Last modified 17 months ago Last modified on 06/19/15 12:01:37

Parrot is a 3GB RAM, 4 CPU core (AMD Opteron(tm) Processor 6128), with 10GB root, 9GB /home and 1GB swap disk partitions which are BSD ZFS partitions, network mounted via NFS, with a 60GB monthly data allowance, running Debian Wheezy, Xen virtual server, supplied by Webarchitects Co-operative (VPS 1 + 2GB RAM) which is running Transition Network WordPress sites. It has the Webarch Secure Hosting scripts installed.

The install and initial configuration of this server was tracked on ticket:537.

The server was upgraded from Squeeze to Wheezy on ticket:535#ParrotWheezyUpgrade in December 2013.


See WordPress#WordPressSites for a list of sites on the server and links to documentation for each site.

SFTP Access

When a new WordPress site is added to the server a email is sent containing the SFTP username and password. The directory structure that you see when you login is as follows:

              /logs     <- access and error logs, rotated daily, kept for 28 days
              /private  <- a place to keep private data, for example .htpasswd files
                    /default <- the DocumentRoot for the default site 
                                (additional sites can be added)
              /tmp      <- the temp directory for the site

If you don't have a SFTP client then is suggested as it's free and available for most platforms. See the install and connection documentation, and the you can access the server at this address on port 22:

Phpmyadmin Access

You can get access to the database, download backups and also change your password via using the same username and password as you have for SFTP.

Munin Stats

There are munin stats for the server available here

Adding a New WordPress Site

The server has been set up with the Webarch Secure Hosting scripts, see for some documentation of this.

To add a site run the curses-create-user script as root:

sudo -i

The curses interface can be navigated using tab, arrow keys and the space bar on your keyboard.

This will ask you for the following things:

  • Create a new user -- enter the username for SFTP / MySQL and the WordPress admin, this should be short and made up of lowercase letters and numbers
  • Select product -- pick 5 medium+wordpress and this will create the site, database and install WordPress
  • Users email address -- enter the email address that the SFTP, MySQL and WordPress login details are to be sent to

This will create a site with a address which is fine for developing the site, when it needs to be accessed from another domain name there are two steps to complete:

Adding a domain to a site

To do this edit the /root/webarch/accounts/sites.txt file and add the domain(s) as aliases and run buildapache username, their username is the username for the site, for example:

sudo -i
vim /root/webarch/accounts/sites.txt
buildapache username

This is what the file looks like:

# File format "username" "sites subdir" "ServerName" "ServerAliases"
# note ServerAliases are comma delimited.
#aed foo,
movie default,,,,,,

See also

Changing the default domain of a site

WordPress will redirect all requests to a single domain, this is set on the Settings -> General page at /wp-admin/options-general.php using the WordPress Address (URL) field.

To change this address you need to add the following to wp-config.php after the "define" statements (just before the comment line that says "That's all, stop editing!"):


Then update the DNS and visit the site at the correct URl, login and then remove the above from wp-config.php. For more information on this see

Maintaining WordPress sites

This can be done using the wp command line tool.

For site specific notes on maintenance see the page for each site listed on WordPress#WordPressSites


The server has the script installed, this makes it very easy to maintain the sites and do things like installing, activating, deactivating and uninstalling plugins and adding and removing user accounts.

wp commands

For example:

sudo -i
su-user su-user recon
cd ~/sites/default/
wp help
Available commands:
    wp backup 
    wp cache add|decr|delete|flush|get|incr|replace|set|type
    wp cap add|list|remove
    wp comment approve|count|create|delete|last|spam|status|trash|unapprove|unspam|untrash
    wp core config|download|install|install-network|is-installed|update|update-db|version
    wp db connect|create|drop|export|import|optimize|query|repair|reset
    wp eval 
    wp eval-file 
    wp export 
    wp help 
    wp home 
    wp option add|delete|get|update
    wp plugin activate|deactivate|delete|install|path|status|toggle|uninstall|update|update-all
    wp post create|delete|edit|generate|list|update
    wp post-meta add|delete|get|update
    wp rewrite dump|flush|structure
    wp scaffold _s|plugin|post-type|taxonomy
    wp search-replace 
    wp shell 
    wp term create|delete|list|update
    wp theme activate|delete|install|path|status|update|update-all
    wp transient delete|get|set|type
    wp user add-role|create|delete|generate|import-csv|list|remove-role|set-role|update
    wp user-meta add|delete|get|update

See 'wp help <command>' for more information on a specific command.

Global parameters:
    --config=<path>     Path to the wp-cli config file
    --path=<path>       Path to the WordPress files
    --url=<url>         Pretend request came from given URL
    --user=<id|login>   Set the WordPress user
    --require=<path>    Load given PHP file before running the command
    --color/--no-color  Whether to colozire the output
    --debug             Show all PHP errors
    --quiet             Suppress informational messages

use wp to list administrators

You can use wp to find the admins of a site, for example:

su-user movie
cd ~/sites/default
wp user list | grep administrator


All systems updates are recorded on ticket:218.

There is a script in /usr/local/bin called a-up which can be used to update the system via aptitude, the advantage of using this script is that it writes things that are changed to the /root/Changelog and the time spent doing the updates can then be reported via ticket:218, see AptitudeUpdateScript for a copy of a-up and the logchange script it uses to update the Changelog.


Current Parrot tickets:

Ticket Summary Owner Reporter
#917 Any misc files in Transition Culture web root? chris sam
#916 SSH to parrot please chris sam
#912 Stats for TTT chris chris
#894 Brute Force Attacks Against WordPress XMLRPC chris chris
#887 Lot's of failed logins on ade sam
#881 Site on ParrotServer with a memory leak? chris chris
#873 New Wordpress site please chris sam
#871 Brute Force Attacks Against WordPress Sites chris chris
#868 Is backed up in a convenient manner? chris sam
#853 Parrot access please chris sam
#851 Bot attacks on Transition Culture chris chris
#808 WordPress email being rejected due to From field chris chris
#719 Transition Culture HTML Problems ed chris
#619 Upgrade WordPress sites to 3.9.1 chris chris
#598 Redirect to chris chris
#541 Documentation of the WordPress sites chris chris
#540 HTTPS for WordPress sites chris chris
#537 Parrot setup and documentation chris chris

Closed Parrot tickets:

Ticket Summary Owner Reporter
#921 HTTP_PROXY env var vulnerability chris chris
#915 SSH to parrot please chris sam
#914 SSH to parrot please chris sam
#911 Disk space for /home on Parrot is running out chris chris
#891 Issue with TTT and REconomy websites after upgrade to WP 4.4 chris chris
#829 Creation of web space request chris ade
#811 WordPress critical security release chris chris
#805 Parrot: PHP mail function not sending email chris annesley
#778 need access to Parrot chris annesley
#749 Probs with REconomy site again - compromised? chris chris
#718 REconomy site showing adverts randomly chris ed
#710 Incorrect email address for Sam on Transition Culture chris chris
#709 Reconomy sites appears to be sending out spam chris chris
#699 Update Core & Plugins on sam sam
#696 Disk space error on parrot for TTT site chris chris
#695 File upload problem with TTT WordPress site chris chris
#687 Set up cert expiry date checking for all SSL certs chris chris
#656 Spam being sent out via Transition Culture chris chris
#639 earthin site wordpress error chris chris
#631 Move Transition Culture onto PARROT chris ed
#594 WordPress 3.6.1 Maintenance and Security Release chris chris
#583 tmp files on parrot exceeded inode limit chris ed
#577 Transition Streets Wordpress Migration chris chris
#550 Transition Town Totnes migration chris chris
#542 Parrot RAM chris chris
#539 REconomy site migration and updates chris chris
#538 checks and updates sam chris
#497 New SSL cert needed for chris chris

tmp files

Each user has their own ~/tmp/ directory and for sites which generate session files it's important to add their tmp directory to the list in /etc/tmpreaper.conf so that files older than 1 day are deleted to save the machine from running out of inodes, see ticket:583 and ticket:696:

TMPREAPER_DIRS='/home/reconomy/tmp/. /home/tc/tmp/.  /home/ttt/tmp/. /home/ts/tmp.'

SSL Certs

There is a ticket regarding what do to for HTTPS for the server ticket:540.

The server has a copy of the * wild card certificate installed and this is used for

The server also has a dedicated IP address for the site and SSL certificate.

All the other sites use a free certificate, see ticket:540#comment:1 for a list of domains. To get rid of the security warnings that you will get if you don't have the CAcert root installed you need to install the root cert from to do this using Windows simply click and for Firefox and Chrome click

Console and SSH Access

There is a Xen shell available for console access, see wiki:XenShell.

For developers and sysadmins there is SSH access, contact chris@… if you need an account creating.

The server is also running Mosh : the mobile shell which is very handy when you internet connection is poor, for example on a train. Mosh was installed on ticket:673.


The server is running backupninja, the config files for this are in /etc/backup.d/, /etc/backup.d/20.mysql which dumps all the MySQL databases to /var/backups/mysql.

17th November 2013 we switched the servers filesystem to a ZFS server on the network and filesystem backups are now done via ZFS snapshots so the rsync backup was disabled, see ticket:535#comment:22 however these backups are not available to anyone apart from the Webarchitects sysadmin so on 23rd July 2014 on ticket:763 additional backups were set up, these are done via /usr/local/bin/agile-backup, see AgileBackup and people who have had their ssh public keys added can access these backups via SFTP:


The latest backups are in and 60 days worth of snapshots are in ~/.zfs/, you can mount these backups locally, for example on Debian:

aptitude install sshfs
mkdir -p /media/tn-parrot
chmod 700 /media/tn-parrot/
mkdir /media/tn-parrot/latest
mkdir /media/tn-parrot/archive
echo " /media/tn-parrot/latest fuse ro,nobootwait 0 0" >> /etc/fstab
echo " /media/tn-parrot/archive fuse ro 0,nobootwait 0" >> /etc/fstab
mount -a