Frugal Subversion Setup

SubversionA while ago I read about, and downloaded the new Versions subversion client.  I had never used subversion before except for grabbing a bit of code once in a while and was excited to try it out.  Even though I usually work alone the idea of versioning is very appealing – that way if anything goes wrong I can revert quickly to a previous working version.

Versions is great, but thats a topic for another post.  The problem I ran into was the 1-repository and 20 MB limit on the free Beanstalk account is too low for me, and the entry-level price of $15 a month is higher than I want to pay.  Maybe if I become a svn-a-holic I’ll pay it, but not right now. I looked at some other free subversion hosts, but decided to set up my own, without paying for anything.  First, the components:

  1. The PC that is now my Subversion server.
  2. VisualSVN Server, (it’s free, and I don’t have to deal with the command-line).
  3. A WRT54G running dd-wrt firmware.
  4. A DynDNS.org account, (so I can access the repository from the outside world – if you have a static IP you shouldn’t need this).
  5. Your own domain name, (optional – just to make the DynDNS.org URL look nicer).

The basic setup is really simple.  Download VisualSVN Server and run the installer.  Choose where you want the program and the repositories to live.  It works like any other Windows installer and only takes a few clicks.  Once installed, the VisualSVN Server Manager provides a GUI to manage the server and you can set up a repository and a user with just a few more clicks.  It’s super easy. 

Once the VisualSVN server is set up you should be able to easily access the repositories from your LAN, but what if you want to work from a coffee shop?  

This is where DynDNS.org comes in.  If you don’t have a static IP address, and it changes all of the time, you will need an update service to make yourself findable from the outside internet.  I looked at several services, but ended up going with DynDNS.org because of its long history, it is free, and it allows enough requests per month that I don’t think I’ll ever hit the limit.   Go ahead and set up a DynDNS.org, (or your provider of choice), account and chose a domain, it’s Pretty simple.

Next, you will have to configure an update client for DynDNS.org.  This is a program that tells DynDNS.org when my IP changes.  Luckily, there is one built into dd-wrt.  In order for the router to know my WAN IP I had to set up the router to connect by PPPoE, (instead of the default DHCP setup, where it gets an IP address from the modem).  Luckily on dd-wrt this is very simple.  Under the setup tab there’s a drop-down for PPPoE, then you find your connection username & password and enter them in the boxes. Hopefully it will be just as easy for you. Once PPPoE is set up, go to DDNS, (a sub-tab of Setup), and enter your DynDNS.org info.  Remember to hit “Apply Settings” each time.

That’s all great, but what happens when you’re at a coffee shop and try to connect? Nothing.  DD-wrt has a pretty strong firewall.  There’s a little more setup still to do.  First, the computer with the SVN server needs to have a static IP within the LAN.  Since I don’t enjoy messing with windows network settings, I do this with the router.  Under the Services tab, in the DHCP server box, there is a place for static leases.  Enter your Subversion Server’s MAC address, hostname, (the computer name), and desired IP address there, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Apply Settings.” Now that we’ve got the static IP address, we can go to the NAT/QoS tab forward the the port that your Subversion Server uses to the static IP address you just set up.

Finally, to make things a little nicer, if you have a domain name, and your DNS provider allows you to add records, you can add a CNAME record to point a subdomain do your DynDNS.org domain, giving you access to your Subversion repositories via the URL subdomain.yourdomain.com.  Fancy!

One note on testing:  dd-wrt seems to be smart and knows if a request is coming from the LAN or the internet, so it’s kind of hard to test your remote access from within your LAN.   I was able to get around this by logging in to a remote desktop session of another windows computer that is far, far, away from my LAN.

That’s it, now you should have a fully-function SVN server of your own, without paying a penny. Have fun, and feel free to experiment with your code – you always have the previous version to roll back to!

WordPress Exploit Scanner should mean Fewer Hacked Blogs

A couple of weeks ago an article about hacked WordPress sites came up in my WordPress admin dashboard.  I hadn’t been paying attention to all of the noise that was apparently going on about hacked blogs, but this article got my attention, and I read it.  I learned a lot about how to see if my blog was hacked, but a lot of it consisted of searching for strings in all of my wordpress files, which would involve downloading them all to my computer.  What a pain in the ass.

Well, that was two and a half weeks ago. Times have changed. Donncha has come out with the WordPress Exploit Scanner, (currently version 0.1).  It does the work for you!  Download it and check your wordpress blog.  I did, (and I came up clean).

The Road to Genetically Modified Chocolate

The BBC is reporting that Mars is working with IBM and the US Department of Agriculture to map the genome of Chocolate.  That’s pretty cool.

However, the Chocolate Genome Project could lead to genetically modified chocolate, so we will have to be careful what we do with this new knowledge.

Hotmail vs. FF3 – Clueless Support!

Since I wrote that <a href=”http://johnbeales.com/20080618/hotmail-is-not-friends-with-firefox-3/”>Hotmail is not friends with Firefox 3</a> on Wednesday there have been a lot of people finding that entry searching for things like “hotmail not work firefox 3” and “hotmail tells me to clear cache and cookies.”

Well, one reader, Joel, contacted support, and here’s the excellent E-mail he got back:

…Your message was forwarded to us at Windows Live Hotmail Technical Support. This is Kris and I gather that you are having issue that Windows Live Hotmail will not load in the full version when you are accessing your #######@###### account through Firefox 3 as your browser. I understand the importance of having this addressed immediately.

Joel, I would like to inform you that Windows Live Hotmail does not currently have the feature that will allowed you to use the full version of Windows Live Hotmail when using Firefox 3 as your browser. What I can do for you now is to personally submit this item to the Windows Live Hotmail Product Development Team as a feature request for evaluation, as I see the usefulness of this capability.

We appreciate your continued support as we strive to provide you with the highest quality service available. Thank you for using Windows Live Hotmail.

How cryptic can the response be?  Again:

Windows Live Hotmail does not currently have the feature that will allowed you to use the full version of Windows Live Hotmail when using Firefox 3 as your browser.

What’s going on?

Hotmail is not friends with Firefox 3

Since yesterday’s release of Firefox 3 I have been enjoying snappier speeds browsing  some of my favourite websites.  Not Windows Live Mail though.  When I log in it tells me this:

You are temporarily on the classic version of Windows Live Hotmail due to an error encountered during login. Before trying again, please clear your cache and cookies.

Reminds me of earlier times, when Windows Live Mail didn’t fully support FF.  What gives?

Update: A lot of people are finding this post when searching for things like “firefox 3 hotmail not working,” so it seems that this is a fairly common problem.  If anyone finds a solution, drop me a line at john at johnbeales dot com and let me know how it works, or post it in the comments, (comments are moderated so it may not appear right away).