Apache, nginx or other web server?

Apache is a long well-known web server software, the most used in web servers around the internet. I met nginx when I started looking into getting free low-end VPS for my websites and scripts.

Basically, what I have learned is that most scripts won’t work well even if you convert the .htaccess’es into nginx config files. In my opinion, it’s simply not worth to get a VPS with less than 256MB of dedicated RAM, because on fewer RAM you won’t be able to run Apache properly (most of the times, Apache will just fill up the RAM leaving you locked out of your VPS because you can’t SSH as Linux doesn’t have enough free RAM to start a new shell session.

On servers with few RAM (512MB, for example) you can still run Apache and have some RAM free. If you have MySQL installed, the trick to reduce RAM consists on disabling inno-db and other database engines you don’t need. Apache can also be configured to waste less RAM on low traffic websites – you can reduce the number of max clients and connections, but this can make the site unresponsive (slow) if you get many hits at a time.

In conclusion, if you’re sure you can setup your script with nginx and cgi-php (or other lightweight webserver, e.g. lighthttpd), go for it. I have nothing against nginx, I only wish developers supported nginx (and lighthttpd and etc.) more instead of the already much explored (and at times exploited) Apache.

Right-click blocking

I was reading this thread on the FreeVPS forum and replied with my opinion about the websites that use the kind of scripts presented in that thread. For those who don’t bother about checking the thread, it is about a script (copied&pasted from some javascripts site) that warns people when they first right-click on the website the script is put on, and when people right-click again they will get hung.

I can’t tell you how much I hate the websites that use that kind of scripts. Most of the time I’m right-clicking to open a link in a new tab or to see the correction suggestions for an error on the text I’m writing at the page. When the right-click is simply disabled and doesn’t appear, it’s boring but not very bad when compared to those pages where you click and it tells you not to click… or better yet, not to copy and plagiarize content when all I’m trying to do is opening a link in another tab.

Worse: sometimes these scripts will just render the page black even if you just accidentally clicked the right button for the second or third time. I never come back to these sites, most of the times I quit once I see a stupid message saying I can’t right-click, even if the content is right what I’m looking for.

This is just a very small part of the websites I hate… others include the traditional websites with popups and lots of ads, the websites that will send a lot of javascript window.alert() when you try to go away from the page, those that no matter how much times you click on the Back button, they won’t you exit out to where you came from (e.g. Google search results). I’ll write about these later.

To finish, I’d like to present you with a new funny right I just remembered of:

Right-clicking webpages is a right of any website visitor, not respecting this right will get your website banned from your website visitor’s “Websites to visit” list and added to the “Websites to hate and stay away” list. 🙂

First spam post

Just a quick post to inform the (few) readers of this blog that I got the first spam comment. It was on the Lua Scripts for Rockbox page, and the “Spam” link right below the comment on the “Recent Comments” widget on my WordPress Dashboard fit just perfectly in this case 🙂

Now lets hope this doesn’t continue or I’ll have to go about more agressive antispam measures, and starting to fill the list of banned IPs of the server.

EDIT: I got another Spam post, but this one looked more like some stupid guy trying to be funny typing random characters into the comment box. And it contained a random URL which I didn’t care about checking where it lead. I’ll try to keep this post updated with more news of Spam on this blog… while it’s humanly possible.

EDIT2: I enabled Akismet after getting another trash comment 🙂 Let’s see how it goes.

Google marked this site as malware!

Following the problems I had with the domain “company” nic.cz.cc, which consisted of having this domain pointed to a site similar to SedoParking for several days (3 or 4, OK, perhaps not several), without my consent, Google decided to mark this site as malware.

Not that this server has malware: after this, I’m even inclined to show the tree of directories of all things under /var/www on this server just to show the world there’s nothing illegal or dangerous in it.  The problem is that the server nic.cz.cc (or whoever has control over the .cz.cc domains) decided to point this domain to had malware. Because I’m very lucky (ironic, obviously), Googlebot happened to look to the domain right when it was pointed to a malware site. And now, the site is marked as malware! Damn!

I’m not very angry with Google, but with nic.cz.cc. I have G. Webmasters Tools enabled for this website, and I already sent Google a request for revision of this site, along with a huge comment on the filed reserved for it. Let’s just see if they take a look at it – I can imagine the thousands of revision requests they have to handle every day.

I wonder, will the domain gbl08ma.cz.cc ever get out of all blacklists, or should I just send .cz.cc to the waste (which is where they are already, anyways) and use gbl08ma.uni.cc as the main domain?

I need some comments to make me happy… and make sure they are not against StopBadware’s recommendations! Google’s watching us… well, I think it needs glasses. But that’s another story.

EDIT 21/05/2011: The problem seems solved now… please help me confirm.

EDIT: The story continues…

I hate MS Windows

…and it’s so frustating that I must use it at school.
To make things worse, it’s not any Windows version, but perhaps the best version of windows ever: Vista!

By the way, all the computers have Linux installed on another partition (the HD of these PCs has like 6 partitions, for special non-functioning OSes, plus their recovery and backup partitions), but we never use it (most people have the idea of a Linux distro being something where you can play SuperTux, nothing more). And my IT techer looks at me with some strange eyes every time I tell her that I use Ubuntu as the main OS of my computers at home, and asks me “Oh, you use Linux?”. Bah.

Fortunately, in some hours I’ll be at my own computer again…

Ubuntu 11.04 – But is it Ubuntu or MacOSX?

I just took the time to download the latest version, 11.04, of Ubuntu Linux, burn a the image to a CD and boot the live CD – which is where I’m writing this from.

What I’m seeing and using really disappoints me. To simplify this post in a single line, I only need to say:

If I wanted a straight copy of Apple’s Mac OSX operating system user interface with the predominance of purple and orange, I would buy a Mac or at the very least hackintosh a PC then install a purple theme on it.

But let’s start from the beginning. The CD booted into a purple (an horrible color that Canonical keeps on choosing since version 10.04, to contrast, perhaps, with the orange of the default theme) screen with just two icons at the bottom, a keyboard and an accessibility one. This was the boot manager, who would say? – not only a single line of text. I was trying to figure out how to work with that screen (keyboard left, right, up, down, enter, escape and even tried the mouse with no success in any of these inputs) when, from nothing, the system starts booting: first the usual cursor blinking at the top left corner, then the cursor gets smaller because the resolution of the screen was increased, and the bootsplash is shown.

The bootspash keeps being very, very similar to the one used in the two previous versions of Ubuntu. A purple background with the Ubuntu in white at the very center with five white dots below, blinking into orange sequentially. One thing new in this bootspash might be, and I say “might” because I can’t remember very well the latest version’s splash, a little white glow around the Ubuntu logo.

The bootsplash doesn’t go away in the traditional way, that is, disappearing the Ubuntu logo and then appearing the login screen. First, the background fades into a purpleish image, keeping the Ubuntu logo fading even more slowly… after some time, the logo has completely vanished, a black bar at the top appears with some icons (network, clock and shutdown options), and I call it black bar, because it’s not a panel anymore, since it’s not Gnome anymore, but yes Ubiquity. Then a window appears asking me if I want to Try Ubuntu or Install Ubuntu.

I chose to Try Ubuntu: the window disappears, and the screen goes into the old white on black Linux system log (saying things about filesystems and etc.) for about a second and a half and then a black screen with the mouse cursor in the middle appears – it looks like X server had been restarted. Just a note for the guys at Canonical, this is not a really polished approach to “Try Ubuntu” option, leaving users waiting on a black screen with a mouse – if users should wait at all, but hey, I understand the CD has to be loaded sometime.

Finally, the purpleish background image appears again, the top black bar appears too, but now with more icons, some icons in the desktop appear and a kind of dock with a bunch of icons appears on the left. Get ready: this will be the base for the Ubiquity desktop. I took a screenshot, but note that this is after I was running Firefox, but it lets you have an idea of what I’m talking about:

[Image not available due to data loss, during a server change that forcibly took place on 1st December 2011. You can find images similar to the one that was here by searching for images about “ubuntu 11.04 default desktop”]

I played around a bit just to get to one conclusion: this is almost MacOSX with a dock on the left. By the way, the dock appears if you move the mouse to the top left corner of the screen, and also if you move the mouse to the complete left of the screen and let it there for some time – I hate this approach.

Ubuntu, years ago accused of trying to implement Windows UI and feel on Linux, in my opinion seems to be trying to bring MacOS UI to the Linux kernel since some versions ago – but in a much more shameless and obvious way. I don’t like Linux this way, I liked Ubuntu the way it was before: with Gnome and the windows closing, maximizing and minimizing icons on the right and not on the left. So, I’m sticking with Ubuntu 10.10 for now, and when it gets too outdated, I’ll switch to some distro with Gnome (even KDE is better for me than Ubiquity, even if I don’t like KDE as much as Gnome).

It seems my Ubuntu days are ending. In my opinion, version 11.04 of Ubuntu by Canonical was like Vista version of Windows by Microsoft: too much focus on the looks and few productivity.

Homebrew on MY Wii

Regarding the post Homebrew on the Wii, I managed to install the Homebrew Channel on my Wii successfully. I’m living very happily with it on my Wii for about a week.

For me, it’s an event that can be quite compared to the installation of Rockbox on my iPod in the way that I just “unlocked” another device into the world of open source. In all the other ways though, things are quite different: unlike Rockbox, lots of people are using homebrew for piracy and other less licit things; also the homebrew applications that exist are much, but much more unstable and unmaintained than Rockbox.

For those that are already a bit offended by these comparisons, I promise I won’t compare homebrew to Rockbox again 🙂

In fact they are different things, and sometimes it seems the seriousness of the developers is also very different. You hardly know any of the real names of the homebrew developers, for example 🙂 Not that does make them less honest nor anything.

The categories of free web hosting – revised edition

Inspired by a post of mine on freevps.us forum and the various posts that followed it. This blog post can be seen as an improvement over the previous post, and I hope it is less controversial than the first one! (more details on this soon)

Seriously, all the free shared and reseller hosting sucks. After careful thought about this subject of free web hosting, and after careful evaluation of my uncountable experiences with free web hosts in the past, I think we (yes, “we”, because this revised edition can be seen as a collaborative work) have got to the best free web hosting definition categories list ever made by us.

Almost all, if not all, free web hosts that are either more than three months old, or have already closed, can be classified into one of the following categories.

A – The host is good, gives you lots of things you wouldn’t get on many paid hosts: good CPanel, good support, fast speeds, support for lots of technologies (PHP, Perl, Ruby on Rails, etc. etc.), automated installers and all the state-of-the-art things. Now you’re thinking, it seems th best free hosting in the world? The answer is no, and here’s why: you start creating a website on that host and you’re successful with it, you get lots of visits, and you’re happy. But… some day, the host reduces the free plans, goes slow like hell, or worse, all the plans become paid and you must pay, or even worse, the host goes offline forever along with your site – and nobody explains you why!

B – The webhosting sucks completely from the first look: often their website makes it look like it’s a scam, and in fact it is. Slow speeds, overloaded servers, stupid FTP that doesn’t let you upload more than 1 file at once nor files bigger than few MBs, old PHP version with safe_mode on (that is, if you’re lucky enough to have PHP)… do I need to say anything else about this type of web hosts? The incredible is, that these hosts get lots and lots of new users every day, and most of them don’t seem to complain – either because they have never tried a real web hosting before, or because they think that they can’t get best for free.

C – The host offers you a limited plan (like 500MB HD space, 10GB bandwidth) usually as a complement to paid hosting plans and sometimes requires a linkback or some kind of advert on the site that must be put manually by you (under threat of loosing the hosting). These hosts tend to last a while because there are very few user sign ups and the amount of resources used is very little. There is still the chance that they stop free hosting or that they close their doors forever though. Thanks to user f8ll on FreeVPS forums for the idea of this category.

D – The DIY home-made free hosting: slow servers, usually hosted on a free domain like .tk or .cz.cc, or even, the afraid.org domains. Usually all they have as home page is a poorly managed THT (for those that don’t know, THT is an open source software to manage hosting clients), with few and poor plans available, that can range from things with 50MB space to 5GB (where these 5GB are often oversold). Usually, but not necessarily, these hosts are run by kids in the age of 12~16 years that don’t know what they are doing (but they think they made everything appear like so). I’m talking a bit against myself, as I’m 14 but at least I don’t run a free host (although I know who does).

E – The free web hosting that is run by the typical liar, often a teenager that lives in Philippines. More details follow: The free host looks nice, the staff (or at least a big part of it) know what they are doing, the plans look great and, although most of the times space and bandwidth are oversold, the promises are accomplished. Even the website of the host is on a .info domain. Also, the owner of the host tend to start a relationship with you through instant messaging services like MSN or Skype, if and when he discovers that you’re a teenager like him. There’s however a big problem in all this “hosting paradise”: money, money, money… where? Usually the servers for these hosts are obtained by the host owner through affiliate campaigns, where you get a free VPS in exchange for a linkback, or for a limited time (6 months, for example). I think there’s no problem in using these free VPSs to host personal things that you and only you depend of, such as this personal blog. But, installing a web hosting “company” in these servers is not a good idea, because if the VPS is shutdown (something very common as it is given for free), the hosting “company” disappears along with the users’ sites. Worse, usually the owners of these hosts go opening another host on another server, on a forum with new staff, scam another lots of users and make a bit of money out of advertising, then after a period of time their close again without giving explanations to the users. Over, and over, and over, again.

I have the MSN contact of one of those liars that own a type E host. If you’re really, but really interested in getting it, contact me personally and I’ll give it to you.

In my opinion, the types A and E are the worse: they make you create a good website, then after some months disappear leaving you without website and your visitors (or users) disappointed (or really mad). Also, in case of type E hosts, you may get nervous because you talked for months with a liar, through MSN, where he promised you that your sites would be secured forever and hosted for free with him. Then one day you realize at once that all was a lie.

About the type of hosts that annoys me the most, is also the type E, specially when the owner of the host promises you so many times that your sites are “safe” hosted with their “company” that you believe, then you get in a small depression mood when your sites go offline.

I have tried for sure more than 100 free web hosts, and on more than 15 of them I established successful sites and, in some of the cases, even a “relationship” with the owner of the host (which, I discovered later when I lost the hosting, was another liar). I can classify them all into one of these categories. The B type of free hosts is the most common, and they are also the ones which are online for more time (but that doesn’t mean good server uptime).

I’m looking forward to your suggestions of more types of web hosts.

It were the problems with hosts of type A, D and E that made me loose the interest in web development, web hosting world and free VPS world, at least for now. I prefer to work with more conscious (and mature) communities of other things that interest me more. By other words, I’m tired of hosting freebies and its “world”, and I think it all sucks and could all go to hell, except FreeVPS and maybe (I’m still yet to know) HostingMotive (I do have my bets about this one, but I don’t want to share them now).

And this is the end of a post with 1273 words, which certainly won’t tell nice things for certain people, but I hope that provides a useful lecture to others on how to not trust certain people.

The two categories of free web hosting

As seen on a post of mine on freevps.us forum. Edited to join various posts in a coherent blog post.

Seriously, all the free shared and reseller hosting sucks. For every free hosting, there are two categories, A and B:

A – the host is good, gives you lots of things you wouldn’t get on many paid hosts: good CPanel, good support, fast speeds, support for lots of technologies (PHP, Perl, Ruby on Rails, etc. etc.), automated installers and all the state-of-the-art things. You start creating a website and you’re successful with it, you get lots of visits, and you’re happy. But… some day, the host reduces the free plans, goes slow like hell, or worse, all the plans become paid and you must pay, or even worse, the host goes offline forever along with your site – and nobody explains you why!

B – The webhosting sucks completely from the first look: often their website makes it look like it’s a scam, and in fact it is. Slow speeds, overloaded servers, stupid FTP that doesn’t let you upload more than 1 file at once nor files bigger than few MBs, old PHP version with safe_mode on (that is, if you’re lucky enough to have PHP)… do I need to say anything else about this type of web hosts?

In my opinion, the type A is the worse: they make you create a good website, then after some months disappear leaving you without website and your visitors (or users) disappointed (or really mad).

I have tried for sure more than 50 free web hosts, and I can classify them all into one of these categories. The B type of free hosts is the most common, and they are also the ones which are online for more time (but that doesn’t mean good server uptime).

For a better classification of hosts in these two categories, the only hosts that can be classified as A or B must either have already died or have been around for more than two years. That means, for example, that you can’t use the A-B difference meter to classify HostingMotive, as it has been just created.

Soon, I’ll post a new classification scale that will also be able to classify free web hosts that have not already died and are not more than two years old, like recently created hosts and hosting project ideas (yes, because we can also classify the ideas). Stay tuned!

Homebrew on the Wii

This post is pretty long. No matter if it’s in Portuguese or English, it’s very difficult to me to write a short blog or forum post, because there’s always more to say. This post is, however, “lightweight lecture” – at least, I’ve written it to be like this. 🙂

I got a Wii for more than a year. I bought it not because I like to play games (I’m not a fan of video-games in any way), but because I found interesting the way data is input to the system – not only keys, but also gestures.

In fact, a Wii is not a really good product if you want to have an all-in-one device that apart from playing games, also act as a media center and allows you to browse the ‘net. Something that is further delineated with the lack of HD output – the Wii only does PAL (576i) or NTSC (486i) resolution, through a normal RCA A/V cable, or the optional (bought separately) composite cable that also only allows 480p. With my old CRT TV set, this wasn’t much of a difference, but now with a HD TV it’s highly noticeable, specially when you’re near the screen and on moving images.

Apart from the lack of HD, which doesn’t bother me much, when it comes to media the Wii is pretty poor, as I said. The nearest thing to a media player is the Photo Channel, which allows you to view photos from an SD card (yes, because although the Wii has two USB connectors, they aren’t used for anything than for connecting a microphone in certain games, and for charging devices), and to play AAC (not even MP3!) music while viewing slide shows. It is also supposed to support AVI Motion-JPEG files, but from the various I encoded I could never get one to work.

The Wii has also some downloadable channels, from the Wii Shop Channel. The most interesting is the Internet Channel, which is nothing but Opera 9.30 (a pretty old version) for embedded devices, on a GUI optimized for the Wii. It supports CSS (wow!), JavaScript (wow!) and Flash 8 (again, pretty outdated), and YouTube videos have pretty poor image and sound quality. Also, some more complex sites don’t load because of lack of memory, and the Wii says “Out of memory!”. It sometimes makes me remember the old computers with MS-DOS, but with a nice interface.

I think I can stop saying bad things about the Wii now. Oh, but I forgot about one thing. Since the System Menu (the “OS” the Wii) verison 4.0, all the releases have had the purpose of fixing exploits that allowed the installation of homebrew and the ability of running unsigned code on the Wii. This homebrew that exists for the Wii, apart from the piracy software (that allows you to load pirated games), is developed by honest people that do harmless software. However, Nintendo keeps only seeing the “black part” of homebrew and keeps on blocking the exploits. With the latest version of System Menu, 4.3, installation of the Homebrew Channel (a channel that is installed on the Wii using the HackMii installer) is only possible if you have certain specific games – previous bugs on System Menu 4.0, 4.1 and, recently, 4.2 that allowed hacking by simply inserting a SD card have been fixed.

To have a better idea of what I’m talking about I suggest you visit WiiBrew, a site made by honest independent developers that only want to unleash the potential of the hardware they bought. On that site, you won’t find piracy homebrew, exactly because people there are honest (well, most of them – at the end, this is the internet). Installing homebrew allows you to do much more with the Wii – it still doesn’t bring HD video, but it allows you to run, amongst many other things, a complete media center, WiiMC.

I don’t have homebrew installed on my Wii – yet. Some time ago, when System Menu 4.3 came out, I didn’t know about Homebrew and ended up updating the software of the Wii. Now, the only way to get Homebrew running is to use certain games, as I said. I already ordered one of these games and I hope it arrives ASAP. Now, lets just hope that the installation of Homebrew is successful and that I don’t end up with a brick – yes, because these things of hacking always involve certain risks.

And you? Do you own a Wii (certainly no, and don’t go for it unless you really want a cheap gaming console and Homebrew)? Did you know about Homebrew? Waiting for your comments 😉