Setup a Development Environment for CentOS using cPanel

Editing a website’s code is often needed to update a site, but doing this to the live website could create downtime and other unwanted effects. Instead, its ideal to create an environment especially for developing new ideas.  In this tutorial, we will explore creating a development site specifically for CentOS servers.

As a warning, this is advanced technical work. It’s possible to make mistakes and cause downtime on your live domain. If you are not 100% confident, it may be a good idea to hire a system admin or developer to copy the domain for you.

Pre-flight

Step 1: Continue on to back up the cPanel account, just in case you have any issues while creating your development environment:

/scripts/pkgacct [username] --backup /home/temp/

Step 2: After creating a backup, you will create a copy the database of the main domain, otherwise known as the primary domain.

mysqldump [database_name] > /home/temp/backup.[database_name].sql

Step 3: Create the new dev domain in WHM. This domain name will be a subdomain of the primary domain. Creating a subdomain is one of the first steps in designing your development environment. We prefer to use, dev.[domain].com, the same domain name but with “dev” in front of it for clarity. Do be sure to note all the information, like the username and password. If you are not familiar with how to create a new account, see the following tutorial.

Step 4: Once you’ve created the subdomain within your cPanel you’ll copy the files from the main document root to the newly created dev document root. The document root is the location where your website’s files.

Use the following command to find the document root for either domain. Replace “exampledomain.com” with the primary and development domains for determining the location of document root for each.

whmapi1 domainuserdata domain=[exampledomain.com] | grep -i documentroot

Step 5: After locating the document roots we will copy the files from the primary domain over to the development environment. Insert the document roots into this next command.

rsync -avh /document/root/of/the/primary/domain/ /document/root/of/the/new/dev/domain

Step 6: Next you will need to state the correct ownership of the dev domain’s files and directories, as the previous username will be in place. The ‘dev_username’ will be the given/chosen when you created the new account. The following command will change the ownership for you.

chown -R [dev_username]: /home/[dev_username]

Step 7: After changing file ownership, create a new database and database user for the dev domain. Be sure to notate this information including the password set. Our documentation on the creating a new database will walk you through this necessary process.

Step 8: Once you’ve created the new database its user, you can start copying the original database into the newly created database.

mysql [new_database_name] < /home/temp/backup.[database_name].sql

Step 9: Copying over the database is the bulk of the work, but you’ll still need to edit the configuration files for your domain. Typically, some files need to access the database and will accomplish this via the database user and password. The file that contains these credentials needs to be updated to have the database, database user, and password you created in step 8 of this tutorial. If unsure of the location of these files talking with a developer may be helpful. If you are working with a WordPress site, you can continue onto the next section. Otherwise, if you have updated your dev configuration files with your new database info continue onto step 10.

Editing WordPress Configurations
Fortunately, WordPress is one of the most commonly used content management systems. WordPress is easy to configure we’ll provide a short tutorial on how to change the database and database user in the wp-config.php. First, move to the new document root. cd /document/root/to/the/dev/domain

There you will edit the wp-config.php with your favorite text editor such as vim or nano. nano wp-config.php

In the wp-config.php file, you will see a section that looks like the below. From there you will edit the highlighted characters with the information you used to create the database in the tutorial. // ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define('DB_NAME', 'new_database_name');
/** MySQL database username */
define('DB_USER', ‘new_database_user');
/** MySQL database password */
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'password');

In the database, clear all mentions of the original domain and replace them with the dev domain. For example with WordPress, in the _options table you need to change two entries of ‘home’ and ‘siteurl’. These can be quickly changed using WP-ClI, which is a is a command line tool for interacting with and managing WordPress sites. To install WP-CLI follow these instructions and continue onto the next step. If you do have a WordPress website, once you have installed WP-CLI you will want to run the following commands: su - [dev_username] cp public_html
wp option update siteurl https://dev.domain.com
wp option update home https://dev.domain.com
exit

Sometimes plugins or themes mention the original domain in the database. If some parts of the dev domain are not working, particularly plugins or themes, you may need to contact a developer to see if the original domain name is still active in the database. After replacing the names using WP-CLI, you’ll have officially created a dev domain.

Step 10: To complete this tutorial you have two choices: add an A record to your DNS view your dev site online or edit your local hosts file to view solely on your computer. For our Liquid Web customers feel free to contact The Most Helpful Humans™ with questions you may have in setting up a development environment.

 

 

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