This article is a bit different from most of the posts I make, as it focuses on another hat I wear…that of web developer and system administrator. Yea, I admit. I’m one of those 50/50 left brain-right brain mutants.
Plesk is a control panel for web servers. It’s job is to provide a GUI interface that simplifies the process of hosting multiple websites on a server. It also provides an interface for our clients to manage their sites and email. In our case, our server is a Linux box located in San Diego at Illuminated Hosting. By the way, Illuminated has been our provider for about five years now and does a great job. If you’re looking for either Linux or Windows, PHP or ColdFusion hosting, I highly recommend them.
This story highlights my ‘experience’ in upgrading Plesk to it’s current version, 10.0.1. The subtitle? The Nightmare Before, During & After Christmas.
If you’re planning to upgrade to Plesk 10.x with the integrated Customer Manager, make sure you have enough money saved to pay for a tropical getaway, because after you finish the process, you will definitely need a vacation.
Setting the stage
I was running Plesk 9.2 with Plesk Billing running as a separate program. SSO never worked between the two of them (as advertised), so instead I’ve used them as two separate programs for the past three years.
The upgrade from h*ll
Over the holidays we made the decision to upgrade to Plesk 10 with the integrated Customer Manager (the new Plesk Billing). As with past Plesk upgrades, we anticipated *some* problems and downtime. The holidays seemed like the best time, as it is not a critical web/mail time for the majority of our clients.
In hopes of preventing problems, I did an incremental upgrade… ie plesk 9.2 > 9.3, then 9.3 > 9.5, and so on – up to 10.x. Bottom line – this did not make a difference. Everything that possible could go wrong, went wrong.
Due to lack of sleep caused by numerous late nights and full days working on resolving issues, many of the issues I encountered have become a blur. But I’ll highlight the ones I remember.
• Installation errors. Upgrades in the 9.x range went fine. But then, 10.x installations became the nightmare.
Resolution: backed up existing databases (PSA and Billing), then deleted the Billing database, and then reinstalled. WARNING. If you do this, you will loose ALL customer information, past billing records, etc. It was 3 in the morning. I needed to get my server backup. I made the decision that it was worth the compromise. Be prepared to spend numerous hours getting base package and client information back into the billing component. By 7:30am I had the server backup and running and *usable* for my clients.
• SSO doesn’t work. SSO – meaning the ability to login to Plesk and not have to re-login when you need to work in the Customer Manager would not work.
Resolution: hours of repairing sso.db (see tips at the end of this post that may help)
• Qmail no longer works. All mail sent disappears into the ether. It doesn’t show up in the Qmail queue, or anywhere else. It just disappears… Then, the sender gets an email from Qmail that it could not be sent. Sorry.
Resolution: rebuild all email headers. (Illuminated took care of this for me…thanks!)
Now we pause for a brief announcement. Have I told you that I really don’t like Plesk anymore? What started out as a pretty decent relationship about eight years ago, has now turned into a divorce in the making. In most relationships both parties are usually at fault when the relationship starts to deteriorate. But, I’ll be the first one to admit…in this case…it’s all Parallels Plesk’s fault!
• Multiple sync errors. So you’re finally able to login to both applications. But getting Plesk and it’s new Customer Manager (the new Plesk Billing) to sync with one another is yet another nightmare.
Resolution: hours of back and forth comparing user data between the PSA database and the Billing database.
• email/user account issues. You open up a user profile to change some data. Let’s say a password. Then you click to save, and it tells you that you can’t use this email because it is already in use by another account. The problem is, in the old version domain owners (ie login with domainname/password) could have the same email address as their email account (ie login with firstname.lastname@example.org/password). Well, that isn’t possible in the new version.
Resolution: The goal is to make one single account now for the domain owner (or any other user role) and their mail account. Devise a ‘swap’ strategy to set one account with a temporary email name, while not loose existing mailboxes in /var/qmail/mailnames/domainname.com that belong to that user. Yes. It was complicated.
• panel admin email account issues. So let’s say you are the panel admin AND you are a customer, reseller, or domain owner. Try updating your Plesk Panel admin account and you’ll received the warning that you can’t save the info because the email account already exists.
Resolution: I haven’t found any solutions. I’m stuck using one of my generic email addresses for the admin panel email address.
• Dr. Web constant annoying email alerts. You’ll be plagued by them. Did I mention I have the Service turned off? (see tip below). But still…I get these emails…
Resolution: In Plesk, go to Service Management > Tools and Utilities > Scheduled Task. Select the ‘drweb’ user. Turn off /opt/drweb/update.pl.
And… if this still does not work, either edit the cron job /etc/cron.d/drweb-update and put a hash# at the beginning of the line to comment it out or delete the file. It’s history.
If you prefer to use Dr. Web, instead edit, stop drwebd (/etc/init.d/drwebd stop), then /etc/drweb/drweb32.ini and change CronSummary = Yes to CronSummary = No. Finally, /etc/init.d/drwebd restart.
And…if this still does
• Another annoying email alert. var/log/kav/5.5/kav4mailservers/avstats.log’ does not exist.
Resolution: In Plesk, go to Service Management > Tools and Utilities > Scheduled Task. Select the ‘kluser’ user.
• Yet another annoying email alert. Apparently this error message caused by IIS style apache attacks which don’t harm a Linux box, but does produce these annoying alerts.
Error: Skipping oversized log record
Error: Skipping oversized log record
You can opt to have Webalizer to use “Really Quiet” mode by editing /etc/webalizer.conf uncommenting “ReallyQuiet no” and changing it to ReallyQuiet yes. This will supress all Webalizer messages including errors and warnings. If you decide to do this, it cannot be overridden from the command line, so use with caution. You can always go back in and re-edit the config though.
• And another annoying error. /etc/cron.daily/60sa-update: Can’t locate Archive/Tar.pm in @INC. Apparently this is caused because Spam Assassin requires Archive::Tar. (Archive::Tar provides an object oriented mechanism for handling tar files). As the root user…
$ yum info perl-Archive-Tar.noarch (this will tell you if it is already installed, and what versions are available)
$ yum install perl-Archive-Tar.noarch
Did I mention that I wasn’t getting any of these errors prior to upgrading to Plesk 10.x? Have I told you that I really don’t like Plesk anymore? Oh yeah…I think I did tell you that already.
Things that *may* help…
This is supposed to repair many of the install issues that people are experiencing.
Remove Dr.Web as an autoboot service
service drwebd stop
chkconfig drwebd off