MovableType upgrades ... two days of work and wait, there's more.

I've been using MovableType for the Praxis101 blog since Version 2. Installation and getting running in 2004 required learning a good deal about blogging as a practice and MovableType as a software product. I also got to practice my Unix sysadmin skills, which are adequate, and I like that. Usually. I think I now have a bash script to take care of all the permissions issues.

I also wanted to get away from my customized templates. They were fun to learn about, but mostly I want to read and write. I do not want to learn CSS. So the plan was (1) upgrade from Version 3.2 to 3.36; (2) change to a more standard, freely available style; (3) upgrade to Version 4.1; (4) change to an even better looking style.

All this has been accomplished. The platform and database upgrades seem to have gone very well indeed. It's always a bit unnerving when the database tables are being updated and time ... is ... passing ... and ..... But it worked. Thanks to MT for providing a reliable process for that.

But when it came to trying to change the blog styles, well that was a different story. My final process was to export the blog content (for each blog), create a new blog, import the blog content, rename new blog to old blog (we do want to keep that indexed URL working, we really do), and delete the old blog. It takes a bit of fiddling with the filesystem as well as complete republication of the blog. This last can be time consuming and my ISP sent me e-mail asking about the CPU usage with mt.cgi.

What finally took the cake for me is that the import preserved the author name on all the posts except for the ones I wrote. What is that about? I think I have a solution, but it's going to require republishing all files. My ISP is gonna love me.

I know that this can be easy for many. And I'm sure I make my own problems sometimes. But there's a good deal of information that's not documented. For example, my ISP sets my umask such that files I download and create only have user access. It's a safe choice. But now I need to reset the permissions for all the MT files. Are only the .cgi files executable? Are *all* the other files just set to read-write? What permissions are required for files in the "tools" directory? are they executables? This is all clerical work and should be in a script or written down. There is documentation about making .cgi files executable, but nothing about what the permissions of all the other files are expected to be.

But I'll bet that my context is different than yours. I think that many (not all) systems admin problems are local. And what's needed most to work locally is hints about the dependencies that are so obvious to software developers that they never write them down. It's hard to do this because it doesn't seem needed. But I'm coming to realize that system administration tasks need to be the best documented primary because they're not done every day. If I'm lucky I won't be upgrading my blog platform for a year or more. And when I do that I'll be looking at all the notes I've made this time.

2008-04-12 UPDATE: typos, typos, and more typos. Learn to proofread, Bill.

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