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LittleBITS: Be Aware of TidBITS Server Changes

Nothing stands still forever on the Internet, and we’re gearing up for server changes. Our last major infrastructure change was in 2018 (see “Juggling TidBITS Infrastructure Issues,” 9 April 2018), and we had to switch to a new virtual private server (VPS) in 2021 (see “LittleBITS: Temporary iCloud Backup, Screen Time Oddity, Server Swap, TidBITS News App,” 5 November 2021).

Much like our previous server transition, the need to update to a new version of PHP is driving this change. However, since the version of PHP is tied to the operating system version on our Arcustech VPS, a simple update is not possible. Instead, we must migrate to a new VPS, test the migration and PHP update, and then repoint DNS to the new server. This process, while not a problem for our developer, is of similar difficulty to switching to a new host, so we decided to make a move. Arcustech has provided excellent service but devotes most of its attention to the Craft CMS, whereas the TidBITS and TidBITS Content Network sites are based on WordPress. Working with a company that focuses on WordPress makes more sense.

We settled on the Cloudways managed hosting service with a DigitalOcean VPS, partly because the Discourse installation that runs TidBITS Talk is already at DigitalOcean. So far, I’ve taken advantage of the free migration offered by Cloudways to move the TidBITS Content Network site over from Arcustech because it’s standard WordPress with plug-ins, unlike the TidBITS site, which has a boatload of custom code. Everything went well, so I oiled up my rusty sysadmin skills to repoint DNS at the new VPS, install a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, and set up SMTP on the server for outgoing transactional emails.

Part of what triggered my desire to alert you all to these boring infrastructural changes is that installing the Let’s Encrypt certificate required me to turn off the Cloudflare content delivery service temporarily, purge its cache, and turn it back on once I was done. (I have no idea why this was necessary; the Cloudways documentation said it was, and I didn’t argue.) Although I didn’t experience any problems afterward, TidBITS Talk superuser Shamino alerted me that he saw a certificate error in Firefox that complained, “Peer’s Certificate issuer is not recognized.” Safari had no such complaints, and when he reloaded in Firefox with Command-Shift-R (which bypasses cached information), everything loaded properly. I strongly suspect it was related to toggling Cloudflare off and back on again.

In other words, as we juggle the servers, there may be occasional hiccups like this. Please let me know if you run into any problems with our Internet presence in the next few weeks if I’m not already aware of what’s going on.

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Comments About LittleBITS: Be Aware of TidBITS Server Changes

Notable Replies

  1. You mention the Discourse that you use for talk forums. I’m curious how expensive that is.

  2. I’m glad you understand this. it’s mostly incomprehensible to me, but I trust whatever it is you are trying to do.

  3. Discourse is open source, so it’s free to install. We pay DigitalOcean $14 per month for hosting right now, but if you don’t want to manage it yourself, the people behind Discourse will do it starting at $50 per month.

    Or there are other companies that will do it for less.

  4. I don’t know if this is a hiccup, but as of 10:00 pm EDT, I have not received my June 17 issue of TidBits.

  5. It was a hiccup, but purely a human one. I finished everything with the issue last night and then got distracted before I pushed the Send Email button. :roll_eyes: Our fabulous Japanese translator, @Mark_Nagata, asked me about this morning and I gasped and pushed the button right away.

    I’ve set up Due to ask if I’ve sent the issue at 10 PM every Monday night, just in case this happens again.

  6. Thanks. We all have senior moments. Again, thanks for all you do.


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