuration sections. Lately, however, I've noticed a disturbing trend that is really starting to bug me, especially when I see it from people who should probably know better. That trend is to spend $500+ per month on a server and then saddle it with an IDE or SATA drive (or perhaps 2 in a RAID 1 mirror if they're going "all out") because they offer "more than enough space".

When, exactly, did it become acceptable to put a drive made for light, single-user use for a few hours per day into a situation where it would be hammered by dozens, if not hundreds, of simultaneous connections from all around the planet 24/7/365? It's like buying a Ferrari minus the engine and then tossing the inline-4 from a Hyundai Accent inside.

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Back from Vacation

December 27, 2006 by · 4 Comments 

Well, my week-long vacation back to Illinois has ended. All in all, it was a pretty good time. We got rained on the first day or so but after that the weather started to look up (although some snow would have been nice). I got to get out of my normal routine and spend some time with relatives (specifically, my grandmother and two uncles) that I haven't seen in a few years.

While we were there, Dot (my girlfriend) and I spent two days in Chicago and managed to see the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum (including "Sue" the largest, most complete, and best preserved T-Rex found thus far), and the Adler Planetarium. We also took an evening look from the John Hancock Observatory and saw the Blue Man Group perform. We had tickets to the Museum of Science & Industry but ran out of time before we could use them (no problem though, we had the "City Pass" package and even with not using those tickets, we still came out ahead of buying everything separately). We capped off the second evening with a nice dinner at Cafe Spiaggia. While the portions were a bit small (for the prices), the food was excellent and I have NEVER had service as good as what I received while we were there. I would recommend it to anyone who is in the area. I guess that just goes to show that EVERYONE needs a Zagat Survey guide if they're in an area that they're not familiar with.

P.S. - Oh, and I changed the style of the site again. I found a new theme for K2 called "SkyBlack" and then tweaked it a bit to fit in 1024x768 instead of 800x600. I've still got to find a better header (because that "skyblue" text is annoying) but other than that, I'm pretty happy. Expect more updates soon.

PHP Caching and Acceleration with XCache

December 20, 2006 by · 53 Comments 

Anyone who runs a dedicated server for web hosting will tell you that a great way to decrease the load on your server and decrease the page load time is to use a PHP Cache such as APC or eAccelerator. While the largest noticeable improvements are for those site that receive a lot of traffic or are under heavy load, any site, large or small can see benefit from a PHP cache. That said, in addition to the two caches mentioned above, a new player has recently entered the market: XCache.

I first started using APC about 2 years ago when the load on one of my servers was high enough that it was affecting load times and was costing me user traffic. I chose APC over eAccelerator because it was a bit easier to install (at the time) and because APC had a reputation for being a bit faster than eAccelerator. Shortly there after I noticed my httpd processes segfaulting and a bit of research also showed that APC had a bit of a record for instability under heavy load. With that in mind, I took the slight performance hit and installed eAccelerator (which is still way faster than using nothing at all).

Up until today, I was still using eAccelerator on all of my servers. However, a post on the vBulletin.com forums prompted me to give XCache, the new PHP accelerator from the maker of lighttpd, a try. I've got to say, while I've only been using it for about 6 hours at this point, it blows eAccelerator out of the water, especially once you enable multiple caches (which benefits SMP systems).

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