On Sunday, June 25th, I naively tried to install MySQL and WordPress. I had been running Debian Woody but in trying to install new packages, I was met with this greeting from apt-get:

E: This installation run will require temporarily removing the essential package e2fsprogs due to a Conflicts/Pre-Depends loop. This is often bad, but if you really want to do it, activate the APT::Force-LoopBreak option. E: Internal Error, Could not early remove e2fsprog

So, after googling around for awhile, it looked like this had happened to lots of people who tried to upgrade their systems “too much”, meaning they had not done enough incremental upgrades between their starting configuration (ie. an old stable version of Debian) and their desired end configuration (in my case, a newer testing version of Debian). I also got the impression from various sites that the only option really was a brute force solution. So, I followed the instructions I found online and tried to manually remove e2fprogs and then reinstall it. This did not work. In the end, I had a system with a bunch of packages that were partially installed and partially removed. Plus, I got errors whenever I tried to install anything with apt-get. It seemed like my only option was to reinstall Linux.

The question was, which type of Linux. I have most experience with Debian and since using the old stable version of Debian caused me problems last time, I decided to go with the Debian testing distribution, which is called Etch. I spent a bunch of time fighting with it but I couldn’t figure out how to handle MySQL.

So, I tried a different approach. I installed Ubuntu Server 6.06 which is set up to provide the fabled LAMP (Linux + Apache + MySQL + PHP) out of the box. I tried the “server-expert” boot option but that resulted in a kernel panic. Ok, better try something else. So, I used just the “server” boot option. This, at least, didn’t result in kernel panic. I initially had some issues with the disk partitioner, since it set my default mount points to /media/hda1, etc, which is great for a live CD, but not good for a hard disk installation. After figuring out that I had to change the default mount points for the various partitions, I finally got the system to boot up.

Next came resurrecting my photo gallery. I had been using gallery 1.4.4 but the oldest version available via apt-get that wasn’t older than 1.4.4 was 1.5.3. I really didn’t want to lose my gallery of more than 1500 pictures and force all the users to re-upload their images, which seemed to be a distinct possibility if I installed a version of gallery much newer than the one I had used before. Fortunately, I was able to figure out how to set up the gallery using the old stuff I had saved before reinstalling Linux. (I should point out here that I had also succeeded in resurrecting gallery in my Debian installation but gave up on it when I couldn’t get MySQL to work properly) It took me hours to figure out how to get the Apache mod_rewrite module to work so that gallery could use short, intuitive URLs for the various albums. It turns out that the Ubuntu package for Apache2 creates this default “site”, so sticking your config information in apache2.conf or httpd.conf doesn’t do anything. You have to put it in the default site config file. Once I found that out, I was in business. Unfortunately, there still seem to be some problems in the configuration. The colors are not what they were before. I need to tinker with this some more.

Once I got gallery mostly set up, I moved on to dealing with the whole reason for beginning these shenanigans in the first place: installing wordpress. Instead of trying to install it using the Debian package, people online seemed to recommend just downloading the tar file from the wordpress site. I did install MySQL using the Debian package, however, and it took me awhile to figure out how to get it to work. Luckily, I had ordered a book on MySQL a couple of weeks ago; that came in handy. I downloaded the wordpress tar file, untarred it in the appropriate directory (I also encountered some problems because I installed all my stuff in a non-standard directory – Debian and Ubuntu assume that your web pages go in /var/www, which is not what I used.) and followed the directions. Apart from some syntax issues with the MySQL commands that the wordpress instructions told me to use, it was pretty painless. And now, after many frustrations and much grumbling, here is my first blog post. I hope you enjoyed it. In retrospect, I now think that I could have set everything up with Debian rather than Ubuntu, but things are working now, so I’m not going to mess with anything. If you have any questions about setting up your own blog, my inclination is to tell you to ask someone else; but, I guess I would say this: if you’re using Debian or Ubuntu, don’t worry about installing gallery and wordpress with the Debian packages. You should install MySQL, PHP, Apache, etc. using the Debian packages, but just install Gallery and WordPress using the tar files you can download from their respective websites. That’ll save you a lot of grief because there is practically no documentation for how the Debian packages work. Also, you’ll make your life simpler if you just put all your webpages in /var/www, so if you’re thinking about how to partition your drive, you should make the /var partition pretty big. Or, you can do what I did and put all your documents in a different partition and symlink to it from /var/www.

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July 2006

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