the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: drupal

ubuntu 16.04 xenial xerus

Last week the first point release for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS triggered the update on my 14.04 computer and I went for it. There are several questions that pop up and need an answer for the upgrade to continue, so it’s an attended upgrade. I didn’t pay too much attention to what was upgraded, removed, not supported, etc, I just figured I would figure out whatever I need to.

Drupal 6 didnt work out of the box because 16.04 ships with Php7; but it was easy enough to install Php5.6, with the help of this repository (the guy is an official packager for Debian) so now I again have a local copy of my website.

I also needed to upgrade Logitech Media Server to 7.9, which is a beta version, but once installed, my Slimserver – the thing that got me into linux so many years ago – started working again right away.

I have to admit that with the LTS releases being supported for five years, there really isn’t much of a point to upgrading a desktop. At that point, it’s time for a new computer and a clean install. But for something like my webhost, where I’ve got more investment in webserver, email, etc, it’s easy enough to do twice every 10 years.

On the web: Xenial Xerus


recaptcha 2.0

Got an email from Google about upgrading reCaptcha: “You’re receiving this email because you’re registered as a website administrator for a site that uses reCAPTCHA.” If you haven’t noticed, gone are the days with unreadable letters and house numbers, and in is a simple box asking to to check “I’m not a robot”. I upgraded my reCaptcha module on my drupal website and edited the settings.php file after installing it (depending on your version, you’ll get an error on your status page, also telling you how to correct). But it didn’t work! That’s because I needed to generate new public and private API keys for 2.0. So if you do ever get locked out by reCaptcha, you can always delete the module, login, fix what needs to be fixed and then reinstall.

On the web:
reCaptcha Developer’s Guide


Have you ever met anyone that is completely satisfied with their web host? Admittedly, one person's web host is certainly not another's. On one end of the scale, there are the complete "n00bs", those looking for template/one-click instant websites. In the middle are those that live for the control panel – options galore, lots of things to play with – but watch out when something doesn't work, aka the dreaded support-ticket. The other end are the experts, those that say "you keep the hardware running and bandwidth flowing and I'll take care of the software, thank you very much". You know, those that want c-o-n-t-r-o-l.

I've had surprisingly few web hosts over the past decade or so, Hostway and Dotster quickly come to mind. Neither were that bad at any one thing, but I'm not sure if I could find myself recommending either without qualification. Price, ease of use, uptime, yes, it's all fine and dandy, but did either earn superlatives, like "they're the best", "never had an issue", "great support"? Not really.

Enter Digital Ocean. They offer "droplets" – little virtual private servers you can create quickly. The price is right, $5 per month for your own little fluffy cloud on the internet, a 20GB SSD with 512MB RAM, and 1TB of Tier 1 bandwidth. You pick the OS, configure the DNS, and do EVERYTHING yourself. And there's the challenge: no control panel, no telephone support, no mail, scripts or templates: no nothing, other than shell access to your server. Ooooh, the geek in me wants one! And after a couple introductory email questions, I was presented with a $10 coupon, so yes, I took the bite and signed up.

And there I went, giving them a credit card, picking my OS, setting up a domain, and before I knew it, I was up and running. Next, after an apt-get update/upgrade and reboot, I installed LAMP, Drupal, vsftp, iptables, configured .htaccess and php mod_rewrite (for Drupal to work with clean urls), a few more apache2 tweaks, upload all of my website (which was the real chore), and viola, here I am, with a copy of my site running on a fully-functioning server that I configured by myself. Of course, I have one on my test server at home, but this one is in the cloud. Digital Ocean's documentation is very good and gets you most of the way there, though things like installing Drupal will only take you so far. But that's the fun of it – figuring it all out and making it work.

I am the web host.

On the web (referral link):
Digital Ocean Cloud Server/VPS

drupal, simile and breaking free of external api’s

If you are using the Simile Widget for a timeline on your website, you'll know that there is an external api that needs to be accessed for the thing to work. It was hosted by MIT for many years, but seems to have gone "poof" very recently. It's still available, now located at, and it's easy enough to change $timeline_api in, but another solution is to not use an external api at all.

First, disable the Timeline module in Drupal under Site Building. Then…

1. Download and install the Libraries module.
2. Download Xamanu's timeline libraries for the simile widget from Github. He's the current maintainer of the Drupal module.
3. Create a directory sites/all/libraries/simile_timeline
4. Copy the folders timeline_js and timeline_ajax to that directory. Permissions 755 for dirs, 644 for files work for me.
5. Change line 159 of timeline.module as follows (has to do with write permissions):


if (file_check_directory($timeline_path)) {


if (is_dir($timeline_path)) {

Go back and enable the Timeline module, then go to Site Configuration>Timeline and change the Location of Simile Timeline libraries to "Local Folder".

Timeline is back!

note to self


Okay, something new to learn, the Drupal content management system. I have some help from the good people at and a great incentive in the discogs module written by karlheinz. Here's to the next incarnation of!