Fixing my b0rken WordPress installation

A little over a week ago, WordPress started acting weird. First, it just got dog slow. Then my site stats page started freezing until I scrolled down and then back up again. Then I started seeing a WordPress.com logon screen on my site stats page. I had to look that account up. Thank goodness for Gmail. Then my Akismet spam filter quit working. Then my stats page stopped working entirely.

I lived with it for a couple of days. I figured maybe WordPress and Akismet had changed something. Or maybe my Linux distribution had. And maybe some update messed things up, and some other update would come along and fix it. No such luck.

I started wondering if my Linux box suddenly got a firewall blocking outgoing port 80. That was one of the things the WordPress error messages said to check, beyond the obvious things. So I logged in and looked around inside /etc and /var/log for evidence of a firewall. None. That was good. I wasn’t looking forward to trying to do firewall work, and I really didn’t like the idea of firewalls just popping up out of the blue on machines I control. Because that means one of two things: a poorly maintained Linux distribution, or, more likely, an uninvited visitor messing around in my network.

So I tried an apt-get update to see if maybe there was some update that might fix my new issue. The command froze. I recognized that problem. DNS resolution? So I ctrl-c’ed out, tried to ping yahoo.com, and got nothing. DNS issue!

The server is using my D-Link router as its DNS server. I pointed /etc/resolv.conf at a couple of Southwestern Bell DNS servers instead, and WordPress came back to life. Which is good. After a week of not being able to see what Google searches people were typing in, I was starting to run out of ideas to write about. I might have had to post those pieces about desktop RAID and wireless security on the road that I’m just not quite happy with. (Yeah, it’s a blog. Yeah, I should post and revise later. But I’d rather not do something than do it really badly.)

Further investigation revealed the D-Link box no longer functions as a DNS server. It’s probably time to reboot the thing or maybe even power-cycle it. Yes, maybe I can log in and restart the process, but rebooting is so much easier. In the meantime, the webserver is up and going. It’s probably better to have it use a real live DNS server rather than a local caching DNS anyway. If only because of what happened this week.

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