Just a Theory

By David E. Wheeler

Posts about Blosxom

New Home

After the Fireballing week before last, I put aside a bit of time to rejigger things. This blog now has a new home.

  • Moved all content to a Linode virtual server. No more serving from my crappy old desktop system behind my Comcast connection. The VPS is kind of skimpy on the RAM, but seems fine for my basic needs.
  • Still using Blosxom, but all content is statically-generated.
  • Switched to Nginx. It’s fast. Especially for a 100% static site.
  • Search is gone. No one used it, anyway. That’s what Duck Duck Go is for.
  • Comments are gone, sort of. I removed the plugin for adding comments to posts. Existing comments are still shown, though.
  • Added Disqus commenting. The upshot is that, for the first time in years, one can comment on any post at any time. No more closing comments after two weeks.
  • Got rid of the “sociable” junk. No one needs hand-holding for sharing, and very few sharing sites are relevant anymore, anyway.

Oh, and I also moved strongrrl.com, kineticode.com, and my PGXN mirror to the Linode host. They’re all static, too, so everything is nice and peppy.

So that’s step 1. It’s enough that I can get back to posting stuff and, on the off chance that I get Fireballed again, I think things will hold up (a simple ab test shows pretty good throughput at about 100 requests/second at a concurrency of 100). Over the next few months, I have other plans:

  • Throw up a new kineticode.com. The company has actually shut down, so I need to put up a new page to direct interested parties elsewhere.
  • Redesign Just a Theory. This design was okay in 2004, but never very forward-looking. I want to vastly simplify things. Just down to the bare essentials, really. Be prepared for more junk to disappear.
  • Move to a new blog engine. Blosxom is okay, but finicky. There are a lot of steps to publishing a post, most of them involving SCP and SSH. I just want to write to a directory to do stuff, and support drafts and whatnot.

That last task is the one I’m least likely to find a lot of time to work on, though, as I am already overcommitted to numerous other things, and thinking of new stuff all the time. But I’d really like to make things much nicer for myself, so we’ll see.

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Sociable Plugin for Blosxom

I notice a number of places recently where some blogs had a nice array of small icons to make it easy for readers to add particular entries to their favorite social bookmarking sites. The example I noticed most recently was on Simple Mom. After a bit of digging, I found the Sociable plugin for WordPress. It had just the format I was looking for.

So today I ported it to Blosxom. You can get it yourself here. You’ll also need to download the Sociable WordPress plugin so that you can get all the necessary images and styling. Read the docs for how to use it; it’s pretty simple, and supports a lot of social bookmarking sites, and even good ’ole “Email” and “Print” links.

And of course, also starting today, you can see the links right here on my site. So, yeah, go ahead and link me up!

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Blog Restored, Google Analytics, FeedBurner

My “Server Room”

My “Server Room”

Some of you no doubt noticed that this site was down for several days, starting last Friday and lasting until yesterday. Sorry about that. I had a hard disk failure of some kind on the ca. 1999 OptiPlex I was using. I’ve had a newer box (ca. 2005) to move to for a while, but lacked the tuits. With this change, I was forced to make the switch. Fortunately, a Debian install CD let me login to the OptiPlex and access all my files, so I was able to recover everything. I even managed to keep the file modification times the same, so feeds won’t show everything as unread (which I’ve seen many times when other bloggers I’ve known have switched providers or recovered from some catastrophe). Unless you tried to hit this site over the weekend or on Monday or Tuesday, you should notice no changes at all (except speed, the new box is a lot faster!).

Naturally, I took advantage of this opportunity to get my blog configuration into SVN via my Capistrano deployment system. Hell, none of this stuff was even backed up before (although I did back up all my blog entries about a week before this happened—but not comments, yow!). The new box is now properly backing itself up and backing up the Kineticode server, and I can make changes to Blosxom and configure and reboot the blog from my MBP. Yay! No more remote editing.

I’ve also upgraded my “server room,” moving out the gigantic 17” CRT and putting in the 17” flat panel screen I’ve had floating around. I also plugged a USB keyboard into my KVM, so I no longer have to move keyboards around when I switch between the Linux server and the G3 Mac server. Of course, now that I have large disks and Time Machine running on all the other boxes in the house, we don’t use the G3 anymore. So I think we’ll be donating it soon.

Another change I’ve made was to stop doing my own log analysis (the command-line tools are such a PITA) and switched to Google Analytics and FeedBurner for tracking visitors to the blog and its feeds. I’ve still got the old log files around, so I can see how things have changed since before the switch to outside analytics providers, but I’ll probably just create a report from them and then ignore them from now on. Too much work to track that stuff.

In the future, I’d like to switch from Blosxom to some other tool. Maybe Movable Type, now that it’s open source. It’s pretty well-regarded and written in Perl, so I could hack it pretty easily. What I should do is avoid writing my own Blog engine. Right? Right?!. In the meantime, I have other priorities, so I’ll be sticking to Bloxsom for a while.

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Blosxom Rewrite Rules

I finally got my mod_rewrite rules working for Blosxom, so now it finally looks like I have a real site! The problem was that %{REQUEST_FILE} wasn’t actually the full file name on the file system, but the request URI! I have no idea why, but once I figured out this problem I was able get ‘round it by using %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}%{REQUEST_URI}. So now my configuration looks like this:

<VirtualHost *>
  DocumentRoot /usr/local/www/doc_roots/justatheory
  ServerAdmin david@justatheory.com
  ServerName justatheory.com
  ServerAlias www.justatheory.com
  CustomLog /usr/local/www/logs/access_log.justatheory combined
  <Directory /usr/local/www/doc_roots/justatheory>
    AddHandler cgi-script .cgi
    Options +ExecCGI
  RewriteEngine on
  RewriteCond %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}%{REQUEST_URI} !-f
  RewriteCond %{DOCUMENT_ROOT}%{REQUEST_URI} !-d
  RewriteRule ^/(.*)$ /blosxom.cgi/$1 [L,QSA]

And all is well. Now, if only I could get the meta plugin working properly…

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