rrdtool not installing on cPanel

Today I have ordered new cPanel/WHM server (CentOS 6.3) but it had problems with rrdtool and not reporting bandwidth usage. When I wanted to see the usage in cPanel I would get error saying “RRDTOOL is missing, please install rrdtool with a prefix of /usr/local/cpanel/3rdparty!“.

Goolge helped me to find me a solution – to run

/scripts/rrdtoolinstall

But that produced the error

Using catalogs: /etc/sgml/sgml-docbook-3.1-1.0-51.el6.cat
Using stylesheet: /usr/share/sgml/docbook/utils-0.6.14/docbook-utils.dsl#print
Working on: /usr/local/cpanel/src/3rdparty/gpl/fontconfig-2.6.0/doc/local-fontconfig-devel.sgml
nsgmls:(invalid location):E: invalid filename ""
rmdir: failed to remove `devel-man': Directory not empty
gmake[2]: *** [func.refs] Error 1
gmake[2]: Leaving directory `/usr/local/cpanel/src/3rdparty/gpl/fontconfig-2.6.0/doc'
gmake[1]: *** [all-recursive] Error 1
gmake[1]: Leaving directory `/usr/local/cpanel/src/3rdparty/gpl/fontconfig-2.6.0'
gmake: *** [all] Error 2
child exited with value 2

and I would get the same thing trying to restart the cPanel service…

service cpanel restart

I was stuck with no idea how to solve this and what that gibberish code really means..
So I had to Goooooooogle some more, and I found a simple but working solution:

The solution is to run:

yum remove docbook-utils

and after that

/scripts/rrdtoolinstall

That would remove docbook that is causing problems and other command would then install it properly.
And after that rrdtool should work just fine.


How to edit .po language files in WordPress themes

If you have just bought some fancy theme and while trying to to localise run into .po, .mo, and .pot files – you will need special tool to make changes to them. This article explains how to take a .po file that is included with your WordPress theme and/or plugin download and translate it into your native language.

So what the heck are those .mo, .po, and .pot files anyhow and why are they included in my download?

Well, the files aren’t really important if English is your primary language but if you want to have WordPress, a WordPress theme, or even a plugin localized in your native language then those files are golden.

  • .mo stands for Machine Object
  • .po stands for Portable Object
  • .pot stands for Portable Object Template

The file that you want is ideally a .po file since it’s the raw editable text scraped from the entire WordPress theme/plugin. The .mo file is the compiled export of the .po file which is used by WordPress.

Here are the steps to translate/localize a .po or .pot file into another language

  • Download a gettext file editor like Poedit and install it.
  • Open the English .po file that came with your WordPress theme or plugin with poedit. If you only got a .pot, just rename it to .po and open it in poedit.
  • Now go through and translate all the text one line at a time in the bottom box.
  • Then “File” > “Save as” to your desktop or a folder on your computer. This will output both .po and .mo file.

Some text characters need to be converted into html entities otherwise they will not display correctly. A very common example is a word containing an apostrophe or single quote (‘) which needs to be replaced with ' — for example, Chloe O’Brian should be written as Chloe O'Brian. For a complete list of html entities, visit W3Schools.

You will also need to make a change to your WordPress wp-config.php file (located in your WP root directory) with the correct language codes like the example below. If you don’t have a WPLANG entry then you can create one by adding line below int your wp-config.php file. The sample below is for Brazilian language and you can find all language codes in here.

define ('WPLANG', 'pt_BR');

For more resources about how to translate WordPress into your language click here.


Disable button onclick to prevent double submition

Today I had an simple task: to disable a button after a click to prevent double submitting the form data. I wanted to solve it as simple as possible. So here’s the final solution

<form method="POST" action="">
<input type="submit" value="Submit" name="submitBtn" onclick="this.disabled=true;this.form.submit();" >
</form>

It works like a charm – it disables the submit button and it submits the data.

NOTE
I have found a interesting bug in Chrome. My input button had its name set to “submit” (name=”submit”), but then chrome was reporting following error:

Uncaught TypeError: Property 'submit' of object #<HTMLFormElement> is not a function generate-form.php:onclick

The reason for the error when trying to call form.submit() is that your submit button is called “submit”. This means that the “submit” property of your Form object is now a reference to the submit button, overriding the “submit” method of the form’s prototype. Renaming the submit button allowed me to call the submit() method without that error, so I renamed it to “submitBtn”.


How to backup data on second HDD using Google Drive

If you’re using Google Drive it’s default path is c:\User\USER_NAME\Google Drive\ but often my partition on c: is quite small since I only use it for operating system and I store all my data on other drives. So I’d like Google Drive to backup my data on other drive and still allow me to access it in my user’s folder. The idea is to create a symbolic link so that C:\User\USER_NAME\Google Drive\ links to e:\Backup in my case (or some other path in your case).

First close (quit) the Google Drive application.

1. Now you need to go and remove directory and all it’s files from C:\User\USER_NAME\Google Drive\ (or simply rename the folder or copy all files to your 2nd backup folder on other drive).

2. Than you need to run CMD as Administrator – see the picture below how:

Run CMD as Administrator

3. Then you need to make Smbolic link. But not a shortcut link than directory redirect link, entering mklink /D “c:\Users\USER_NAME\Google Drive” e:\Backup
If your backup path contains spaces put it in double quotes too like the fist path.
Making Symbolic link on Windows 7

Start the Google Drive and Snyc your data.

That’s it!


How to change language in Google Drive application to English

Google Drive is great cloud service where you can store online or backup all your important files that you can later access wherever you are just by logging into your Gmail (Google) account and going to http://drive.google.com. You can drag and drop files to your browser while on that url or you can install their application that will sync a selected folder to the cloud. Problem is I can’t change the language on my Google Drive since there is nowhere to do so. I prefer that my Windows and all applications are in English. I have searched the Google Drive’s settings but seen nowhere to change settings but than I searched a bit more and I found rather simple solution.

Before you start you should close Google Drive.
Then you need to go to Control Panel -> System -> Advanced System Settings -> Advanced -> Environment Variables.
Then on user variables press New button for Variable name enter LANG and for value enter en_US.
Restart the Google Drive and it should work now in English.

Easy as a pie!

Here’s a screenshot of the windows that might help you find your way trough:
Google Drive language fix


Validating URL in PHP without regular expressions

Validating many things in PHP is often done using regular expressions, but since those might be complicated to understand, versions of PHP later than 5.20 have new validating mechanism built in. It’s done using filter_var function. Here are some basic examples of both old (regular expression) and new (filter_var) validation functions:

Validating URL using regular expressions:

function isValidURL($url) {
	return preg_match('|^http(s)?://[a-z0-9-]+(.[a-z0-9-]+)*(:[0-9]+)?(/.*)?$|i', $url);
}

Validating URL using filter_var:

function isValidURL($url) {
	if (filter_var($url, FILTER_VALIDATE_URL, FILTER_FLAG_HOST_REQUIRED)) return true;
	else return false;
}

You will notice FILTER_VALIDATE_URL and FILTER_FLAG_HOST_REQUIRED flags in filter_var function. There are many more and here are some more real world examples

var_dump((bool) filter_var('http://www.website.com', FILTER_VALIDATE_URL, FILTER_FLAG_HOST_REQUIRED));
var_dump((bool) filter_var('http://website.com', FILTER_VALIDATE_URL, FILTER_FLAG_HOST_REQUIRED));
var_dump((bool) filter_var('www.website.com', FILTER_VALIDATE_URL, FILTER_FLAG_HOST_REQUIRED));
var_dump((bool) filter_var('website.com', FILTER_VALIDATE_URL, FILTER_FLAG_HOST_REQUIRED));

Output:

bool(true)
bool(true)
bool(true)
bool(false)

Here are some most common URL validation flags explanation

  • FILTER_FLAG_SCHEME_REQUIRED – Require the scheme (eg, http://, ftp:// etc) within the URL.
  • FILTER_FLAG_HOST_REQUIRED – Require host of the URL (eg, www.google.com)
  • FILTER_FLAG_PATH_REQUIRED – Require a path after the host of the URL. ( eg, /folder/file.ext)
  • FILTER_FLAG_QUERY_REQUIRED – Require a query at the end of the URL (eg, ?key=value)

Validating Email using regular expressions:

function isValidEmail($email) {
    return preg_match("^[_a-z0-9-]+(\.[_a-z0-9-]+)*@[a-z0-9-]+(\.[a-z0-9-]+)*(\.[a-z]{2,3})$^", $email);
}

Validating Email using filter_var:

function isValidEmail($email) {
	if (filter_var($email, FILTER_VALIDATE_EMAIL)) return true;
	else return false;
}

Conclusion
Validating URLs, Emails, IPs and many other things using regular expressions is history now. Code for validations using filter_var is easier to understand easier to write and looks more php geeky. You don’t have to search for “working” regular expressions for your validations… It’s all there and it’s well documented and all you need is just need to use it.
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How to format and mount second hard drive on Linux

If you have two hard drives you can mount second hard drive to be used for (cPanel/WHM) backups or for hosting more sites. The hard drives must not be in any kind of Raid setup. Process of partitioning, formatting and mounting is quite simple.

First check what disk drives do you have. Usually disk drives on Linux are named /dev/sda (first HDD), /dev/sdb (second HDD) or something similar.
You can get a list of disk drives in system using this command

fdisk -l | grep '^Disk'

The output should be something like this:

Disk /dev/sdb: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes

So those are two 500 GB hard drives…

If you execute command like the one below you’ll get more detailed preview of your hard discs and their partitions:

fdisk -l

Output should looks like this:

Disk /dev/sdb: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x1c7e861c

Disk /dev/sdb doesn't contain a valid partition table

Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00080071

Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *           1          14      104448   83  Linux
/dev/sda2              14         144     1048576   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda3             144       60802   487232512   83  Linux

You should notice that second hard disk (/dev/sdb) has no partition and that probably means that it’s un-partitioned yet.

So let’s make the partition on /dev/sdb by executing

fdisk /dev/sdb

and then use following in the prompt
– “n” for new partion
– “p” for primary partition
– “1” for the first partition
– “Enter” / “Enter” for the first AND last cylinders (automatically use the entire disk)
– “w” to save what I have done

That has created and saved new partition and it will be called /dev/sdb1 (first partition on /dev/sdb). Next step is to format it.

mkfs.ext3 /dev/sdb1

On newer distributions (CentOS 6.3 for eg) use this command to format a new partition.

mkfs -t ext3 /dev/sdb1

If you want to use this hard disk for backup make /backup folder or if you want to use it to store more sites make new home folder called /home2

mkdir /backup
mkdir /home2

Now just mount the backup partition or the new home partition

mount /dev/sdb1 /backup
mount /dev/sdb1 /home2

Now you can use the additional hard drive for cPanel/WHM backups or storing new sites. cPanel should automatically detect /home2 and should ask you whether you like to setup new account on /home or at /home2.

If you want the partition to auto mount on server (re)boot edit fstab file located at /etc/fstab and add one of following lines at the bottom of it depending if you for /backup folder or the line below for /home2 folder:

/dev/sdb1   /backup   ext3   defaults   0   0
/dev/sdb1   /home2    ext3   defaults   0   0

Note: After adding one of these lines press add one more empty line below since fstab requires the new line symbol at the end of every config line. Before you issue the following command, be aware that this re-mounts ALL Filesystems, and will more than likely disconnect most other users

To make sure this mounts automatically, issue the following command:

mount -a

If you got no errors – your mount worked, try df -h once more to see if everything is fine.


How to raise ServerLimit and MaxClient

If your server starts getting more and more traffic you’ll need to lift up number of allowed Apache connections. This guide works only on cPanel/WHM powered servers.

The easy way
Log in at WHM and to go to Service Configuration > Apache Configuration > Global Configuration. In there find ServerLimit and MaxClients and set those to some nice value (eg. 1024 or 2048 depends how much memory you have). Save and that should be it.

The geek way
Edit of httpd.conf (usually located at /usr/local/apache/conf folder). It should look something like this (depending on your server specification):

StartServers        5
MinSpareServers     5
MaxSpareServers     10
ServerLimit         1024
MaxClients          1024
MaxRequestsPerChild 10000

Save, Distill settings, restart Apache:

/usr/local/cpanel/bin/apache_conf_distiller --update
/scripts/rebuildhttpdconf
/etc/init.d/httpd restart

Check
After you do something like this you simply MUST take a look at your Apache error_log file (usually located at /usr/local/apache/logs folder). If you see following line in Apache error_log:

** [warn] WARNING: Attempt to change ServerLimit ignored during restart

You should stop and run the Apache again since ServerLimit can’t be changed by restarting Apache. To do so execute following at SSH:

apachectl stop
apachectl start

Sysctl.conf hardening

The purpose of syctl hardening is to help prevent spoofing and dos attacks. This short guide will show what I have found to be a good configuration for the sysctl.conf configuration file. The most important of the variables listed below is the enabling of syn cookie protection. Only place the bottom two if you do not want your server to respond to ICMP echo, commonly referred to as ICMP ping or just ping requests.

Open /etc/sysctl.conf for editing in your favorite text editor:

pico -w /etc/sysctl.conf

And simply copy/paste this into the file replacing any existing values:

#Kernel sysctl configuration file for Red Hat Linux
#
# For binary values, 0 is disabled, 1 is enabled. See sysctl(8) and
# sysctl.conf(5) for more details.

# Disables packet forwarding
net.ipv4.ip_forward=0

# Disables IP source routing
net.ipv4.conf.all.accept_source_route = 0
net.ipv4.conf.lo.accept_source_route = 0
net.ipv4.conf.eth0.accept_source_route = 0
net.ipv4.conf.default.accept_source_route = 0

# Enable IP spoofing protection, turn on source route verification
net.ipv4.conf.all.rp_filter = 1
net.ipv4.conf.lo.rp_filter = 1
net.ipv4.conf.eth0.rp_filter = 1
net.ipv4.conf.default.rp_filter = 1

# Disable ICMP Redirect Acceptance
net.ipv4.conf.all.accept_redirects = 0
net.ipv4.conf.lo.accept_redirects = 0
net.ipv4.conf.eth0.accept_redirects = 0
net.ipv4.conf.default.accept_redirects = 0

# Enable Log Spoofed Packets, Source Routed Packets, Redirect Packets
net.ipv4.conf.all.log_martians = 0
net.ipv4.conf.lo.log_martians = 0
net.ipv4.conf.eth0.log_martians = 0

# Disables IP source routing
net.ipv4.conf.all.accept_source_route = 0
net.ipv4.conf.lo.accept_source_route = 0
net.ipv4.conf.eth0.accept_source_route = 0
net.ipv4.conf.default.accept_source_route = 0

# Enable IP spoofing protection, turn on source route verification
net.ipv4.conf.all.rp_filter = 1
net.ipv4.conf.lo.rp_filter = 1
net.ipv4.conf.eth0.rp_filter = 1
net.ipv4.conf.default.rp_filter = 1

# Disable ICMP Redirect Acceptance
net.ipv4.conf.all.accept_redirects = 0
net.ipv4.conf.lo.accept_redirects = 0
net.ipv4.conf.eth0.accept_redirects = 0
net.ipv4.conf.default.accept_redirects = 0

# Disables the magic-sysrq key
kernel.sysrq = 0

# Decrease the time default value for tcp_fin_timeout connection
net.ipv4.tcp_fin_timeout = 15

# Decrease the time default value for tcp_keepalive_time connection
net.ipv4.tcp_keepalive_time = 1800

# Turn off the tcp_window_scaling
net.ipv4.tcp_window_scaling = 0

# Turn off the tcp_sack
net.ipv4.tcp_sack = 0

# Turn off the tcp_timestamps
net.ipv4.tcp_timestamps = 0

# Enable TCP SYN Cookie Protection
net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies = 1

# Enable ignoring broadcasts request
net.ipv4.icmp_echo_ignore_broadcasts = 1

# Enable bad error message Protection
net.ipv4.icmp_ignore_bogus_error_responses = 1

# Log Spoofed Packets, Source Routed Packets, Redirect Packets
net.ipv4.conf.all.log_martians = 1

# Increases the size of the socket queue (effectively, q0).
net.ipv4.tcp_max_syn_backlog = 1024

# Increase the tcp-time-wait buckets pool size
net.ipv4.tcp_max_tw_buckets = 1440000

# Allowed local port range
net.ipv4.ip_local_port_range = 16384 65536

After you make the changes to the file you need to run

/sbin/sysctl -p 

and

sysctl -w net.ipv4.route.flush=1

to enable the changes without a reboot.

Notes
– Make sure that eth0 is your primary interface. If it is not replace eth0 with eth1 in the code below.
– Make sure you have backup of your original syctl.conf file before making any changes
– These settings might be old (outdated) or wrong for your system setup. Use them at your own risk!

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Big file downloads stops at random

After migrating a site to new server I run into a strange problem with big file downloads that just stop/break without any specific reason at anytime. Downloads are not direct than are done using PHP (I’ll write more about that soon and I’ll link to that post from in here when I do) suddenly break without any notice. Browser reports that file has been successfully downloaded, Apache doesn’t report any errors but file is broken and not downloaded entirely.

I was pulling my hair for days, since sometimes downloads were working fine but sometimes they would just stop. Things got worse in case of downloading multiple files at the same time. Sometimes one or two downloads would break, sometimes all, sometimes none. It was driving me mad. Since I have been traveling those days across Northern Europe, I have been able to test the file download from multiple locations/countries and various connection types (ADSL, Cable, WiFi hot spots) and was still experienced same problems.

The setup on that server was bit complex and it used Apache to serve dynamic content, separate web server for static content. Downloads were done using PHP or using mod_xsendfile but either way problem persisted. So I figured out that something must be timing out and that is braking the connection. Since it would happen that out of 4-5 simultaneous downloads one or two would break and few would download normally. Finally, I tried increasing Apache timeout from 10 seconds to 30 seconds and it worked out! I was so pissed of and happy at the same time… The solution was so easy and in front of my nose but I needed so much time to figure it out… I felt so stupid for a second but then I solved the problem and I’ve learned something new…

It turns out that if there were no communication between server and client for 10 seconds the Apache would simply close connection and download would break. Nothing will be reported on both sides since it’s “normal” way to end the communication. This was also going on when mod_xsendfile was used to serve/download files. The problem was even greater when internet connection was worse (WiFi) and when I was downloading more files at once since than the connection would have to be split on few files.

So if you’re making a download server for larger files make sure you setup your Apache timeout to some reasonable value (30 seconds or more). Under term “larger files” I consider everything larger than pictures, but basically 50mb file could be called “larger file” since for it’s download it is required some time and of course open connection.