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The Linux Game

crayons-433178_1920My son’s school is offering a programming class. After my first introduction to Linux we had fun with the echo command and wrote a script that would say “Hi Fart” he was keen to learn more. He’s too young to attend the class. Instead, he has continued his journey learning Linux with me. It thought it would be hard to top “Hi Fart,” but apparently not.

I started our second lesson introducing him to the idea of the directory structure. We focused on his bedroom and tried to visualize that as /. I told him about /usr, /var, /, /etc. but that wasn’t holding his attention, I was losing him.

I decided to try something interactive. I told him about Change Directory — cd and List — ls, how they were similar and how they were different. Then, we played Linux. Starting in his room we cd-ed — changed directories — to the living room. Then we wanted to see what was in my bedroom, so we ls-ed the bedroom, peaking through the doorway without entering and listing the contents. We then ran around the house cd-ing and ls-ing the various rooms to see what was in them. It was great fun.

Next, I introduced him to some basic file manipulation commands — cat, less, and more — and we visited with our old friend echo. We again played the cd game and this time we would cat, less, and more the various objects in a room to see what was inside of them. We cd-ed into my bedroom and cat-ed the bed, dumping the contents on the floor to find pillows, sheets, and mommy, she was playing along! Then we more-ed his drawers, looking at drawers — pages — one at a time and seeing their contents. We then used less on his toy cubbies and scrolled through each cubby, back and forth, looking through his toys. I explained that you can add things to a file by using the echo command, so he decided he wanted to add a hug to the bed file for mommy.

echo
“Hug” >> bed

>> adds content to a file and > replaces the content of the file so we cd-ed rooms again, this time to the bathroom, and demonstrated echo-ing to empty a file. This time the toilet was the file and emptied it via flushing:

echo
“ “ > toilet

We discussed more and less and how they were different than cat and one another. I demonstrated this by using his toy shelves, which are divided into three rows of three cubbies for little drawers. To demonstrate cat we pulled all of the drawers out and saw only the last row of toys. Then for more I opened the first row of shelves only and we progressed through his toy drawers one row at a time. Then for less we did something similar, pulled open the first row, but then we also opened individual drawers as we progressed forward and backwards through the file.

I was able to turn learning Linux into a game that my son enjoys. He occasionally asks if we can play the Linux game and I of course oblige. I’m still not sure how I was able to top echo “fart,” but the Linux game is off and running. Can’t wait to see commands I can add next.

How to Install Node.js on a cPanel VPS

tech bench 2Editor’s Note: As third-party software, ServInt does not support node.js beyond installation. Also, to follow these instructions, users must have a working knowledge of the command line. Click here if you would like more information about logging into your server on the command line.

Node.js is an application development software written in and for javascript for real-time event-driven applications, among other things. Installing node.js on a cPanel VPS is pretty straightforward. Let’s take a look.

The first thing that you will need to do is download the latest version from nodejs.org:

wget http://nodejs.org/dist/v0.10.32/node-v0.10.32.tar.gz

Before proceeding further, you will need to make sure that you meet the following requirements listed in the README file: Read more

Installing Nginx on a cPanel server

tech bench 2Editor’s Note: As third-party software, ServInt does not support Nginx beyond installation. Also, to follow these instructions, users must have a working knowledge of the command line. Click here if you would like more information about logging into your server on the command line.

Nginx offers an alternative to the Apache web server popular with some server admins. Advanced users may choose to run Nginx instead of Apache, as it is believed to offer possible performance benefits in certain configurations. Read on if you are interested in installing Nginx on a server running cPanel. Read more

Patching the Heartbleed Bug in OpenSSL

tech bench server securityRecently, a vulnerability was announced with OpenSSL based on a bug called Heartbleed:

“This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs).”

 – heartbleed.com

This vulnerability impacts openssl versions 1.0.1 and 1.0.2-beta. ServInt customers may have this vulnerability if they are running CentOS 6. CentOS 4 and 5 do not have versions impacted by the Heartbleed vulnerability. Read more

Install Minecraft Overviewer on cPanel

tech bench game techEditor’s note: this tutorial assumes you are familiar with working on the command line on your server via SSH. If you’re not, you might want to check out this article first to get your feet wet.

In previous Tech Bench posts, we discussed how to install vanilla Minecraft and how to install Bukkit Minecraft, but how can you look at your beautiful server maps and buildings and show them off to your friends? Minecraft Overviewer is one solution.

As I’ve mentioned before, Minecraft is memory intensive. Minecraft Overviewer is also memory intensive. I would recommend at least a Signature VPS for hosting a Minecraft server, but an Ultimate would be better.

mcmap2

Here is how to install Minecraft Overviewer on a cPanel VPS. Read more

PHP Mail Issues and DNS

tech bench 2 Here’s a question: What do these two very common email support request have in common?

1. A VPS user believes that the PHP mail function is not working or that there is something wrong with the mail sending script (Contact Us form, registration form, or an order form which sends an email).

2. A user is having trouble sending email to other email accounts that are hosted on the same server.

In both cases, the client’s site is usually hosted on the server while email is hosted elsewhere. The site is also usually using third party nameservers (e.g. nameservers at a third-party domain registrar). The server is trying to send email locally instead of remotely where it actually exists (Google Apps, GoDaddy mail, Office365 etc).

If you think your PHP mail function is not working because you are having trouble sending email to an account on your server, you should check your DNS configuration:

  1. Run a DNS report of the domain on a site such as intoDNS.
  2. Use the output to determine if the domain is using third-party nameservers.

Third-party nameservers are nameservers whose IPs do not resolve to your server’s IP addresses. Running a DNS report will help you determine if this is the case. If it is, you likely set up an A record to have the site resolve to your server while keeping the mail exchange (MX) records set to resolve to another server.

The Fix:

  1. Move the domain for the off-server email address from /etc/localdomains to /etc/remotedomains. On cPanel servers, this can be done in WHM:
    1. Navigate to DNS Functions >> Edit DNS Zone, choose the domain in question and scroll to the bottom and switch to ‘Remote Mail Exchanger’. This change in WHM updates the above two files. (In certain instances even though a domain may be in /etc/remotedomains, it may still be in /etc/localdomains as well. Check to see if it is properly removed if you decide to add the file manually.)
    2. If you are using your own private nameservers for the domain in question, this is all that needs to be done to resolve the issue. If you are NOT using your own private nameservers, proceed to step 2.
  2. Delete the DNS zone file from the server because it is using third party nameservers and is not needed on the server. This local zone file is actually what is directing the server to send email locally instead of looking for it off your server. The zone file can be deleted from the following location: DNS Functions >> Delete a DNS Zone

Please note that this DNS zone file can be generated again if you ever decide to move away from third party nameservers and start using your own (e.g. ns1.yourdomain.com and ns2.yourdomain.com).

That’s it, you should now be able to send email at your domains that are hosted with third parties.

Installing Virtualmin: Free Server Control Panel

tech bench advanced topicsEditor’s Note: This Tech Bench: Advanced Topics post assumes knowledge and comfort with working on the command line of your server. If you would like to learn more about working on the command line, you can begin here.

After the choices of hosting provider and server package, one of the most important considerations a VPS customer can make when purchasing service is his or her choice of control panel. Control Panel software allows a user to configure and administer a server without the need to log in on the command line, greatly simplifying both routine and complex server administration tasks.

ServInt offers and fully supports the cPanel control panel, but there are other choices. Some of our customers wish to install their own control panel. One of the more popular choices is Virtualmin. There are two version of Virtualmin, a paid version and a free version. In this article, we’ll discuss how to install the free version of the Virtualmin software on a VPS server. Read more

Domain Collision in a World of .guru and .ninja

tech bench 2Since 2004 there have been only 22 common generic top-level domains (gTLDs) for use on the Internet. One of the side effects of this is the proliferation of startups with weird mishmashes of letters for names. In the coming months, there will be over 1000 new gTLDs made available to the public. Over 100 are already out there, including .wiki, .support and even .ninja.

gTLDs are issued by ICANN after an application process, and once approved they are added to what’s called the global DNS. In 2012, ICANN closed the application process on new gTLDs to add to that pool. You can see the list of what’s been issued and how many domains have been bought here.

As a responsible web hosting provider, we need to prepare for anything that might break or change as a result of the new gTLD process. And indeed, there’s an issue that might cause things to break as a result of new gTLDs being issued. It’s called “domain collision.” Read more

Rewrite Rule Conflicts when Protecting Subdirectories Using .htaccess

tech bench advanced topicsEditor’s note: Tech Bench Advanced Topics posts assume a level of knowledge that some readers may not yet have attained. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to open a ticket in your customer portal.

Protecting directories using .htaccess is typically a straight-forward and painless process. Create a .htpasswd file, set up some authentication rules in .htaccess and you’re good to go!

But what happens when you want to password protect sub-directories on a site that uses a CMS such as WordPress, and all of a sudden, every time you try to access your password protected sub-directories, you get a 404 Error? Don’t worry, the solution to this problem is much easier than you may think. Read more

One Simple Step Will Make Your WordPress Experience Easier

tech bench in brief 2Frankly, as some of you read this you might be wondering why we didn’t post this article last October. Well, last October the blog was chock full of great content on how to speed up your website, how to install Minecraft on a VPS, how to troubleshoot RAM usage, our free RAM upgrade and much more.

A simple message on updating your WordPress software didn’t seem to warrant a blog post. But it turns out that a lot of WordPress users still have not updated their software to 3.7 (and now to 3.8). Here’s why you should.

We’ve talked before about the importance of keeping your server software up to date as an essential part of server/software security. Software updates frequently deal with vulnerabilities and bugs that let those with less than honorable intentions break into your server. This is true of all software, but with WordPress being one of the most popular CMSes out there, keeping your software up to date is extra important. The more widespread the software, the larger the incentive for bad actors to find an exploit. Read more

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