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Server software update 22/1/16

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Later today we'll be performing an update to this server's OS. Think of it as equivalent to taking a Vista system, and updating it to 7; Mountain Lion to Mavericks; Kit Kat to Lollipop; you know the score ;)

Distribution updates on our OS (Debian) are generally very reliable, although this one includes some major changes to one particular very important bit of software in the background that may slow things down a bit. We run a custom build of nginx (the web server) that means we'll have to manually install a new version post-update. This may result in some website downtime. Plus whenever you update the OS, you have to restart the system, so there will be at least a few minutes of downtime while that happens.

Basically, expect things to be a bit slow and stupid every so often while we're working on it.

 

Questions/Answers:

@Inkling Cooper Will there be any design changes in this software update?
No, this is all background stuff, no changes to what you guys see. I'm hoping to be able to test the new version of PHP at a later date which should result in less forum slowdown at busy times, and there's a newer version of one of the libraries the forum uses (cURL) which improves stability slightly, but that's about it. The new character theme is coming soon, don't worry ;)

 

More updates in time :)

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Yes. On Debian, there are a number of online repositories that hold the recommended version of most of the software, applications etc. There's the old stable repo, which we're currently on (being on the previous version of the OS), the stable repo which we're in the process of moving to, and testing/unstable repos which are for the next version of the OS and cutting edge versions of the software respectively.

Debian has a philosophy that stability is more important than anything else, so the repos are actually surprisingly different - oldstable tends to hold much older versions than stable, which in turn has older versions than testing and unstable. As a result, if we're updating to the current stable, we have to update most of the software on the system - that's a lot of installation. That's what the slowdown when it appears tends to be.

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So, yes, a few hours of downtime wasn't the intention. Firstly we had some problems with updated programs conflicting with each other, making it necessary (among other things) to uninstall PHP during the software update. That meant that all the sites were down during a time we were intending to keep them up. Then, that "one particular very important bit of software in the background that may slow things down a bit" ended up stopping the entire system from working when we tried to reboot. But it's working now.

My most profound apologies for denying you all your forum for so long :)

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