Moving Old Sites to Mavericks Server

I recently upgraded a web server from Snow Leopard to Mavericks (subtle upgrade ha) and naturally anticipated a few headaches. Fortunately, the upgrade went rather smoothly! Mavericks loaded right up; server app made everything simple; a quick MySQL download got my databases in place; and the existing websites got nestled nicely in their proper locations. All gravy!

::one day later::

Server is crashing! What!? What is going on? Ah, maybe it’s that 90GB apache error_log file! FUN! So what gives?

Should have figured that moving CakePHP files circa 2009 to a brand new server with the latest PHP would be a BIT of a clash. A ‘bit’ = monumental. PHP recently bundled their E_STRICT error reporting with E_ALL. You used to be able to segment them off or call them separately, but now you’re getting ALL strict reports in one swoop. Needless to say, the default settings in all my older CakePHP sites are not up on this change. Holy logging, batman! Every little move on each website is logging at least 10 PHP Strict errors at a time. The log viewer is struggling, the OS is lagging, everything is taking a hit. Fortunately, my little friend “cat /dev/null > error_log” was my savior! Cleared out that bad boy in one hit and bought myself some time to fix the error reporting.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I understand it’s bad practice to turn off/ignore error warnings. I’ve seen plenty of condescending users on Stack Overflow throw that jab. The issue is the lack of time to fix ALL the errors (many rather useless) before the server crashes. So! If you need to buy time or just don’t have the threshold to weed out every single warning, then this post will help. I simply believe that silencing some overkill warnings is far better than corrupting your databases/crashing your hard drive. That’s just me. Onwards!

I likely could have updated the php.ini file, but that requires an Apache restart and I wasn’t sure I wanted to hide reporting from ALL sites on the server. I just know which sites are most clunky so I opted for code-based changes. Here’s the thing: anything on Stack Overflow made it sound like one simple code change would fix everything. What a thought! It got my hopes up until I realized it didn’t work haha (at least for me).

I kept seeing “all you need to do is put ‘error_reporting(E_ALL & ~E_STRICT & ~E_DEPRECATED);’ in your website/cake/bootstrap.php!”…sounded lovely and super easy, but I still saw craploads of errors in my logs even after clearing all forms of cache/tmp folders. No dice. Per usual, I assumed I wasn’t doing something right so I tried mannnnny variations of the reporting settings. Remove the ~, put ‘E_ALL ^ E_STRICT’ instead, change the order, etc. I even decided to move the error reporting changes from the bootstrap and put it into the core files instead. Nothing. After a while, I decided to just double up my efforts and put the logging changes in the core file AND bootstrap files. So aside from the bootstrap.php error_reporting line, I went to website/app/config/core.php and swapped the defaul error logging settings, “Configure::write(‘log’, true);”, with “Configure::write(‘log’, E_ALL & ~E_NOTICE & ~E_STRICT);” One last refresh of everything, cleared the log file one more time, and opened the server app while wincing.


FINALLY. The logs ceased, my OS resumed normal speeds, and the server app wasn’t churning! Success! 24 hours later, any my error_log file is a mere 2MB with 3 of 9 sites updated with logging changes. Much better. Plenty of time to work on things!

So to conclude, here’s how you buy time with old CakePHP websites and PHP 5.4:

  1. Keep the “cat /dev/null > error_log” handy! You can always use this with ssh from a different computer if your computer starts to lag too much or crash. Just remember to be in that apache directory first, of course.
  2. In yourcakesite/cake/bootstrap.php, change existing error_reporting line to “error_reporting(E_ALL & ~E_STRICT & ~E_DEPRECATED);”
  3. In yourcakesite/app/config/core.php, change default “Configure::write(‘log’, true);” to “Configure::write(‘log’, E_ALL & ~E_NOTICE & ~E_STRICT);”
  4. Clear tmp cache files for kicks; never hurts.
  5. Enjoy a quieter log stream!

Not sure if anyone is carrying older sites forward like we are at this point, but hopefully this helps if so! Always something to learn when upgrading servers and sites.

Now for a calm Wednesday! Happy coding!

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