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.

 

 

Setup a Development Environment in Ubuntu

Often we want to edit our domain’s code, but on a production website, this can be dangerous. Making changes to the production site would not only allow all of the Internet to see unfinished changes but could also cause errors to display. As a workaround, we’ll create a testing domain or “dev” domain to work out any bugs and changes to the site.

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: After logging in as root, back up the domain using the command below to save a compressed version. It’s essential to have a copy of your site just in case you run into any issues. Replace the brackets and the “domainname” with your site’s name.

tar cfv backup.[domainname].tar /document/root/of/the/domain/

 

Step 2: We will be moving our backup file, .tar, somewhere off that document root, This way we can still access the data while keeping it safe.

mv backup.[domainname].tar /another/location/on/the/server

 

Step 3: The tar command created a file that comprises only half of the site, which holds the files. Next, you will want to copy the database for the primary site.

mysqldump [database_name] > /another/location/on/the/server/backup.[database_name].sql

 

Step 4: Create the new dev account, just like you were adding a new domain to your server. However, you will be creating a subdomain which you can name as dev.[domain].com.

 

Step 5: Once you’ve created the dev subdomain, copy the files from the main document root to the newly created dev document root. The document root is the location of the files housing your domain, also known as the “path”.

To find the document root location, for either domain, run the following command. Find the document root by replacing “exampledomain.com” for each both the live and dev domain.

conf=$(apache2ctl -S | grep exampledomain.com | perl -n -e '/\((\/.*)\:/ && print "$1\n"'); grep -i documentroot $conf

 

Step 6: After you have found the document roots for both the domain and dev domain, you will need to copy the files. With the output of the last command, you’ll insert the path for the document roots.

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

 

Step 7: Give the correct ownership to the dev domain, as the previous username remains in place. The ‘dev_username’ is a default user, one generated by creating the new account. The following command will change the ownership for you.

chown -R [dev_username]: /document/root/of/the/new/domain

 

Step 8: After you have done this you will need to create a new database and database user for the dev domain, be sure to keep all this information including the password you set. First, enter the mysql command prompt by running the command:

mysql

Next, create the database itself.

CREATE DATABASE [new_database_name];

In our next command, we create the user and their password. Be sure this is a unique username, unused up till now.

CREATE USER '[select_new_username]'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY '[password]';

 

Step 9: Grant privileges for the user on the database.

GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON [new_database_name] TO '[new_username]'@'localhost' WITH GRANT OPTION;

Then exit out of mysql by typing “quit” and hitting enter:

quit

 

Step 10: Once back at the root command prompt, you can start copying the original database into the new database.

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

With the database dumped you will still need to edit the configuration files for your domain. Typically, there are files which need to access the database and will reference the database, database user, and password. These credentials need updating to the ones created earlier in step 8 of this tutorial. If you are unsure of where these files contact a developer. If you are working with a WordPress site continue on to the next section.  Otherwise, if you have updated your dev configuration files with your new database info continue onto step 11.

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 11: To complete this tutorial you have two choices: add an A record to your DNS to 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.

Installing WordPress using WP-CLI

WordPress has a great GUI based installation process however some use cases call for CLI! Or maybe you just feel more at home in a terminal, either way this article will show you how to get your WordPress site setup with just a terminal, WP-CLI, and maybe a sprinkle of SSH.

So first things first, if you’re doing this locally fire up your terminal and if you’re doing this on a server connect to it via SSH. Now that you’re in CLI you want to get into the folder you’re installing WordPress to. From there you can get things rolling in WordPress! Continue reading “Installing WordPress using WP-CLI”

How to Update WP-CLI

WP-CLI is a command line tool for interacting with and managing WordPress sites. In our previous article on How to Install WP-CLI we covered the process of installing WP-CLI onto a server. We did this in a way that the tool would be accessible by any user on the server. This prevents the need for your users to install the tool locally.
Continue reading “How to Update WP-CLI”

How to Install WP-CLI

WP-CLI is a command line tool for interacting with and managing WordPress sites. WP-CLI is very similar in functionality to what drush provides Drupal. If you are already familiar with using cli tools then this will be quick to pick up on. If not, then it may be a good time to start learning.

In this tutorial we’ll learn how to install wp-cli on a server and learn some basics. With WP-CLI you can speed up common maintenance, automate tasks, or even take backups. Continue reading “How to Install WP-CLI”

Using WP-CLI With Your WordPress Optimized Template Site

Using the Command Line Tools

Liquid Web’s WordPress Optimized Template servers come with a pre-installed set of command-line tools designed to simplify common site maintenance tasks. WP-CLI (WordPress Command Line Interface) can be accessed via SSH, and allows you to do nearly anything that can be done from within the WordPress admin interface. Continue reading “Using WP-CLI With Your WordPress Optimized Template Site”