Yesterday, I had a hard drive die on me  :(. It was a 160 GB Seagate Barracuda, and was less than a year old. It started with strange error messages late last night. I went to the server, reset it (need to power it off - It wouldn't shutdown cleanly), and now it won't boot. When I try to boot the system, I can hear the drive head hitting against the side of the drive, which makes me think there is a problem internally with the drive...

I'm looking into recovery options, though I think it will be way too expensive for my needs. If it is too expensive, I'll just have to cut my losses and move on. A lot of my development work was on this server (it was my backup PC as well). Whilst I have local copies of stuff, a lot of it is slightly old. It's kinda depressing to have something like this happen, so I'm not really in a good mood at the moment  :(

Update: About two weeks after the hard drive "failed", I tried it again. It was working, but made a strange sound. I quickly copied all the data off of it, and disconnected it. I was able to get a copy of all the most important data. So, it's not so bad... This story has a happy ending :D

I checked my email inbox this morning, and guess what I found? The firewall (ConfigServer Security and Firewall) on a server I help run blocked a brute-force attack from Nokia:

Time: Tue May 1 02:28:18 2007
IP: (
Failures: 5 (sshd)
Interval: 135 seconds
Blocked: Yes

Log entries:

May 1 02:28:08 blue sshd[9363]: Failed password for root from ::ffff: port 56057 ssh2
May 1 07:28:08 blue sshd[9364]: Failed password for root from ::ffff: port 56057 ssh2
May 1 02:28:11 blue sshd[9368]: Failed password for root from ::ffff: port 56436 ssh2
May 1 07:28:11 blue sshd[9369]: Failed password for root from ::ffff: port 56436 ssh2
May 1 02:28:13 blue sshd[9370]: Failed password for root from ::ffff: port 56591 ssh2

Just thought it was funny :P
(oh yeah, and I will report it to them!)

The next major version of SMF, SMF 2.0, has been announced on the Simple Machines Community Forum. This new version is a significant step forward from SMF 1.1, and has been in development alongside it since December 2005.

Some of the features annouced so far include (quoted from the post linked above):

  • Database abstraction - with support for PostgreSQL and SQLite planned alongside that of MySQL.
  • Automatic installation of packages into themes other than just the default.
  • Email templates to simplify customization of forum emails.
  • Moderation center including post, topic and attachment moderation - to allow approving of user content before it is made public.
  • User warning system.
  • Additional group functionally including group moderators and requestable/free assignable groups.
  • WYSIWYG editor to provide an intuitive user interface to those users not familiar with BBC.
  • Permission improvements such as group inheritance and permission profiles to further reduce the complexity of the permissions system.
  • File based caching for a performance increase on all forums regardless of whether an accelerator is installed.
  • Mail queuing system to stagger the sending of emails to improve performance on large forums.
  • Advanced signature settings to allow the administrator of a forum to more tightly control the contents of users signatures.
  • Personal messaging improvements including ability to automatically sort incoming messages and a variety of display options.
  • Improved upgrade script with better timeout protection and simpler user interface.
  • Custom profile fields to enable administrators to add additional member fields from the administration center.

This release is going to be awesome. I've been trying out a few alpha versions of it, and it looks amazing. Note that it will still be a while before a public beta, as there's still some bugs to work out.

Keep up the great work, guys! :D

This tutorial will show you how to set up a serial console on a Linux system, and connect to it via a null modem cable. This is quite useful if your Linux server is in a headless configuration (no keyboard or monitor), as it allows you to easily get a console on the system if there are any problems with it (especially network problems, when SSH is not available). In the end, the GRUB menu will appear over the serial link, as will the bootup messages (output when booting the system). I'm using Debian Etch on the server and Ubuntu Edgy on my client, although this should work on any Linux distribution.

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The other day, I was looking for an easy way to restore a MySQL dump (or backup, whatever you like to call it) in PHP. I've previously used a segment of the code from PHP MySQL Backup V 2.2 for this, but it didn't seem to support FULLTEXT indicies that well. So, I searched around, but couldn't find anything. I even asked on the PHP IRC channel, and they suggested to use shell_exec to call mysql (unfortunately, I've disabled shell_exec for security reasons). Looking closer, I noticed that this was actually quite easy to do.

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In this tutorial, I'll show you how to install Linux-Vserver on Debian Testing (Etch), the easy way. This was the first tutorial I posted to, so please tell me if you like it or not. You may find it a bit verbose, as I try to explain things in enough detail so that everyone understands what I mean :-)

What is Linux-Vserver, you ask? It's simple. Basically, Linux-Vserver is an open-source system used to separate a single physical server into multiple virtual servers. From the Linux-Vserver website:

"Linux-VServer allows you to create virtual private servers and security contexts which operate like a normal Linux server, but allow many independent servers to be run simultaneously in one box at full speed. All services, such as ssh, mail, Web, and databases, can be started on such a VPS, without modification, just like on any real server. Each virtual server has its own user account database and root password and doesn't interfere with other virtual servers."

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