I’ve switched nameservers for all my domains yesterday. During the past many years I’ve been free-riding on GratisDNS and enjoying their free DNS service (and luckily never needed support in their forums).
Yesterday I switched to Cloudflare and I’m using them for DNS for this (and other domains). I don’t have any particular requirements, and the switch was mostly easy and automated to the extent possible. Two domains went smooth, but the last my mahler.io domain went a stray a few hours during the switch.
The issue was completely on me and required a help from a friend to resolve. Most my DNS records are completely basic, but I’ve tried to keep a current baseline and supported CAA records and DNSSEC.
CAA does not matter when switching DNS servers, but the DNSSEC does. As the name implies, DNSSEC is a DNS SECurity standard, and in the particular case, the DNSSEC records did not only exist at gratisdns, but also at NIC.io my DNS registrar for my dot io domain.
Only as the DNSSEC was removed at gratisdns – and nic.io – the transfer went through and everything was running smoothly at the Cloudflare DNS service.
It’s been quiet here for a while, but be things have been happening behind the scenes. In case your wondering the site (and surroundings) have been seeing a number of updates which eventually may make it into separate posts.
- I’m running on a Digital Ocean droplet. It was provisioned as an Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, which is dead by now (as in no more updates including security updates). The server has now been roll up to an Ubuntu 16.04 LTS in place.
- As I was messing around with the server, I’ve added IPv6 support.
- The DNS has been updated to have full support for DNSSEC.
- My Let’s Encrypt Certificates now has automated certificate renewals and I’ve upgraded to CAA support.
- The Webserver has been switched from Apache to NGINX.
- The PHP has been switched from PHP 5.6 series to a modern 7.0.
- I’m adopting full Git-backed backup of all server setup and configuration using BitBucket.org. It’s not complete but most config files have been added and managed using GitHub.
These was the majority of changes on the site and server the past few months. With these updates in place, I might get back to producing content for the site.
Here’s a little trick, which is has proven itself just as useful as it is easy. To most companies handling domains is critical task, as losing your domain name may have catastrophic consequences. Handling domains isn’t particularly hard, but there are some tasks, that may be time-critical to handle in due time – luckily Google Calendar provides an easy way to help make sure these tasks are handled.
(In this little tip, I’m using Google Calendar as the reference, but Outlook.com, Office365 or any other online calendaring system can probably do the same.)
Setup a new Google Calendar on an existing Google Account and call it “domains”.
Whenever a domain name is bought or renewed, make a new entry in the calendar at the expire time of the expiry date of the domain. Note the domain name in the subject of the calendar, and if you buy domains at various registrars note any details needed (but not confidential) in the description field.
Next step is to remove the default pop-up notification and add email notifications instead. Choose which warning horizons you’d like – i.e. 1 month, 1 week and 48 hours – and Google will let you know when the renewal is coming up.
Final step is to invite any other who needs to be notified of the domain expiry to the appointment, and make sure, that they notifications is also set up with the warning horizons they like.
… also applicable of certificates
The calendar notifications can also be utilized for SSL / TLS certificates. When buying or renewing certificates make an entry on their expiry date and set up notifications as described above. This way you should be able to ensure your users never see an expired certificate again.
For some time the server running this site had been acting up. Page loads were slow, access through SSH seemed lagging and something was absolutely misbehaving.
I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly was going on, but nothing really made sense. there were plenty of disk space, memory was reasonable utilized (no swapping) and the CPU load seemed to be less than 0.1 at any time – there were no good reason the server was “turtling” along at such a perceived slow pace.
Thanks to a tip from Henrik Schack, the server is now running at full speed again. it turned out that one of the DNS resolvers used by the machine was in a bad state and slow, unreliable or dysfunctional DNS causes trouble all sorts of places. The fix was quite easy, the file /etc/resolv.conf was updated to contain the IPs of the Google Public DNS servers, and once the file was saved things were back to the rapid normal.
All computers really need solid, fast DNS servers these days – be it servers or workstations – as the auto-updates and the utilization of “cloud-resources” of various kind much have DNS working to reach out to the destinations they need. If your system starts acting up without any reasonable explanation, checking DNS could be an easy place to start checking things.