In search of the perfect howto

Discussion in 'Installation/Configuration' started by hairshirt, Mar 25, 2007.

  1. hairshirt

    hairshirt New Member


    Please allow me first to spend a little time in venting my spleen. I am sick to the back teeth with all these howto’s not only here but throughout 90% of the Linux and Unix internet world on how to do this and how to do that.

    I’m sick to the back teeth on following these howto’s (to the letter) religiously and them just not working. It’s a waste of time sometimes peasing about with some of these howto’s as they're not kept up to date. I’m really (really) interested in this open source thing (movement) and love linux/unix and have no trouble using it. But how the heck is one to learn more when what should be solutions to simple configs are so difficult to obtain information on resolving a situation where a “howto” does not work correctly. The internet is festooned with these, so called, howto’s. I come from a school of thought that says it’s better to be shown how to do something (correctly and with the exercise working correctly), learn from that and THEN after it’s up and running, learn how to tweak, improve and solve problems. Not spend a great deal of time trying to correct the mistakes in the “howto” in the first place. That’s not proactive – it’s fire fighting and you learn little or nothing.

    An example: I’ve been trying to install a Debuntu 6.06 web server with ispconfig for bluddy months now and it’s driving me bonkers.

    My attitude is thus: If someone tells me that I can do something (and learn something) from following a simple cut and paste exercise (such as create a web server with Debuntu 6.06 together with ispconfig) I simply expect it to work. If it does not (but it should) work then I expect to be able to look in the forums for further advice. Not trawl though piles of detritus. There is simply no excuses from a web site professing to offer this advice and there are no excuses for not keeping it up-to-date. If these “howto’s” are not up to the job, then dump them. Example – “howto” install Debuntu Server with DTC control panel should be called how to copy someone else’s bad work, make it worse and then waste a great deal of some poor, unsuspecting sod's time. Do you actually test these “howto’s” yourself before placing them within your web site or do you just plonk them on your site anyway in your guile for content regardless of it’s quality or accuracy.

    Now on to my problem:

    My system: An old PIII, 700anodd MB RAM, on and network and connected to the internet… 2 NIC’s.

    Installed Debuntu 6.06 – basic install and then followed the instructions on the perfect Debuntu Server 6.06 with a view the later installing ispconfig. ispconfig is installed and, from what I can tell (which I can't really) working.

    During install I got this(or this similar):

    mysqladmin: connect to server at '' failed
    error: 'Unknown MySQL server host ' ' (1)'
    Check that mysqld is running on and that the port is 3306.
    You can check this by doing 'telnet 3306'

    Why? (This was retried after the install of ispconfig.)

    Why can I not access any one of my three dyndns domains from the internet using the prefix www.? I can only access them without the www. Prefix.

    And the most annoying. Why am I receiving this error in Webmin when I attempt to go the Servers > proftpd ?

    The ProFTPD config file /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf does not exist or is not valid. Maybe your module configuration is incorrect.

    And lastly, why can I not upload via FTP (cant even log in) using Ipswitch WS_Ftp?

    I do hope that someone sensible can help me out here.

    Thank you in advance and in anticipation.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2007
  2. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    I can assure you that I double-test each tutorial written by myself before I publish it. I know that each tutorial that I wrote works for me, so I assume they should work for everyone else. The same goes for tutorials written by Till.
    Unfortunately the software world is so complex that even little changes in your setup can cause big problems. But you can't blame that on our tutorials.

    Why didn't you simply ask here in the forum instead of wasting a few month's time? I'm sorry, but this is not very smart...

    You can't expect people to have the same problems than you and simply look them up in the forum. If you don't find threads dealing with your problem, YOU should get active and post here.

    This web site is kept up-to-date. It has become a full-time job for Till and me (even on weekends).

    This is simply not possible. As I said above: I double-test my own tutorials, but not other one's tutorials. My day only has 24 hours (like yours, I assume). I fly over the tutorials to see if they make sense, but I can't test them all (if I'd do, I couldn't write my own tutorials anymore, help in the forum, etc.).

    But if you have some spare time and like to help us, then PM me... ;)

    There must be a different hostname in the Host field of the mysql.user table. Try to find it out and replace it with and restart MySQL. Afterwards, the command will work (btw, this problem is covered here in the forum).

    Because (technically spoken) is totally different and independent from You can have different content on and Only because you're used to use www, this doesn't mean it works by default. You must register the www domain at, too.

    What's the output of
    ls -la /etc/proftpd.conf
    ls -la /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf

    What's the output of
    netstat -tap

    I hope you're not one of those guys that expect help without giving back to the community (because that's the feeling I get from your statements...).
  3. hairshirt

    hairshirt New Member

    Falko, may I firstly thank you for your reply. I’m very grateful.

    I’m not going to get involved in a load of tit-for-tat nonsense. I’m grateful for your offer of help and that’s that.

    I will say that your site does offer some of the best “howto’s” out there. But, again, I say that I have followed some of the howto’s many times and to the letter with little or no success. I don’t expect to keep posting for help on a forum. What puzzles me is that I can setup a server for a single site as well as setup a server for virtual sites and deal with the peculiarities of Debuntu over Fedora Core and have it up and working fine.

    There is nothing special about my hardware. It’s a bogg standard PIII with enough ram. What on earth could I be doing wrong following a completely new install, following the instructions on your site and then for it not to work. Please explain what you think that I may be doing wrong.

    I have changed nothing from what you have outlined apart from the domain.

    All four domains, including the one I’m using for the server are registered at dyndns. I’m simply adding the prefix for the server of : server1.(and then the domain obtained from dyndns.) I have also tried server1.monty.local.

    Here is the information you asked for:

    [email protected]:/home/mark# ls -la /etc/proftpd.conf
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2936 2007-03-25 11:50 /etc/proftpd.conf

    [email protected]:/home/mark# ls -la /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf
    ls: /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf: No such file or directory

    [email protected]:/home/mark# netstat -tap
    Active Internet connections (servers and established)
    Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address Foreign Address State PID/Program name
    tcp 0 0 *:mysql *:* LISTEN 3859/mysqld
    tcp 0 0 *:10000 *:* LISTEN 4463/perl
    tcp 0 0 *:81 *:* LISTEN 4193/ispconfig_http
    tcp 0 0 *:ftp *:* LISTEN 4445/proftpd: (acce
    tcp 0 0 server1.knightso:domain *:* LISTEN 4428/named
    tcp 0 0 localhost.locald:domain *:* LISTEN 4428/named
    tcp 0 0 localhost.localdoma:953 *:* LISTEN 4428/named
    tcp 0 0 *:smtp *:* LISTEN 4386/master
    tcp6 0 0 *:imaps *:* LISTEN 3720/couriertcpd
    tcp6 0 0 *:pop3s *:* LISTEN 3755/couriertcpd
    tcp6 0 0 *:pop3 *:* LISTEN 3735/couriertcpd
    tcp6 0 0 *:imap2 *:* LISTEN 3700/couriertcpd
    tcp6 0 0 *:www *:* LISTEN 4294/apache2
    tcp6 0 0 *:ssh *:* LISTEN 4031/sshd
    tcp6 0 0 ip6-localhost:953 *:* LISTEN 4428/named
    tcp6 0 0 *:smtp *:* LISTEN 4386/master
    tcp6 0 0 *:https *:* LISTEN 4294/apache2
    tcp6 0 296 server1.knightsofni:ssh ::ffff: ESTABLISHED5456/sshd: mark [pr

    Regarding your comment about supporting this forum… I help support a few of the forums that are scattered around. And when I have the time, I may start helping in supporting this forum.

    I run my own rack with one FreeBSD, two Debuntu 6.06 and two Windows Web Servers on a 100mb pipe. This is a home development plaything server and it’s proving a nightmare.

    I put in to something what I get out of something. All I'm getting at present is agro…

    If I have to start from scratch, I will. Just show me the way.
  4. Hans

    Hans Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    Another reaction

    The people who create and post these Howto's (including myself) have good intentions and want to share their experience with others.
    My own howto's are tested before i publish them, but if it happens that i make a mistake, i would like to have some feedback within the forums.
    Doing so, we can create things better!

    If you have problems with one of the Howto's published on Howtoforge, i do recommend to post your questions within the "HOWTO-Related Questions" section within the Forums.
    Become an active member and you'll discover how much you can teach!
  5. hairshirt

    hairshirt New Member

    Yes, alright, thank you Hans.
  6. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    Webmin seems to look in the wrong place for proftpd.conf. Try this to get around it:
    mkdir /etc/proftpd
    ln -s /etc/proftpd.conf /etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf
    Proftpd is listening. I tried to connect and got
    And there's really no DNS record for
    mh1:~# dig
    ; <<>> DiG 9.2.1 <<>>
    ;; global options:  printcmd
    ;; Got answer:
    ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NXDOMAIN, id: 17481
    ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 1, ADDITIONAL: 0
    ; IN      A
    ;; AUTHORITY SECTION:             600     IN      SOA 3436296670 600 300 604800 600
    ;; Query time: 63 msec
    ;; SERVER:
    ;; WHEN: Mon Mar 26 16:46:21 2007
    ;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 98
    Either you create, or change the hostname of your server. A temporary workaround is to add to /etc/hosts.
  7. hairshirt

    hairshirt New Member

    Falko, thank you for your efforts.

    I've dumped the whole lot, never to return to this particular episode.

    I've installed (to your credit) sme server and will use that as my developement, web server plaything.

    No hard feelings.

  8. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    Neither from my side. :)
  9. wyzzkid

    wyzzkid New Member

    my two cents worth

    well, I am gonna throw in my 2¢ worth, if no one minds too much...

    I spend a tremendous amount of time reading and trying to learn much myself while also holding down a full time and 2 part time jobs,,such is life. Believe me, when I say that I know the frustrtation of things not working, etc, and I also try vigorously to solve before I ask ,,, 'nuff said.

    How many times, I have seen things work on one machine and not the next, I have long since lost count. Surely no one expects a how-to to work on every combination of hardware,,,or do they? (Not to mention, every bit of software is in a constant state of flux.) I think it is great that there are dedicated people, spending their time to help out others that are struggling; so I think, if one wants better responses, it is usually better IMHO to start off with thanks, rather than venting, before asking for help. You will find it more rewarding in the short run, and in the end. Of course, when venting, it often is better to offer a solution, or at least a suggestion, rather than an insult ,,, but that might just be me venting,,, I mean, venting doesnt really produce any benefit, and often harm, and then there are all the apologies that go with it...

    I mean, it is just a suggestion, and perhaps this doesnt belong here in this forum (but I posted it anyway), but I think people should be thanked for their hard work, and asked for things politely,,, but hey, that's just me
  10. cheros

    cheros Guest

    Post your problem early ..

    Well, in over 25 years of computing I have not come across a better set of tutorials than these aptly named 'Perfect' guides so I'm sorry, it's only going to get worse..

    However, rule 1 if you have a problem is to fire a quick message in the relevant forum, explaining the problem in as much detail as you can get your hands on. A copy of the command line and the result, for instance, works wonders.

    The guys who write this wonderful stuff NEED you to ask those questions, because you may have unearthed a problem they didn't even know about. Your question will allow them to (a) help you specifically and (b) improve the guide so the question won't appear again. Simple efficiency.

    Oh, and rule 2 is accepting that they're human too, only robots are infallible - until their batteries run out :)

    /// P ///
  11. sjau

    sjau Local Meanie Moderator

    not even robots are infallible :)
  12. cheros

    cheros Guest

    Aha - then here's a philosophical question: if a robot fails, is that the robot's fault? Or the designer/user's ?

    (not a new debate, I know - it actually gets better with a few beers) :D
  13. nzfoxnet

    nzfoxnet New Member

    My 2c

    There os no doubt that these are simply the best How To's on the net, using these how to's I have set up fully redundant, load balanced and virtual servers for several services.

    The perfect series are some of the most robust and for them to not work you simply must be screwing something up or using later / older versions of the packages.

    Anyone who makes regular use of these tutorials should sign up as a supporter to enable Falko and Till to continue the good work. (plus if you are stuggling downloading a vmware image can save you days of work - and vmware server is legendary)

    For you to come here and vent like that over a FREE and simply excelent resource like HowtoForge amazes me. Falko is a better man than me - I would have told you where to go.

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