Gravatars Working Once Again

After a period of downtime due to issues with my current host, I’ve been able to start coding on the site once again.

Gravatars have now been fixed, and appear whenever you comment on a post.

If you don’t have a gravatar yet, feel free to signup at http://gravatar.com – many sites now use them, so you’re time won’t be wasted.

The 10 Best VMware Virtual Appliances

As suggested in the comments, I’ve updated this post here: http://blandname.com/2012/04/09/top-10-virtual-appliances-revisited/

Daniel and Bitnami have quite a few of these already published, which is pretty cool! 

This list is subjective, and you’ve been warned!

All of these virtual appliances have been tested with ESX server, and may have issues elsewhere.

For appliances that needed it, I used R3 Data Recovery VMware Converter, the version that ships with Virtual Infrastructure 3.5 (VI3.5).

Please note that both ESX 3.5 and Virtual Center 2.5 are available as trials from VMware currently, and I would highly recommend trying them out as it really is night and day compared to VMware Workstation, Server and Player.

That said, for the most part you’ll be fine working with VMware Server 2.0 – it’s free and has a special version of VMware Infrastructure Client to boot.

The list:

  1. Astaro Security Gateway – This is a must in any build for me. I use this to bridge between my LAN/WAN and the virtual networks that I create. There is a 10-device, 1000 connection “home user” license available from My Astaro that should be more than sufficient to get you up and running with a clean, secure virtual network.
  2. Ubuntu 7.10 JeOS Mini-image – this image weighs in at only 70MB or so, expands to roughly 200MB, has apt-get installed, and is a perfect candidate for building virtual appliances with. VMware tools is installed, so you don’t need to worry about things like date and time sync.
  3. OpenBSD 4.2 – The OpenBSD image is great for getting started in the OpenBSD world: learning the shell, commands, networking, and in my case, firewalling. The verison I use comes from Chrysaor.info, but feel free to use your own.
  4. OpenSuSE 10.3 – I can’t live without this virtual appliance – I use it for just about everything, and is the first appliance installed in any environment. Note that it is a bit bloated, containing USB, sound and other components typically not needed in a virtual environment. On the other hand, since it’s tried and tested on my end, it’s a lifer.
  5. Trac – I use Trac as a wiki and VM staging log. I consider all VMs, hosts and Virtual Center as software projects, and monitor changes closely. If ever I need to pull up quick info about a virtual machine, host, network, router or firewall, it’s all in Trac.
  6. WordPress – I use my WordPress virtual machine to stage different versions of blandname, to test updates, upgrades, and plugins. This also allows me to change themes, move Adsense blocks around, and generally to play without fear of losing revenue or breaking something.

Continue reading

blandname forum open!

I haven’t been getting much feedback on the latest poll, and it’s probably my fault because it’s positioned under the adverts… oh well.

As a lazy developer and software-lover, my only choice is to implement ALL of the SEO Services Sydney solutions, one at a time.

So that’s how we got here with our second real announcement, after the Digg plugin for Pandion (thanks to 43things for reminding me once weekly that I needed to start an open-source project).

I’ve opened a forum for all to use – you can feel free to post tech support questions, links you have found, or just general chit-chat if need be. I’ve set up a pretty good spam filtering system, but we’ll see how it works. I honestly have a hard time believing anything could work as well as Dr. Dave’s Spam Karma 2 plugin for WordPress.

So head on over to the blandname forum and check it out!

I’ve set up BBPress there, and to be honest it was a cinch. I’ll post a how to do SEO in Montreal later, but it’s not so involved. I was able to get modrewrite going right away – which in my opinion is an absolute necessity for proper SEO, including the small business SEO. I will be attempting to integrate the themes and users via MySQL shortly, so if you’ve registered with blandname, you’ll have access to the forums as well.

Installing WordPress MU on a Dreamhost Server

Blandname is currently hosted with DreamHost, and we’ve been here for years. It’s cheap, offers lots of goodies, and one-click installs allow us to easily install and test web-based software. Not to mention that they also support Ruby on Rails, and give you SSH access and the ability to run a Jabber server as well as unlimited MySQL databases. If you are wanting to host your own website then choose a UKservers.

You’ve also probably gathered that blandname is currently running WordPress. Dreamhost Circulo Marketing has had a one-click install for WordPress just like ipage has for a while now, and since it was handy at the time, we went for it.

But things change, and one-click installs often are not enough to satisfy most webmasters, which is how we got where we are today. Since my goal with blandname is to create another multiuser blog similar to what has already been running for years at yottabite, but instead of having one big weblog, we’d like to have multiple subdomains like string.blandname.com, which WordPress MU allows you to accomplish, automatically.

Unfortunately DreamHost doesn’t support WordPress MU‘s subdomains by default yet (you can always send them an email), but we can still get away with subfolders, which is more than good enough for a test.

This guide will require familiarity with DreamHost’s control panel, as well as common Bash shell commands as we will be using SSH.

The first step is to make a test domain for you WordPress MU install. In my case, I navigated to the “Domains” section of the left-hand menu, then to the “Manage Domains” section of the DreamHost panel, and created the new subdomain test.blandname.com. You’ll want to make sure to select PHP5, and enable extra security. This typically takes about 10 minutes to complete, but we still have the database to add, so let’s get to that at the same time.

In the “goodies” section of the DreamHost control panel, select “Manage MySQL”. The default view is to set up a new MySQL database, which is what we’re going to do. Create a unique database name, the subdomain you would like it to use, as well as the data base username and password. Make sure to keep note of all of these settings as we will need them when installing WPMU.

DreamHost will have by now created a folder in your SSH root that will allow you to place files there and start some of the work while we wait for the subdomain to be created and propagate. Login to your server using SSH (you’ll need to use either your DreamHost hostname here or another web address for now – you can use the WordPress Mu domain later). Now we’ll navigate to the new subdirectory that was created when we setup the new subdomain by typing: cd test.blandname.com Change the folder name to whatever is pertinent in this case.

Now that we’re in the correct folder, we’ll grab the latest using the always-handy WGET. Here’s the code:

wget http://mu.wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz

gunzip latest.tar.gz

tar -xvf latest.tar

cd wordpressmu-1.0 (this will probably change, ls -al will tell you the dirname)

cp -rf * /home/YOURUSERNAME/test.yourdomain.com/

cd ..

rm -rf wordpressmu-1.0/

Now we’ve got a clean directory structure in the root of our test domain, and we’re set to go ahead with the WordPress MU installation.

By now the subdomain has probably propagated because DreamHost is getting faster and faster, so using your web browser, navigate to test.yourdomain.com

Next you’ll want to retrieve the soiled napkin, SubEthaEdit file or whatever else it was that you used to jot down the database settings, and plop them in here. They are very straightforward, and this is typically the most problematic so check them twice but have no fear: if you mess up WP MU will tell you, and you can retrieve the settings from the “Manage MySQL” section in the DreamHost web control panel.

The rest is quite simple: you’ll be met with a typical WordPress installation page, but instead it’s for WorPress MU. The first question that needs to be asked is whether or not WordPress MU users will be using subdomains or subfolders of the root WPMU installation. As previously stated, DreamHost currently does not support subdomains by default (I’ve put in a request, here’s hoping), so we’ll select subfolders here. WP MU will have already placed the domain name you will be using in the yellow textfield, but if you had decided to use subfolders instead of the webroot, you’ll want to specify that here as this will affect all links as well as your RSS feeds.

Lastly, we’ll want to name our multi-user WordPress MU blog, and specify the email address that you will use for things like spam reports, and replies to your comments on the parent blog.

Click on that small “submit” button, and let’s see what happens!

Hopefully on the next screen you’ll see this message:

Creating Database Config File: DONE
Congrats! Your WPMU site has been set up and you have been sent details of your login and password in an email.

Click on the link provided, and get with customization, as we’re all done.

Mephisto Immortus (0.6) Released

Mephisto is a CMS engine written using Ruby on Rails. The newest version has been released today and many people are very excited about it as it adds yet another Rails application to the ever-expanding list.

Some quick Mephisto features:

  • Easy Typo and Textpattern Blog Conversion
  • Easy Asset Management
  • Slick GUI
  • Article Tagging, Filtering, and Improvements