[Balug-Admin] BALUG Website Update

Michael Paoli Michael.Paoli@cal.berkeley.edu
Fri Nov 2 01:56:05 PDT 2007

My comments/replies in-line, some of the referenced stuff very slightly
edited (e.g. some personal information removed)

And I'm putting this one on the list (so, use due care if one hits Reply-all,
as the list is publicly archived) - see also one of my comments towards
the end of this e-mail (one is also not obligated to reply on list).
Andrew - I'm also Bccing you - you ought to be subscribed to the "admin"
list, but it appears you're not subscribed.

Quoting Andrew Fife:

> Hi Xavier & Michael:
> Just a quick note to check in regarding website issues and ask whether or
> not you guys have been able to figure out getting Xavier root access to
> the dreamhost box so that he can help work on the website.

Well, you might want to check with the technical folks / sysadmins on some
of this stuff first ...
None of us have nor will we have root access on DreamHost.com ...
period.  Only DreamHost admins have that access.  It's a hosted service.
There's a lot of stuff we *can't* do there, and *don't* have access to
change - or in some cases even view/inspect (e.g. http.conf) there.
Nevertheless there's still a fair amount we can do there to get by
at least semi-reasonably until we're set to completely move off of

Work is significantly progressing - though it may not be
highly visible at the casual glance. I alluded to at least some of this
in some e-mail(s) I sent approximately last weekend or so.  For those that
might have bothered to peek (e.g. any and/or all of BALUG's webmasters
(Andrew - you're on the alias to keep you informed of that stuff too,
but you don't have the access to the stuff (and probably best that way,
as we can much better use your skills and time in other areas)), things
*are* changing.  E.g. the webmasters now have much more freedom
to change stuff on:
I've also added subdomain test.balug.org, and there's also
http://[www.]php.test.balug.org/ (for our PHP volunteer(s) to muck around
with trying some PHP fixes and such there (the PHP environment is also
definitely not yet fully configured/available)).
Though it might not be readily apparent, if one peeks a bit closely and/or
looks at the configurations, they have separate DocumentRoot, so their
pages can be mucked about with relatively independently.  I did also set up
earlier mechanism to automagicly update main page on
... that's still in place, but I have in mind mechanism to expand that, so
that "all" (with some very limited and clear exceptions) changes/updates
including changes on pages and also adding/droping pages on
would get relatively quickly (e.g. within 15 minutes or less)
have their same changes made to
It's still a work in progress, but it's not too horribly far away from
having those capabilities (fairly likely I'll get that wrapped up this coming
weekend).  For those webmaster(s) that haven't peeked and/or played with it,
poke around on the new.balug.org. host - you can change *most* stuff
... do note however that if something is changed on the main page of
http://[www.]new.balug.org/ it *will* cause that change to get propagated
I may also setup
as an additional area (e.g. for doing non-production (and non-beta)
tests (http://[www.]new.balug.org/ should be treated like production,
as it does (presently a bit) and will (quite a bit more not too horribly
far into the future from now) automagicly (at least by default)
propagate most all its changes to the production
web site.

Anyway, I'll provide a bit more details on that stuff once it's slightly
more settled (it's still a work in progress - much of that work
having gotten done between last weekend and this week).

> Also, I recently bought the following urls:
> Bayarealinuxusersgroup.com/.net/.org
> Bayarealinuxusergroup.com/.net/.org

Uhm, ... I presume you mean domains, ... but in any case, ...
well, we might be able to do *something* with those, ... but perhaps not
nearly as useful to us as you might have guessed/presumed.  You might
want to ask "us" (technical / sysadmin) folks a bit more about that
first ... but that's a slightly moot point now.  We could point those to
the new.balug.org. host, or the to be hosted by Untangle virtual host
or wherever ... could point them at one of the already separate areas
on the new.balug.org host, or create yet additional separate
NameVirtualHost setups on that host as may be desired.  I think we
should create as many separate areas as makes sense for their respective
separate functions/uses ... but probably not more than that, otherwise
we have inactive unnecessary gunk hanging out there.

> Maybe we should forget about <registrant> and just setup a redirect to one
> of these URLs.  That way the legacy web server issues won't get in the way
> of effectively switching hosts and at least getting up cosmetically
> prettier interim site up.

A) Catch-22 - redirect won't remove dependency, can't do an HTTP
   redirect without httpd.conf access - and we don't and won't have
   that on DreamHost.com, and meta redirect wouldn't work very well and
   has all the preceding problems and more.  We can't move balug.org.
   off of DreamHost.com without a bit of assistance from <registrant>
   (I need to do a bit more follow-up on that again ... not critical to
   us *yet*, but will be at some point in our future).
B) As noted in some earlier e-mails, I think we've got a good game plan
   for being able to do a much better site, while still allowing us to
   recover the legacy stuff and migrate critical legacy stuff (e.g. lists)
   without inducing undue pain for over 400 BALUG list subscribers.

> What do you guys think?

A) Have some patience, we're getting there, but not overnight.  I'd
   guestimate by late this year / early next year we'd be set to fully
   migrate off of DreamHost ... but that's an approximate guestimate.
   I'd think a fair bit sooner than that (e.g. mid to late this month,
   perhaps significantly sooner) we'll be well poised to be able to make
   lots of changes to our web pages - and rather easily (add/drop
   changes pages, with any of the webmasters being able to do so).  I
   also anticipate we'll soon have much better access "completed" for
   webmasters to be able to pretty darn freely muck about with most any
   relevant content that they should be able to change.
B) Xavier - have a poke around
   You should be able to go relatively hog wild changing things on there
   as the whim may strike you (I had in mind to plop copy of the pages
   you did there as one reference starting point ... but haven't gotten
   around to it yet, ... I think I've an older copy sitting around
   somewhere, but not sure if that matches whatever current version you
   may have on your ftp site).  Also keep in mind (we'll probably want
   to "discuss" this) I've also got some ideas on how to do the web
   pages ... I really like much of what Xavier's done (and stuff Mae
   Ling Mak has also drafted), but I've got some ideas too, ... I think
   by combining a number of features of both we can probably get what's
   likely a "best of both worlds" - or at least nearly so.  If you have
   a peek at the relevant configuration files (world readable) and
   sudo -l, you should get a pretty darn good idea of what you can do
   and where (feel free to ask me/us if anything isn't particularly
   obvious - between BALUG trying to keep things sufficiently separate
   from SF-LUG to avoid accidental interference, and multiple
   NameVirtualHost setups, and some redirects, there may be a few
   layers to look through to get familiar with how things are
   configured and where the various pieces are).

C) Andrew - those bayarealinuxusers?group\.{com,net,org}\. domains you
   acquired - we should have a discussion about what you may wish to do
   with them, and what's technically feasible ... then figure out from
   there what we may care to do with them.

D) Those domains you bought - as long as they're already bought and paid
   for, we probably ought to at least point them to something useful, ...
   in the meantime they basically look like a highly unimpressive parked
   site page (mostly a bunch of advertising). ... they're using DNS
   wildcard records too, ... so, ... we've got an exceedingly large number
   of (sub)domains that all lead to quite unexciting web pages.

E) I also think, where feasible, we should do more of these
   communications on applicable publicly archived lists (dropping
   specific bits as/where appropriate, etc.).  I think, where feasible,
   having the conversations in "public" has several general advantages:
   * others can catch up more quickly (point them at the archive)
   * it's often easier to find/reference earlier items (search out /
     provide URL)
   * it's more visible:
     * more folks see it, others might suggest useful stuff that we
       might not have considered or may have forgotten or overlooked,
     * other folks can lean from what we do/attempt (what works, what
       doesn't, what is/isn't feasible (and why), etc.
     * and (e.g. for the "admin" list) folks can generally be more
      informed of some of the bits and pieces that are going on "inside"
      BALUG (e.g. this may be one of the more public items I've done in
      quite a while that gives folks a better "feel"/understanding of
      where we are (and aren't, and have yet to go) on doing many of the
      balug.org changes we wish to do.

"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat,
and wrong."
- Henry Louis Mencken

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."
- Albert Einstein

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