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Major server maintenance started yesterday (important information)

Friday, March 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Daily Blog



A couple weeks ago I mentioned that there were going to be some major changes happening here, and I started on those changes yesterday. There will be periods of downtime here on the main site, and also on the forums, as I work on the server over the next week or so.

Last week I created a test VM running CentOS, NGINX and MariaDB. I really like a lot of what I saw, but the time involved migrating from the existing stuff (along with the learning curve) didn’t work for me. I need to get this migration done as rapidly and painlessly as possible.

Because of my time constraints, I decided to stick with what I know best, and settled on latest version of Debian Linux, which is my favorite Linux distro. I also remained with Apache, but I decided to replace MySQL with MariaDB.

As part of the migration, I went ahead and converted the old MyISAM database to InnoDB. I also used this opportunity to switch the JSF database character set from Latin_1 to UTF8. I finished that last night.

I’ve already migrated the main site (this site) over to the new O/S, and pretty much everything is working correctly. There are a few things that still need some attention, but for the most part everything is running smoothly.

I still have a lot of performance tweaks to make, but basic caching is working and the site is running fairly fast.

IMPORTANT: If you have an existing account here on JSF (meaning you’ve logged in to the main site at least once in the past using your forum username and password), you should still be able to log in, post comments, rate posts, etc. If, however, you have never logged into the main site before, you will not be able to do so right now. The reason for this is because this site automatically pulls account information from the forum database when an existing forum member logs in for the first time (this is so members don’t need multiple accounts for the main site and the forum). Right now the forum is still running on the old O/S, and it will soon be replaced by a brand forum software. I’ll have to re-write the external database stuff to work with the new forum once it is installed…

… and that brings me to the Big One. I purchased the new forum software yesterday, and I’m going to be working on that over the next week. I’ll do a test installation and import to see what I’m up against, and that won’t affect the currently running forum, but once I’m satisfied that the existing data will import correctly I’m going to shut the old forums down. With nearly a million posts, countless media files and more than 30,000 members, the import process could take days. Then, once the import is complete, I’m going to have to spend a few days getting the forums set up, and getting all the custom mods I need to work on accomplished. Even if things go exceedingly well (and they rarely do), the forums will likely be down for the better part of a week.

I know you all are going to love the new forum software! The forums will be fast, attractive, loaded with modern features and will look great on all of your devices. Also, the new forums have excellent social media integration. I think we’re going to see a lot more forum activity over time.

This is just part of what’s to come. I’ll be rolling out some other updates and enhancements (as well as some all-new web sites) in the very near future.

Thanks for your patience while I work on these major changes!

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