Planning the Wind-Down

This is an pretty old post from my blog, which has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. You might want to go back to the homepage to see some more recent stuff.

It’s been five years now since, full of enthusiasm and convinced that SuccessWhale might make it big, I bought myself a server in London somewhere, and moved my web presence over from its previous shared hosting.

I’ve learnt a lot in those years.

I’ve learnt that despite the “S” in “SMTP”, running a mail server these days is anything but simple. Fighting viruses and spam is challenging, and in particular DKIM is a hassle to get right. I’ve learned that PGP is a nice idea, but I never did find one person to exchange encrypted mail with, or any real reason to do so.

I’ve learned that LetsEncrypt makes setting up SSL certificates much easier and cheaper, but that configuring Apache to serve 23 HTTPS domains from a single machine with SNI is still difficult.

I’ve learned that Linux Version Hell will bite you at some point, and Ruby Version Hell doubly so. Today the server runs three separate versions of Ruby, because not all my Ruby/Rails sites can be run with the same one. The www-data user has a home directory just for .rvm.

I’ve learned that drive-by hackers and DoS attackers will find your server, often within hours of it going online, and that fail2ban and mod-blacklist are the sysadmin’s friend.

I’ve learned that Open Source community drama can break stuff you depend on, sometimes without a decent way to recover, and every time you do a package update you risk something not working.

All in all, it’s been a good experience. There have been some frustrating times and late nights fighting with configuration that should just work, but I’ve learned a lot in the process and gained a much greater understanding of how the internet works.

However, I think it might be time to start winding it down. It’s no longer an interesting new experience, it’s just another thing that I have to keep an eye on and ensure it doesn’t break. Life, I find, is better when it’s simpler.

As such I am working up a plan to migrate important things to other services over the coming weeks or months.

A few potential sticking points are:


Migrating from Jekyll to WordPress | Ian Renton 03 February 2019

[…] final, and most difficult, part of the plan to wind down some of the more complex stuff I do on the internet was the migration of this site from Jekyll and Hashover to WordPress. It’s a decision I took […]

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