As I said in my last post, my next step in my Web Server transformation process would be to use Oracle’s Virtualbox software to install a trial run of Ubuntu Server so I could better familiarize myself with the in’s and out’s of both Ubuntu and Apache 2 Webserver. My only previous experience with serving a website was with a Windows Server (NT 4, Win-2000 & Win-2003) running IIS 4 through 6. There is now a new version of IIS (7) that requires Windows Server 2008 to run (only another $200-$400 or so to upgrade!).
Also free is Oracle’s Virtualbox, by the way! So even if it hadn’t worked out, all it would have cost me to see how far I could get was – time. And since I’m not pre-occupied with my Dad anymore, I have quite a bit of that.
There are a multitude of ‘google-able’ resources available to download and install Virtualbox and Ubuntu so I won’t go into any ‘how-to’ here. I just want to say that the overall process was made much easier, quicker and less stressful because I was able to fully setup and test the system that I wanted to put into place before I ever had to change any ‘real’ computer. Rather than installing the operating system on the hardware that I would eventually use to serve my website, I was able to install, build and update the system in a ‘virtual box’ that I could then transfer straight to a hard drive to install on the system that was previously running Windows 2003 Server.
And I could do it all on my Windows 7 laptop which, by the way dual boots to Ubuntu Desktop (but that’s another story/post)
It’s practically impossible to do the same thing with a Windows Server. But Ubuntu is very adaptable. And, as it turns out, there’s this free tool call Remastersys that allows you to backup the Ubuntu System to a DVD so that after everything is just how you want it, you can create the DVD, run it on your old (new) system and now you’re all set up.
There were, of course, still some configurations to complete. I still had to bind the network adapters to the correct internet addresses. And I had to make sure that I’d updated the WordPress config file and the CMS setup that we use for one of the web sites.
(One of our sites uses Concrete5 which was a bit problematic to switch over from a Windows environment to a Linux environment. The mySQL database tables on a windows system are all named with lower case names, but in Linux, which is case-sensitive, it doesn’t work until you rename all of your (120) table names with the correct capitalizations, such as renaming ‘mytablename’ to ‘myTableName’ – mind you, ‘MyTableName’ won’t work – but you get the idea, it can be cumbersome – very cumbersome.)
Anyway, the process is complete now and our website went live under Ubuntu yesterday (a very auspicious Friday the 13th, thank you very much.) I’ll go back over some more of the ups and downs of the overall processs in a later post. (Mainly, the problems involved upgrading to PHP 5.3 from PHP 5.2 but that will be next time!)