Marco's Blog

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Site Update!

0001-01-01 4 min read Site Updates marco

What do you know, it’s been quiet on here for a while. What happened was a merely technical problem: I knew that the software I use to write this blog, Joomla, was shifting from the version I used (2.5) to a completely new 3.x. That meant that a lot of the things I rely on to provide additional functionality wouldn’t work anymore. Plus, the old software would eventually not be updated any longer, making this site a potential security risk.

That ended up happening. A few days after the last update, I received a message from my hosting provider (Linode, great guys) telling me that this blog was used as an open spam relay and that they would have to shut it down if I didn’t do something about it, soon.

In a moment of wisdom I had moved the site to version control, so it was a breeze to clean it up. What had happened was that the server itself had not been compromised. Instead, security holes in one of the Joomla extensions I used had allowed hackers to push a hidden site update that was used to spam third parties.

I didn’t have the time or inclination to find out what extension it had been, whether it was a known security hole I hadn’t patched fast enough, or whether it was simply my own configuration mistake. I narrowed it down to JDownload and Kunena Forums and just removed both components from the site. Nothing happened after that.

But… I just didn’t feel like pushing something new until I had the site transferred. Since I had been waiting so long for the move, it was probably going to be painful, too. I didn’t want to do it, so I neglected pushing out new content (there are numerous articles that aren’t finished yet, though).

The impetus to move forward came from the strangest source: I got a new computer, an ASUS UX303. It’s a beautiful machine, with a wonderful screen, tons of memory, and a fast processor. Setting it up was a pain, though, because only the latest Kubuntu works on it. Which I wanted to skip, because the Long Term Release is coming in six months, so I could just update from LTR to LTR, as the gods of Linux stability intended.

That didn’t happen, so I got to fast forward a year, from the 14.04 installed on all my machines to 15.10. Much has happened, including Plasma 5, which is beautiful, snappy, and just a plain pleasure to work with. So, I thought to myself, maybe my site wouldn’t suffer if I update?

There I go, but for the grace of god. I checked out the site on my laptop at home (the old one, not the new snappy one, because I don’t know why). Then I followed instructions to update. Didn’t work.

I googled forever, and here are the steps, in case you have to do it, or in case I have to do it again:

  1. Once the site is up and running, go to the Administrator. There, go to the extensions manager, and the Update function
  2. Click on the Refresh Cache button. You should see the latest Joomla version. Update if your site is not on the latest version
  3. Once the update is complete, make sure everything still works (99% chance)
  4. Go back to the update manager. There, change the Options (top right) for updates to Development.
  5. Refresh Cache, now it should suggest the newest version (3.x.xx). Install
  6. Your site is probably not going to work if you did major customization to the template and menus, so first select the default template in the Template Manager

Now everything should have updated fine, and you should see your new site.

One of the many advantages of Joomla 3.x is that it is mobile friendly. For instance, the template I used (purity3, as you see at the bottom in the footer) is responsive. That is a total misnomer, because the word, “responsive,” would imply a dynamic change. Instead, the site simply shows up differently on different media. Laptop, mobile phone portrait and landscape, and tablet.

The site is not completely transitioned, yet. For instance, the Contact Me menu has disappeared. I need to put it back, which is simply a matter of finding the space where it will go and then assigning the menu to the position. Easy enough. But I’ve waited so long to push this out, I thought it’s better to do it and then think about the details later.