Monthly Archives: June 2009

My book, WordPress-MU Beginner’s Guide – coming soon!

WordPress-MU 2.7 Beginner's Guide by Lesley A. Harrison

WordPress-MU 2.7 Beginner's Guide by Lesley A. Harrison

My publisher, Packt Publishing, has added my book (a WordPress-MU Beginner’s Guide) to their list of ‘coming soon’ titles.  I’ve been working on the title for several months now, but seeing it up on their site has finally made it seem real. I have to admit, I like the look of the cover!

You can read more about the WordPress-MU Beginner’s Guide on the book’s page.

I’ll be posting more about the book over the next few months.  I’m currently working on polishing the SlayerCafe site (the example site used throughout the book), ready to put it back online – WordPress-MU and BuddyPress have both released new versions in the past few months, so there are quite a few things that need tested to make sure the content of the book is current.

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WordPress and WordPress-Mu to Merge

I recently learned that WordPress-MU and WordPress are going to be merging soon.  OK, I’m a few weeks late hearing the news, but I have a good excuse – it’s been a crazy month for me!  The announcement was made by Matt Mullenweg during his State of The Word speech at WordCamp.

The plan is to merge the multi-user parts of WordPress-MU into the normal WordPress setup, and the current MU project will be closed down – because it won’t be needed any more.

Is this a good thing?  Well, I think it’s good news in some ways – WordPress-MU has always lagged a little behind normal WordPress, and it will be nice to see more coders working on the multi-user features, and it will be nice to be able to go to the normal WordPress community for support.  Having two projects that were so similar was a bit of a waste of resources.

On the other hand – what will the move be like?  Even normal upgrades aren’t without hurdles.  Merging the two codebases sounds like a recipe for many hours of plugin and workaround wrangling.  How many plugins will break?  How many people will run into database issues?

Also – how many new users will see the ‘multi user’ option, turn it on for their simple WordPress install on an oversold shared hosting account, and bring the server to its knees when huge numbers of spam bots swarm it to create ‘splog’ accounts?  Right now, you have to make a concious decision to install MU, and a lot of ‘normal users’ don’t even know it exists.  Are most cheap web hosts ready for MU to become another option users can go “Oooh, what’s this button do?” with?

WordPress 2.8 Out Now

On June 10th, WordPress 2.8 was released.  This version was named ‘Barker’, after the musician, Chet Barker.

I haven’t upgraded all of my blogs yet – but so far I’m impressed.  It looks and feels a lot like 2.7, which is a good thing – many of my clients hate having to re-learn the admin interface when new versions of WordPress come out.

Performance wise, 2.8 runs very well – I’ve noticed faster load times on some of the more high-traffic blogs, although part of that could be down to the fact that I chose to clean up some un-wanted plugins around the same time as the update.

The improved Widget handling, and the ability to browse the Themes database from within the Admin Panel is something that many of my clients appreciate.

There’s a full list of improvements and features listed in the WordPress 2.8 patch notes. It’s worth taking a lot – there’s been a few back-end changes that plugin developers may need to be aware of.

All the upgrades I’ve done so far have went smoothly – but just in case, if you’re upgrading, remember to take a backup of your blog first!

Using VSFTPD With PAM

If you’re using VSFTP as your FTP server, and would like to have Virtual Users who are restricted to using their ‘home’ directory when they log in, then probably the easiest way to achieve that is with PAM.

I’ve just set up something similar on my VPS – working through this very useful VSFTPD and PAM tutorial.  I’m using CentoOS on the VPS, but it should work for most other distros too, although you may need to change some of the paths to work with your installation.

I ran into a couple of issues with the tutorial.  First, I was getting 530 Login-Errors.  A look at the log file from:

tail -f /var/log/secure

Brought up this error:

vsftpd: PAM [error: /lib/security/pam_userdb.so: wrong ELF class: ELFCLASS32]

This is a simple fix – there’s a 64 bit version of pam_userdb.so, which you need to point to in your /etc/pam.d/vsftpd file.  Change the part that says /lib/security/pam_userdb.so to reference /lib64/security/pam_userdb.so instead – there should be two instances to change.

Restarting VSFTP with:

service vsftp restart

Showed that there were still more problems.  I was still getting 530 errors, and tailing the logs again I found a whole catalogue of errors:

vsftpd: PAM (vsftpd) no module name supplied
vsftpd: PAM (vsftpd) illegal module type: file=/etc/vsftpd/vsftpd_users
vsftpd: PAM pam_parse: expecting return value; […onerr=succeed]
vsftpd: PAM (vsftpd) no module name supplied
vsftpd: pam_userdb(vsftpd:auth): can not get the database name
vsftpd: pam_userdb(vsftpd:auth): user_lookup: could not open database `/etc/vsftpd/vsftpd_users.db’: No such file or directory
vsftpd: pam_userdb(vsftpd:auth): user_lookup: could not open database `/etc/vsftpd/vsftpd_users.db’: No such file or directory

Desperate, I double checked every step, everything had been done correctly.

So, I re-created my user file and DB, thinking that it may have been corrupted somehow (I’m using db4, not db3, by the way) – and it worked fine.

The difference, the second time I made the file?  The second time, I used vi to make my users.txt file, which was then converted into the DB.   The first time, I had used nano.

So, if you’re running into problems with VSFTPD, and you’re convinced you’ve done everything correctly, try using a different text editor.  Vi may not be the prettiest editor in the world, but it gets the job done 🙂

vsftpd: PAM (vsftpd) no module name supplied
Jun 10 17:38:58 mythgames vsftpd: PAM (vsftpd) illegal module type: file=/etc/vsftpd/vsftpd_users
Jun 10 17:38:58 mythgames vsftpd: PAM pam_parse: expecting return value; […onerr=succeed]
Jun 10 17:38:58 mythgames vsftpd: PAM (vsftpd) no module name supplied
Jun 10 17:38:58 mythgames vsftpd: pam_userdb(vsftpd:auth): can not get the database name
Jun 10 17:40:29 mythgames vsftpd: pam_userdb(vsftpd:auth): user_lookup: could not open database `/etc/vsftpd/vsftpd_users.db’: No such file or directory
Jun 10 17:44:10 mythgames sshd[7470]: pam_unix(sshd:session): session closed for user root
Jun 10 17:44:31 mythgames sshd[24274]: Accepted password for root from 86.167.187.254 port 52023 ssh2
Jun 10 17:44:31 mythgames sshd[24274]: pam_unix(sshd:session): session opened for user root by (uid=0)
Jun 10 17:46:06 mythgames vsftpd: pam_userdb(vsftpd:auth): user_lookup: could not open database `/etc/vsftpd/vsftpd_users.db’: No such file or directory