Problems Resetting Private Server

I am nearing the end of my trial period for my Dreamhost Private Server / Linux Vserver. Experimented with setuid CGI, figurred out I could do what I need. Decided to clean up a bit.

Then… everything on the private server stopped working. Actually, not quite so bad: only the HTML sites broke Not sure if I ever moved any of the OneClick sites or not.

Worse, even when the HTML sites (non-OneClick) were moved back to the shared server they remained broken. Then I noticed the option not to move files, but to set up a site from scratch. Works on the shared server, but not on my private server.

Have no fear: I can RESET the private server to the state that dreamhost thinks should be safest, right?

Wrong. I have so far reset the private server twice, waiting patiently each time. To no avail.

I went and carefully cleaned up, removing stale user accounts, which also required removing their files in the home directory tree. Interestingly, private server reset restores those files, those home directories. (There are two schools of thought on that: some sysadmins want to preserve old users and home dirs forever. Others,liuke me, think of every stale account as a potential security hole.)

Every attempt to create a totally new subdomain fully hosted on my private server fails. I get redirected to google searching for the name. Even when moved back to the shared server. (Making domains on the shared server works fine. It’s just when they get made on the private server that its a problem.)

I’m sure I did something like a typoi in httpd.conf, or some other file i looked at. I did not intend to actually modify any of the dreamhost managed files yet - that’s why I am happy to get totally reset.

Unfortunately, getting a full reset of my private server isn’t - it does not restore it to a working state. Heck, I’m willing to through away all user files and start completely over. If I could see how to do so.

Next time, first thing I do is sudo and backup all of the Dreamhost admin files, as well as my user files.[hr]
I decided to try cancelling my existing private server, and ordering another one.

Let’s see if this gives me a clean setup.[hr]
Now I’m scared. When I cancelled my private server, my main existing website, which AFAIK was served from the shared host, has started having problems. I created it on the shared host before I had the private server, moved it to a user on the private server, and then moved it back to a user on the shared host. But, possibly dreamhost is confused, and thinks that it was still on the private server.

BTW, here’s a wish: the ability to see where a OneClick install lives.

Of course I have a backup. But its two days old.[hr]
But at least the new private server is clean, and I can create new subdomains such as on it.

At least I seem to have gotten back to sanity. I hope my main website did not disappear along the way. I suppose I need to learn how to restore a mysql backup.

“Let me sleep on it…”

Great happiness in the morning.

Yesterday around midnight my main wiki was broken, with what appear to be intercepted “site not found” messages.

After sleeping on it, this morning the main URL was still broken, but with different error messages: redirection loops. Which cleared up after flushing browser state (cache and cookies).

I’m not sure why this would happen. I’m guessing there was a cached redirect from when that website lived on my old private server.

So, what have I learned wrt DH sysadmin:

(1) patience. If something goes wrong at dreamhost, it may help to just plain wait a bit.

(2) flush cache and cookies. Already knew that. Didn’t help last night, but did this morning.

(3) DH PS reset may not be complete. Killing/starting over with a new privater server may be necessary.

In particular, DH PS reset may revive dead user accounts. Careful not to introduce security holes as a result.

(4) When moving DH domains and sites between user names, consider the “Don’t move files” options.

(5) DH users are associated with particular servers, but do get moved when you kill a PS.

GLEW COMMENT: it would be nice to have an option in the “Manage Users” WebPanel to move a user from one server to another. Obviously, it can be done; I might like to be able to do so without having to kill a server.

I’m still thrashing on user name policy. Should they be functional “user_mediawiki_1” or geographic “user_private_server_56”. Since I can’t move users between servers easily, it looks like the latter; but right now I have several “private_server” users on my shared server, because they got moved when I cancelled my old DH PS.


BOTTOM LINE: kill/start over a Private Server may be necessary when Private Server reset doesn’t fix problems.

I wish that it had not taken a day or so to figure that out.