Switching off the GUI in Debian

  • Disable the GUI on boot: sudo systemctl set-default multi-user.target
  • Enable the GUI on boot: sudo systemctl set-default graphical.target
  • Disable the GUI temporarily: sudo systemctl isolate multi-user.target
  • Enable the GUI temporarily: sudo systemctl isolate graphical.target

Starting a virtual terminal: Press Ctrl+Alt+F2
To return: Press Ctrl+Alt+F1 or Ctrl+Alt+F7

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[MASTODON 4.2.5] How to update Mastodon to a new version

For the old version, click here.

So a new release came out and it is important to get this update as soon as possible! This manual is a transcript of the way that I have updated my Mastodon instance. Please make sure you make proper backups and use your brain while updating things

Linux flavour: Debian
Update from: 4.2.X

  1. Log into your server
  2. su - mastodon
  3. cd /home/mastodon/live
  4. git fetch --tags
  5. git checkout [type the most recent version here, starting with the letter v. For example; v4.2.5
    
    git checkout v4.2.5
  6. If you get a ruby version error, please see bottom of this article for a fix!
    
    bundle install
    
  7. yarn install
  8. RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rails db:migrate
  9. RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rails assets:precompile
  10. exit

Okay, you can not choose to either reboot or restart the services.

REBOOT:

  1. This command may vary, depending on your Linux flavour.
    
    systemctl reboot

RESTART:

  1. This command may vary, depending on your Linux flavour.
    
    systemctl restart mastodon-sidekiq
    systemctl reload mastodon-web
    
    Optional:
    
    systemctl restart mastodon-streaming

RUBY VERSION ISSUES

My system was unable to find the required v3.2.3 of Ruby and I have fixed this by doing the following steps:

  1. Please make sure that your path is correct.
    
    git -C ~/.rbenv/plugins/ruby-build pull
  2. rbenv install 3.2.3
    
    *WAIT TILL DONE* (it may take a little while)
  3. To check all the installed versions type:
    
    rbenv versions
  4. To set v3.2.3 as the global version, type:
    
    rbenv global 3.2.3
  5. To double-check the active, installed version, type:
    
    rbenv versions
  6. Done!

This manual is a transcript of the way that I have updated my Mastodon instance. Please make sure you make proper backups and use your brain while updating things.

Sources: https://richstone.io/where-is-ruby-3-0-0-on-rbenv/

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Update in the script to block bots, spiders and indexers

Original post: https://3xn.nl/projects/2023/09/20/crude-solution-to-ban-bots-by-their-user-agent/

I’ve very much simplified the script that instantly redirects unwanted traffic away from the server. Currently, I am using a very cheap VPS to receive all that traffic.

Here ya go:

<?php

// CC-BY-NC (2023)

// Author: FoxSan - fox@cytag.nl

// This is a functional but dirty hack to block bots, spiders and indexers by looking at the HTTP USER AGENT.
// Traffic that meets the conditions is being yeeted away to any place of your choice.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
// Emergency bypass
// goto end;
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

// attempt to basically just yeet all bots to another website

$targetURL = "https://DOMAIN.TLD/SUB/";

// Function to check if the user agent appears to be a bot or spider

function isBot()

{

    $user_agent = $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'];

$bot_keywords = ['bytespider', 'amazonbot', 'MJ12bot', 'YandexBot', 'SemrushBot', 'dotbot', 'AspiegelBot', 'DataForSeoBot', 'DotBot', 'Pinterestbot', 'PetalBot', 'HeadlessChrome', 'GPTBot', 'Sogou', 'ALittle Client', 'fidget-spinner-bot', 'intelx.io_bot', 'Mediatoolkitbot', 'BLEXBot', 'AhrefsBot'];

    foreach ($bot_keywords as $keyword) {

        if (stripos($user_agent, $keyword) !== false) {

            return true;

        }
    }

    return false;

}

// Check if the visitor is a bot or spider

if (isBot()) {

// yeet

header("Location: $targetURL");

    // Exit to prevent further processing

    exit;

}

end:

// If the visitor is not a bot, spider, or crawler, continue with your website code.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

?>

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CloudPanel website causing “Too many redirects”

I have installed CloudPanel and the new website caused a “Too many redirects” bug. This is because my SSL certificates are controlled by a proxy and this can cause some confusion between the systems. Also, because CloudPanel installs its own certificates.

This application can also install a Let’s Encrypt certificate, but this works only in more conventional systems. Mine is going through a DNS to a Proxy that listens to a certain IP address and that proxy redirects the request to a Virtual Machine on one of my servers.

So, here is my, probably unconventional method of disabling the SSL certificates on my CloudPanel installation:

  1. Open the CloudPanel controlpanel.
  2. Select the website you want to edit
  3. Choose the Vhost tab
  4. Change the following code into the new code:
server {
listen 80;
listen [::]:80;
listen 443 ssl http2;
listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
{{ssl_certificate_key}}
{{ssl_certificate}}
server_name subdomain.3xn.nl;
{{root}}

{{nginx_access_log}}
{{nginx_error_log}}

if ($scheme != "https") {
rewrite ^ https://$host$uri permanent;
}
server {
listen 80;
listen [::]:80;
# listen 443 ssl http2;
# listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
# {{ssl_certificate_key}}
# {{ssl_certificate}}
server_name subdomain.3xn.nl;
{{root}}

{{nginx_access_log}}
{{nginx_error_log}}

# if ($scheme != "https") {
# rewrite ^ https://$host$uri permanent;
# }

Done! Your website should now say “Hello world :-)”

You can see that I have disabled the listen to port 443, the certificate keys, the forced https and the path to the keys. I chose to switch off the forced HTTP, because my proxy is already taking care of that.

This post is subject to change, but this helps you along your way!

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How to update Mastodon to a new version

EXPIRED: NEW GUIDE AVAILABLE HERE

Updating Mastodon and creating backups are important steps to ensure the security and stability of your instance. Here’s a comprehensive tutorial on how to update Mastodon, including making backups of the database and assets:


Note 1: Always perform updates on a test/staging instance before applying them to your live instance. This tutorial assumes you have some basic command line and server administration knowledge.

Note 2: If you made alterations to your files and want to update to a new branch, like v4.2.0, don’t forget to stash your files first. DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK.

cd /home/mastodon/live
git stash

You will not have an error message any more when entering:
I currently do not know how to put the stashed files back, this will be found out later.

git checkout v4.2.0

Note 3: If you switch to a new branch and version, like 4.2.0, you might run into an error stating the following:

rbenv: version '3.2.2' is not installed (set by /home/mastodon/live/.ruby-version)

Take the following steps to solve this problem:
(Type the version you need where it says x.x.x)

rbenv install x.x.x

If that fails, try the following command:

brew update && brew upgrade ruby-build

Followed by:
(Type the version you need where it says x.x.x)

rbenv install x.x.x

OPTIONAL: If bundler or rails fails to work, try the following commands:

gem install bundler

gem install rails

Click here for the backup steps. It basically comes down to a Database dump, a settings file backup and a Redis dump. If you wish to backup your assets like images and stuff (User-uploaded files), backup the folder named “public/system”. Keep in mind that this folder can be rather large. Actually, it can become rather massive.

After a good 90 minutes, I gave up on trying to show you how large the asset folder is. So beware if you are going to make a backup of it. Perhaps you can just skip the cache folder?

You can always check the folder size by using NCDU, for which you can find the manual here. Also, installations may vary, but this is an example of my instance.


Upgrade procedure.

  1. su - mastodon
  2. cd /home/mastodon/live
  3. git fetch --tags
  4. git checkout [type the most recent version here, starting with the letter v. For example; v4.0.1
    
    Command example: git checkout v4.0.1
  5. bundle install
  6. yarn install
  7. RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rails db:migrate
  8. RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec rails assets:precompile
  9. exit
  10. reboot now

And that should be it!

If you don’t want to restart your server, use the following commands instead of “reboot now”:

  1. exit
  2. systemctl restart mastodon-sidekiq
  3. systemctl reload mastodon-web

    The reload operation is a zero-downtime restart, also called a “phased restart”. As such, Mastodon upgrades usually do not require any advance notice to users about planned downtime. In rare cases, you can use the restart operation instead, but there will be a (short) felt interruption of service for your users.

  4. The streaming API server is also updated and requires a restart; doing so will result in all connected clients being disconnected, which can increase the load on your server:
systemctl restart mastodon-streaming

Done!

PS: When I updated my instance from 4.1.9 to 4.2.0, a lot of warnings flew by, and this is, in my experience, not a problem as the instance is working perfectly.

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A working Apache2 server with PHP7.4

I was in need of a server solution that could be quickly deployed as a VM.

      1. Install Debian 11 as a VM with web- and SSH server
      2. Create a USER next to your root account during the installation
      3. Find the IP address of the new installation. The easiest is if you have NoVNC running. Log in as USER and type
        ip a
      4. Time to so the sudo thing
        su

        log in as root

        apt-get update && apt-get install -y sudo
        usermod -aG sudo USER
        exit
        exit

        log back in as USER

      5. Okay, let’s install some more stuff but first we do an update
        sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y

        Now we want some essentials

        sudo apt-get install -y dirmngr gnupg2 nano wget gpg curl fail2ban ufw software-properties-common

        Preparing the PHP install

        wget -q https://packages.sury.org/php/apt.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add -
        echo "deb https://packages.sury.org/php/ $(lsb_release -sc) main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/php.list
        sudo apt-get update
        sudo apt-get install -y php7.4 libapache2-mod-php7.4 php7.4-mysql php7.4-curl php7.4-gd php7.4-mbstring php7.4-xml php7.4-xmlrpc php7.4-zip

        And restart the Apache2 Webserver

        sudo systemctl restart apache2
      6. Alright, that’s done. Next step is to test things.
        sudo nano /var/www/html/test.php

        Enter this into the php file and press Control X and type Y to save and exit.

        <?php
        // Show all PHP information
        phpinfo();
        ?>
      7. Go to the IP address of the server you just created and type
        HTTP://IP ADDRESS/test.php
        

        If you see a PHP page with all sorts of data, you’re good. If not, go fix. Don’t ask me, I’m not there yet!

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Brutally brief: Create a new database and or user in MYSQL

Log in:

mysql -u root -p

Create a user:

create user 'newuser'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';

Give them all the power:

grant all privileges on * . * TO 'newuser'@'localhost';

Reload privileges:

flush privileges;

Ditch a user: (Optional)

drop user 'newuser'@'localhost';

Log out:

\q

—————-

Log in:

mysql -u newuser -p

Create a database for the user:

create database db_name;

List databases: (Optional)

show databases;

Ditch database: (Optional)

drop database db_name;

Log out:

\q

Done.

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How to fix “Maintenance Mode” in NextCloud

Super annoying when you get locked out, innit?

It depends a bit how you have installed NextCloud but here are two possible locations for your config file:

/var/www/htdocs/nextcloud/config/config.php 
("regular" apache install)
/config/www/nextcloud/config/config.php
(when using a Docker install)

Open the config.php file and look for

 'maintenance' => true,

And change this to

 'maintenance' => false,

Done.

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