After my old server’s power supply exploded I decided to consolidate services on another machine that is running anyway, For this new server I chose Debian, after trying all major Linux distributions, FreeBSD and even Solaris, Debian turned out to be the best match for my aging but solid machine, a ServerWorks Dual Pentium 3 1 Ghz Board with 2 MB ECC RAM and two RocketRaid 1820 8 channel SATA controllers. My previous server was Gentoo-based, which I quite liked, but keeping it up-to-date required more time I was willing to spend. Debian at first seemed to be a good choice, but compared to Gentoo, it looks like a big mess to me, and the documentation and howtos are much worse than I expected. Many important things are either undocumented, hard to track down, or the documentation is outdated. I can not say I really love Debian, but it gets the job done.
Next question was, what blog software? My old blog used WordPress, but I was very unhappy about all the security issues popping up, and fighting blogspam was extremely annoying. And I do not trust php, although it is simple and well documented, and some serious sites use it with good success, e.g. Wikipedia or Yahoo. But you could say the same thing about Visual Basic and it does not make it cool.
As Ruby-on-Rails seems to be beyond the first hype now and should have matured into something useable and stable, it looked like a good candidate. And there is the nice demo about how to write your own blog with ruby in fifteen minutes, so by now there should be some serious rails-based blog software out there.
As you can see, I have chosen Typo for now. The Ruby-on-Rails installation on Debian turned out to be a much bigger mess than expected. I ran into at least ten problems, which I was finally able to solve, but it required installation of several additional undocumented packets, installing three different Ruby versions, consulting two experts and some dozen of websites to get through all that.
Here some hints if you want to run Typo and Ruby-on-Rails on Debian:
– Don’t even try to use the Ruby-Version that comes with etch
– The ruby 1.8.7-72 version that comes currently with backports won’t work with Typo
– The "official" 1.8.6 works but has security issues
– I finally had to go with Phusion’s Ruby Enterprise Edition (uh, what a name)
However, the Phusion guys also provide mod_passenger for apache, which was very easy and straightforward to set up, and makes quite sense to me from a technical point of view. The other mature alternative is using apache as a proxy for mongrail, but in this case you won’t make use of apaches’ capabilities to manage processes.
Anyway, I am curios how all this will work out, but it is always an interesting reality check when you try the stuff yourself. My general impression about how the Open Source Cosm evolves is that things are getting mostly worse, not better. There is more fragmentation than consolidation, and way too much time is spent on "new" stuff, and too little time on consolidating, bugfixing and documentation. I don’t want to put blame on anyone here, I think the Open Source Movement is a very valueable one, and many people out there spend a lot of time improving and maintaining things, but the Open Source user experience really sucks too often. And the alternatives are also not exactly great. The Microsoft user experience to me is also almost unbearable, and Apple’s OSX is only bearable because of the access to large parts of the Open Source universe.
So, this is enough for my first new post, I will try to salvage my old blog somehow, either by importing it or providing a static version. The first impressions of Typo is good, but I barely scratched the surface. I will keep you informed.