WordPress 2.0.4. released

August 1st, 2006

A new version of WordPress, the popular blogging engine, has been released this weekend. The release contains several important security fixes, so it’s highly recommended for all users to upgrade as soon as possible either manually or through DreamHost’s One-Click Install.

Typo 4 on DreamHost

July 31st, 2006

Typo, the popular Ruby on Rails blogging engine, has just released version 4.0.0.

Aiden Bordner has written a short tutorial about Getting Typo 4 running on DreamHost and LabRatZ has blogged about his steps to migrate from Typo 2.6.0 to 4.0.0 on DreamHost. Finally there’s a helpful tip in the CactusWax blog.

DreamHost Power Outage

July 29th, 2006

Downtown Los Angeles was hit by another power outage last Friday. This affected DreamHost’s services and other tenants at the Garland Building (here among MySpace), because the UPS system failed.

DreamHost was affected by a similar incident last year, when the generators didn’t work.

DreamHost founder Dallas explains:

The power supply for the entire building (which houses several data centers, several web hosts, and some notable large sites like myspace.com) is completely redundant with incredible amounts of UPS power and 5 huge diesel generators. On paper it sounds very good.

During the power outage last year the UPS system worked but the generators did not. That was very bad but we decided to give them another chance. We have a lot invested in our current setup and changing locations is a very big undertaking. The power problems are affecting all of downtown Los Angeles so we would have to move to a completely other city. Many of our senior technical people live near our current office and data center and they would all end up moving themselves or enduring painful commutes in LA traffic. These are not excuses.. just some insight into the reality of the situation for us.

We have been with this building for several years and at the time of the first power outage that was the first time they had failed us. In hindsight, we should have had less faith in them. That’s very easy to see now.

For this second power outage of the local grid, the building’s UPS system failed but the generators did work. 0 for 2. Our building had been on generator power for the entire week since the local power grid had gone out and that was working fine until some sort of electrical malfunction took the generator system down yesterday afternoon. They quickly switched us back to grid power which is how things are now.

In a network like ours, it’s not just a matter of ‘rebooting a server’ as some of you have indicated. We have all user data stored on network file servers for redundancy and to optimize usage, for instance. After yesterday’s power blip all of the 68 file servers but one came up properly. That one that did not resulted in some websites being down for an additional hour and a half or so while we diagnosed the problem. We have now corrected the configuration problem and expect all file servers to come up normally in the future.

Obviously, loss of power to our data center is something we would rather never see happen. We are already in the process of acquiring some UPS equipment of our own for our most critical equipment and we will be evaluating all possible options including completely moving our data center operation to another location.

More info about the incident at Netcraft.

Small Update to the Control Panel

July 28th, 2006

Just noticed this new widget in the Control Panel, which shows the current disk and bandwidth use with a small graphic.

Disk status

 

Bandwidth status

Any other changes? Write a comment…

New One-Click Install: activeCollab

July 27th, 2006

DreamHost are now introducing activeCollab as an one-click install. activeCollab is an web based collaboration and project management tool and a free and open source competitor to 37Signals’ flagshop enterprise offering Basecamp.

Using activeCollab you can discuss your projects with other team members, plan the execution, assign tasks, attach files, send notifications, etc.

activeCollab

It has the advantage compared to 37Signals product that it’s open source which implies that you can use it free of charge, make modification to the source and create new modules and you will have full control over your data.

Read the announcement in activeCollab’s blog and more about activeCollab in TechCrunch article: Basecamp faces competition in free alternative.

Top 10 Worst Domain Names

July 26th, 2006

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After the last week’s problems I thought we needed something to smile about: Independent Sources has compiled a top 10 over companies with unfortunate domain names that can easily be misunderstood.

  1. A site called “Who Represents” where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name… wait for it… is
    www.whorepresents.com
  2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at
    www.expertsexchange.com
  3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at
    www.penisland.net
  4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at
    www.therapistfinder.com
  5. Then of course, there’s the Italian Power Generator company…
    www.powergenitalia.com
  6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales:
    www.molestationnursery.com
  7. If you’re looking for computer software, there’s always
    www.ipanywhere.com
  8. Welcome to the First Cumming Methodist Church. Their website is
    www.cummingfirst.com
  9. Then, of course, there’s these brainless art designers, and their whacky website:
    www.speedofart.com
  10. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure website at
    www.gotahoe.com

Even better: 20 More Unfortunate Domain Names.

More examples? Post them in the comments…

World War III, Israel, Lebanon and DreamHost!

July 18th, 2006

DreamHost’s recent technical difficulties has made DreamHost one of the most searched keywords in blog search engine Technorati.

Technorati Top Searches

Maybe not too surprising, but what is making this a bit disturbing is the other contenders for the Top Searches: World War III, Israel, Lebanon and Beirut. The current outage might be bad, but not that serious!

By the way: Things seems to be more or less under control again…

Automatic Offsite Backup

July 17th, 2006

DreamHost customer matttail has written a tutorial about how to automatically backup your domains and databases. By using the crontab command to run a series of scripts, the process creates a tar file (a compressed file) with all the files for a given domain and a tar file with the MySQL database data.

To secure the backup you need to download the tar files. For this purpose the tutorial includes both a script for Windows (using a batch file and Scheduled Tasks) and Linux (using SSH and crontab) to download the files to your own computer on a regular basis.

Read the entire Automatic Backup article in the DreamHost Wiki and find related articles in the new Backup category.

Fileserver Outage

July 17th, 2006

DreamHost are having some serious problems with one of its fileservers this weekend. The problems started early Saturday morning and are still not completely solved now 48 hours later.

DreamHost has been pretty good at updating their DreamHost Status blog this time (Network fileserver troubles, File Server Issues, File Server Finale and More Files Issues!), but I just got the latest news directly from DreamHost support:

Hello,

As you may know, we recently had a network filing system crash causing severe downtime. When a filer like this crashes, it basically has to go through each of the it’s disks to verify that they are ok, and can accept, read or change data. This takes an extremely long time, due to the sheer size of the machine (two terabytes!).

Once we got the machine up, fixed and serving files, everything seemed like it was ok, so we went back to making sure all content, data and websites were working normally.

Right about then, it crashed again! This time, however, it came back up correctly, so it didn’t take as long as it had previously.

That was 6am PST this morning. Since then, we are currently constructing a new filer machine (we had to cannibalize two just to get this current one back up and running) to offload everyone. In the meantime, it has crashed again, however, it seems to come back up in the correct state. If possible, you may want to get any sensitive, or important data off of your account, just to be safe. We are working on getting everyone off the faulty machine, however, as you can imagine, it will take sometime.

We are terribly sorry about the problems related to this disaster and hope to have everything stabilized and working ASAP. Please understand that we are doing everything humanly possible (including working 24 hours shifts, and sleeping in our data center!) to get every site back up and running. If your domain is down, or showing an error, we are working on reconfiguring all of the effected services, and should have them fixed soon.

Since the discussion forum also seems to be hit by the outage, it’s hard to tell how many customers are affected by this, but judging from the support queue (which has had an average of 400 customers in queue and a maximum of 600) the incident might not be as severe as it sounds. Hopefully DreamHost’s staff will soon have everything back under control.

DreamHost WAP Feeds

July 9th, 2006

An anonymous DreamHost customer has created an unofficial DreamHost WAP site, which lets you check the latest news from the DreamHost Status site and the official DreamHost Blog on your cellphone.

May I suggest he add this blog for a total coverage of DreamHost news ;-)

Thanks for the tip…