admin how-to

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This is a reference for various tasks that admins may have to perform.


web server restart

If you're reading this then either the server is up, or the server is down and you're reading a Google Cache copy (thus it's still useful to post this here).

If the web server is down, e.g. someone notes on IRC or Twitter:


If you see an error like:

-bash: fork: Cannot allocate memory

or if the server is (still) sluggish to respond, you may need to reboot the entire server (see below, #reboot_entire_server).

semaphore exhaustion

This is a much rarer error state: Apache error log stating: [emerg] (28)No space left on device: Couldn't create accept lock (/etc/httpd/run/accept.lock.NNNN) (5). Thanks to for the hint.

… and then proceed to restart as before.

mail server restart

If sending mail to a list address doesn't seem to send it along (nor appear in the archives), try restarting Mailman:

Last param options are: stop/start/restart

mail server debugging

To check to see if unix permissions are compatible with what Mailman needs, you can:

The -f reports which directories or binaries had to be changed.

reboot entire server

If the web server is very slow to respond, especially after attempting to restart it as above, then you may need to reboot the entire server.

You'll need to close your ssh window and reconnect.

After about 10-15 seconds at most, you should be able to load pages as before, and they should load fairly quickly.

check disk space

After rebooting, check disk space in case the server has somehow filled (or is getting close to filling) its disks. From the ssh command line, do:

You should see something like:

Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/vzfs             80000000  15072204  64927796  19% /

Well below 100% usage. If you're seeing something >50%, you might want to look at purging old logs.


RSS feed link:

<a href="<?php bloginfo('rss2_url'); ?>" id="footer-feed">RSS Feed</a>

server transition steps

When server transition tests have passed, here are the steps to complete the server transition:

server transition testing

Some things to check when transitioning to / setting up a new server.

editing your local hosts file

In order to test a new server from your local machine and still have hardcoded URL references work, you may need to manually edit your local machine's hosts file, per:

Your browser should now behave *exactly* as if you'd switched actual DNS.

This makes it a very good way to test.

DNS flush cache tips

If you're using OSX, you'll probably have to run this to flush the local dns cache:

dscacheutil -flushcache

current servers being tested

home and blog


irc bots



mailing list archives



transition older pages to public domain

Per Microformats_Wiki:Copyrights, perform the following steps to transition a page created/edited before 2007-12-29 to public domain (pages created after that point are already in the CC0 compatible public domain).

  1. verify all editors who contributed substantial content (anything conceivably copyrightable, e.g. minor edits/typos don't matter) have added the {{cc-public-domain-release}} to their User: page per Category:public_domain_license.
  2. if you find substantial editors without the cc-public-domain-release, you may choose to at your discretion:
    1. contact the editor to request that they add it to their user page
    2. OR remove the content they contributed
  3. add this wiki markup to the bottom of the page:

attack logs

Note any logs / summaries of attacks. Anything more than a summary should be moved to its own page.

see also

admin how-to was last modified: Tuesday, December 4th, 2012