Let’s Make Something Useful

I have a very specific routine when it comes to writing books, and yet I always seem to find myself struggling with the tools at my disposal. You’ve got Scrivener for drafting, Word for revising, MindMap and Aeon Timeline and countless others, but what about the actual planning of the work? The calendars and task lists and things like that? I end up printing out calendars, but I’d rather have a web-based solution. And since I can’t find one I like, I’ll make my own! Here comes WipSnap.com!

Disclaimer: This is all for fun. Read about it and use the app at your own risk.

Today, we’ll focus on the very basics:

  • Registering a domain
  • Configuring DNS
  • Adding a virtual host

The Domain

I really wanted to register crackthewip.com for this app, but it was taken. So instead, we’re going with wipsnap.com. I’m sure this mediocre domain name will come back to haunt me at some point, but let’s cross that bridge later. I registered the domain for $7 at namesilo.com.

Since, I already have a webhost, the only real configuration I needed at NameSilo was to enter the Linode nameservers.

Pretty straight-forward. It can take up to 48 hours for the nameservers to take effect, so don’t wait until you’re in the middle of writing a blog post to change them.

You can use nslookup to check the status. Though, depending on your DNS server, what works for you might not work for everyone.

dverastiqui@central:~$ nslookup wipsnap.com
;; Got SERVFAIL reply from 172.19.2.233, trying next server
Server: 8.8.8.8
Address: 8.8.8.8#53

** server can't find wipsnap.com: SERVFAIL

Actually, we’ll probably need to do the next part before that nslookup succeeds.

DNS Setup

Now we’ll head over to Linode and add the domain to DNS. Use the DNS Manager section and put in the necessary info.

At Linode, the above settings should be sufficient. There is a warning that changes to the master zone only happen every quarter hour, so you may have to wait a bit before a direct nslookup succeeds.

dverastiqui@central:~$ nslookup wipsnap.com ns1.linode.com
Server: ns1.linode.com
Address: 162.159.27.72#53

** server can't find wipsnap.com: REFUSED

A little later…

dverastiqui@central:~$ nslookup wipsnap.com ns1.linode.com
Server: ns1.linode.com
Address: 162.159.27.72#53

Name: wipsnap.com
Address: 45.56.121.131

Perfect! Now we just need to tell the webserver itself to respond to requests for that domain name at that address.

Create a Virtual Host

What I like most about Linode is that you’re on your own, so you kinda have to know what you’re doing here. However, they do have extensive documentation, all of which I’ve followed step-by-step to accomplish pretty much anything.

Basically, you’ll want to head over to the Apache configuration directory (often /etc/apache2/sites-available) and create a conf file for the new domain. If you already have some domains listed, you can copy one of their conf files and edit. If not, you’ll want to consult Host a Website on Ubuntu.

Don’t forget to create the directories you reference in the config, specifically the document root and the log file directories.

Now enable the site and reload Apache.

root@vnet:/etc/apache2# a2ensite wipsnap.com
Enabling site wipsnap.com.
To activate the new configuration, you need to run:
systemctl reload apache2
root@vnet:/etc/apache2# systemctl reload apache2
root@vnet:/etc/apache2#

I like to create a default index so I know I’m hitting the right place when I test in my browser.

dverastiqui@vnet:/var/www/wipsnap.com$ echo "WipSnap! Now With More Snap!" > index.php

Testing

Once DNS updates, we should be able to hit wipsnap.com in a browser.

Success!

I think that’s enough for today. Next time, we’ll set up

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