Summary and Conclusion Report

clappedtoyInternet and Web Development

Dec 7, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)

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1


Summary and Conclusion Report



David McCarthy


Student # R00036828


Internet and Networking Services

Assignment 1


15 March 2011




2

A
ssessment 1
-

Internet and Network Services


This is a summary and conclusion report only.


As this heading says, this is a summary and conclusion report, and as such it will not contain the
nuts, bolts and step
-
by
-
step instruction as to how the project wa
s accomplished or how to build the
virtual server and install the service. The purpose of this report is to summarize on the assignment
now that it is completed and to conclude findings on the same.




Introduction


As the final part of my project
assignment, this is my summary and conclusion report on the
work completed over the past four weeks while I have been working on this project.

In this report, I will try to document my trails and tribulations over the course of the project,
what I have lea
rned, what I would do differently if starting it again and some key elements and
notes on milestones along the way.


To start with, I have copied the project brief as issued by Tim Horgan on 15 February for
reference. It is important to document this here
as it details the ‘minimum’ required tasks for
project completion and I will refer to this throughout this report.



Assignment

Brief


On Tuesday 15 February the class was given its first project ‘Assessment 1’, with a completion time
frame of four weeks (
submission date Tuesday 15 March)



Individual Project (40 Marks)

Project is due at 14:00 on Tuesday 15th March 2011.


As part of your job as a systems administrator you have been asked to build a secure server to host one of the
following applications:


Drupal Joomla Moodle Simple Machines Forum MediaWiki phpBB elgg Gallery TWiki PmWiki Pligg Xoops MODx
Zen Cart Mantis


You are required to build a secure Linux server using Ubuntu and to install and customise the application that you
have been assigned.


Your report should be readable by someone who has little or no experience in this area and will
be accompanied by a Web 2.0 presentation. The layout of your report will be as follows:


Personal Blog

(10)

Project plan details, weekly update, clear project
goals, achievement of project goals in an organised, timely and
professional manner.

Layout, links, spelling, grammar, punctuation, use of appropriate graphics and media,
references.


Project Content (15)

Quality of content relating to the OS install, scri
pt configuration, security and most importantly the degree of
customisation and value added. An important part of this project will be the demonstration of a fully operational server
and selected services.


Media (10)

Quality and appropriateness of online
screencast or online video or podcast explaining in detail how you installed and
configured your solution.


Summary & Conclusion (5)

In depth analysis of project, what you have learned, what you would do differently i
f you were to start

again, etc.

3

My understanding of the assignment brief.


For such a compact project brief, one could be mislead by the volume of work involved. I
certainly was. On first and second read, it all seemed pretty straightforward. Even if there were
items here th
at I had never worked with such as web 2.0 presentations, blogs, screencasts etc., I
felt pretty confident that the four
-
week time frame was sufficient as I had plenty of experience
with building LAMP servers and hosting applications on test servers.



It
was not until I drilled down through the brief many times that I realized the volume of work
(research, development, testing) that was involved.



New technologies.


Also, there were quite a few new technologies that I had not used and the practice of
docu
menting all the work as it was done and posting on a blog with online mp4 clips of the work
completed was all new to me.


I also had to develop my project management skills to pull all the required information together
and present this information in a pr
ofessional and coherent way in the form of a Blog with
embedded social media etc.


this I had never done before and I have to say I enjoyed it and
learned an awful lot in the process.



Diving in.


My mistake from the outset was to ‘dive
-
in’ and start building the server and choosing a service
based on poor grounds. I choose Zen Cart based on the fact that it is an
ecommerce

package and I
have lots of experience in installing and developing Magento,
a leading
ecommerce

package. I
was later to learn that Zen Cart is in my opinion unstable with PHP5, not user friendly to install in
any way and a bad choice on my part.
I succeeded to install on my first run test build server, but
subsequent attempts to i
nstall successfully failed.


This was a learning lesson and this
is
a positive thing.





4

What would I do differently if I were to start the
assignment over again?


I have learned a lot over the course of this 4
-
week assignment, both in terms of IT related
matters
and project / time management and in doing so there are a number of things that I would now do
differently, were I do start the assignment from the beginning again.


Here is a list of some
bullet points that come to mind, but not limited to;




More
detailed assignment

planning.


One of the mistakes I made was to not spend enough time reading through the
assignment brief to get a full understanding of what was required with regards to the
time it would take to accomplish all the required elements.

Of
course I did read the brief and take an understanding of what was required, and did
accomplish all elements. Howeve
r, instead of planning and researching each step and
completing over a planned time frame, I took the approach that I have done this all
befo
re and ‘dived in’ setting up server and service etc. without spending more time
researching all of the services available. As it turned out in the end, I was regretful that I
chose Zen Cart as it caused me lots of difficulties and wasted a lot of valuable
time.

So, if I were to start over, I would take the benefit of hindsight and plan the stages more
thoroughly to ensure enough time given to all stages with a built in contingency for
situations like server failure, which I experienced first hand.







Use
SSH connection to sever from outset.


I also spent a lot of time in week 1 and 2 trying to work out how to edit various
configuration files on the server using various editors such as VI and nano. The problem
I was having was navigating the text files to
edit as the cursor in nano or VI keys were
not doing as I wanted. I tried many things in an attempt to resolve such as spending a lot
of time trying to work out how to install VM tools and installing a lightweight desktop on
the server (I installed Xubuntu

which I believe was the element that finally killed my
server). When the penny finally dropped that I could connect over SSH from a terminal
session on my MacBook, all the issues with editing config files were removed.

The speed and ease of SSH connection

to my server was a big time saver when I
eventually got there. So, if I were to start over again, I would be on SSH connection from
MacBook to server from the outset.







No desktop install on server.


Whilst installing a desktop such as Xubuntu on the se
rver gave me increased
accessibility

when working directly on the server, it ultimately crashed out the server in
week 3 of the
assignment

causing much frustration. It transpired that the desktop client
was not at all required and a secure shell connection

was used in week 4. In addition to
this the desktop is an additional resource overhead on the server that was not required.

So, next time r
ound I will not be installing a desktop on the server.







5



Spend more time researching all of the services availabl
e.


I have learned that more time should have been allowed to research all of the available
services with regards to ease of installation, user friendliness and ease of customization.

A service could then be selected after the initial research completed an
d I would also
choose a second standby service in case there was issues with the first choice service,
such as I experienced in my assignment. Essentially, after the server crashed whilst
running a fully installed version of Zen Cart, I had to build a new
server from scratch and
install Zen Cart again. However, Zen Cart would not behave and I was getting continued
error 500 on web client. At the 11
th

hour I had to choose an alternative service and
research and install under time pressure constraints. If I h
ad chosen a ‘standby’ service
form the outset I would not have been under such pressure.







Use
VM

Ware
(
Fusion
) instead of Oracle’s Virtual Box.


Prior to this assignment, I had been using Oracle’s Virtual Box to run Windows XP on my
MacBook Pro. I found it very efficient and great to use with the added bonus that it is
free.

When I started out this assignment, I created my virtual server and deskt
op using Virtual
Box, but I found it quite difficult to configure the network interfaces on the server in
Virtual Box.
No matter where or how I looked for interface eth0 I could not find it. On
trying to edit /etc/network/interfaces I was presented only wi
th virtual interfaces. Now
I am sure that with some more research and diligence I would have worked it out, bit
this coupled with the fact that a lot of the tutorials I had been reading as guides to
building the server and client were written with VMware a
s the virtual client, I decided
to download the free trial of VMware Fusion for my MacBook.

The whole experience with VMware was completely easier to use and manage, sessions
could just be suspended as work was paused without having to save snapshots as in

Virtual Box and most beneficially, the network interfaces were much simpler with no
layers of virtual interfaces to manage or worry about and eth0 was where it should be.

So, next time round I will be using VMware Fusion on my Mac from the outset for a
si
mpler life and less wasted time.




6

Benefits I have taken from the assignment.

What
have I learned?


How to Blog with meaning!


Prior to this assignment, I have never really used a web blog and certainly not in the
manner used here to diary and catalogue th
e progress of an assignment over a four
-
week period.

I had to start form the ground up with the Blog and manage a number of things such as
layout, how to present the stages of development as my assignment progressed in a
manner understandable to someone un
familiar with the assignment content and
material.


There were a number of other elements that I had to research and learn fast to get the
Blog content in a professional and clear fashion. Some of these are as follows, but limited
to:



Wordpress


WP

(
http://wordpress.com
)
was the forum of choice to host my Blog.

I found it very easy to use and quite powerful at the same time, giving ample
scope
to make my Blog bespoke and modified as required. I will continue to use
Wordpress going forward.


Vimeo


I used Vimeo
(
http://vimeo.com
)
to host my screencasts, which were in turn
embedded in WP.

Vimeo, like WP, is free to use and quite straight forward. Once I worked out how to
set the right
compression settings in the exported MP4 (as detailed on the Vimeo
website) and also that it is just a matter of pasting the URL of the uploaded video clip
in the WP post


it was plain sailing from there. This is a great online product and
free!


Camtasia


I used Camtasia from TechSmith.com (
http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia
) to
create my recordings. Again, as with WP and Vimeo, these were new software
packages to me and I had never had requirement to use t
hem previously. Now that I
have spent a few weeks using them I am quite comfortable with them and will
continue to use Camtasia. For this assignment I only used a fraction of the
capabilities of this software but am interested in ‘playing’ with it some mor
e and
also use with my digital camera and get some experimenting done. Keep an eye on
Vimeo and my Blog for press releases!



Social Media


To further enhance my Blog, I for the first time created a Twitter account and had
my first Tweet. I have to admit i
t felt good!

I embedded my Twitter (
http://twitter.com
) account in my WP Blog and was then
able to have relevant Tweets listed in the footer of my Blog. This was a good learning
experience for me and brought the relevance

of meaningful Tweets in the right place
home, where as prior to this assignment my opinion of Tweeting would have been
low and associated with meaningless babble about irrelevant items. Where on the
contrast, here on my Blog I posted items that were both
interesting and relevant to
the subject matter of the assignment.





7

RSS
Feeds


I have previously dabbled with RSS (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS
) readers and
tickers, but never before embedded a RSS feed

in a Blog or website.

This was a good learning experience and made clear the benefits of being able to
bring up to date relevant information to the end user in a seamless and easy manner.






Server administration
.


While I have had some previous
experience with server administration using software
such as Interworx and CPanel, I had never installed services on a server and had full
control from the system
-
admins perspective as opposed to end
-
user experience.

I found both ISPCONFIG and Webmin both
extremely useful and powerful and have
much fun ‘experimenting’ with the various functionality and reporting / monitoring
capabilities of both. I have learned a lot from both of these packages and will continue to
use and work with them both on some virtua
l servers I have running on my network at
home.



Linux commands
.


For me, putting the Linux commands that I have been learning in theory classes and
textbooks into use in build and test environment such as in assignment 1
gives me a
much better understand
ing and grasp of many of the most common and some advance
commands. Using these commands in a working environment on a regular basis and
learning by ‘real’ experience is the best way for me to get the required level of fluency
and command of the language r
equired for everyday use. I have learned much more in
these for weeks working on the project as I would over many weeks of classroom theory.



Project

planning.


One of the mistakes I made was to not spend enough time reading through the
assignment brief
to get a full understanding of what was required with regards to the
time it would take to accomplish all the required elements.

Of course I did read the brief and take an understanding of what was required, and did
accomplish all elements. However, instea
d of planning and researching each step and
completing over a planned time frame, I took the approach that I have done this all
before and ‘dived in’ setting up server and service etc. without spending more time
researching all of the services available. A
s it turned out in the end, I was regretful that I
chose Zen Cart as it caused me lots of difficulties and wasted a lot of valuable time.

So, if I were to start over, I would take the benefit of hindsight and plan the stages more
thoro
ughly to ensure enough time given to all stages with a built in contingency for
situations like server failure,

which I experienced first hand

8


Virtual platforms.


I have learned a lot of new skills over the course of this assignment and
this includes VM
W
are functionality and configuration.

I have used VMware previously for networking labs, but not as extensively as in this
scenario with server and client relationships.

I can take these new skills and use them immediately in both my work and student IT
rol
es.



Ubuntu Server and Client installs.



I have learned a lot about both server and desktop installations and configurations using
VMware. I have also learned the power of a command line only Ubuntu server install and
the fact that a desktop is not at
all required on the server.




Assignment conclusion.


To conclude, I have to say that this project was one of the most worthwhile
projects I have undertaken in my time at CIT.


Its scope from the outset was misleading to me, as in the brief was quite comp
act
and I did not realize fully the scale of learning required in a cross
-
section of areas
including virtual client and server builds, networking, research and development
of software services, project management, blogs, social media to name a few.


A lot
of learning was done on the fly by researching
forums

and other available
resources which while frustrating at times, it proved in the end to be very
rewarding
a satisfactory when the assignment was completed successfully.


I have learned a lot by mistakes

made during the course of the assignment, but
the benefit of learning from these will be taken to my next assignment.


END.