Apologies for the 16 hour server outage today. Note to self: if an installation manual doesn’t mention something important, then don’t try it out in production!

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Apologies for the 16 hour server outage on my SAS-related blog site today. I was trying to install Jitsi Meet, an open-source alternative to Zoom, on my server:

  • While it is possible to organise moderated meeting using the hosted meet.jit.si servers, installing a self-hosted copy of the open-source Jitsi Meet software alongside WordPress seemed to me to be a good idea, so that SAS training could easily be held locally.
  • By default standard self-hosted Jitsi Meet uses Nginx, not Apache, web servers, and assumes a fully qualified hostname, e.g. meet.hollandnumerics.org.uk.
  • What I wanted to create was an installation of Jitsi Meet in a sub-folder on my existing Apache web site, e.g. hollandnumerics.org.uk/meet, which is also part of a Bitnami stack, where software is installed specifically for use by the web server. This use case was not mentioned anywhere in the installation manual, although I did find a number of web forums that described similar environments.
  • That is where the problems started:
    1. To move Jitsi Meet into a sub-folder I had to edit the existing web configuration, the web pages to display the meetings, and the scripts to start the software.
    2. I also had to generate a self-signed SSL certificate for localhost.
    3. I had to reboot the server and restart the web service several times.
    4. Finally I discovered that some of my changes were lost whenever the Jitsi Meet software was updated.
  • At no point did I ever get Jitsi Meet to a point where I could run a test meeting, so I uninstalled it all.
  • Having uninstalled Jitsi Meet, I then couldn’t restart the web server to access WordPress, because something was holding onto port 443 (the secure HTTP port). At this point it was fast approaching midnight, so I decided to sleep on it.
  • Finally, this morning, I found that, when Jitsi Meet had been installed, it had added “Listen 443” commands to the default Apache installation, which conflicted with my Bitnami stack Apache server. Once these were removed my WordPress site suddenly reappeared!

Lessons learned:

  • When installing software you don’t fully understand, if the installation instructions have no information explaining what you should do, don’t just do it anyway!

Thank you for your patience!