UESPWiki:Administrator Noticeboard/Archives/Request for Server Access

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Request for Server Access

I have emailed Daveh and asked him to allow me to have direct access to UESP's server so that I can help more with the technical side of keeping the server running. Daveh is open to the idea. I wanted to update the community to let everyone know what's in the works and also to see if anyone has any feedback.

First, although I am bringing this up on the wiki Administrator Noticeboard, it is not actually a request to change my wiki privileges, and in particular it is not a request to become a wiki bureaucrat. As I stated in a previous discussion, I think having Daveh make decisions about wiki user status, such as adding admins and patrollers, works well overall.

Rather, the issues that I believe have been more problematic for UESP are issues that can only be fixed with "behind the scenes" access, i.e., the ability to login directly to the computer hosting UESP. The primary motivation for the request is to make it possible to restart the site's apache server more easily (as a fix for one of the most common causes for site slowdowns). However, subject to Daveh's and the community's approval, there are other tasks I could help with on the server if I have access. Some ideas include: helping to upload non-wiki files such as the Oblivion/SI map tiles; or, tweaking the PHP code to fix problems (such as various broken special pages).

The decision about what is possible here is primarily up to Daveh. However, the community's feedback is also valuable in particular on questions such as:

  • Does anyone have any objections or concerns?
  • Are there any specific tasks that the community thinks should be a high priority for me to pursue?

Any thoughts? --NepheleTalk 15:49, 9 December 2007 (EST)

Followup

Thanks for the support :)

To clarify, as far as restarts are concerned, I'm only hoping to be able to restart apache (the service that provides web access). If I understand correctly, that's all that Daveh has had to do in most cases; I think he's only had to reboot the entire computer a few times. If any situations were to arise that required a full reboot, then I wouldn't be up for handling those myself: the chances are good that someone with full root access to the computer, and perhaps even physical access (not just remote access) to the machine, is needed.

Rpeh raises a good point about documenting/coordinating efforts. The Upgrade History page has been used so far to keep track of configuration and code changes. I'd be sure to continue Daveh's precedent of adding changes to that page. I'm not sure to what extent apache restarts need to be kept track of, especially since the server-status page always provides information on when apache was last restarted. But if there's interest in a longer record of the restart history, I could set up a page for a listing of restarts (including when/why).

Also, rpeh's point about the log files reminded me of another point: being able to login to the server would in general make it easier for me to diagnose some of the issues with the server. Not that I can guarantee that I'll be able to find fixes to the problems ;) But I think being able to view details on active processes and being able to monitor some of the log files would be useful for trying to figure out the root cause of problems, such as frozen connections. --NepheleTalk 20:51, 9 December 2007 (EST)

Feedback

  • Support: I think this is a necessary step. At the moment, Daveh is effectively a single point of failure for various aspects of the site and that is Not Good. He obviously can't be available all the time but that has led to downtime that could have been obviated had another technical admin been available at the time. Of the administrators, Nephele is clearly the most qualified and has proved that several times through, for instance, nailing site problems, identifying add-ons and generally being a fount of knowledge and wisdom on the site. So on the first point, no I don't have any objections! On the second:
  • Restarting the server. I don't know enough about Unix to say whether this should be limited to restarting the web service or whether it should be the whole machine, but this will enable the dead connections to be killed.
  • Killing log files. The recent problems are possibly caused by a too-full log disk. Being able to empty that disk would stop such issues.
  • Uploading Files. This would be a definite help - with the final tweaks to the SI map and then the MW map, having a 2nd pair of hands should speed things up.
  • Config Tweaks. There have been several cases where Nephele has suggested tweaks to various aspects of wiki configuration - task priority and spam filter spring to mind. The ability to make such changes would be a definite benefit.
The other things to look into would be installing add-ons and making changes to the wiki source code, although that's possibly something to go for as a second step.
One thing I would suggest is that a page be created to record changes, reboots and so on. At the moment it's generally all held on Daveh's talk page but if two people are going to be doing this kind of thing, a (protected) page to record any changes would be better. Just so there's a list that can be referred back to. --RpehTCE 17:18, 9 December 2007 (EST)
  • Support: This is something that has long been on the "really needs to be done" list. Of course, whoever gets this extra authority has to be hugely trusted -- and Nephele has clearly earned that. Technical competence is also a must, and again she fits the bill on that requirement. --Wrye 17:33, 9 December 2007 (EST)
  • Support: I can't see why anyone would possibly object; Nephele has shown time and time again that she is completely trustworthy and capable. --GuildKnightTalk2me 20:26, 9 December 2007 (EST)
  • Strong Support: I've said for over a year now that we need to have another person who's more active on the site with this level of access, and I can't think of anyone better suited for the task. --TheRealLurlock Talk 22:50, 9 December 2007 (EST)
  • Support: The site sometimes gets too slow, especially on weekends. Just waiting for pages to load is very boring. Something definitely needs to be done about it. I think, this should be the highest priority for now. Of course, there is no reason not to trust Nephele. --Mankar CamoranTCE 14:33, 10 December 2007 (EST)
  • Support: I have no problems with this whatsoever! It'll be a great help to the site and I can't think of a better person for the job. --Eshetalk14:50, 10 December 2007 (EST)

Update

As some of you may have noticed, Daveh gave me login access to the server on 4 January. At the moment I mainly just have the ability to restart apache (which was the original request). I finally had an opportunity to test it today, and it worked successfully :) So if anyone notices any problems such as frozen connections that can be fixed with a restart, either Daveh or I can be contacted to take care of it.

Next I'm thinking of identifying what specifically I could help with in terms of uploading and/or editing files. I have the ability to upload files, but only to my personal directory; for any other directories (e.g., all of the directories containing the website), I need to be given write access on a per-directory basis. To start with, the web directories where I'm aware of some potential for uploads are:

  • the directory containing the alc_calc tool
  • the directories containing the map tiles for the Oblivion map
  • the directories containing the map tiles for the SI map

I've asked Daveh to look into write access for those directories, at which point I should be able to help out with some of the missing/to-be-updated tiles for the maps (and I might even get around some day to some upgrades to my alchemy calculator!).

As for other possible tasks....

  • The log files turned out to be somewhat of a red herring, so I don't think log file cleanup is a particularly high priority.
  • With the access I already have, it will make it easier for me to help out with suggestions about possible configuration tweaks. For example, I can now see what the existing wiki settings are instead of guessing from the default wiki configuration. And I can see the php files actually being used on the server, which will allow me to figure out what tweaks are necessary, for example, to fix some of our special pages. For now I think that's enough progress :) I'm more comfortable with continuing to forward suggested wiki-related tweaks to Daveh, and letting him be responsible for actual implementation... at least until I've had more time to familiarize myself with the behind-the-scenes universe.

Thanks everyone :) --NepheleTalk 17:17, 9 January 2008 (EST)

Congratulations on your first restart! Is your personal directory web-accessible? In other words, can you put files in there and access them through the web site? The thought occurs that long-mooted projects like the NPC stats calculator become rather more feasible if you've got server access... –RpehTCE 05:04, 10 January 2008 (EST)