Internet, Miscellaneous, Technology

Recent site problems

January 8th, 2007 by Jeff | Dump Core

If you’re reading this post, congratulations. That means our recent site problems have been resolved… at least for the moment. Below is the rough rundown of what happened this weekend, for those of you who care. There’s lots of technical jargon below, so if you don’t care, feel free to blindly ignore the rest of this post and live in ignorant bliss. Trust me, it’s probably a safer place to be.

For those who didn’t already know, this site and the gpf-comics.net domain are both hosted on my personal Linux box behind our cable modem. This was originally intended as an experiment to teach myself the ins and outs of running a Web server (specifically Apache), but over time it morphed into a cheap form of hosting that gave me complete control over the hardware and software involved. Keenspot hosts the main GPF site and they do a very good job of it; but to be perfectly honest, I have no clue what hardware they use, only a hunch about the software (because I have SSH access), and I couldn’t tell you for the life of me where the server is located. I like having directly physical control over the GPF Store (which is back online, BTW), which gives me a lot more confidence in what happens to my customer’s data. I also like knowing how things work.

My Apache setup is moderately complicated. I briefly touched on it before, but I’ve been using a number of virtual hosts to serve several sites on the same machine. The blog and the Store are the main sites I run, but I also have a number of other domains that I’m currently sitting on and forwarding to other places with the intent of using them for future purposes. Apache happily listened to all these requests and parceled out the right stuff to the right people without breaking a sweat. Until this weekend, that is.

Unfortunately, I think the success of this blog was part of its undoing. I haven’t looked at the logs to confirm it, but I think the recent “Ben vs. Darth Vader” post brought a bit of unwanted attention from my cable service. The increased download traffic probably caught their attention and they blocked port 80 to my IP. One reason I strongly suspect this is that my SSH access didn’t go away and I could still access the Store using the HTTPS port, so I knew Apache and my Linux box were up and they were still online. I tried a number of workarounds throughout the weekend, working in small batches here and there during stolen moments, but each fix seemed to break something else.

At the risk of revealing to my ISP what I’ve done, here was the winning solution. My dynamic DNS service lets me forward HTTP requests to different ports transparently. Since port 80 was blocked, I forwarded gpf-comics.net to port 8080 and jeffdarlington.com to 8081. (I couldn’t forward them both to the same port, because this redirect seems to strip the domain name from the request and only feeds Apache the IP, thus making name based virtual hosts moot.) The other domains, which were originally just being bounced by my Apahce, are now being forwarded directly by DNS2Go so they never reach my box. Since HTTPS seems unaffected, it’s currently still pointing to the same place. The good news is that most of your bookmarks and links should continue to work, so don’t change them (in case I need to tweak the configuration again). The caveat is that if you’ve been using “jeffdarlington.com” to access this site instead of “www.jeffdarlington.com” the redirecting will probably break. The redirect only works with the “www.” so please use that URL.

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