So, this spring, Powweb, the company I use for my webhosting was sold. This caused me some concern, because it was announced to customers that as a part of the deal, all the sites hosted on the old web servers would be migrated to some new servers. And oh yea, that would involve an OS switch from FreeBSD to Linux.
I have my preferences for OSes, but I’m hardly a zealot on the subject. FreeBSD and Linux are both perfectly acceptable platforms for web hosting, and I’m not going to get too upset about which one my hosting company uses. However, I also know that switching from one OS to another is bound to cause problems. Things are installed in different places, some modules may not be installed at all, paths change … in short, it tends to break stuff. I was concerned.
My site is not all that complex. I have a copy of Movable Type and a copy of Gallery up and running, and I have only one plug-in that touches my otherwise vanilla installation — MT-Blacklist. It’s a critical part of my website because it makes managing the trackback and comment spam that are the plague of a blogger really simple.
So of course, Powweb’s migration of my site from the old servers to the new ones managed to utterly break MT-Blacklist.
If you’re interested, here’s the error I get when I try to use MT-Blacklist now:
An error occurred: Out of memory during “large” request for 2147487744 bytes, total sbrk() is 5480448 bytes at ../../lib/Storable.pm (autosplit into ../../lib/auto/Storable/thaw.al) line 366, at /home/users/web/b1970/[username]/htdocs/lib/MT/PluginData.pm line 28
I have done some web-based scripting, but that was a long time ago, and only using Cold Fusion. I can customize the settings on someone else’s code, and if I really focused in hard I could probably make some very basic tweaks to an existing script, but troubleshooting something like this, especially on a server where I don’t know what’s installed on it nor what the paths are, is simply beyond me.
At any rate, I opened a ticket with Powweb Support about this problem, and waited. And waited. Every other day, I would send Support an e-mail asking what was up, and each time I was told, “Please be patient, someone is working on your problem.” So I waited. And manually deleted the pings and trackback spam that I kept on getting. After Day 6, I sent a slightly more annoyed e-mail to Support saying that 6 days to fix one script was more than enough, and that moving to a new company was starting to look like a good option. I got a slightly more effusive response, explaining that the issue was being “forwarded to our senior specialist”. I started looking at new web hosts, but decided to give Support a chance to do its thing.
Today though, I finally got the much awaited response from their senior specialist. And what was it? “We Googled your problem, and here’s a blogger in December 2004 who also had this problem. Try their fix and see if that helps.”
Some “Senior Specialist”.
Now, I am pissed off. I waited 8 days thinking I was going to get some expert help, and all I got was a Google search? I can do that myself. I was expecting that someone would look at the script, notice what it calls, and then compare it to what is on the new server to see whether the switch from BSD to Linux caused modules to move, be missing, or act differently. That’s the kind of thing that I as an end-user can’t do.
Yes I know, a real geek would self-host and avoid the problem entirely. I’d rather pay for shared hosting than self-host from the DSL line in my home. Our DSL provider is good, but we do have outages from time to time, and I want the bandwidth, monitoring, uptime & redundancy that you get from a professional host.
In some ways, I’m SOL, and it’s my own fault. MT-Blacklist has been integrated into MovableType since version 3.x, and I’m still using the plug-in version with MT 2.6x, so I can’t go to the author for support: the response will be, “Upgrade”. Which I have not wanted to do, because that would entail re-customizing all of the Movable Type templates in order to get the look and feel of my site back, and I didn’t see the point of doing that when everything was working quite nicely the way it was.
With the long weekend coming up, and us not having much in the way of plans, switching web hosts and/or upgrading my Movable Type installation might be a good project to take up. But then the issue becomes — will I just be trading one set of problems for another?
*mumble grumble grr*