What is a FQDN?

What is a Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN)?

When working with domains and DNS management understanding what a FQDN is can be very helpful. This article will help explain the concept of a FQDN and a domains different components.

The Parts of a Domain

A domain is made up of a two essential parts, the Top-Level Domain (TLD) and the main Domain Name which is what you register. The other component of domain names are the subdomains. Continue reading “What is a FQDN?”

Best Editor for Web Development 2017

Best Web Development Tools of 2017: Editors/IDEs and Package Management

The worlds of web hosting and web development are in a constant state of evolution. Every year we see design trends change, coding standards adapt and new frameworks/CMS created. With such a quick pace of change it’s easy to get lost trying to keep up.

In this article we will discuss and highlight a handful of tools that help make web development easy. Whether you work on Frontend, Backend, PHP, Javascript, or even Perl this list will have something helpful.

As a web hosting company we don’t often talk about the tools used to create the web. We’re usually ultra focused on the components that enable us to server and support you; things like: server hardware, Linux, Apache and etc.

We may not support development tools, but we do want to help our customers to build amazing stuff.
Continue reading “Best Editor for Web Development 2017”

Will my site be marked unsafe in Chrome 56+?

Lately there’s been a lot of speculation about Googles up-coming changes to how sites without an SSL are going to be treated. As January draws towards a close we have seen an increase in customers with concerns of how this will affect their site. Both in terms of people being able to see it and how it might affect their search ranking.

This article aims to clear up some of the confusion and to demystify the changes. If you are unfamiliar with how SSL/TLS or HTTPS works please take a look at our article on the subject.

If you aren’t interested in how these changes came about feel free to skip down to: How These Changes Affect Your Site
Continue reading “Will my site be marked unsafe in Chrome 56+?”

Cloud Sites – Powered by Liquid Web

Welcome Cloud Sites customers. The following is to help answer questions you may have as you prepare to utilize your Cloud Sites account with Liquid Web. For more information beyond the questions below, feel free to reference this note from Jim Geiger, CEO of Liquid Web.

General Questions

  • Who does this impact?

    Rackspace Cloud Sites customers will have only the Cloud Sites product transitioned to Liquid Web. All other Rackspace services will continue to be managed, operated and invoiced via Rackspace. Only the Cloud Sites product is transitioning.

  • What happened?

    Rackspace has shifted focus away from Platform as a Service (PaaS) Web Hosting and has sold the Cloud Sites product, customer base, support team and all infrastructure to Liquid Web, who is a leader in this market space.

  • Continue reading “Cloud Sites – Powered by Liquid Web”

What Is a web.config File?

If your server uses IIS, you can use web.config files to control your website’s configuration without editing your server configuration files. You can even apply different settings to different directories within your website.

You can easily create a web.config file by creating a plaintext file and uploading it to your server. If you have multiple web.config files, remember that files higher up in the filepath always take precedence. If you want to make a configuration change to your whole server, we recommend editing server-level IIS settings instead.

Before making any changes to configuration files, we strongly recommend you take a backup of the file.

Some common uses for web.config files include:

  • redirecting URLs to be more easily readable (e.g., mysite.com/product/shirt instead of mysite.com/prodid=1234)
  • loading custom error pages (e.g., 404 pages)
  • forcing your site to use https instead of http.
  • password protecting certain directories
  • preventing hot-linking

If you have a server that uses Plesk, we recommend using the Plesk control panel to change these types of configurations instead of web.config files. You can also use the File Manager in Plesk to edit the web.config file.

How KernelCare Protects Your Server

One of the most important things you can do to ensure the security and stability of your Linux server is to keep the kernel updated. Some Kernel updates patch security vulnerabilities and other issues. Kernel patches are released as issues are discovered.

Unless you are regularly checking for kernel updates, or your notified of a security issue, you may not be aware when a kernel update is available. Additionally, since updating the kernel traditionally requires a reboot, the prospect of associated downtime often prevents the updates from being applied as quickly as they should be.

KernelCare changes all that.

Automatic Updates; No Reboot Necessary

KernelCare is a CloudLinux product that automatically updates the Linux kernel to address security and stability issues without the need for a server reboot, even during its initial install. You can read more on KernelCare in our article: What Is KernelCare?

Liquid Web provides KernelCare on all new managed Storm® and Dedicated servers running a supported operating system (CentOS 5, 6, and 7, which also may report as “Derived From Red Hat Enterprise Linux”; or CloudLinux 5 and 6). Moreover, as part of Liquid Web’s proactive response to security concerns, KernelCare has been applied to nearly all existing Fully Managed servers running a supported operating system.

What Does It Mean For You?

KernelCare runs transparently on your server. There are no settings you need to configure nor commands that need to be run once installed. KernelCare will regularly check for kernel updates and automatically apply them as they become available with no impact on your server or services.

With KernelCare you never have to worry if your server’s kernel is protected against a particular vulnerability. You know it is. You never have to worry about downtime caused by rebooting to apply a kernel patch; cause there is none. And you never have to worry about how long you’ll have to wait for a new patch to be applied to your server. KernelCare offers the most efficient protection by automatically updating the kernel as soon as a patch is available, with no need for a reboot.

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Liquid Web’s Heroic Support is always available to assist customers with this or any other issue. If you need our assistance please contact us:
Toll Free 1.800.580.4985
International 517.322.0434
support@liquidweb.com
https://manage.liquidweb.com/

What Is KernelCare?

Tux the Penguin with Hotpatching (KernelCare)The concept of ‘Kernel hotpatching’, sometimes called live patching, was introduced to the Linux community around 2008. Soon after groups began developing differing implementations of the concept. KernelCare, one of the more popular implementations, was originally released in March 2014 by Cloud Linux, Inc.

So, what does hot patching do? (Or: Why do I want KernelCare?)

The basic concept of Linux kernel hot patching is pretty much the same not matter what it’s called. The goal is to only update the changes rather than the whole Kernel – which normally requires a reboot. It’s much harder than it sounds though since kernel updates come as complete packages and the system is running.

Imagine trying to do an oil change on your car while driving at highway speeds; that’s kernel hot patching in a nutshell.

With a KernelCare enabled kernel updates can be processed and then applied selectively to a running server. This can mean not needing to reboot for much longer than you would normally require to stay secure.

How do I check if I have KernelCare and is it working? (Or: Checking KernelCare version)

The best way to check if your server is running with KernelCare is to look for its main CLI tool. You can do this with the following linux command:

which kcarectl

If the CLI tool is found on the server you will see output like the following, or something very similar.

# which kcarectl
/usr/bin/kcarectl

If the CLI tool is not installed you will see the following:

# which kcarectl
#
When using the Linux `which` command you will get no results if the executable is not found. In this case that means KernelCare is likely not active or installed on the server.

Assuming the test above was successful, you’ll now want to check the status of KernelCare. This will help you determine if KernelCare is active and what the effective version is. You can do this with the following command:

/usr/bin/kcarectl --info

The results will look similar to the following:

[root@host ~]# /usr/bin/kcarectl –info
kpatch-state: patch is applied
kpatch-for: Linux version 3.10.0-327.36.3.el7.x86_64 (builder@kbuilder.dev.centos.org) (gcc version 4.8.5 20150623 (Red Hat 4.8.5-4) (GCC) ) #1 SMP Mon Oct 24 16:09:20 UTC 2016
kpatch-build-time: Mon Nov 7 08:20:19 2016
kpatch-description: 2;3.10.0-327.36.3.el7.x86_64

As you can see the output provides various details about the KernelCare status. Looking at the kpatch-state we can see that hot patching is working and enabled.

Understanding the Default WordPress .htaccess

When maintaining a WordPress site you may find yourself attempting things that normally would work and find that they have unexpected results. This is usually due to how WordPress’ default .htaccess rules manipulate the configurations and provide ‘pretty permalinks’.

This article is directly applicable to WordPress on an Apache based server. For WordPress Multi-site or other web servers (Nginx, IIS, etc) please review the official WordPress documentation as rules and configurations may differ.

The Default Rules

The default WordPress .htaccess rules are responsible for how WordPress is able to support ‘pretty permalinks’. Without these rules in place, WordPress permalinks would not resolve correctly. This feature allows your URLs to look much cleaner and more readable without over complicating or cluttering your website’s files structure.

The default rules look as follows:

# BEGIN WordPress
<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
</IfModule>
# END WordPress

To break down what these rules are defining we’ll start at the top and work our way down.
  • First, you see a comment as indicated by the hashtag; this symbol `#` is used to denote a comment in .htaccess files.
  • Next you see an opening brace for Apache’s internal “IfModule” function; this specifies that the contained rules should only be used with the “mod_rewrite” module for Apache.
  • The Rewrite module is enabled.
  • The RewriteBase is declared; this defines the ‘root’ folder that should be applied to rewrite rules.
  • The next line is the first rewrite rule, this rule defines that if an “index.php” file is specifically called then no rewrite is needed.
  • The next two lines are both defining rewrite conditions; these conditions are specifying that if no file or folder can be found at the given URL the next rule should be applied.
  • Finally, the last rewrite rule before the close brace is for the “IfModule”. This rule will only be applied if no file or folder can be found for the URL. If that occurs, the request will be passed to WordPress before providing the client a response.

While this breakdown may be enough of an explanation for some, this is still a very complex chain of rules. The rules are best described and summarized as this: “If Apache itself cannot find the file or folder requested then the request should be dealt with by WordPress directly.”

An interesting result of this is that technically all WordPress pages are a 404 result in the context of Apache and only until PHP and WordPress receive the request can any content be resolved for a response.

Tips for Custom Rules

There usually is not a consistent cause for issues experienced when dealing with .htaccess rules on a WordPress site. As the cause can fluctuate from site to site, and even rule to rule, it’s hard to provide an extensive explanation for the issues. It is also important to note that plugins and themes can also affect how certain rules are managed as well.

A common rule that causes odd behaviour and provides mixed results usually relates to allowing access based on specific IP address. These rules usually look like:

<Files wp-login.php>
Order deny,allow
Deny from all
Allow from 198.11.109.98 localhost
</Files>

The rule above will deny all IPs access to wp-login.php unless the IP is listed in the ‘Allow from’ line. While it should work by default, occasionally this can cause issues. If it does, the usual fix is to define the error documents. This would look like:

ErrorDocument 401 default
ErrorDocument 403 default
<Files wp-login.php>
Order deny,allow
Deny from all
Allow from 198.101.159.98 localhost
</Files>

Having these error documents defined explicitly will ensure that when an unapproved IP attempts to access the page they are rejected and are sent a proper error page.

As there are various issues that can come up and each has their own solution, we simply cannot cover them all here. If you believe you are experiencing configuration issues related to those rules mentioned here feel free to contact our Heroic Support®.

What’s New in WHM 58 & What to Look For

In the 58 update of WHM & cPanel several rather large changes have been made to improve upon user experience and to expand available features. As cPanel works to continually expand and improve their offerings, we like to do our best to keep everyone informed and updated. Here are some of the highlights and items to look out for as the 58 update moves to release tier.

What to prepare for?

When large WHM updates, similar to this one, are released, there are often certain items that may exclude a server from being eligible for the update. These are often referred to as ‘update blockers’ within the official documentation. The items here are changes related to these ‘update blockers’.

  • CentOS 5 & CloudLinux 5 are no longer supported by WHM on and after update 58
    • CentOS 5 itself, and therefore CloudLinux 5, are becoming end-of-life status on March 31 of 2017, due to this and software limitations that these OS’s cause, cPanel is removing support preemptively.
  • Servers’ processors must now support 64-bit processing
    • Any older servers with 32-bit (x86) processes will no longer be supported by cPanel/WHM.
  • For a more detailed list of Upgrade Blockers please see: https://confluence2.cpanel.net/display/ALD/58+Release+Notes
  • These update blockers will require a migration in order to update to WHM 58: Feel free to contact our Heroic Support® if you are experiencing these blocks.

What is new?!

On this release cPanel has included a lot of highly-requested features and improvements. This provides for a lot of new opportunities, but with so many changes, it’s easy to lose track of all the great new features that were added. Here are the highlights:

  • Addon Domain to account conversion tool
    • With this new feature you are now able to easily convert an Addon domain into a full-fledged cPanel account.
  • Roundcube is now provided via RPM’s
  • Support for Dovecot’s mdbox storage format
    • Previously email files were stored on a ‘flat file’ manner, one file for each email. Now a user’s complete email storage can use the mdbox file format.
    • For users with large numbers of emails this should help reduce issues and concerns about using up too many disk Inodes.
  • Dovecot now supports email subaddresses
    • Email users can now append their address in a manner that will automatically deliver a message to a specific folder.
    • E.G.: username+Important@email.com will deliver a message directly to the ‘Important’ folder for the username@email.com address.
  • EasyApache 4 has been released
    • It is the default on new WHM installations
      • Existing servers will need to upgrade manually, once upgraded this cannot be reverted.
    • Now fully supports PEAR and PECL
    • EasyApache config tools have been completed as well
      • Provides useful tools to manage EasyApache 4 profiles
    • PHP-FPM support is now included, although it’s not fully refined yet and must be activated outside of WHM.
      • Contact Heroic Support for assistance on setting up and deploying PHP-FPM.
  • Multi-PHP Manager released
    • With EasyApache 4 being released the new Multi-PHP manager has been completed as well.
    • Servers can now operate while providing multiple PHP versions with ease.
  • PHP 7 is now supported and provided via EasyApache 4
  • AutoSSL
    • Free domain-validated SSL certificates are provided by cPanel (powered by Comodo)
    • As of WHM version 58.0.17, and above, AutoSSL now supports Let’s Encrypt as an SSL provider; for more details, see our KB article here.
Free cPanel-provided hostname SSL’s have been provided since WHM release 56 as well.
  • WHM now provides Composer by default
    • Composer is a dependency management tool for PHP-based projects, used frequently in the development and deployment of PHP-based apps, sites, or projects.
    • The WHM provided version does support Composer’s internal update mechanism to stay updated.

What has been changed?

Based on user feedback cPanel will make changes to presets, or default settings, as well as providing updates for 3rd-party tools included in WHM. This section encompases these types of updates.

  • Munin has been updated to provide the 2.0 version
    • Munin is a free system, network, and infrastructure monitoring tool.
  • Reject SPF failures is now enabled by default.
    • This will ensure that servers are checking incoming mail for valid SPF records and will reject Emails which result in a failure.
    • Provides an easier setup for WHM and helps prevent spam.
  • Prevent ‘nobody’ from sending Email now enabled by default.
    • Apache traditionally runs as the ‘nobody’ user and this change to the settings will ensure that by default servers are secure from Apache sending mail.
    • Helps to prevent compromised or unsecure sites for sending outgoing spam.
  • Dovecot now functioning as the local mail delivery agent
    • Exim will now receive inbound messages, connect to Dovecot via LMTP (Local Mail Transfer Protocol) and then deliver the messages.
  • WHM’s internal version of PHP has been updated

What has been removed?

cPanel will often remove redundant, legacy, or unneeded items or features; some of those to keep an eye out for are:

  • Removed ‘Mailserver Selection’ page from WHM
    • In previous releases WHM removed support for Courier and as such this screen is now unused.
  • Bandmin has been removed
    • Bandwidth usages can still be seen and monitored in:
      • Home >> Account Information >> View Bandwidth Usage, or
      • Home >> Metrics >> Bandwidth
  • Stunnel support has been removed
  • Security Advisor has been removed – check on new vs. existing

For more information and details on the various changes coming in the 58 release of WHM and cPanel, please see the official release notes here: https://confluence2.cpanel.net/display/ALD/58+Release+Notes

If you have any questions or are not comfortable making these changes yourself, please feel free to contact Heroic Support®.