Solve Letsencrypt (including Certbot) problems caused by rogue .htaccess files

At RimuHosting we're enthusiastic about how Let's Encrypt gives website owners a great way to secure their websites. And certbot is the tool we usually recommend to get a Let's Encrypt certificate. We find it's easy to use and works well on recent distributions.

However, sometimes issuing or renewing a certificate fails. A common reason is that certbot cannot complete the authentication requirements with the Let's Encrypt servers.

If you run in to this type of problem when getting a certificate we are happy to fix it for you.  Lodge an SSL Cert ticket at, and we'll get your certificate sorted and website secured quickly.  If you'd rather tackle it yourself, read on to find how to fix one possible cause of this problem. Continue reading

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New Zealand-Based RimuHosting — Striving to Help Tech-Savvy Businesses Across the Globe Put Down Their Roots for Strong Online Growth

At RimuHosting it is our mission to help take the hassle out of our customer's hosting.

In a recent Hosting Advice article Christine Preusler touches on our 24x7 support, our global network of data centres and our customer focussed attention to detail.







A top-10 website hosting review focuses on our diverse network of data centers, our support for customers with complex hosting needs, and our VM on dedicated hosting.

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Certbot/Letsencrypt with Apache and Tomcat using proxypass

LetsEncrypt/Certbot is a wonderful cheap way to have an SSL cert to secure things. It works out of the box and no issues for the most part until you have things like proxy pass or other things.

The fix is fairly easy however, and this works well in particular with those running tomcat behind apache

Create a config for letsencrypt in say /etc/httpd/conf/letencrypt.conf or /etc/apache/ that looks something like this

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Debian Stretch and old installs

openlogo-nd-100We have had Debian 9 images available since shortly after it became available. But missed announcing it. So here it is, Debian 9 is code named "Stretch" and is available as a setup option on all our plans.

As with other newer images, there is only a 64 bit image for new setups or re-installs. Most customers are now ordering 64 bit distros.  And some distros only come in a 64 bit flavor now. Customers with an existing 32bit install also have the option to crossgrade to a 64bit install in place.

The Stretch install is compact but comes with MySQL and Apache out of the box, along with a bunch of other great tools preinstalled to help you get up and running faster. Most of the changes from Jessie are incremental, but there are a few highlights from the release notes:

  • Gcc version jumps from 4.7 to 6.3
  • PHP version 7.0 is now installed by default, bringing a ton of performance improvements, especially for cpu and memory usage
  • Mariadb is now the default mysql variant

If you're wishing to upgrade from older debian releases to Stretch, see our upgrade notes.

Note also that Debian 7 "Wheezy" is officially past end of support now, users still running this release or older should update as soon as possible. Please open a support ticket if you have any questions on how to go about that.

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Ubuntu 18.04 available

The latest long term support (LTS) release of Ubuntu is now available for new installs. Ubuntu 18.04, also known as Bionic Beaver can be ordered at It's also an option to consider if you reinstall an existing VPS.

The official release notes for version of Ubuntu are available at This release of Ubuntu will be supported until April 2023. Ubuntu is one of the most popular linux server platforms, based on the solid Debian distribution. This release brings an update for Apache to version 2.4.29, with HTTP/2 support enabled. PHP has also been updated to version 7.2.x. The MySQL database server 5.7.22 is installed in our VPSs and MariaDB server 10.1.29 is also available.
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Drupal Exploits – script to detect versions

We are currently seeing a high volume of Drupal exploits running a lot of arbitrary code, including crypto mining, attacking other servers and similar due to this exploit


If you want to find out if you have any vulnerable Drupal installs quickly and easily i wrote a shell script for that . Just run the following from console

wget --no-check-certificate


It will output something like this ..

root@servername:~# bash  
You have version 7.58  located at /var/www/vsc/  
You have version 7.58  located at /var/www/vsfrts/  
You have version 7.23  located at /var/www/corehtapts/  
Looks like Drupal at /var/www/mgvec/ , but can't tell the version 
You have version 7.50  located at /var/www/courtland/drupal/  
You have version 7.0  located at /var/www/richvvrve/drupal/  
You have version 7.58  located at /var/www/mrvegc2/  
You have version 7.32  located at /var/www/ridvervee/drupal/ 

Any version prior to 7.58 is exploitable, and its safe to assume you should replace ALL the files as per

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32 to 64 bit distro crossgrades for Debian and Ubuntu

The demise of 32 bit distros is nigh!

Some distros are dropping or reducing support for 32 bit versions.  e.g. only providing 64 bit ISO downloads.

Some software makers are no longer putting out 32 bit versions of their software.  e.g. Since version 9 Oracle have only released a 64 bit version of Java.

In most cases you will be fine to remain on 32 bit distros until you need some software application that is 64 bit only (e.g. Java 9 or Java 10).  If you have a lot of memory and are not limited by the 32 bit application 4GB per process limit then running a 64 bit kernel on a 32 bit distro can be a good option.

One way to escape your old or 32 bit distro is to setup a newer server and migrate to that (or reinstall your current one).  However for some customers this can be difficult.  Migrating databases.  Bringing across custom configs and cron jobs and bespoke setups.  Changing IPs.

If you do not have the luxury of a reinstall then you may want to consider a cross grade.  Where you convert a 32 bit distro to a 64 bit one.

We have been adding 32 to 64 bit cross grade support to our distrorejuve tool.  At the moment the script is in alpha.  We recommend you make a full server snapshot prior to starting the process.

You can run the distrorejuve 32 to 64 bit crossgrade as:

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Modernizing your ancient server distro

RimuHosting has now been providing VM servers for over 15 years.

Back in the day the state of the art distros we setup for customers included 32-bit Debian 3- and Ubuntu 6-based servers.

Things have moved on.  By default all new orders are setup with 64-bit distros.  And Debian is up to version 9, while Ubuntu 18.04 is about to be released.

The newer distros are almost exclusively the ones you will want.  They will have the latest libraries and applications.

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Spectre and Meltdown article roundup

Our team is working on the best approach to secure our customers' systems against the recently reported Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities.  Our first step is to understand the problem and its mitigations.  This post provides a roundup of discussions and work on the topic with a focus on mitigation for the Xen hypervisor.

The vulnerabilities

Spectre (aka “Branch target injection”) includes:

SP1) speculative execution to perform bounds-check bypass (CVE-2017-5753)

SP2) utilizing branch target injection (CVE-2017-5715) to cause kernel code at an address under attacker control to execute speculatively


SP3) third variant (CVE-2017-5754) rogue data cache load.  Relies on the fact that, on impacted microprocessors, during speculative execution of instruction permission faults, exception generation triggered by a faulting access is suppressed until the retirement of the whole instruction block.  Subsequent memory accesses may cause an allocation into the L1 data cache even when they reference otherwise inaccessible memory locations. As a result, an unprivileged local attacker could read privileged (kernel space) memory (including arbitrary physical memory locations on a host) by conducting targeted cache side-channel attacks.

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Kernel 4.14 LTS released

Walnuts - by George HodanWe have added the latest 4.14 kernel to our list of stable kernels for 64bit VPS servers.

The 4.14 kernel includes a large number of performance enhancements, including ...

  • filesystem io
  • block_mq scheduler improvements
  • new selectable scheduler options for disk io
  • improved cryptographic performance
  • cgroup2 support merged

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