Migration of web sites to a new server
There were a few reasons for this second move of sites within the same
The Virtualmin package, despite promises that it would be upgraded soon,
is still not compatible with Debian Linux v.10 which was released
months ago. Debian 9 has PHP 7.0 which is no longer supported by the
PHP developers. One customer is using the Joomla! CMS which complains that PHP
version 7.0 is "unsafe". The Debian security team do keep PHP7.0
up to date with security fixes so it is safe to use, but nevertheless, the
error messages are disconcerting. Debian 10 includes PHP 7.3, which is a
currently supported version.
Virtualmin twice misbehaved after an upgrade, disabling all hosted web sites
and requiring me to spend two hours doing tedious edits of multiple files to
bring them back up again.
Virtualmin is also not yet using the new protocol required by letsencrypt.org
for creating and updating security certificates, and I was starting to
have to check for imminent expiry and upgrade them manually.
Good news! an ex-Bytemark developer, now working for another hosting company,
has forked the Symbiosis package, renamed it
Sympl and already has a version that runs
on Debian 10. Sympl is robust and trustworthy, and I'm familiar with its
predecessor. There are some desirable features "in the pipeline" but their
absence is not a problem, and technical support is helpful and responsive.
Switching from Virtualmin to Sympl was not going to be practical to do in
place, so I had to get a second server from BitFolk
and move all the sites to that, and I
will shortly be discontinuing the first server.
Hopefully, future operating system and host management software upgades can
be done with little or no disruption.
Anahata ~ 22 November, 2019
For several years now my sites have been on a server provided by Bytemark
who have had an excellent reputation for technical
expertise, quality of service and support, and who have provided a free
software package called Symbiosis which simplifies the administration of
multiple web sites, email etc.
Recently Bytemark's founders sold the business to a much larger company, whose
first notable action was to let the entire development team go. There are some
indications that the tech support team is diminished too. The result is that,
while the service is still working now:
- I am not expecting the level of support I previously enjoyed.
- As operating systems are upgraded to newer versions or new security risks
are identified, the Symbiosis software is unlikely to be upgraded in good time.
Consequently I have been looking for alternative hosting and management
software that will suit my needs (and yours!), and have now found a small
but very technically competent hosting provider Bitfolk
and also a free-software admin
that is currently maintained, reasonably easy to use and actually has
some improvements over Symbiosis. I have been learning how to use it and
successfully migrated some of my own sites to the new server.
Customer sites will be moved one at a time over the summer, and I intend to
notify each customer before moving to ensure minimal disruption.
Anahata ~ May 2019