Ubuntu – Backup Amazon EC2 to S3 (Pre-requisites)

Pre-requisites on the server are Amazon S3 tools, and zip

sudo apt-get install s3cmd

sudo apt-get install zip unzip

You then need to configure the s3cmd to use the Access Code and Secret Key from the IAM within your AWS console. Its recommended that you set up a new user with programmatic access only for each server / project, and give the user the AmazonS3FullAccess permission.

Back on the server, run
sudo s3cmd --configure
Enter your access key, secret key

If, like me you are using EU-West-1 (Dublin) as your datacenter, then type in “eu-west-1” for the Default Region.

Enter a password to encrypt traffic between the EC2 instance and S3 (DO NOT USE YOUR MAIN ACCOUNT PASSWORD, MAKE A NEW ONE)

Path to GPG program – just press Enter

Use HTTPS – Yes

HTTP Proxy – leave blank, just press Enter

Test – Yes


MySQL Collation Error

Occasionally I come across databases written by other developers who have a complete mix of character sets, and where the database character set does not match the character set of fields within a table. This causes all sorts of nasty errors when trying to use CONCAT or CONCAT_WS. Errors like:

Illegal mix of collations for operation ‘concat_ws’)

The most common cause is that the database type does not match the field or table types.

1. Identify the character set that the fields within the table use with the following sql script:

table_name = “yourtablenamehere”;


2. Identify the character set that the database uses:

schema_name = “solution9ssu”;


These should be the same, however a very common difference is that some developers create the database using utf-8 and the fields imported are in latin1_swedish_ci. This causes the collation error.

To solve: alter the character encoding of each table. NB. This can cause all manner of issues, so take a full backup first!

ALTER TABLE yourtablename CONVERT TO CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_general_ci;

Adding free SSL to your server using LetsEncrypt

So you have a lovely new website running on your Ubuntu server, but wouldn’t it be nice to have that small padlock to give visitors peace of mind? To have all traffic between your website and the browser encrypted…..but you don’t want to spend days waiting, and a small fortune on an SSL Certificate, then wait for the certification authority to email you, with lengthy confirmations etc. Thankfully, there is a lovely easy way!

All you need to do is to ensure that the domain name (the only part you need to change in the script below, indicated in bold) has a DNS entry pointing to the IP address of the server you are running this on, and hey presto, a free SSL Certificate that automatically renews using a cron task that it adds automatically for you! No more renewals ever again!

NB. When running this, there will be a 10-15 second interruption in the Apache2 web-server as it stops and re-starts, meaning live site visitors at that moment may see an error.
/* Lets Encrypt */
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:certbot/certbot
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python-certbot-apache

sudo certbot --authenticator standalone --installer apache -d www.yourdomainnamehere.com --pre-hook "systemctl stop apache2" --post-hook "systemctl start apache2"

Follow the on-screen prompts (usually only 2 or 3, and it works seamlessly)!

Setting up the LAMP Stack from scratch on Ubuntu

When migrating servers to AWS, its great to be able to set them up easily and quickly. This is effectively a lovely cheat-sheet. By running the scripts below you can have a full LAMP Stack running on an EC2 instance running Ubuntu in less than 5 minutes.

/* Set locale to UK - V IMPORTANT!! */
sudo locale-gen en_GB.UTF-8

/* Run update and upgrades */
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

/* Install Apache 2 */
sudo apt-get install apache2

/* Server internal firewall config */
sudo ufw allow OpenSSH
sudo ufw allow in "Apache Full"
sudo ufw enable

/* Install MySQL */
sudo apt-get install mysql-server



/* Install php and associated plugins as needed */
sudo apt-get install php libapache2-mod-php php-mcrypt php-mysql
sudo apt-get install php-curl php-gd php-mbstring php-mcrypt php-xml php-xmlrpc

/* Restart services */
sudo systemctl restart apache2

/* Update Apache2 config to allow .htaccess files and modified file permissions */
sudo nano /etc/apache2/apache2.conf

<Directory /var/www/html/>
AllowOverride (Change None to All)

/* Turn on rewrite rules for Apache2 */
sudo a2enmod rewrite
sudo systemctl restart apache2

/* Update permissions so that FTP can write to the web root folder */
sudo chown -R ubuntu:www-data /var/www/html

/* Reboot server */
sudo reboot