Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Advanced Web Publishing Service

This is the name of a new service offered on my university campus. It really is a Plesk-based control panel with a choice of databases and content management tools running on top of Windows 2003 servers.

As I have been running several servers and databases I thought I was well prepared to use this "advanced" new system: I was wrong. While Plesk's control panel looks nice (and you can chose the skins that pleases you the most) it was not very easy for me to manage through all the system. Eventually I was hitting against the wall when trying to import an ASCII file to fill-in a MySQL database table using phpmyadmin (because of wrong default options). I did not like the default management for SQL Server databases was done over (insecure) http connections. For reasons that were not explained PHP scripts returned a 404 Not Found error while at the same time I could not change any of the file access rights and, surprisingly, ASP files worked without any problem. Later on the system admin did fix it and now I have PHP scripts running properly.

I think that if you have the hardware and the knowledge you can have linux box up and running much faster than the time it takes to learn this (proprietary) Plesk thing. I am not yet a Plesk expert (not that I am planning to become one) and it is certainly not a web-publishing for dummies either.

However, it might be interesting for you to learn Plesk if you plan on getting your websites hosted on provider who uses it. A very good point for the system is that it includes a trouble ticket system that provides you a tool to be in touch with the help desk. Too bad the ticket system only allows text messages and no attachments.

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