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Showing posts from July, 2007

Web 2.0 - Collaboration is Key

This is in response to a Xing-group posting at:;forum_id=26287;reply_id=4980042
As a small business owner, managing multiple ones, I am slowly but surely realizing that the key to organizing myself and the teams around me is to adapt online collaboration tools. This includes project management tools that centralize our activities in the virtual space, or document maintenance using Google Apps, or maintaining team Wiki's and Forums for pooling ideas together and documenting them for the future.Google Apps, for example, has made the issue of document management within our internal IT infrastructure trivial. Except for sensitive documents such as customer information, we are able to use the generous disk-capacity offered by Google (in exchange of our keywords;) and applications to nicely access + maintain these docs.Project management tools like BaseCamp are a start to online tools that work at the "speed of thought", though this pa…

Starting Apache2 without SSL

Our somewhat unreliable ISP serverpronto has power-outages and similar other problems which cause our machine hosted with them to reboot every couple of weeks. When our machine reboots, it fails to start the Apache2 process as the latter needs a pass-phrase for loading the SSL certificates. This pass-phrase has to be manually submitted, and hence Apache2 ends up hanging at boot time, thus rendering our machine useless for web-services.

A work-around has been implemented to do something like the below:
Implement a script to start Apache2 without SSLSchedule a cron job using start-stop-daemon which will start Apache2 without SSL, i.e in a "lite" modeEmail admin that Apache2 is running in non-ssl mode, and it needs to be restarted with SSL (supply pass-phrase manually)

SellerBay Online ERP 1.0 - Block Diagram

More information regarding the open source SellerBay Online ERP can be found at: Blocks underlined in the above diagram represent features yet to be implemented.

Outsourcing Mail Backups to Google

Being into Internet sales and having to do with abundant email traffic with customers, we have in place a system which keeps a copy of every email we send to our customers in form of an archive-copy. We just BCC each email we send to customers to a Technically the method does what it is intended for, but I have noticed over time that the backup account is growing out of bounds and I find myself increasing the disc quota every 4-5 weeks.

One naughty idea stuck me today to setup Google apps for handling a domain called Then I reprogrammed our customer messaging system to direct all archive-copies to

To work with the generous 2GB capacity that Google provides per email account, our messaging system was so programmed as to send backup mails to a different address each month, such as: - for July 2007 backups - for August 2007 backups

.. and …

php5-cli Installation on Debian 3.1

Major turmoil was caused while installing php5-cli package on our staging server. This is the pre-installation confirmation.
xxxx@hhhhh:~$ sudo apt-get install php5-cli
Reading Package Lists... Done
Building Dependency Tree... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
ca-certificates libapache2-mod-php5 libc6 libcurl3 libdb4.4 libidn11 libkrb53 libncurses5 libreadline5 libssl0.9.8 libxml2 locales
php5-common php5-curl php5-mysql readline-common tzdata
Suggested packages:
php-pear glibc-doc libcurl3-gssapi libldap2-dev krb5-doc krb5-user
Recommended packages:
libgpmg1 xml-core
The following packages will be REMOVED:
base-config initrd-tools kernel-image-2.4.27-2-386 ssh-krb5
The following NEW packages will be installed:
ca-certificates libdb4.4 libssl0.9.8 php5-cli readline-common tzdata
The following packages will be upgraded:
libapache2-mod-php5 libc6 libcurl3 libidn11 libkrb53 libncurses5 libreadline5 libxml2 locales php5-common php5-curl php5-mysql
12 upgraded, 6 newly installe…

Network Infrastructure v.2.0 - Building Redundancy

See Network Infrastructure v.1.0 - Building Redundancy for continuity..

New Techniques Implemented
MySQL replication (Master-Slave)
Little script to restart a slave:
stop slave;
reset slave;

change master to master_host='', master_user='repl', master_password='replpassword', master_log_file='mysql-bin.000343', master_log_p

start slave;
show slave status\GTools
Shell script to install web application code from SVN

Network Infrastructure v.1.0 - Building Redundancy

About end of 2005, we redesigned our minimalistic single server setup to host some 5-6 websites, team CMS server, email server, SVN code server and an home-brew perl application we use for order processing. The "as-is" situation is shown below.

Important aspects of this configuration
Web services are split over a couple of different machines. So if 1 machine goes down, not all sites are offline.Non-mission-critical sites (ex. team collab site) are split off on a different machine. So production servers are fully available for public sites.Mail server is split off on a diff machine. This runs spam, anti-virus programs which are memory hungry, so any performance peaks effect only mail services.Machines placed beyond FW2 are fairly well protected as they A) Have a fw protection that allows port access on specific ports where services are running, and B) Services are accessible on non-standard ports as there is port forwarding setup on FW2Servers were configured for only local…

ServerPronto Problems (Outage, pitiful customer support)

4:49 PM / 1st July, 2007

This Sunday night, around at midnight there was a major outage at ServerPronto. Both my sites one for sales & one for an internal app are still out. I'm reporting this to bring on record Serverpronto's less than acceptable response to customer problems.

Early Sunday morning I realized that, not only my sites, but also and a bunch of (SP's parent) were down. On one site I could reach the webserver, but there were php_mysql errors on screen for not being able to connect to database machine.

Even the support site was down, so it wasn't possible to submit a ticket.

After about 2 hours SP's own sites were back online and I got a telephone number off of the site to call. The guy across sounded like he's been woken up from sleep. He took a name, company name, phone number and promised that somebody will get back. 8 hours counting now - no one has called.

Meanwhile sp's support site came back online and I …