23 Dec 2005

Stupidity+Hubris? Thy name is AC

Posted by AC

I tend to think of the server that my in-laws use for their business: http://www.fayrealestate.com/ as falling in the same category as my other “personal” machines — like the one that hosts this blog, and http://www.santaal.com/ and so forth. I need to start thinking of them as clients instead.

Yesterday, they were having some trouble. I did some investigation and found that a awstats vulnerability had been exploited. I was sure I’d password-protected the awstats pages, but when I looked through the apache configs, I found no such thing. I checked with them, and they weren’t using the stats, so I just uninstalled awstats, and deleted the stuff the crackers put in place.

If I’d been smart, it would have stopped there. But, I saw that the server was quite out of date, and figured there were likely other vulnerabilities as well. So, after they’d gone to bed, I went to the office and upgraded them from Fedora Core 1 to Fedora Core 4. The first time, it got stuck (installing fonts, of all things). The next time, it made it just fine, but I’d failed to take into consideration that doing pretty much anything on a P2 with 128M of RAM was going to be slow. When FC4 came up, I saw that postfix (the mail program) had failed to load. I did a little bit of troubleshooting to get it running, then finally went home to crash — at about 4:00AM.

I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. The legacy imap server (from uw) wasn’t working. It took a while to track it down, uninstall it and set it so that the new server (dovecot) would take over for it.

More recently, I’ve been beating my head against a weird postfix/DNS problem. Postfix kept reporting
Host or domain name not found. Name
service error for name=[hostname] type=A: Host found but no data record of requested type
.

I was fairly sure that gmail and yahoo had their DNS configured correctly, but I was able to resolve both MX records and A names for the SMTP servers of both hosts. Finally, I decided to try having the resolver use a primary DNS server that I don’t run, and it worked. I’m still not entirely sure why. But I guess I need to do some more DNS figuring. Maybe this is related to the fact that, for example, there are time when I get a “not found” error trying to access “samanthafaycapehart.com”.

So, today’s lessons:
1) Treat clients like clients, even when you’re related to them.
2) Do more preparation for big jumps like FC1->FC4

Also, I just need to spend more time in config files for things like bind and postfix. I tend to get them working once, and forget about them. In the meanwhile, they get upgraded, fixed and changed. The package maintainer changes defaults and locations, etc. Then, I come to them again later, and I’m lost and have to research all over.

So, for the moment, they can send mail. The current crisis is over, but I’m not satisfied with the solution, so will bang my head against this a few more times. What else is Christmas eve for? 😉

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