Overwhelmed, in a good way

After ten years at WashU, I’ve moved on to Pagely. It’s been a long time since I was so overwhelmed. Honestly, I feel a bit dumb, in the best possible sense of the word.

I’m proud of the work I did at WashU. They hired me to be “the WordPress guy,” and over time I built up a platform that was efficient, resilient, highly available. The main bottleneck was the “I” in that first sentence. Especially in the first year or two, there wasn’t a lot of not-Windows experience around, and most of the design decisions that I made were inherently limited by my own knowledge and skillset at the time.

Pagely is larger than WashU, in terms of the volume of traffic on their WordPress sites. As I write this, their home page lists clients including Disney, Cisco, and WB. They only started a couple years before I started at WashU, but they had the benefits of being a “they” — a group of smart people are going to generate better ideas than any one smart person can alone.

Obviously, some of the complexity is a matter of scale. The WashU environment I built effectively only had one customer (WashU itself), and only hosts a few hundred sites. Pagely has more customers than that, and many of them are bigger than WashU’s biggest sites. And they have to worry about things like “getting paid,” whereas being internal-only saves a lot of paperwork. But in the past week and a half, I think I’ve learned more about how to host WordPress sites at scale than I did in the ten years previous. I’m being exposed to so many new-to-me technologies and ideas. I feel overwhelmed and a bit stupid, and I’m fighting my fair share of impostor syndrome this week. But it will pass, and I’ll learn All. The. Things. and it will be great.

Overwhelmed, in a good way

Clear Linux Cheat Sheet

Clear Linux has Big Slackware Energy, in that if you want to use it as a daily driver, you’ll need to know your way around the underlying software. That said, I don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to use it (despite what that one Phoronix post might have you believe). It really feels purpose-built for connecting to cloud-init or Ansible or something like that, for machines you’ll spin up then throw away tomorrow afternoon.

Things I’ve learned while tinkering with Intel’s new Clear Linux distribution. Will probably get updated from time to time, unless I get bored.

  • Checking for updates: sudo swupd update
  • Installing a new bundle (their version of a package group): sudo swupd bundle-add bundlename
    • Bundles you’ll probably want for general tinkering: dev-utils, tmux
    • Bundles you might want if you want a traditional GUI experience: desktop (GNOME) or maybe os-utils-gui (a basic xfce desktop)
  • Growing the hard disk (probably needed if you want to install GNOME on a VM): see this (basically, grow it the VM-specific way, install the storage-utils bundle, use parted and resize2fs to actually use the new space)


Clear Linux Cheat Sheet

Updating your WSL Debian Image to “Buster”

While Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) isn’t perfect, it’s coming along nicely as a replacement for many of the Unix-y things I used to do with Cygwin. And since most of my server work involves Linux as opposed to generic *nix, it’s nice to have handy access to something that more closely resembles my work environment.

Just a few days ago, the Debian project announced “Buster,” the first major upgrade in a couple years. (If you want to be boring, it’s also “Debian 10.0”.) As of this writing, the Microsoft app store doesn’t have Buster ready-to-go. And even if it did, there’s not a super-clean way to migrate any custom work, home directories, etc. from an old Debian installation to a new one. So here, I throw caution to the wind and update my existing Debian WSL installation from “Stretch” (9.x) to Buster.

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Updating your WSL Debian Image to “Buster”