Upgrading to PHP 5.2.0 on RHEL and CentOS

November 30, 2006 by · 47 Comments 

With the release of an src.rpm for PHP 5.2.0 in the Fedora Core 7 development branch, I've decided to roll out PHP 5.2.0 as a test on a couple of our smaller forums that are running vBulletin 3.6.4. According to the changelog, PHP 5.2.0 has an improved memory-management system. With any luck it'll be faster than 5.1.6 and won't break anything in the process.

The procedure to build the PHP 5.2.0 RPMs for RHEL and CentOS 4 is almost identical to the one I used to install PHP 5.1.6 on RHEL and CentOS 4 so this is going to read very similarly to the original how-to. In fact, I recommend reading that post as well before you begin.

One quick warning though, PHP 5.2.0 is currently the bleeding-edge release. I do not recommend that you install it on your production servers without first testing on a development box to make sure that your applications still work as expected. I would also recommend that you build the PHP 5.1.6 RPMs as well, that way you can easily roll back if needed.

To start, you'll need three things. First, you're going to need 'root' access to your server. If you don't have it, even if you can build the RPMs, you won't be able to install them. Second, on most machines, you'll need to install a huge list of dependencies. Finally, you'll need the PHP src.rpm from FC7's development tree.

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Drunken Videos from PubCon 2006

November 29, 2006 by · 4 Comments 

As promised in my PubCon 2006 Night Life post, I've got a bunch of videos from Thursday evening. All of the videos I've got so far are from Amanda. Andrew's content is stuck on his phone because he lost his USB transfer cable.

The videos have been recompressed using DivX (with MP3 audio) so they should be playable on almost every computer. That also had the wonderful side effect of reducing the total file size from 585MB to 54MB. In any case, getting to what you're here for... The videos!

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Picking the Right Web Host

November 28, 2006 by · 7 Comments 

One of the first things that comes to mind when starting a new web site is "Where will I put it?" This question is easily answered in the beginning as there are thousands of cheap (and occasionally free) web hosts available that will allow you to run a small web site. As time goes on, however, it gets quite a bit more interesting as you try to find a hosting method that will suit your site but not empty your wallet.

At current, there are three main types of hosting available: shared hosting, virtual private servers (VPS), and dedicated servers. The big question is "When is it appropriate to move from one to the next?" Most people answer that question with something like, "When my site is running slowly" or, "When my host asks me to leave." Both of these answers, unfortunately, will leave you in a bad way and may cause you to lose valuable traffic. The good news is that proper planning and research upfront can really cut down on the headaches later.

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AdSense IS Content

November 27, 2006 by · 1 Comment 

When was the last time you saw a web site that wasn't selling something? Can't think of one? Neither can I. Every site I've been to in the recent past has either been directly selling a product, offering to trade something you have for something less valuable that they have, or showing you advertisements (either fixed or adsense).

My first thought on the recent overabundance of advertisements was "When the hell did everyone get so greedy?" At what point, did content get bumped to second-place behind ads? At what point did we start to not only tolerate ad-filled sites, but to accept them as the norm? That thought, of course, was followed by "Damn... I've got to get that ad-blocker plugin for Firefox..."

As a server administrator (that's part of my day job), I know that hosting is expensive. I know that shared hosting rarely works out once you've got enough visitors coming to your site to pay for it. I know that Virtual Private Servers (VPS) are overpriced and often perform worse than the cheaper shared hosting does. I know that dedicated server hosting generally means that you either need to be a server admin yourself, or that you've got to dish out a few hundred dollars per month to hire someone to do the work. I understand the problem. What I don't understand is why the perceived solution to that problem is to fill your web sites with tons of advertisements.

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Upgrading Apache httpd on RHEL and CentOS

November 24, 2006 by · 62 Comments 

By popular request, I've decided to write a How-To on upgrading your RHEL or CentOS 4 system from httpd 2.0.52 to 2.2.3. I'm going to issue a warning upfront though, this is NOT a simple src.rpm rebuild like the PHP upgrade how-to that I wrote. Upgrading httpd requires filling a couple dependencies, building httpd, and then rebuilding everything that depends on httpd. For most people, that means just PHP. For some sites, that may include mod_perl, mod_python, etc.

If you're using some kind of management panel like Plesk, CPanel, etc. then DO NOT follow these instructions as you will break your server. In fact, if you have a separate development environment (like an OpenVZ VPS or a separate server) then I'd suggest using that because the build process actually requires you to remove your current copy of httpd. In any case, if you're still interested, keep reading.

To complete this upgrade you're going to need 3 things. First, you'll need 'root' access to your server. Without it, even if you can build the RPMs, you won't be able to install them. Second, you're going to need to install some dependencies to meet the build requirements. Finally, you're going to need to get the src.rpm files for httpd, apr, apr-util, and pcre from FC6.

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PubCon 2006 Night Life

November 22, 2006 by · 8 Comments 

So, if you read the LinkWorth blog, you'll already know that something interesting happened to the group of us that went to the Viva Las Vegas Lounge on Thursday night. I want to toss out my perspective on that night (as, possibly, the most sober person in the group). To give you a hint of what's coming, let me plug in a few key phrases like "Beer", "Dirty Vodka Martinis", "Limousine", and "Tattoo Parlor".

The day started off pretty much like Tuesday and Wednesday did. We got up early, took the monorail to the conference, learned about SEO and whatnot from the presenters, had a few drinks at the Ask.com reception, etc., etc., etc... This night, however, we had plans to go big. Before we even left Pennsylvania, my boss mentioned that he wanted to meet up with the guys from LinkWorth. I didn't really know who they were, other than that we had been working with them for years. Now, Thursday was supposed to be our "free night", where we could do whatever we wanted as long as we didn't get arrested and as long as we didn't miss the flight the next day. However, trusting that the people I was traveling with would make this an interesting night, I said "alright" and tagged along.

After dropping our laptops and swag (if anyone nabbed more green silly putty than I did, I'd be surprised) off at the hotel (we stayed at the MGM, by the way), we started our trek to find the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel. About 40 minutes later we arrived at the Casino and proceeded to the Lounge. Much to our surprise, Jim Breuer was there, just wrapping up a show with the Sirius Radio guys. After the requisite photo snaps, we all set out to find the guys from Linkworth. This is where we ran into a problem. See, we'd never met them before. We had ZERO clue as to what they looked like. Our only recourse, of course, was to simply walk up to EVERY table in the lounge asking "Are you from LinkWorth?" After making our way to the opposite end of the lounge, we finally ran into them at the very last table.

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Upgrading to PHP 5.1.6 on RHEL and CentOS

November 21, 2006 by · 41 Comments 

I spend a good amount of time on vBulletin sites. In fact, the company I work for owns about a dozen sites with a combined total of about 10 Million posts. One of the most common questions I hear, aside from "Can you help me optimize my server?", is "How can I upgrade to a newer version of PHP?".

While Red Hat's policy of backporting patches to provide a 5-year maintenance cycle on their OS releases certainly has its uses, it really does leave users without the benefits of using newer software versions. Newer software not only provides new features but can improve performance.

Thankfully, you don't actually need to build from scratch to upgrade an RHEL4 or CentOS4 system because srpms are available from newer versions of Fedora. If you don't know, Fedora is the test bed for future versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The remainder of this article is going to instruct you on how to rebuild the php-5.1.6 src.rpm from FC6.

There are three things you're going to need to upgrade your copy of PHP. First, you're going to need 'root' access to your server. If you don't have it, even if you can build the RPMs, you won't be able to install them. Second, on most machines, you'll need to install a huge list of dependencies. Finally, you'll need the PHP src.rpm from FC6.

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AdSense below the menu

November 20, 2006 by · 2 Comments 

I'd like to get it out now that I'm not here to make money from this blog. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to tell you not to click the ads that are below the menu, I can always use extra money, but the $3 that this site is going to make each month isn't going to change my life. I have a theory on sites with and without AdSense but I want to give it a couple days before I post about it (hint: grab the RSS fees so that you know when I update).

As to the "Get Firefox" banner, I love FireFox. Aside from Opera (which is SO good that it can't be used with most people's sites, at least not yet), it's the best browser out there. I was never big on Google spying on what I'm doing, but I recently started using the Google Toolbar. I have to say, I really do find it useful. If you aren't currently using FireFox, please use the button on the right to download it. The package has both FireFox and the Google Toolbar so you'll get both in one shot.

My new blog

November 19, 2006 by · 2 Comments 

To be perfectly honest, I kind of looked down on blogs until this past week. There are two things about them that I simply didn't get.

First, why would anyone think that it was a good idea to put their personal thoughts up on the internet? I mean, what if you had a bad day at work, blasted your employer when you got home, and then ended up getting fired the next day because someone at work read your blog (or worse, it got indexed by Google and all anyone had to do was search for your name)? Sure, you might have gotten a load off your chest by letting it out, but how's that going to help when you're living in a box on the corner a week later because you don't have any income?

Second, why would anyone want to read what other people are thinking? I certainly don't care about what random people are thinking. In fact, most of the time, I don't particularly care about what the people I do know are thinking.

That all really changed this past week when I was on a business trip in Las Vegas for PubCon 2006. While there, I met a ton of interesting people, 99% of which run a blog to post news about their personal lives and their businesses. On top of that, every single person I talked to said that, as a whole, positive things had happened to them since they started their blog. In fact, it hadn't been for a blog, I wouldn't have ended up at a lounge with the guys from LinkWorth and had an outstanding time at what essentially stated out as a business meeting that I assumed would be a boring hour or two before we hit the casinos for more Blackjack and Craps.

In any case, I guess I'm a convert. Hopefully now I'll figure out what all the fuss is.