My new fire-breathing dragon of a server is sitting idle at the moment. I would have liked to have had it up and running today, but now I’m starting to realize why it took me so long to migrate off my Pentium II-450. Setting up Linux web servers is a lot more complicated than it was in 2001.
They can do a lot more than they could in 2001 too, but when I first built that server, the process literally went in about three steps: Install Debian, apt-get install apache mysql php, then download blogging software, create a MySQL database and account for it, edit a config file, then start blogging. You could get it done in an hour, and a lot of that time was waiting for stuff to load off a CD-ROM or download over a 256K DSL connection.
Try that same drill today, and you’ll have a web server, PHP and MySQL running, but they won’t be talking to each other.
I found several how-to guides for getting Nginx, PHP, MySQL, and WordPress running, but none resulted in a functioning system when I followed them. So then I tried switching back to Apache, and nothing I tried with that resulted in a functioning system either. I just found another Nginx-based guide that someone else used today to get a functioning system (he said it took him six hours). So I’ll try that next, and hope I can do it in less than six hours.
At one point tonight, I decided to start over, and you can imagine my horror when I realized I just destroyed my production server (this one). I’d selected the wrong SSH window. Sysadmin work is a lot harder when a four-year-old is hammering you with questions about everything except what you’re trying to think about. Not that I’m making excuses; I shouldn’t have had that SSH connection to my live server open. I quickly restored the nuked files from a backup, but then the site still didn’t work. For some reason I had a permissions issue. Don’t ask me how I figured that out.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.