Backup and restore

 
 
Walking in Victoria with Rigel.
Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
 

I recently stumbled upon an old Moodle installation running 1.5.3+ on an absolutely ancient machine. To be honest, I'm amazed it is still running. Even better, a staff-member has been using this Moodle installation on a daily basis since it was installed and it has become a crucial part of his teaching strategy.

Needless to say, I want to move his content to a current Moodle installation running on a new (virtual!) machine.

Any suggestions, recommendations, anecdotes, or appropriate jokes?

 
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Ben talking on the phone beside a monitor
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

I'm only replying so I can follow your progress  from "Oh my" to suicide.

Lame joke: is the server running Windows 3.1?

I'm seriously interested in how it goes.

 
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Walking in Victoria with Rigel.
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
 

Ha!

Just wanted to share my appreciation of your sense of humour.

 
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Picture of Alan Hess
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Why shouldn't the old machine still be running? If it's not broke don't fix it! I still use a 386 laptop with special sound card and DOS-5 because it does what I want it to do in music lessons. Still works great and boots in less than 60 seconds!

Anyhow, it's a good idea to upgrade if the server is open to the net and should be possible (at least to v1.9.x) but just a lot of work. You'll need to download all major versions of Moodle and step through them one by one. We started with 1.5.3 years ago and am now contemplating 1.9 to 2.

One point is that the server will probably (certainly!) need upgrading too plus any 3rd party modules/blocks etc..

Wish you luck. Or how about install v2 on new machine and take a while to transfer courses over one by one?

One day, they'll joke about our cutting edge technology today. Anyone remember seeing Woody Allen's 'Sleeper' where he wakes up 500 years in the future and they offer him a cigarette because it's good for you?

Regards

Alan

 
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Walking in Victoria with Rigel.
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
 

Alan, you hit the nail on the head: The machine is open to the Internet. In fact, my discovering that the web site had been compromised was what got me digging to see exactly what it was running and what it was running on.

That's part of the reason I'm trying to fix it even though it isn't seriously broke... or at least still working. The other part is that the hardware, OS, and software are ancient and basically unmaintained. If the machine had an automated back-up system running, I'd be more comfortable with the risk of a hardware failure, but that isn't the case. (It will be on the new machine.)

And kudos to you for confirming my thinking on just backing up courses and moving them over individually. I actually did a bunch of reading on this approach shortly after posting. My understanding is that there is some loss of fidelity jumping from 1.9 to 2.0, but that it may save a bunch of work. I've asked the teacher to grab a backup of a course so that I can give it a try. For obvious reasons, this would be my preferred approach.

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Not at all "crazy". I have come across this situation: The IT staff "rediscovers" an ancient machine still running in a celler somewhere and still being used by some loyal end users! (their luck wink

Since you say, "a staff-member has been using this Moodle installation on a daily basis since it was installed and it has become a crucial part of his teaching strategy." means to me that his pupils get accounts to this machine and this staff-member is not only the teacher role but also the Moodle administrator. Kudos to him!

> Needless to say, I want to move his content to a current Moodle installation

I don't see why it is needless? (I assume by "current" you mean Moodle 2.2.)

The obvious argument against all the "unsupported" versions it that they won't get any security updates. Apparantly this machine is in an insulated environment where the security standard is secondary. Interestingly its users don't need the thousends of features added to Moodle since 1.5! I would do an upgrade to 1.6, which was a landmark amoung all the Moodle versions, especially its quiz engine was a gem. And the transition to 2.x is controversial.

> running on a new (virtual!) machine.

That makes sense. A real machine running 24/7 burns lot of energy, specially the old machines.
 
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Walking in Victoria with Rigel.
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
 

You are correct that the teacher is administering the Moodle site (and the web-site that is also running on this machine). For that he has my respect, and lots of it. However, he needs some support in administering the underlying software (PHP, MySQL, Apache, Moodle itself) and OS (Linux). That's what I'm trying to provide. It's a good thing.

As noted above, the machine is not in an insulated environment. It's wide open to the outside world and isn't even particularly well fire-walled. The fire-walling can change in a hurry, but closing exploits by moving to a more current version of Linux and all the other software on the machine is the major motivation here.

I try not to make a habit of forcing folk to new software, or even new versions of software, if it can be avoided. Experience has been a good teacher. wink

Thanks to all for the replies. Alan's suggestion of migrating courses gets my prize for best suggestion!

 
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Ben talking on the phone beside a monitor
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
Group Particularly helpful MoodlersGroup Testers

Alan gets my "useful" rating today.

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Mark, I would suggest that  the migration be taken easily. Trying one course at a time. I would also suggest not to use a backup/restore, but demonstrate a manual migration. 

I know this is longer and not a popular choice, but I suggest this for two reasons. One is the old backup/restore is going to be pretty dodgey. There have been a lot of changes between v1.5.3 and 1.9.16, so any data included in the backup may not have a positive effect on the database. Systems are completely different 

The other is it gives the teacher the opportunity to seriously look at the new interface and tools in a deep and meaningful way. We learn better by doing, not by showing I think and this is really doing.      

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Hi

You wrote:
> my discovering that the web site had been compromised was what got me digging

That is bad news.

> That's part of the reason I'm trying to fix it even though it isn't seriously broke... or at least still working.

Was the machine compromised or not?

> The fire-walling can change in a hurry, but closing exploits by moving to a more current version of Linux and all the other software on the machine is the major motivation here

I understand that you don't want to be responsible for a machine with known expoits. But if it has already been compromised, no upgrade is going to help.

> The other part is that the hardware, OS, and software are ancient and basically unmaintained. If the machine had an automated back-up system running, I'd be more comfortable with the risk of a hardware failure, but that isn't the case. (It will be on the new machine.)

If the data is irreplaceble, even a new machine requires (off site) backups.

> I try not to make a habit of forcing folk to new software, or even new versions of software, if it can be avoided. Experience has been a good teacher. wink

There is also the saying, "If a man is happy, you can only make him unhappy."
;-(
 
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Walking in Victoria with Rigel.
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
 

>> That's part of the reason I'm trying to fix it even though it isn't seriously broke... or at least still working.

> Was the machine compromised or not?

It was compromised. I've only found evidence of a search-elevation scheme, but there could be a more.

>> The fire-walling can change in a hurry, but closing exploits by moving to a more current version of Linux and all the other software on the machine is the major motivation here

> I understand that you don't want to be responsible for a machine with known expoits. But if it has already been compromised, no upgrade is going to help.

Any "upgrading" I do will involve copying the content to a new machine. The trick will be copying the content that hasn't been tainted. Looking over the PHP on the compromised machines I see that several of the pages start with an eval of a big base-64 encoded blob. I'm going to have to dig in and see how Moodle stores courses in the database.

One thing is for sure, I'm going to have a much better understanding of Moodle's internals before this is all over.

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Hi

That clarifies quite a bit. There were two "misunderstandings":

> It was compromised. I've only found evidence of a search-elevation scheme, but there could be a more.

It was not clear to me. A compromise is a major break down which calls for drastic measures.
;-(

> Any "upgrading" I do will involve copying the content to a new machine.

Upgrading means to a Moodler this: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Upgrading. And transfering content is usually http://docs.moodle.org/en/Import_and_export_FAQ.

And there is a third possibility, recreating the course manually in the new Moodle site. That is the most prudent solution for a compromised server. It is more work but 99% secure plus you get rid of all unused/outdated information in the old site (also see Colin's post above).

Usually which upgrade path, 1.5 -> ? -> ? -> 1.9 -> ? is a big discussion. See http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=197602. If your staff-member agree to the manual method, that whole discussion becomes irrelevant.

I too recommend like Colin to go for the latest 1.9. The 1.x series was downward compatible in terms of the user interface. 2.x is a redesign which your staff-member may like or not. You can always give him a seperate test site, if he is keen.

You are on Linux but never mentioned the distribution. If it is Debian or a derivative this article might be useful: http://docs.moodle.org/en/Installing_Moodle_on_Debian_based_distributions.
 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Wow.  Just 2c worth from me.

Visvanath comments: "And there is a third possibility, recreating the course manually in the new Moodle site. That is the most prudent solution for a compromised server. It is more work but 99% secure plus you get rid of all unused/outdated information in the old site (also see Colin's post above)"

I'd take this path.  You'll feel good, like a nice clean shiny new kitchen rather than patching up and old one.  Hire a student who will just sit there and transfer it over.  Or do a bit of design and do it well.  Install one of the simple menu plugins or good formats (to solve scr*ll of death) and a great theme.

Also: "I too recommend like Colin to go for the latest 1.9. The 1.x series was downward compatible in terms of the user interface. 2.x is a redesign which your staff-member may like or not. You can always give him a seperate test site, if he is keen"

I don't recommend this. (Rare that I would differ from you guys!!)  If someone is a) one person teaching on a server, sounds like one or few courses b) it is back in 1.5 days c) even basically technically resilient - the change to Moodle 2 is possible with some moderate pain.  And - 1.9 is on the way out.  There are good things in 2.  IMO there is at least a fighting chance we may have some low grade things tweaked in 2.3 (like filepicker).  Change now is better than change later.

IMO

Migrate manually using hired fast keyboarding help.  Put aside any aspirations for a story in the Moodle annals of fame.  Experience at making a great 2.2+ installaton is more valuable than upgrading experience.  or Go to the beach instead.

-Derek

 
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moi!!! it is what is is...
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
Group Documentation writersGroup Particularly helpful Moodlers

Hi Derek, I thought I was only suggesting the 1.9.16 as a halfway point to a v2.x, but clearly did not adequately finish the sentence. The only reason I suggested this was that I felt it is easier to do a big jump manually from v1.5.3 to 1.9.16 a semi-familiar environment that to the totally alien environment of 2.0. I should had added there that it is at that point that the normal backup/restore process can be implemented safely. No user data, no unfamilar, outmoded or defunct  blocks, all utf-8 compliant and all that. I have not seen v1.9.16 but I would think that there might be some changes in it that would resonate in v2.x.

Anyway, that is my mistake, sorry about that Mark, could not have really paid attention...     

 
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Rosario playing soccer
Re: Migrate content from version 1.5.3+ to current: Crazy?
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Please follow the upgrade paths described in the Moodle docs from 1.5 to 1.9 and then see this:

http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=192355

if you want to go further up. But 1.9.x is still our production server.

Rosario

 
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