Scheduled maintenance for Linux updates (completed)

Due to software updates on our servers, Web hosting customers will experience about seven minutes of scheduled maintenance downtime between 11 PM and 1 AM Pacific time starting on one of the following nights, depending on which server your site is on:

  • Thursday, February 4 (servers beginning with the letter “L”, such as “lrrr”)
  • Friday, February 5 (all other servers beginning with letters “F-Z”, such as “farnsworth”)
  • Saturday, February 6 (servers beginning with letters “A-E”, such as “amy”)

What’s changing?

Our servers use the Debian GNU/Linux operating system, which is updated with new versions every couple of years (just like Windows or Mac OS X). Last year, Debian was updated to version 5.0 (aka “lenny”), and since then, we’ve been running a “mixed” system. Some programs on each server have already been updated, but other programs still need updating.

We’re now finalizing the upgrade. This will make sure we can continue to use Debian security updates (they’ll soon be provided only for version 5.0) to keep our systems secure, and will give customers access to newer versions of some programs. Among the many updates:

  • The Apache Web server will be upgraded from version 2.2.3 to 2.2.9
  • The MySQL database server will be upgraded from 5.0.32 to 5.0.51a
  • The PHP scripting language will be upgraded from 5.2.0 to 5.2.6
  • The Perl scripting language will be upgraded from 5.8.8 to 5.10.0
  • The default version of the Python scripting language will change from 2.4.4 to 2.5.2

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that these are not the newest, “cutting-edge” versions available. This is intentional; the philosophy of Debian Linux (and of our hosting platform) is to only use extremely well-tested, tried-and-true versions. We strongly value stability over new features, within reason, because that improves reliability for the majority of our customers.

However, we also want to emphasize that these versions also include security updates from later versions — for example, PHP includes the features from 5.2.6, but also includes security fixes from versions 5.2.7 to 5.2.12.

Why the downtime?

Unfortunately, a side-effect of the upgrade is about 7 total minutes of downtime.

We always strive to avoid any downtime, but in this case, it’s unavoidable: There’s a four-minute outage while the server is restarted for the new kernel version, and three outages of about a minute each while Apache, PHP, and MySQL are upgraded. During those three periods, we disable access to the Web server to prevent strange technical error messages appearing on your visitor’s screens.

Incoming mail may be delayed for a few minutes during the maintenance, but as always, no mail will be lost: it will just be queued and delivered a few minutes later.


Please contact our support team if you have any questions. We appreciate your business!

Update: The maintenance was completed as scheduled.