Saturday, November 01, 2014

Emergency maintenance required this weekend

Hi, everyone, your friendly neighborhood hosting sponsor here.

Dreamhost has notified its customers that they will be forcibly upgrading everyone to a minimum PHP version of 5.4 starting on Monday. The recent brokenness here of a few weeks ago was caused by their first attempt to do this, but that time was reversible; this time will not be. So, we’re going to have to upgrade our software this weekend.

Upgrading the main blog will hopefully not be a huge ordeal; I believe ExpressionEngine has a solid upgrade path to their most recent version, and I already have a license for it.

The larger problem is the wiki. A few other folks and I have talked about upgrading it sporadically over the years, but I never acted on it because it wasn’t terribly pressing. Now it is and I want to shoot my past self.

Our MediaWiki version is ancient, and it was, like, the last version before WikiMedia started implementing a consistent upgrade path. I believe the general consensus in the past was that the most efficient thing might just be to copy pages over manually from our current version to a new version installed next to it. But now this is complicated by the fact that the wiki will probably stop working on Monday. The path forward is probably to compile our own copy of PHP 5.2 and have the old wiki use it for the transition period. That’s going to be fun, but doable.

So, in addition to just informing everyone of all this, my purpose here is to ask when the best time this weekend would be for some hopefully brief downtime of the blog. Sunday night is probably the best time for me, but I’m flexible; if that’s a bad time for any current gameplay, I can start sooner.

I’ll be keeping tabs on this post, I’ll be on in the IRC channel all weekend, and I’m available by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .

Any input or suggestions are welcome. I’m very sorry this is so last-minute; if I’d paid more attention I might have started this sooner.



01-11-2014 06:14:37 UTC

I would prefer doing the transition on Saturday, mainly because it gives enough time for a recovery attempt if things go wrong the first time.

If you’re manually copying wiki pages, be sure to get all the Ruleset_xx pages, even the ones that aren’t linked to a dynastic history.


01-11-2014 10:42:46 UTC

Thanks for dealing with this!

Kevan: he/him

01-11-2014 19:56:42 UTC

Afraid I haven’t got time to help out over the weekend, but just to say that Mediawiki’s inbuilt export/import looks relatively painless - given a list of pages we want to keep, any user can run the export (spitting out a clean XML file), and it just takes a sysop to import it back in to another wiki at a future point.

Exporting every page linked from the front page of the wiki, plus the Ruleset_X pages Bucky mentions, should cover almost all of the historical gamestate and writing, I think. (The entire history of the ruleset is, I think, spread among those Ruleset_X entries: admins have occasionally archived a dynasty by moving the Ruleset file to to Ruleset X and creating a new Ruleset. So it’d be worth getting a full history for Ruleset X files rather than assuming that they’re all single edits.) If we realise we’ve missed anything it all seems to be in

Images are a separate issue. I don’t think we’ve got much more than a few blog headers and gamestate maps (the wiki supports offsite images, from memory, so half the time we’ve just used those), but it looks as if there’s a script that lets you export them into a single folder. Put them at or somewhere and we can upload them back up by ourselves later.

Looking forward to seeing a new wiki and perhaps finally retiring the GNDT in favour of it. Thanks for the time you’re putting in here, 75th.


01-11-2014 20:52:46 UTC

Sunday night or any other time is fine—will not affect gameplay.

Thanks 75th!!


01-11-2014 22:40:30 UTC

There are lists of all the pages on the wiki at but it’s mostly stonecrusher spam, which we don’t really want to keep. Transferring everything might be simpler than trying to find all the nonspam pages, though.

Kevan: he/him

02-11-2014 00:02:21 UTC

It looks like there are scripts on newer MediaWiki installs which can take a text list of titles and delete those pages, which is nice. But copying 3500 pages and then deciding which 3300 to delete seems exhausting. Even if we skip the Chinese titles, a lot of the remaining ones are arbitrary English phrases with plausible titles like “D the rules”, “Warmongering Equipment” and “No Comment” - somebody’s going to have to read down through a couple of thousand list items and flag the 99% that we definitely don’t want.

Might be best to just transfer the front-page links and Ruleset Xs to a new MediaWiki install, and keep an XML copy of the whole wiki to one side, in case we realise that we missed something important, or a future Nomic historian wants to find something. (I suppose ideally it’d be an all-revisions XML copy of every page which didn’t appear in the front-page-and-Ruleset-X list, which should be relatively small if it’s mostly one-edit spam pages.)