Get your Development Server Running after Upgrading to Snow Leopard

After upgrading to Snow Leopard today I tried to access my localhost versions of the websites I have under development and was met by this great message, (impatient? skip to the step-by-step solution):

Forbidden

You don’t have permission to access / on this server.

Great. I couldn’t even access http://john-mbp/ – my computer’s name, and the URL that the System Preferences’ Web Sharing pane tells me I can access. However, all is not lost.

Part 1: Get the Virtualhosts Online

The first place I looked was my httpd-vhosts.conf file, located in /var/apache2/extra, (this has not changed since 10.5), and as I suspected it had been reset to the Apache defaults, (thanks Apple). I suspected this might happen though, and had made a backup of the file, (actually, I backed up my whole hard drive, then made a separate, easier to find, copy of the file). Replacing the new httpd-vhosts.conf with the old one and doing an sudo apachectl graceful got the virtualhosts responding to requests again.

Part 2: Establish a MySQL Connection

While my virtualhosts were up and running at this point they did not have a MySQL connection. Maybe this is because my MySQL installation is from MacPorts so the socket is in a different place, or maybe not. Either way it had to be fixed.

Upon running a phpinfo(); I discovered a couple of things. First, the included version of PHP is now 5.3.0 and second, PHP was not loading any php.ini file, so I went on a php.ini hunt and found 2 files: php.ini.default and php.ini.default-5.2-previous, both located in /etc. Copying php.ini.default to /etc/php.ini and doing a sudo apachectl graceful brought my MySQL connections back online, leaving one final problem.

Part 3: Getting rid of the timezone warnings

Since I usually code with an error reporting level of E_ALL, and PHP 5.3 doesn’t seem to like not having a timezone set in the php.ini file, (it’s not set by default, at least not in Snow Leopard), I was getting a bunch of warnings whenever I used the date(); function in PHP, so, I needed to set a default timezone in php.ini. If you don’t already know the PHP name for your timezone, go to the PHP timezones page and find it, then open php.ini, (sudo vi /etc/php.ini the sudo is important), and search for “timez” to find the timezone section of the file. Now, on the line that says “;date.timezone = ” add the name of your timezone after the equals sign and remove the semicolon from the beginning of the line. Once you’ve done that, save the file, (it’s set as read-only for some reason so in vi you need to do :w! to make it save), then quit your text editor and do one more sudo apachectl graceful and you should be good to go.

Step by Step

  1. before installing, back up your computer
  2. before installing, make a copy of /etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf and put it somewhere safe
  3. install Snow Leopard
  4. replace the new /etc/apache2/extra/httpd-vhosts.conf with the old one you saved in step 2. If you don’t have a backup you’ll have to re-enter your virtualhosts in the new httpd-vhosts.conf file which isn’t the end of the world
  5. in Terminal type sudo apachectl graceful and enter your password if prompted to restart apache with the new configuration. Your virtualhosts should now be online
  6. rename or copy /etc/php.ini.default to /etc/php.ini (sudo cp /etc/php.ini.default /etc/php.ini)
  7. Find the name of your PHP timezone, (look on the PHP timezones page). Write it down.
  8. Edit the new php.ini file to have the correct timezone.
    1. open the new php.ini file (sudo vi /etc/php.ini)
    2. find the timezone section, (type /timez and press enter).
    3. move your cursor to the line that says “;date.timezone = ” using the arrow keys
    4. press the i key to edit the text
    5. add the name of your PHP timezone after the equals sign
    6. remove the semicolon from the beginning of the line
    7. press the escape key to stop editing the text
    8. type :w! to save the file
    9. type :q to quit the text editor
  9. One final sudo apachectl graceful and you should be back up and running.

Getting MacPorts to work Snow Leopard

Impatient? Skip to the process and go right to the solution.

I’m writing this using my shiny new OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard installation. So far it’s pretty good. I haven’t tried any heavy lifting so I don’t know if it’s really that much faster.

This is the first in a series of posts on how to get things working in Snow Leopard that got eaten during the installation. First up: MacPorts.

I ran into some issues with MySQL, (more on that later), and since my MySQL install is a MacPort I thought I would do an update to make sure things were working properly. However, this is what happened when I typed sudo port list installed:

dlopen(/opt/local/share/macports/Tcl/pextlib1.0/Pextlib.dylib, 10): no suitable image found. Did find:
/opt/local/share/macports/Tcl/pextlib1.0/Pextlib.dylib: no matching architecture in universal wrapper
while executing
"load /opt/local/share/macports/Tcl/pextlib1.0/Pextlib.dylib"
("package ifneeded Pextlib 1.0" script)
invoked from within
"package require Pextlib 1.0"
(file "/opt/local/bin/port" line 40)

So, I tried sudo port selfupdate and ran into the same problem. Whatever port command I tried I got the same response, clearly I needed to take some sort of action. After a quick look at the MacPorts website I figured I should update my Xcode Tools to the Snow Leopard version, so I did that, (there’s an installer in the Optional Installs folder on the Snow Leopard disk) and tried sudo port list installed again, and got the same response as before.

Some quick Googling & reading resulted in no quick answer, so I figured that since I don’t really have anything irreplaceable in my MySQL databases I would download the Snow Leopard DMG from the MacPorts download page, install, and see what happened. That’s the solution! Just download the Snow Leopard DMG and re-install. All of your ports will still be there, and mine seem to be working so far.

PHP’s mysql_connect() Reuses Connections by Default

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m doing some work in WordPress right now, and a few minutes ago I tweeted that my custom code is messing with WP’s wp_get_archives() and wp_list_categories() functions, well, I found the problem.

I am including the 4RoadService.com header & utilities files in my WordPress theme, and I am using the same user here on my test server for both the main 4RoadService.com database and the WordPress database. It turns out that when the 4RoadService.com database connection was initialized, since it uses the same connection info as the WordPress database, the existing connection was just reused, (this behaviour, by the way, is well described in the PHP documentation), then when the 4RoadService.com connection was told to use the main 4RoadService database it did, thus switching our one and only connection away from the WordPress database, and making WordPress think that there were no posts on the blog.

Fortunately, there is a quick workaround, just add one more attribute to the mysql_connect() function so it looks like this:

$dblink = mysql_connect($host, $user, $pass, true);

This way a new connection is established, and the WordPress connection is left alone.

I am left wondering why, in the loop, WordPress was able to see my posts, perhaps it establishes a second database connection in there. However, I’m not going to spend the afternoon poking through the guts of WordPress.

Endpoints: A little secret for URL manipulation in WordPress

Today I’ve been setting up WordPress as the News section of a website which loads its pages via AJAX requests whenever possible, but falls back on normal HTTP requests when the AJAX loads are not possible.

The when the AJAX requests are initiated from Javascript, /outputxml/ is added to the end of the URL. This gets translated, with some mod_rewrite magic, to a $_GET parameter called output. /outputxhtml is also possible but since that’s the default it doesn’t get used very much.

After, (mostly), building the WordPress theme I started testing, and as I expected I ran into some problems when /outputxml/ was added to the end of the WordPress URLs. I got 404 errors, which makes total sense. I thought I could get around this by simply doing a little extra mod_rewrite magic, however, it seems there’s not way to simply replace /outputxml somewhere in a url with an empty string using mod_rewrite alone. After some time, I stumbled upon an underdocumented WordPress function: WP_Rewrite::add_endpoint and its friend, add_rewrite_endpoint. These functions make it so that WordPress recognizes /category/post-name/trackback, and /category/post-name/outputxml. Excellent!

I just had to create a plugin, make sure that WordPress wouldn’t kill my $_GET[‘output’] variable, add 1 line to my .htaccess and I was good to go.

References:

And this is what my plugin looks like, (for educational purposes only. I am not distributing it):

function fourRS_outputxml_activate() {
global $wp_rewrite;
add_rewrite_endpoint('outputxml',array(EP_PERMALINK, EP_PAGES));
add_rewrite_endpoint('outputxml',EP_ALL);

$wp_rewrite->flush_rules();
}
register_activation_hook( __FILE__, 'fourRS_outputxml_activate');

function fourRS_outputxml_deactivate() {
global $wp_rewrite;
$wp_rewrite->flush_rules();
}

register_deactivation_hook( __FILE__, 'fourRS_outputxml_deactivate');

/* Makes it so WP doesn't eat my nice $_GET variable */
function fourRS_parameter_queryvars( $qvars )
{
$qvars[] = 'output';
return $qvars;
}
add_filter('query_vars', 'fourRS_parameter_queryvars' );

Edit (August 25, 2009): Changed the attrbutes in the add_rewrite_endpoint() function.