FreeNAS 11.2/FreeBSD BTX boot loader 1.0: Very slow booting if “Legacy USB 3.0 Support” is enabled

Starting with version 11.2-RELEASE-U1, FreeNAS uses the FreeBSD BTX 1.0 boot loader instead of Grub (reason: The FreeBSD boot loader finally started supporting ZFS – years after Grub supported it, BTW).

Unlike Grub, the FreeBSD boot loader seems to have rather “suboptimal” support for storage devices (like USB sticks, USB drives) that are accessed using the legacy USB 3.0 mode at boot time. So, when I upgraded FreeNAS from 11.1-U7 to 11.2-RELEASE-U2 on my home-built ASRock FreeNAS E3C226D2I NAS appliance, booting FreeNAS from an internal 16 GB USB 3 stick took all of a sudden almost 30 minutes(!) instead of the usual 1-2 minutes.

As I found out by “trial & error” (or educated guessing, as some would say), the only reason for this huge slowdown was that “Legacy USB 3.0 Support” was enabled in the AMI BIOS (the effect is reproducible). So, just disable “Legacy USB 3.0 Support”[1] in the BIOS and FreeNAS >= 11.2 will boot quickly again.

[1] Note: There’s no need to disable “Legacy USB Support”, so you’ll still be able to use your USB 2 keyboard or mouse at boot time.

Windows 10 backups using Duplicati

“File History”, the built-in backup functionality of Windows 10, leaves a lot to be desired. It starts with a totally non-intuitive, “dumbed-down” user interface (displaying a backup size of 0 bytes, “backing up your data…” and an enabled “Back up now” button at the same time) and ends with lacking transparency (no information about progress and speed at all) and checkability in general.

Luckily, there’s a better open source alternative: Duplicati

Duplicati might not be the fastest backup solution either, but it has a good, intuitive GUI and wizard. And it’s fully transparent and highly adjustable.

Paragon CampTune – a handy tool to resize the Boot Camp partition

Recently I ran out of space on a Boot Camp partition with Windows 10 Pro. So I looked around for ways to make more space for Windows by shrinking the macOS partition and enlarging the Windows partition. Apple doesn’t officially support this in Boot Camp without reinstalling Windows, and doing these operations by hand, e.g. with the help of GNU Parted, is time consuming and tedious.

Luckily, I stumbled over Paragon CampTune, a commercial macOS utility (ready for 10.14 Mojave) that automates these tedious tasks and allows to resize the macOS and Boot Camp partitions on the fly, without having to reinstall Windows or macOS.

It finally worked wonderfully, the only irritating thing was that the tool showed a bland error at the first start of the repartitioning process: “Object not found”. After restarting the process with slightly different partition sizes, it could be successfully completed.

I can thus recommend this handy utility as it can save hours of work for a few bucks (ca. 22 USD).

GitLab 10.5 and later: Solution for error “Validation failed for domain” with Let’s Encrypt

GitLab 10.5 introduced built-in support for Let’s Encrypt.

Unfortunately, if you follow the official GitLab instructions how to enable Let’s Encrypt support, you may encounter the following error when rebuilding GitLab:

Running handlers:
There was an error running gitlab-ctl reconfigure:

letsencrypt_certificate[yourhost.yourdomain.com] (letsencrypt::http_authorization line 3) had an error: RuntimeError: acme_certificate[staging] (/opt/gitlab/embedded/cookbooks/cache/cookbooks/letsencrypt/resources/certificate.rb line 20) had an error: RuntimeError: [yourhost.yourdomain.com] Validation failed for domain yourhost.yourdomain.com

Running handlers complete
Chef Client failed. 11 resources updated in 11 seconds

Warnings:

Let’s Encrypt is enabled, but external_url is using http

The last line is rather misleading, as the domain validation can apparently also fail if one sets  external_url = “https://yourhost.yourdomain.com”

As a workaround, add the following two additional lines to /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb (hat tip to Kai Mindermann and Thomas Jost for the hints):

nginx['redirect_http_to_https_port'] = 80
nginx['redirect_http_to_https'] = true

 

So, all in all, you need to set in /etc/gitlab/gitlab.rb:

external_url 'https://yourhost.yourdomain.com'

and add the following lines (adjust the notification e-mail address):

letsencrypt['enable'] = true
letsencrypt['contact_emails'] = ['gitlab-notifications@yourdomain.com'] # optional
nginx['redirect_http_to_https_port'] = 80
nginx['redirect_http_to_https'] = true

Make sure that your firewall doesn’t block access to ports 22 (SSH), 80 (HTTP), 443 (HTTPS).

After that, reconfigure GitLab (in a shell):

# gitlab-ctl reconfigure

That’s it! You can now register/login at https://yourhost.yourdomain.com.

The ‘All-in-One WP Migration’ plugin is all you need to migrate your WordPress blog

This blog has just been migrated to a newer and (much) faster host node running Proxmox 5 with ZFS.

Therefore, I was looking for the best method to migrate a WordPress blog to another server (and/or database and/or directory and/or URL).

Do you remember the times when migrating a WordPress blog was rather tedious, involving many manual steps, despite (other) handy tools like WP-CLI? Apparently, this is no longer needed, as all you need is the following plugin:

All-in-One WP Migration

This plugin’s export and import functionality takes care of all the required configuration and path adjustments, allowing you to easily migrate a blog with up to 512 MB data. The steps are thus:

  1. Install the All-in-One WP Migration plugin on your current WordPress site
  2. Use the plugin to export all your data, plugins, themes, configuration etc., e.g. as a downloadable file.
    Note: In particularly tricky cases you can also manually replace certain strings in the db or exclude specific data and files.
  3. Setup a new vanilla WordPress installation at another location (server, directory). You’ll need a database and the WP installation files for this.
  4. Install the All-in-One WP Migration plugin on your new WordPress site
  5. Use the plugin on your new site to import the previously exported data from your old site

It’s hard to believe, but that’s really it!

How to upgrade Zimbra/ZCS 8.8 GA from Ubuntu 14.04 LTS to 16.04 LTS

When upgrading Ubuntu 14.04 LTS to 16.04 LTS the usual way, ‘do-release-upgrade’ will by default remove 3rd party packages. For a Zimbra/ZCS server this means that Zimbra/ZCS packages would be automatically removed when upgrading to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

Luckily, there’s a neat little trick to prevent ‘do-release-upgrade’ from removing Zimbra/ZCS packages during the upgrade. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open two screen sessions (or two terminal sessions) on your Zimbra/ZCS server
     $ screen -R
  2. Block at least the SMTP and SMTPS ports (to prevent clients from accessing the server, consider blocking the IMAP and IMAPS ports too, or all ports but SSH and port 1022) for your Zimbra/ZCS server on your firewall (to stop the delivery of messages).
  3. Backup the server or make a snapshot, just in case anything goes wrong
  4. Stop Zimbra/ZCS:
     $ sudo /etc/init.d/zimbra stop
  5. Make sure the system is current:
     $ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
  6. Start the Ubuntu distro upgrade process:
     $ sudo do-release-upgrade

    (if you don’t have do-release-upgrade, you have to execute ‘sudo apt-get install update-manager-core’ first)

  7. When prompted by ‘do-release-upgrade’ that the third party sources have been disabled, re-enable those third party sources. To do this, open ‘/etc/apt/sources.list.d/zimbra.list’ with an editor (e.g. nano, vim) in another terminal/screen session and change its content from:
    # deb [arch=amd64] https://repo.zimbra.com/apt/87 xenial zimbra # disabled on upgrade to xenial
    # deb-src [arch=amd64] https://repo.zimbra.com/apt/87 xenial zimbra # disabled on upgrade to xenial

    to

    deb [arch=amd64] https://repo.zimbra.com/apt/87 xenial zimbra
    deb-src [arch=amd64] https://repo.zimbra.com/apt/87 xenial zimbra

    Then return to the first terminal/screen session and let ‘do-release-upgrade’ continue with the upgrade process (i.e. hit ‘enter’).

  8. When you get informed about the packages that will be removed (BTW, in the detail view you can see that the Zimbra packages will now be upgraded, not removed) and upgraded and asked whether you want to start the upgrade, confirm this.
    Note: Don’t worry about minor error messages like:E: changelog for this version is not (yet) available; try https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/zimbra-perl-socket/+changelogYou can safely ignore them.
  9. Agree to all suggestions by ‘do-release-upgrade’ (e.g. the removal of files in /var/log/sysstat/ and whether you allow ssh to be restarted). In my case, it was also fine to go with the maintainer versions of the config files.
  10. When the upgrade process is finished, let ‘do-release-upgrade’ reboot the system.

After this, Zimbra/ZCS should work nicely again, on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

Note: It can take Zimbra/ZCS quite some time to properly start all its services (it’s Java, after all). Sometimes, the output of ‘$ sudo /etc/init.d/zimbra status’ and what’s listed in the service monitoring section of the Zimbra/ZCS admin webUI can thus be inconsistent. Sometimes, it’s even necessary to stop and start Zimbra/ZCS a couple of times (with ‘/etc/init.d/zimbra’) after an upgrade until all services run nicely.
Also note that Zimbra’s new dedicated ‘imapd’ service won’t run properly, unless it’s configured manually, as shown in the Zimbra Collaboration Administrator Guide version 8.8.3. If it doesn’t run properly, this service will simply be ignored in a single server setup, your Zimbra/ZCS will thus likely work as usual.

If there are any problems or if you want to be extra cautious, you can also additionally download Zimbra/ZCS 8.8 for 16.04 LTS manually and run its installer again:

$ sudo ./install.sh

If everything is fine, unblock the SMTP and SMTPS (and IMAP and IMAPS) ports again.

If things aren’t fine, simply roll-back from the snapshot or restore the whole server from the backup.

You might then want to try a fresh install according to the official Zimbra/ZCS migration manual: How to move ZCS to another server.

(Source: Kudos to vchong68 for his valuable hint in his forum post)