Troubleshooting WordPress re-directs (301)

While trying to configure some internal URL re-writing in nginx for a WordPress site, I ran across an annoying issue:

Regardless of my re-writing efforts, WordPress would issue a re-direct (301) header (?!)

This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if I didn’t want the URL to stay the same in the browser’s address bar. If I didn’t have that requirement, I would naturally have used a simple re-direct.

After spending some time troubleshooting this, and making sure nginx was actually doing what I wanted it to do, I ran across a few posts talking about disabling “canonical redirects” (sic) in WordPress. So adding this snippet to the end of the active theme’s functions.php:

remove_filter('template_redirect','redirect_canonical');

got rid of WordPress re-directs. Unfortunately, another plugin “stepped in” and started doing it instead (this time, it was the Polylang plugin). I’m sure there are a number of other plugins that exhibit this behavior, and it may be possible to circumvent this in many/most/all of them by using something similar to the above snippet, but I still haven’t solved the actual problem.

Using cURL to debug URL re-writing and URL re-direction can save you a lot of time, like this:

curl -I https://yourwebsite.foo

(Please note that the issues I have experienced here are not related to nginx. This would happen in Apache too as the re-directs are issued by the WordPress stack. Once control is handed off to PHP, there’s little the web server can do.)

If you’re playing with nginx, PHP-FPM, and URL re-writing, you may also find this post of interest: URL re-writing with nginx, PHP, and WordPress

URL re-writing with nginx, PHP, and WordPress

There are many posts about nginx, re-directs, PHP, and WordPress. There are somewhat fewer posts that talk about (internal) re-writes, where the request by the web browser is mangled to be served by another resource than the one requested.

For example, I may want a request for https://mysite.foo/cool/penguin to actually be served by https://mysite.foo/coolstuff.php?id=penguin, or simply setup an alias such as https://mysite.foo/cool/penguin to be served by https://mysite.foo/cool/linux, but preserve the URL in the browser address bar.

With PHP-FPM and nginx, you run into an additional problem, which is the fastcgi_parm variables that are passed from nginx to PHP-FPM. So even if you have really fancy URL re-writing configured (and working), the end result may not be passed on to PHP-FPM from nginx.

So solve this, you should look into this construct, which is present in many nginx configurations as a default setup:

fastcgi_param REQUEST_URI $request_uri;

Since your needs probably differ from mine, I wont make this post any longer than it has to be, but that fastcgi_param line above may be a good starting point if you’re experiencing problems with nginx, PHP-FPM, and URL re-writing.

Good luck!

FrontDoor Inbox, med information på svenska

FrontDoor InboxNu finns det även information om FrontDoor Inbox på svenska här: frontdoorinbox.se.

FrontDoor Inbox är okomplicerad GDPR-säker ärendehantering som arbetar för er och hjälper er organisation förbättra arbetsflödet i konversationer med kunder och blivande kunder.

Utvecklat i Sverige. Driftat i EU. Support på svenska.

Hello FrontDoor Inbox!

FrontDoor InboxAfter years of internal use, we decided it was time to turn the FrontDoor Inbox Ticket system into a SaaS, or Software-as-a-Service at WebbPlatsen. For people that know some of my background, the name comes as no surprise, and I have to admit it does make sense when you think about it.

We played with quite a few “ticket systems” or “Helpdesk software” before putting down the first few lines of code for FrontDoor Inbox, and the biggest reason was, and still remains, simplicity. When the decision was made to go ahead and develop our own software to somehow get a grip of our the e-mail chaos, we simply couldn’t find anything affordable that did what we wanted it to do.

So if your company, or your organization, be it small or less than huge, need a service that’ll help you keep track of support conversations in a safe, GDPR-compliant, efficient, and rather straightforward way, you may want to check out FrontDoor Inbox.

The first lines of code were written in 2008, and during the eleven years that have passed since then, it has been rewritten a number of times, and we and our clients have been using it to handle hundreds of thousands of support tickets and e-mail inquiries. The current release is 2019.3 and it will help you turn chaos into order.

Keep track of FrontDoor Inbox on Twitter (@frontdoorinbox), or head on over to frontdoorinbox.com for more information.

What’s My IP?

There are a number of ways to figure out your public IP address automatically, which can be extremely useful for Dynamic DNS (DDNS) situations or other automation ventures, these are some of them:

dig +short @resolver1.opendns.com ANY myip.opendns.com
curl https://ifconfig.co
curl http://whatismyip.akamai.com/

It would be nice if the Cloudflare DNS service (1.1.1.1) supported this too!

Your “cookie disclaimer” is not enough

With various legal directives in place throughout the world, website owners are “off the hook” by providing a cookie disclaimer and the possibility for the visitor to “opt out”. Some websites have a rather odd approach where they refer you to a page with a vast amount of information abou their “data partners” and invite you to “opt out” on their partners’ page(s). It goes without saying that many people don’t bother because it’s just too much work (which is exactly the purpose).

But when your website designer relies on “web fonts” and/or resources from a content distribution network (CDN) like Javascript libraries, you are also, indirectly leaking some visitor data to the companies hosting such resources. Granted, you’re not “leaking as much data”, but with analytical AI and the huge amounts of data many of these “analytical companies” already have on your visitors, you’re simply providing one more piece of the puzzle to them. Free of charge.

The cost of free is perhaps hard to measure for you and me, but Google and others know exactly how much the data about your visitors is worth.

Ain’t that something.

New Cookie Disclaimer-proposal:

“By continuing to our site, you are agreeing to the collection of data about yourself beyond your wildest imagination and possible comprehension. We could explain it, but you wouldn’t get it anyway.  [OK]”

PS. Hosting external libraries and web fonts on CDN is not always such a grand idea when it comes to website performance. For each and every different such external “site address”, a new session handshake (SSL/TLS/etc) between the visitor’s web browser and the CDN is required.

Cookies in the jar turns into whiskey in the jar

For almost as long as “cookies” have existed on the Internet, companies have made a habit out of using them to track you, your “behavior” on the Internet, and to turn you into something “measurable”. For almost as long, there have been countermeasurements: “cookie blockers”, “ad blockers”, “privacy shields”, and so on. Cookies are, of course, only one of many data points being collected about you while using the Internet.

Companies using third-party service for anything from payment solutions to advertising and the collecting of statistics often don’t fully understand the implications of their choosing one service over another. And for the past several years, this has turned into a rat race.

On one side of the fence, there are companies like Facebook, Google, Quantcast, Amazon, Cambridge Analytica, and other, that want to know everything about you at almost any cost, and on the other side of the fence we have tools to “protect our privacy” during our online experience such as VPN, “ad blockers”, “privacy shields”, “Facebook containers”, “Privacy Badger”, and so on. (None of these tools will prevent you from being tracked by those to make it their business to track you, they are way ahead of such trivial attempts.)

So now people are blocking sites, all kinds of sites without necessarily understanding the implications of their actions. What makes it harder to distinguish “good sites” from “bad sites” is that quite a few of these “trackers” and “cloud asset sites” use sub-domains, like aj38305.trackyourcookies.com, so we end up blocking everything from “*.trackyourcookies.com”.

A company’s e-commerce site using third-party services to collect statistics and “web insights” can quite easily shoot itself in the foot, as the same services are also used in the payment verification process. I have had countless “Verfied by Visa” and “Secure Checkout” transactions fail because I choose to block certain sites, or prevent them from setting cookies. So this actually leads to poor sales performance, rather than enhancing it.

Companies using third-party services for e-commerce checkout solutions need to ask the service provider the question: Will your payment solution work with “ad blockers” and “privacy shields” before using them, or risk losing customers who find far less privacy intrusive services.

Resizing windows in XFCE / XFWM4

This does not seem to be a problem for everyone nor for every XFCE theme, but sometimes it can be a real drag (no pun intended) to resize the windows in XFCE / XFWM4. For no apparent reason whatsoever, this seems to be known by the developers but marked as “wontfix” … #WTF

Anyway, hold down the (left) Alt key (PC keyboard), right click the mouse and then drag in the desired direction to “easily” resize the windows. This is a lot easier with an actual pointing device rather than a “touchpad”, but at least there’s a way.

You can also use Alt+Space and then press R to resize the current window.

This sort of “behavior” is one of (many small) things that annoys and frustrates people with “Linux Desktops”, and in all honesty, this should not be an issue in 2019! #FFS

So, remember:

ALT + [RIGHT-CLICK] + DRAG

or

ALT + [SPACE] followed by the [R] key

Changing your MTU may help certbot / Let’s Encrypt

While attempting to create a Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate using certbot for a number of domains, I ran into something that appeared to be a timeout issue in the certbot client and/or one of the Python libraries used by it.

I found this thread, which recommends changing the MTU to 1300, and it does work. So, maybe this will help you too 🙂

community.letsencrypt.org/t/cannot-get-new-certificate-readtimeout-error/94586

In other words:

ifconfig eth0 mtu 1300

may help you out.

SwiftMailer 5, PHP5, and ISO-8859-15

I’ve been using SwiftMailer for as long as I can remember because it’s, IMHO, a great library and far more logical than PHPMailer and “others”. While maintaining a PHP5 codebase for a rather large project, I ran into an issue while using ISO-8859-15 encoded data. Most people won’t care about ISO-8859-15 over ISO-8859-1 (“Latin1”), but since I live in Europe, I prefer to have support for the €uro character 🙂

To make a long story short, if you need SwiftMailer 5 to properly handle ISO-8859-15, look for a line in “MimePart.php” that looks like this:

if (!in_array($charset, array('utf-8', 'iso-8859-1', ''))) {

and change it to this:

if (!in_array($charset, array('utf-8', 'iso-8859-15', 'iso-8859-1', ''))) {

(Yes, the project will move to a PHP7 codebase at some not so distant point in the future.)