Saving costs in Linux environments while still using a stable server platform for ColdFusion

I began this as a comment to Matt Woodward's blog entry on ColdFusion start scripts on Ubuntu Linux. I just wanted to add some links, but it became lengthy and is better suited as a blog post of my own.

I'm not a Ubuntu user, but strictly Red Hat, Fedora, or Red Hat clones. I just wanted to post some related links for Red Hat users.

On the topic of running ColdFusion on "unsupported" Linux distributions, I recommend using Red Hat clones such as CentOS, rather than bleeding edge distributions if you absolutely cannot run a distro supported for use with ColdFusion by Adobe.

Fedora Core Linux, for example, is a bleeding edge distribution and is not appropriate as a production server even though it is sponsored by Red Hat. For a server you want stability with a well tested suite of packages rather than a distro that has all the bells and whistles but hasn't been put through its paces or tightened up as much the stable commercial release.

CentOS is built from the same source as Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Effectively CentOS is RHEL, except that CentOS is free and supported by the community. This is possible because under the GPL, Red Hat must make its source available, and CentOS takes advantage of that. I'm not bashing Ubuntu or other distros here, but CentOS is a recommended stable OS that is appropriate as a production server, and I've had some Red Hat instructors tell me so off the record.

Since ColdFusion is QA'd on RHEL you can feel confident that a Red Hat clone will be as reliable as RHEL itself, even if that OS doesn't show up on the ColdFusion System Requirements. Still, however, should anyone using a clone need to seek ColdFusion Support from Adobe, you may be asked to first reproduce the problem on RHEL itself.

A good use of Red Hat clones for a small shop would be to use the clones for development and staging/QA of ColdFusion web applications, then host the final application on a paid RHEL server. This way you can save costs on non-production environments.

The same argument applies to clones of SuSe Linux Enterprise Server as well, although since I'm not a SuSe fan I can't name any of their clones.

Connect to your home computer from anywhere

The October edition of MacWorld magazine includes a walkthrough of how to remotely and securely access your computers at home even though you may have a dynamic IP address which may change at any given moment. The article, Remotely Access Your Mac, considers the situation where you might be on the road but need to access files on your home computer, but without known your home IP address this would be impossible. The author carefully describes how a company DynDNS solves all that. With a DynDNS account choose a host alias or provide a full domain name, then you run software on your home computer which periodically maps that name to your home computer's (or home firewall/router's) IP address.

The article mentions briefly the concept of running a home webserver with this configuration, although a reference to a July 2005 article on MacWorld is cited, The Weekend Website, which provides very basic instructions for using Mac utilities for setting up a home website or web-based photo gallery.

For a comprehensive article regarding how to setup and secure a Linux server at home, see a recent article in Red Hat Magazine, How to Setup a Home Webserver.

How to set up a home web server

Red Hat Magazine has a new article that describes how to set up a home webserver from scratch, including recommedations and advice on hardware, installation, security, and even how to deal with a changing IP address on your DSL connection.

How to set up a home web server
By Jefff Goldin

A shortcut to getting started with PostgreSQL database on Linux

Recently I've needed to install the PostgreSQL 8.14 database server on a couple Linux machines for testing. Here is some information and scripts to make it easier for you start and stop the database, since installing from source instead of RPM leaves you without the convenient /etc/init.d boot scripts for Postgres and requires you to start Postgres database with the postmaster command when su'd as the postgres user. A bit of a headache... so I wrote the script shown further below as a convenience when managing Postgres and it may be helpful for those who don't want to read all the docs right away.

After having downloaded and uncompressed (tar -xvzf postgresql-8.1.4.tar.gz), the installation instructions begin with the a short version, to be run from inside the uncompressed source directory. I've modified the short version such that when creating the system postgres user account, no shell is given for the postgres user, then later a shell can be specified when using the su command to run the postmaster (The postmaster command can not be run by root directly).


Video Webcast from Red Hat on SELinux Concepts and Roadmap

In a Red Hat webcast, Dan Walsh, Principal Security Software Engineer for Red Hat, explains the high-level concepts of Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux). Learn about the design decisions that went into developing the different policies. Check out the differences between policies, and when and where to use them. See the future direction of SELinux within Red Hat solutions.


The init scripts cfmx7search or coldfusionmx7 hang the system when booting linux

Hans Omli recently presented the following problem to me:

I've run into an issue installing ColdFusion MX 7 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 Update 2 or Update 3. The same issue doesn't occur on the original release of RHEL 4 or Update 1. The issue is that after restarting, linux pauses at 'Starting coldfusionmx7: ' until you press Enter, after which the boot process continues. Haven't been able to track down a workaround yet...

To be complete, the issue also appears on the original release and Update 1 of RHEL 4 after running up2date to apply available security updates. I think I've narrowed the issue down to the selinux-policy-targeted package. When I get a chance, I plan to diff selinux-policy-targeted-1.17.30-2.88 (RHEL4-U1) and selinux-policy-targeted-1.17.30-2.110 (RHEL4-U2) to figure out what change(s) may be causing the issue.

This was the fourth report I've heard of this problem, and until today I've never been able to reproduce it when using the original RHEL4 release. Hans provided the clue that it only occurred in recent updates to RHEL (or CentOS), so I downloaded CentOS 4.3 which has the updated SELINUX policy, and then installed ColdFusion 7.01 to let the fun begin.

The short answer and solution ...


CFMX 7.01 does not configure Verity to start after a reboot on Solaris

ColdFusion 7.01 for Solaris does not properly install the System V init scripts for cfmx7search (Verity K2). The source of the problem is that a file cf_root/bin/cfmxsearch is created and the file should be named cfmx7search instead. The script used to install the System V scripts to /etc/init.d and the rc.N directories is hard-coded for $CF_DIR/bin/cfmx7search, and the System V script for cfmx7search is not created. This causes the Verity K2 server to not start after a reboot.

A short term solution is after ColdFusion installation to create a symbolic link cf_root/bin/cfmx7search pointing to cf_root/bin/cfmxsearch, and then run cf_root/bin/ install-verity System V scripts.

ColdFusion MX 7.0 wrote the filename cfmx7search correctly, so this is a new problem in 7.01.


Funny thing happened on the way to work today

... I stopped by a VUE testing center to earn the Advanced Certified ColdFusion MX 7 Developer status. On a whim last night I signed up for a test first thing this morning on my way to work.

In 2001 I read the complete ColdFusion 5 Certification Study Guide and completed all 9 test exams in CF Buster before getting the Adv CF5 Cert Dev, but this time I thought why not just take a whack at it to see how I do cold.

This makes the 4th certification this quarter, also including:

Fastest Growing Tech Companies and the Rebounding IT Job Market

CNN Money published an article on the rebounding of the IT job market, citing the best places to live for jobs in IT, as well as which companies are growing the most and which skill sets are in demand.

Where the tech jobs are now
The IT job market is rebounding, but where you live matters.
Plus: Do you have the hottest skills?
By Anne Fisher, Fortune

To my surprise, Adobe was ranked 4th in hiring, although 91st in growth, and Red Hat ranked 2nd in growth, six percent higher than 3rd ranked Apple Computer.

The Long Road to Red Hat Certified Engineer

Linux Pocket GuideIn 1999 I purchased my first PC from a local trade show where small vendors built the PC according to a printed spec sheet where the consumer would check off components that would comprise the final product. It reminded me a lot of ordering sushi.

My friend Ken Sugino, a computational neuroscientist student at Brandeis University, encouraged me to install Linux on it. I had never heard very much of Linux back then, but since Ken and I ordered identical PCs, both lacking an operating system, he recommended we install Red Hat Linux 5. Thus began my fondness for the fine grained control over an operating system and its applications that I never before witnessed on any Windows 98 or Mac OS 7, 8, or 9 system.

I recall that the state of Linux was still pretty raw back then and out of the box support for new hardware was often lacking. For example, when Ken finished examining the motherboard spec sheet and tuned all the jumper switches to provide a custom hardware setup, we moved on to searching the web for a solution to overcome a problem where X would not start -- X is the windowing or graphical interface for Linux -- and soon we found an esoteric hack for the video card chipset settings that did the trick. Much of my early experience with Linux was like that. It was the Wild West of operating systems.


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