Installation help

 
 
Picture of Beau Sanders
Upgrade to 2.4 is a faliure
 

I am very frustrated that after over two days (about 20 hours) of upgrading and converting, I will not be able to use 2.4 for my spring classes.

The problem is that the backup and restore functions take so much time that my server times out. At first I thought that was a problem when coverting a 1.9 course to 2.2 as instructed. I tried converting one course at a time. That did not work

Next I converted the whole install on a stand-alone server that ran over night. Once I got 1.9 converted to 2.2, I thought I had seen the worst of it. I then converted 2.2 to 2.4 to get to the latest version.

I spend the majority of yesterday getting the install moved from my old local server to our ISP server. Since the database doubled in size, that turned in to an ordeal.

Today I have a running version of 2.4...so I start getting ready for the new semester classes by backing up and restoring my first course. The server produced an Error 500 during the backup of one course. I tried again with no student data and the backup worked...but took about five times longer than a full course back in 1.9. Then when I tried to restore the course without any student data, I got Error 500 again...the server timed out.

I would be interested to learn how other users have been able to migrate to 2.4 and run it on a hosted server. My install is small...44 courses and 370 students...so size should not be an issue.

I hate to admit defeat, but this is taking way too much time and creative energy. I am open to any suggestions...but I do not see the benefit of moving from a perfectly running 1.9 install to a 2.4 that is going to cause problems.

I love moodle. The reason I use it in my classes is that our school uses Blackboard which is terrible. There are many features in moodle that are much better than BB...like the quiz mod for one.

Any ideas or feedback?

-Beau

 
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Picture of Ken Task
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a faliure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

The key here might be "hosted server".  Is the hosting solution a shared host?  If so, there are many who have learned that shared hosting has limits when it comes to an application like Moodle 2.x which is resource hungry with certain activities, etc.  The 1.9.x to 2.x course conversion or migration processes are also resource hungry.

So the local server used for the migration/testing was standalone and it's config for php and any tweaks for MySQL weren't moved to the production server ... even if the same OS.

Just an observation with no real data to prove, but found that a new migration takes at least 4 days - first run of trashdir clean out - to 'settle down'.

Those error 500's and stuff timing out could mean you've reached the top limits of your shared hosting plan.

Hosting provider probably has VDS (virtual dedicated servers) offer - more expensive - but one will be able to overcome those server limits - with exception of the bandwidth usage.

If you have a VDS, then checking of apache error logs, mysql logs etc might help provide clues to tweaks one needs to make to php and to MySQL to run 2.4.

'spirit of sharing', Ken

 
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Picture of Beau Sanders
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a faliure
 

Thanks, Ken.

Since I am paying for the hosting service, cost is a concern. I think I better stick with the 1.9 install for now. It meets my needs for the coming semester. I hope that moodle.org will realize that not all users are big schools or companies. Some of us operate out of pocket.

As for resource hog...the only thing that is taking processing is backing up and restoring. Everything else is running fine. It seems to me that the backup.php program is doing too much. I do not know why a backup of a single course should be so time consuming...it takes less than a minute on my 1.9 install. The 2.4 install bombs out at 3 minutes when the ISP stops the process.

I will research VDS servers and see if I can find one cheap. Any ideas?

-Beau

 
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Picture of Beau Sanders
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a faliure
 

I just heard back from my ISP and here is a portion of their response:

"We do not provide VDS (Virtual Dedicated Server) servers. If you are getting a timeout trying to perform some operation over HTTP, then we may be unable to offer a solution to this. You may want to check with Moodle developers/support if there is a way to break down the operations in question in separate processes -- more in count, but quicker to execute -- which could possibly help complete the installation.  That way, you won't need to have your account moved."

Is there a way in moodle 2.4 to breakup the backup and restore operations so the hosted server does not time out?

-Beau

 

 
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Picture of Ken Task
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a faliure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Beau, think about it a minute.  They already know you are unhappy with the app.  Of course they would say that!!!!  Afraid you are caught between levels of technical persons/entities.

How about forwarding this onto them ...

IF they want to keep you has a customer, maybe they should set up shared systems with processing needs with FEWER customers on each virtualized server.  With FEWER customers on those servers, the caps on resources could be raised to cover what's needed (to a point - since it's still a shared system).  They could do that ... if they can't, then seek a provider that will!

Easy for Server admins to blame Coders, and for coders to blame server admins, but then there are other levels that play in the mix ... the virtual server administrator (who is now *ALL* powerful  - formerly it was the server admin) ... and let's throw in the network guys and gals there also ... the ones that run the switches/filtering systems/routers, etc..

Keep this in mind ... you are the customer!  Are they providing you what you need or not?  At the same time, consider that one might have to pay a little more - that's fair and understandable, isn't it?  For that company, the number of customers on shared systems that have greater processing needs hasn't reach critical mass.  But, predict that it might one day ... and not just for Moodle.  Maybe Moodle.org needs a forum just for 'shared hosting'.

Moodle has improved speed with 2.4 and MUC and it is improved over all previous versions of 2 ... PERIOD.  With some things, however, while there is always room for improvement, right now still require processing power.  Restoring 1.9.x courses to the new code/format of file system, etc. in a 2.x will require more processing ... period.

And let's face it, if Moodle is just being responsive to what customers want ... who is really driving all of this need for 'juice'/speed/etc.?

'spirit of sharing', Ken

 
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Picture of Beau Sanders
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
 

Ken, thank you again for all the time and effort you have provided me free of charge during the past several days.

I do feel like that I am caught between the ISP and the solution provider. The truth is that this ISP has done a fantastic job for me. I have had several ISP's over the years, and for the money these guys provide allot of product. My cost now for one year of hosting is less than what a VDS would cost a month.

Also, the truth is that the moodle developers have been doing a fantastic job for no pay! I guess I am spoiled since I have enjoyed both for several years.

I am thinking about changing by Internet service provider account to a commercial account, then I can host my own server (legally). I do not think that would be cost prohibitive. The problem is time. I have a server I built earlier this year that I need to start using and this would be a good project.

I will keep my 2.x install running and update it as time goes on. Maybe the backup and restore program will change for the better. I remember problems with the 1.9.x backup.php years ago...it got fixed in 1.9.7 I believe.

Thanks again for your help.

-Beau

 

 
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Picture of Ken Task
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a faliure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Ok, have had time to think on your issue ...

A couple of more ideas … the following kinda sketchy and would need further 'fleshing out', but the basic ideas are here ...

you evidently work in higher ed … jc, community college, university …
Are there other teachers who want to use Moodle rather than BB?
Got a Computer Si department?
Hmmmm …. sounds like the entity/college + IT (whatever higher powers that be) need to open their eyes to Linux/Open Source.  Not just for you and a Moodle, but for student (undergrad or grad) real world experience.  What if you found 5 or so that wanted to use Moodle?  What's the threshold point where IT becomes responsive to needs/desires of Staff?

Find students in Computer Sci networking/server that need real world experience before graduation (plus some true experience in something other then Winders).  Wonder what you could put together?

And another - shared service arrangement - remotely hosted VDS whose cost is shared among x number of teachers.  Each has their own Moodle - they admin their own Moodle.  Could have that one server respond to multiple registered domains.  Those X number of teachers also share the cost of a single server admin hired to assure the operating system is up to date/maintained and who does Moodle upgrades.  Their job is not how to use Moodle.  With X number teachers using + Moodle community as resource that should be covered.

Either one of those could defray the cost of an individual teacher using a VDS on a remote system with enough umph to run the code.

Now am not volunteering (and not bragging either - even though this is about a Texan and Texans), but I help some 15 ISD's in Texas with their Moodles.  With the right setup, I can, with one click of a button update the operating system of all 15 servers - takes 2 minutes to click, then wait for 10 or 15 minutes more.  In a matter of minutes, I can upgrade each ISD's Moodle with the latest/greatest fixes and patches.  I've left the admin of Moodle to them ... many would disagree with what I would propose anyway!

Such collaboration is possible - and affordable.

And here's one more ... what about home schoolers?  Saw a posting here in Moodle.org from a lady that was a home schooler ... shared resource ... share server ... shared cost.

It can be done ... question is, can one think outside the 'man made boundaries' of 'traditional server/network' and 'traditional institutions of learning'?

Ok, off soap box now! Consider this 2 cents worth!

'spirit of sharing', Ken

 
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Picture of Beau Sanders
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
 

All good points. I will let you know if I come up with a good answer for my issues. Right now...long live 1.9.x! Peace!

-Beau

 

 
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Picture of Rick Jerz
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Beau, I empathize with you.  My school uses Blackboard, but I have been using Moodle myself for around five years.  I too was running Moodle 1.9 on a hosted server for around $6 per month, with a similar number of courses and students as you.

Eventually, my database exceeded the hosting account size limit, and it made sense to move to a VDS.  The VDS required more education from me, but mine has been working for two years.  I also pay for all of this myself.  But it has all been worth it to have a product (Moodle) that works.  Moodle makes Blackboard look like a wimp.

You really need to upgrade to the latest version, but you obviously can't do this before the spring semester.  Make a goal of being at Moodle 2.4 (or later) for Fall 2013.  You have the spring semester to explore some of Ken's ideas, and then you have the summer to do some work on your own.

 
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Picture of Beau Sanders
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
 

Rick, thank you so much for your feedback. I have done allot of thinking about this project and I think the most cost effective way is to setup a commercial cable internet account and run my own server. I built one for about $1,000 using mostly used parts back in January. I am running VMware ESXi and vCenter on it. This was not my original goal, but it seems to make the most sense to me now that I have "gone to school" on 2.4 this week.

I am curious, which VDS service are you using and how much does it cost?

Best wishes for a successful spring semester and 2013!

-Beau

 

 

 
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Picture of Rick Jerz
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Beau, I use GoDaddy's VDS.  I think that I pay around $50 per month for everything, including my domain, privacy, etc.  Yep, relatively expensive, but it works.  I admire folks like you who can set up their own server.  But I often wonder how you make sure that it is always available?  What happens when your power goes out, or your ISP is down?  Using the VDS approach from a major company like GoDaddy, I don't have to worry about running a "professional" server.  My VDS has greater than 99% uptime, which is much better that what my own university provides.  Also, I don't have to do anything to get it connected to the Internet, or configure Linux, or any of that stuff.  I wouldn't know how.  So the VDS comes ready to load webpages and to configure for Moodle.  By the way, the my VDS was not immediately ready for Moodle, I had to turn on some of the Linux features.

I should also mention to you that you can get a VDS from Godaddy (and probably other companies), for a month.  in other words, it is not that expensive to experiment.  At one point in time, I actually had two VDSs from them when I was experiment with moving my production Moodle over to a new VDS.  I didn't want to take a chance at killing my working copy of Moodle, so I purchased a second VDS, got it configured, then moved everything over to the new install, and then got rid of my first VDS.  GoDaddy is extremely good at moving your money (i.e., credit) from one product to another.

Even thought I have been told that configuring your own server is not that hard, I find this VDS approach to be better for me.  I don't have computer science students around to help me.  Also, my own IT support at my own university only do what they want to do, which is why they picked Blackboard.

 
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Picture of Beau Sanders
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
 

You are right about the possibility that power may go off or something goes down in the server. I have been working on servers for years, so I am pretty confortable with that part of it. The question is...is the power going off, the internet connection failing, or some server part failing worth $50.00 a month. I think that if the server is down for a day or so, we can live with it. One time we lost power for seven days in an ice storm...but school shut down and no body was doing much of anything.

I have been running an old PowerEdge 2500 server (about ten years old) for years on my residencial internet account. It has about a 95% up time (when I am not messing with it and breaking things). 

I still have not made up my mind. Your suggestion is faster and safer...which costs money.

Thank you very much for your feedback.

-Beau

 
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Picture of Robert Brenstein
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
I gather you have no option to set your own server at your school somewhere somehow.
 
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Picture of Beau Sanders
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
 

Hey, Robert. Unfortunately our school's IT department is not equipped to deal with projects like this. It is a long story that I should keep to myself. My moodle server is my personal project that I started many years ago as a result of our school's CMS going down far too often. I have really enjoyed working on moodle, I think it has helped me be a better teacher.

Thank you for your feedback.

-Beau

 
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Picture of Robert Brenstein
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
What I meant was you getting a permission to keep your private server on school premises, so it runs with school address over school network. You just need a location that has enough physical security and a hostname.
 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
For a 24/7 server for the Internet own hardware and network infrastructure can never beat a professional hosting service for many reasons:
- hardware replacement: a hosting service can afford to stock spare parts
- fail-over mechanisms: against power failure, failure of network equipment, individual network providers failing, ...
- connectivity to the Internet: professional hosting providers have Gbit links to mutliple Internet exchange points
- web-based installations: you can reinstall/change the operating system within minutes
- backup scripts: you get professional scripts for backups
- on-site backup: you get on-site backup hardware where the traffic does not count
- VPS save energy (by bundling servers)
 
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Picture of Beau Sanders
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
 

Rick, I just looked at GoDaddy's site. They provide VPS (Virtual Private Server) but I do not see VDS (Virtual Dedicated Server). I may be splitting hairs here, but dedicated servers are more expensive than $50 per month. I see VPS solutions from GoDaddy in the $30 and up range.

Are you using a VPS account? If so, which level...they offer several. The features sound good and I have used GoDaddy for years, so I am familiar with their service and quality. I know allot of folks bad mouth GoDaddy, but I have not had any real problems with them.

http://www.godaddy.com/hosting/vps-hosting.aspx?ci=9013

Are you on one of these packages? If so, which one?

Thanks.

-Beau

 

 
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Picture of Rick Jerz
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Beau, it is great that you know how to set up your own server, I admire your abilities.

Yes, I see GoDaddy calls these VPSs now, they used to be VDSs.  Oh well.

I have the "Value" one, which I see is between $32 and $40 right now, depending on your commitment.  Yes, I know what you mean about "bad mouth GoDaddy", and I too have not had any real problems with them.  From the server side, they seem to know what they are doing.  Can't expect them to know everything about every application.  If you need this kind of knowledge, one would be better off with a Moodle partner, but your not at $50 per month.

Yes, a "Dedicated Server" is much more expensive.  It will probably be a long time before I need one of these, especially since I have 3 more steps available with the VPSs.

Since you know the Linux stuff well, you might actually have some fun experimenting with one of the VPSs.  You would probably be able to assess how well GoDaddy configures these things, then you could share what you learn will all of us.  Also, if you start with one month, GoDaddy (as you probably know) will likely send you emails with bigger discounts on these VPSs.

 
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Picture of Beau Sanders
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
 

Rick, thanks for your good advice. I am going to start working on my newer local server today and see how it does with a 2.4 install before committing to GoDaddy's VPS. This server has a 4TB RAID5 with one spare 2TB drive, 12GB of RAM and two Zeon quad core 2.0GHz processors all running on a two year old Supermicro server board. I am upgrading to VMware ESXi 5.1 today for the hypervisor. It should have enough horsepower to  do whatever moodle 2.4 needs. I will install moodle 2.4 in CentOS 6.3.

Since school starts on Wednesday, I am afraid this project will move down my list for a while. Since I am not doing any curriculum development this semester, maybe I can focus more time on upgrading moodle to its maxium performance.

Thank you again for your advice and feedback.

-Beau

 
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Picture of Rick Jerz
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers

Wow, I would think that your computer will have plenty of power for your 44 courses and 370 students.  However, some of this will depend upon how it is used by the teachers, and whether there is a bunch of concurrent usage.  I don't have a feel for this because I only run around 5 courses each semester, around 80 students.

Yep, I know how these things go when we have to begin teaching.  From above, I think I recall that you have a running version of Moodle, you just wanted to upgrade to 2.4.  If you are at 2.2, you are already getting many of the benefits (but of course, not all) of running Moodle 2.

Good luck.

 
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Picture of Visvanath Ratnaweera
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a failure
Group Particularly helpful Moodlers
Hi Beau

"Virtual dedicated server" is a synonym for a "virtual private server" in the sense that "A VPS is dedicated to the individual customer's needs, has the privacy of a separate physical computer, and can be configured to run server software" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_private_server.

The next step would be the "dedicated server" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dedicated_server where you have real hardware 100% for you. For a single teacher that is an overkill (yes, unless bloated software rob the resources). Since you teach Linux, you will torture yourself with somebody's shared server. You need shell access, a decent VPS has it.

The search for a suitable hosting service is one of the topics in the "Hardware and Performance" forum https://moodle.org/mod/forum/view.php?id=596. All the starting information are give in its intro.

Talking of GoDaddy, I have my reservations: See "Go Daddy! (Where to?)" https://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=193106.
 
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Picture of Urs Giezendanner
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a faliure
 

Hi Beau

I had the same Problem: "The problem is that the backup and restore functions take so much time that my server times out."

I looked around and changed this and that...

Than I changed in the php-Settings of the server (not on Moodle) "memory_limit" to 512M.

After that, all backup and restore processes works fine and without any error. So it was that, and it make even sense...

Reagards

Urs

 
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Picture of Beau Sanders
Re: Upgrade to 2.4 is a faliure
 

Thanks, Urs. I will try that too.

-Beau

 
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