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Metawerx News Archive 2006

28-Dec-2006 - Running on Java 6

Java 6 has been officially released, and in all of our tests, it seems to be 100% backwards compatible with Java 5 applications - and faster. We are now offering Java 6 on all new hosting plans.

We have also deployed Java 6 on our clusters today, the Metawerx Wiki, and Metawerx Mail Servers and will be upgrading shared Tomcat 5.5 / Java 5 VM's over the next 4 weeks.

Java 6 has many small performance enhancements. One very noticeable enhancement being that Tomcat 5.5 starts 20%-30% faster on Java 6 that it did on Java 5.

2-Dec-2006 - Dedicated VMs / SQL Server 2005 / New Database Server

New Database Server
http://www.metawerx.net/images/screenshots/databaseserver.png 8 physical 3Ghz cores, Hyperthreading disabled, 32gb RAM (8 used as redundant RAM), RAID-5 15k SCSI hard drives

Our Database Plan now has the option of a 96mb RAM dedicated VM on Linux. This can be either a metawerx managed VM, the same as our shared plans, or a self-managed VM where you have responsibility (and control) over server.xml. Either way, you are able to restart the VM as necessary.

SQL/Server 2005 is now available. All new SQL plans will be put on SQL/Server 2005. We plan to gradually migrate away from our old SQL install, so please upgrade when you are ready. You can download SQL/Server 2005 Express free of charge from the Microsoft site to test compatibility. In all tests so far, we have found 100% upward compatibility. Please notify us if you have different results.

SQL/Server 2005 is running on our new database server. This server is extremely powerful, with 32gb of dual-rank RAID-5 RAM (which takes 8gb of RAM, and provides full redundancy for the other 24gb), 4 dual-core 3Ghz CPU's (8 cores of 3Ghz - or 16 logical CPUs with HyperThreading enabled) and RAID-5 15K 147gb SCSI drives. The server weighs in at a very heavy 49.9kg and has a 2x1Gbps connection to our switch using teamed 1Gbps NICs to provide maximum connectivity speed to the rest of our servers.

There is no charge for upgrading to SQL/Server 2005, and we can either perform the migration of your database ourselves, or provide you with a temporary additional datasource while you prepare for the upgrade. You should prepare your application by ensuring there are no hard-coded references to the old SQL datasource. See context.xml for the best way to do this, which includes DBCP connection pooling as an additional benefit.

SQL/Server 2005 can be used with a Linux, or Windows JVM.

11-Nov-2006 - RAM increase on Pro II / New Dedicated Servers / SQL Server 2005

Our Pro II plan now comes with a huge 512mb of physical RAM (previously 256). For serious enterprise applications such as Confluence and Jira, this makes it possible to have a very large system without the need for a dedicated server.

In addition, we have a range of new dedicated servers available. See our Dedicated Server Plans page for details. All servers come with SCSI drives, and most have RAID.

SQL Server 2005 Express Edition is available on the new dedicated server range. This is free of charge from Microsoft, allowing 1 processor, 1gb of RAM and a databases up to 4gb in size. We are trialing this in-house and will soon be providing it as a database option on our Database Plan.

26-Oct-2006 - phpMyAdmin and phpPgAdmin

phpMyAdmin:
http://www.metawerx.net/images/screenshots/phpmyadmin.png
phpPgAdmin:
http://www.metawerx.net/images/screenshots/phppgadmin.png

We are now using phpMyAdmin and phpPgAdmin for online administration of your MySQL and PostGreSQL databases. These systems have become the standard for online database administration due to their power and ease of use.

The new online tools are available from SiteWinder, and replace our SQLAdministrator scripting tools for MySQL and PostGreSQL, providing control over all aspects of your database, as well as scripting and SQL execution.

Remote SSH connections are still available on all accounts, for customers who want to interface with their databases directly. Our tutorials for remote connections have been migrated to the new wiki, and are available in the Support Topics area.

20-Oct-2006 - Dedicated PostGres and MySQL instances now available

Our Pro and Pro II hosting plans now provide the option of dedicated MySQL instance or PostGreSQL instance. This works as follows:

  • Administrator password is provided to customer
  • You have the ability to create multiple databases and multiple users, using your existing disk space
  • Extra copies of all backups are stored in your /private-cgi-bin folder
  • MySQL Master-Slave Replication can be provided if an additional instance is also purchased on a secondary server

As with our normal MySQL and PostGreSQL hosting, the following features are provided:

  • Monitoring and automatic restart is still performed by metawerx
  • Daily backup and INNODB hot-backup is still performed by metawerx
  • Remote access via secure encrypted SSH connection

Previously, additional databases had to be purchased separately, so this new option provides a cheaper way to run larger applications, or increase the number of separate applications you run from the same hosting account.

9-Oct-2006 - Multiple databases now available on some plans

As of today, the Database plan includes 2 MySQL databases instead of the previous single database. With the Pro Plan and above, customers now have a choice of up to 4 MySQL databases, 2 SQL/Server databases, or a dedicated PostGreSQL server with no limit on the number of databases other than your available disk space.

This change has been made as a result of usage patterns and customer requirements, and reduces the need to purchase extra databases if your applications require them.

See the plan comparison for our latest hosting plan details.

7-Oct-2006 - Student plan pricing decrease

Our Student Plans have been reduced to $12.95/month as of today ($10 USD, £5, ¥1000). This provides easier access to students preparing sites for the final year Java assessments and new developers learning about Java. As always, our student plans include Tomcat and access to a database of your choice, but no domain name or email access.

3-Oct-2006 - Apache Geronimo 1.1 - Limited Offer for Existing Customers Only

Geronimo Admin Console:
http://www.metawerx.net/images/screenshots/geronimo1.png
Apache Geronimo is the new J2EE project from Apache, comprising of a full J2EE container with JMS and EJB support.

Metawerx will be providing Apache Geronimo on our dedicated VM hosting plans in the coming months. For now, we are looking for 2 customers to trial this service free of charge in order to get feedback, smooth out any remaining problems and to guage support and load requirements. The trial period will last for 3 months and includes your choice of our database hosting options (MySQL, PostGreSQL, SQL/Server, FireBird). At the end of the trial period, the 2 customers will be provided with an offer to remain hosting on Geronimo with a discount for the first year of hosting. If you are interested, please contact support.

Apache Geronimo v1.1 uses an embedded Tomcat 5.5.15 container for serving JSP and Servlets. Therefore, current applications should port to Geronimo easily.

You can find out the difference between Tomcat and Geronimo on this page on the Apache Wiki.

1-Oct-2006 - Disk Space Increase

We are pleased to announce that the disk space on all Metawerx Hosting plans has been increased as follows:

  • Budget/Student: 20mb -> 50mb
  • Developer: 80mb -> 150mb
  • Database: 150mb -> 300mb
  • Commercial: 250mb -> 500mb
  • Pro: 350mb -> 700mb
  • ProII: 450mb -> 900mb

This change has come as a result of adding our new backup systems, decreasing the price of space on the system used to host client sites.

All existing customers have received this upgrade free of charge, as with our recent Traffic Limit increase.

27-Sep-2006 - New Metawerx Wiki

Created this wiki as a way to extend the FAQ and build a knowledge sharing network between metawerx customers.

3-Sep-2006 - Secondary MX Added

We now have a secondary SMTP incoming mail server (Secondary MX) available for customer domains. This provides an extra server to collect incoming mail if the primary metawerx mail server fails temporarily. All mail enabled domains have been added to the secondary MX.

1-Sep-2006 - Advanced Hardware Monitoring

All metawerx servers (including managed dedicated servers) now have advanced hardware monitoring in place, with SMS/i-mode alerts sent to support staff. Hardware monitoring includes RAID hard-drive alarms, temperature point alarms, fan speed alarms, redundant power failure alarms, memory warnings and CPU voltage alarms. Previously these items were checked manually according to a maintenance plan. This new service provides us with immediate notifications of any problems which could cause a problem.

1-Sep-2006 - MySQL Replication for Backups

Our MySQL4 and MySQL5 servers now replicate data to a 2nd server using Master-Slave Replication to provide up-to-the-statement backups of MySQL data. This ensures that a single server failure results in no loss of data. Previously our procedure was to restore from the daily backup of the customer database.

30-Aug-2006 - Drive Crash on METAWERX1 server

METAWERX1 server had a drive crash 30-Aug-2006 22:36 AEST. The drive was replaced and rebuilt using RAID successfully, with no loss of data.

14-Aug-2006 - SVN Hosting Launched

We have launched a new Subversion (SVN) hosting service today. This service is not yet advertised as we will be placing it on a new website and are still working on the SVN User List editor. It is set up to work over HTTP/HTTPS with custom ACL's, daily backup, and full repository download available. Drives are RAID-5. Pricing is $20/month for 1024mb of storage, with a public account, and 5 user accounts. We are taking applications now. Initial customers will be involved in our Build Cycle Feedback Program, allowing them to have a say in how the service will operate, and ensuring they get what they need to use the service effectively. Please contact sales for more information or to apply.

14-Aug-2006 - MySQL Upgrade

Our MySQL servers have been upgraded today to the latest versions. MySQL4 is now using version 4.1.21. MySQL5 servers have been upgraded to 5.0.24.

3-Aug-2006 - PostGreSQL 8.1 Hosting Launched

As of today, we have started to offer the PostGreSQL 8.1 database on our Developer Plan and above. PostGreSQL databases can also be added to existing plans using the MyFire Upgrade Pack.

3-Aug-2006 - Linux based Java hosting launched on Ubuntu Dapper (6.06)

We now have 2 Linux servers available for Java hosting. The servers are running Ubuntu Dapper, based on Debian. In the coming months, some services will be migrated to these new machines, such as our mail servers and customer website and database backups. If you would prefer your site to be hosted on Linux, please contact us and we will arrange the transfer to one of the new servers. All storage space on the new servers is RAID-managed, providing the same level of protection as on our Windows based servers.

15-Jul-2006 - Traffic limits increased on selected plans

Traffic limits have been increased on many of our hosting plans due to a price drop from our upstream providers due to the fact that we are now purchasing more traffic than in previous years. In addition, the pricing for Traffic Packs (1gb blocks of traffic) has been reduced from $20 to $16.50. All existing customers have been updated with the cheaper pricing and additional traffic automatically.

22-Jun-2006 - Metawerx Tomcat Realms Administrator upgrade

The Metawerx Tomcat Realms Administrator tool available within SiteWinder has been updated to provide the following new features:

  • XML export
  • CSV export
  • Tab-Separated Values export
  • Excel (XML Spreadsheet) export
  • Paging controls for customers with user lists above 30 users

You can access the Metawerx Tomcat Realms Administrator from the Tools page after logging in, and use it to easily secure areas of your site using Security Realms. Full source code examples are included in the Examples page of the application.

12-Jun-2006 - MySQL JDBC driver used for JNDI DBCP Connection Pooling upgraded to 3.1.13

The MySQL JDBC Connector driver available in common/lib on all VM's for JNDI DBCP Connection Pooling has been upgraded to the latest version 3.1.13. There were problems with previous versions when used in a secure environment with catalina.policy which have now been resolved by the MySQL team, allowing us to use the new features of this driver.

18-May-2006 - Tomcat 5.5.x VM upgrade

Shared VM's using Tomcat 5.5.x have been upgraded to version 5.5.17 with APR (Apache Portable Runtime library) for increased speed of serving static content.

27-Apr-2006 - New sample code: JNDI DBCP Database Connection Pools

An example of using JNDI DBCP database connection pools using a customer-managed context.xml file has been added in the SiteWinder Resources section. See Resources-Example Code-Java.

25-Apr-2006 - New sample code: Custom Error Pages in Tomcat

An example of customising error pages in Tomcat has been added in the SiteWinder Resources section. See Resources-Example Code-Java.

16-Apr-2006 - New free servlet: FormHandlerServlet

The FormHandlerServlet used since 1997 on the metawerx site for customer applications and other form submissions has been converted for Tomcat, and is now available as a free download. See Resources-Metawerx Servlets for Tomcat

10-Mar-2006 - MW Proxy Update

The Metawerx Proxy Server has been upgraded to support POST operations, and UTF8 content. The proxy is used for all outgoing port 80 requests from client sites.

19-Feb-2006 - Setup and Management Service for large Java Applications

Today we have launched a service for the setup and management of selected opensource and commercial applications. As we have had experience with these applications, customers can now rely on us to ensure they are managed properly. The services include Atlassian Confluence, Atlassian Jira, Cyclos, Sync4j and OfBiz/opentap. For more information see the Large Apps page on the metawerx site.

5-Feb-2006 - APR (Apache Portable Runtime)

The new Apache Portable Runtime module is now being used in selected shared Tomcat 5.5.x VM's. APR is a portable binary implementation of Apache, which is used to send static resources such as images. This improves the performance of Tomcat, which usually uses Java to send the content. The other alternative for serving static resources via a binary application is to use of Apache or IIS connectors. However, this limits the capabilities of our developers to add their own filters and servlet mappings, making APR a much better choice.

19-Jan-2006 - Software Upgrades

  • Shared Tomcat 5.5.x VM's updated to latest version 5.5.15.
  • MySQL 5.0.x updated to latest version 5.0.18.
  • MySQL 4.1.x updated to latest version 4.1.16.

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