Elbows deep

Last week I replaced my six-year-old home server (which serves this website among many other functions) with a newer, faster, quieter computer. Transferring all the data and functions was a considerable effort in system administration. For the record, here are the steps I had to take.

  1. Download Fedora 12 install-CD image.
  2. Burn Fedora 12 install CD.
  3. Shut down sendmail and Apache.
  4. Dump MySQL database contents.
  5. Dump Postgresql database contents.
  6. Bring up new computer with temporary hostname.
  7. Install Fedora 12 on new computer.
  8. Create user accounts.
  9. Copy all data from old computer to new, under /old tree.
  10. Shut down old computer (permanently).
  11. Take over old computer’s hostname and IP address.
  12. Restore firewall config from /old.
  13. Restore DNS config from /old, bring up DNS.
  14. Restore sshd config from /old, bring up sshd.
  15. Restore Maildir trees from /old.
  16. Restore IMAP server config from /old, bring up IMAP server.
  17. Restore sendmail config from /old, bring up sendmail.
  18. Restore WordPress environment from /old.
  19. Bring up MySQL, restore contents from MySQL dump.
  20. Bring up Postgresql, restore contents from Postgresql dump.
  21. Restore Apache config from /old, bring up Apache.
  22. Restore Mailman environment from /old, bring up Mailman.
  23. Bring up apcupsd.
  24. Add printer.
  25. Set up network printing.
  26. Set up NFS.
  27. Resume backups.

Naturally not everything went according to plan. So in addition to the steps above I also had to solve:

  • Why all of my domains but one could be resolved;
  • Why the firewall was getting reset at startup;
  • Why inbound mail was not flowing;
  • Why the Ethernet interface had the wrong parameters at startup;
  • Why the monitor would not go into power-save mode;
  • How to get the Flash plugin running under x86_64;
  • Why the DVD-RW drive wasn’t visible some of the time.

Throughout all this, I frequently had to pause to locate and install needed software packages and Perl modules that weren’t part of the default Fedora setup. For good measure I also had to replace an external hard drive that was about to fail. (Thanks for the warning, Palimpsest!)

Happily all these things are now done, except that the monitor issue is a bona fide bug in the xorg video driver (duly filed) that someone else will have to deal with. Until then I just have to remember to switch the monitor off when I walk away.

This may all sound like deep wizardry, but it doesn’t feel like it to me. Having spent a lifetime coping and communing with these sometimes-cantankerous machines, it’s just busywork. Then I think of the number of other people in the world who could do all of this single-handedly and I become impressed with myself.

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