Maintenance Day

I have been busy this weekend. Some changes, some consolidation, and more to come.

First, I have exported all the posts from the sister site, tralfaz.org. That was my original home (and my original domain, as the .com variant was being hogged for a long time). All those posts are here now, and searchable. Almost 800 posts in total added. All the images and formatting should be good. Some spot checking of posts look A-OK.

Originally begun in 2009, there were very few posts from that time. However, I really picked up the pace of posts in 2011, through the wee hours of the start of 2017, when I really created the tralfaz-dot-com site. Those 7 years, tralfaz-dot-org was my main property. It will remain up for some time (and there are plenty of people who have posted trackbacks to that site) but it will eventually disappear.

Since early in 2017, all my general posts are here on tralfaz.com, and that will continue.

The Hosting Situation

Currently, tralfaz-dot-com  is a WordPress instance, running on a Digital Ocean droplet. That is likely to remain the case, both for WordPress and Digital Ocean. I do think about switching to Ghost (more later) as a platform,  as it is a better environment to write in, but it has other limitations that make me hedge. WordPress just works so well for this casual use.

A few months back, Digital Ocean increased the size and entitlement of the droplets, including the small one that I am using. Instead of 1G ram, and 30G of disk space, my $10 a month entitled me to 2G and 50G of disk. When this happened, I couldn’t be bothered to make the adjustment, frankly there wasn’t any benefit to the change, as it all ran well in the constraints it had, but it did nag at me that I wasn’t getting all the entitlement that I paid for. To update to the new configuration, I would have had to shut down the droplet, resize it, then start up again. Not a huge task – and no risk, but it was a low priority.

Yesterday, I made the switch. It took about 20 minutes in total (FWIW: that droplet had uptime of 93 days when I shut it down. That was the reboot for the Spectre and Meltdown patches). Of course, my inbox was flooded with notifications from Jetpack that my WordPress instances were unreachable. That works…

I also removed one site from my droplet. I had a second site for Barbara, that we created when she was hemming and hawing between her current focus on non-profit fundraising, and scriptwriting. Scripts By Barbara is now offline. It hadn’t gotten any traffic (except for my monthly applying of patches) in well over a year.

I did clean up a few other loose ends.

The hosting details

For the record, this is a Digital Ocean droplet, running Ubuntu 14.04LTS, using Serverpilot to manage it (a brilliant piece of automation), and it currently has 4 WordPress sites (all fairly low to modest traffic) running on it, Words by Barbara, Tralfaz dot com, Tralfax dot org, and Greyt Bros. It has plenty of disk space, and memory. I could probably scale this to 10 instances without any problem.

Then, on a lark, I wanted to play with the Ghost blogging platform. I found instructions on the web for installing it as an app in Serverpilot, and instead of playing with fire and just adding it to my current droplet, I spun up a new one to quickly get it running, using one of my several unused domains (this one I keep active for prototyping, or staging). Create a droplet, set the login bits properly, do a quick update of the OS, then install Serverpilot (truly painless), and then follow the guided tour to install the Ghost environment. Easy peasy. Less than an hour, and I was up and running. Did some tests with exporting and importing data, and then I destroyed the instance (about 3 hours, at about a penny and a half per hour, total cost: 4.5 cents) and I had learned plenty of lessons.

The main droplet is running Ubuntu 14.04, and that is going to go end of support in 2019. I will need to update the underlying OS one day. Not supposed to be difficult, but it is not risk free either. I won’t make that leap today. I will wait until 18.04 is pretty stable and then make the leap. Perhaps in the next big maintenance event in the fall.

Summary

Some long put-off maintenance happened, some clean up of the properties, and some streamlining in the configuration that was needed, but not urgent.

When I first started down the VPS hosting path, I had a VPS from A Small Orange, who was a good provider, until they weren’t. Back then, it came with a cPanel install (and license), and that Swiss Army knife functionality, while it made it accessible to newbs, really was overkill.

When ASO turned to shit, I jumped to Digital Ocean, and sweated bullets that I was going to spend tons of time managing my installation and the OS. That turned out to not be the case, as Serverpilot is an amazing configuration and management add on, even in its free guise.

Right now, my biggest decision is do I remain a free user of Serverpilot, or do I sport for the $10 a month to get the logging and additional features. Choices, choices.

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