WordPress: Error Establishing a Connection to the Database

This will be a short one, as I didn’t take screen shots, and I didn’t have to do much to resolve it. Just wanted to make note of it.

The other day I wanted to check my own site and instead of loading I got the message “Error Establishing a Connection to the Database”.

I applied my usual fix first; reboot. While the VM was rebooting it appeared there had been some disk corruption? the automatic fsck failed stating a manual fsck was required. so…

fsck /dev/sda1

and a bunch of “errors” and fix?<y>

after a bunch of answering yes, it stated the disk was repaired successfully.

after this I typed “exit”, and the system rebooted like normal. Lucky for me the WordPress site came up clean after that. However even had this had failed, we all have backups right?

Migrating WordPress

The Story

In the beginning, there was a man! This man ran! This man ran a site, it was awww inspiring, and so unknown. It ran on Linux in many forms, then one day it realized!!!!!!!! Everything becomes out of date!

Ahem, anyway…

Reasons for migrating

Whatever the reason maybe, mine happens to be this little gem right here:

I’m sorry… did that just say insecure… me… insecure…

OK, sometimes I can be a little insecure but you didn’t have to shove it in my face. Anyway, whatever your reason for migrating maybe. I haven’t done, and maybe you haven’t either. So lets do this… together!

Yeah… I googled… This was my main source, so big thanks to Tom Ewer for this write up much like his mine will be rather indepth and manual. If you wish to avoid learning the nitty gritty and just want to get it done, or use a plugin to help see wpbeginner site here they use a plugin called duplicator and seems to have solid reviews. Since I’m not a fan of paid magic, I’m gonna do this manually.

Migrating WordPress

Step 1 – Backup

Make sure you have a backup of your WordPress Server, in my case since they are VMs, I used Veeam to create a backup of my current WordPress server. Sadly even after logging in to the hosting VM and updating the repos and host OS (Debain 8 Jessie), this version of Debian ran out of support and thus it’s repos weren’t able to supply the updated PHP libraries needed to clear the alert.

After that backup I followed along with Toms blog and instead of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) I used SCP (Yeah… I’m NOT insecure! :P) WinSCP that is, what this actually means I’m not sure apparently either Secure Contain Protect or Special Containment Procedures, but under the hood it just uses SSH? Oh… “Secure Copy (SCP) is method of transferring files between computers over a secure channel. It uses the SSH protocol to do so”

In my case since it was Turnkey Linux, the web files were located at /var/www

Step 2 – Export WP Database

Now Tom ended up using phpMyADmin in his example, I wasn’t sure if the Turnkey image I deployed was using the same, turns out after a quick google search and right on the VMs console, states Adminer on port 12322

after login…


Left all the default selections…. then… what the….

I was expecting a file to save, so instead I had to select all and save it to a file with Notepad++, all this was, was an output of the DBs in raw SQL.

Step 3 – Create DB Instances

Create your new DB instances, depending on how the SQL server handles DBs imports creation of actual DB’s and their tables may very.

Step 4 – Verify DB Login Credentials

From the backup files in step 1, look in config.php for the DB user connection strings. Verify this user has a login and has proper access rights to the DB’s and Tables being imported.


What happened to me

Now in my case I simply spun up a new TurnKey WordPress server to see if they were maintaining their images, and sure enough this new was running on Debian 9 Strech, which is the recommended version. So from here although the Adminer version is the same @ 4.2.5 it looks different. Another thing to note was on the old version I was able to login to Adminer with ‘root’ on the new Adminer I had to login in with ‘adminer’.

Now Tom states to create the Databases, I’m not sure if he means the instances here, cause in my case it turns out the creation of the databases happens at import. So what happened to me was this.. first I tried to import…

Then he says to edit the config.php in my case since it was all default WordPress I figured, meh hopefully it’ll all match.. hahah so I skipped his Step 4, also skipped his step 5 cause I already did that, as I said the creation of the DBs happens at import, at least if they don’t already exist like the above error. In my case it just stated it for mysql, but not wordpress so I assumed the other 4 successful queries were for my wordpress data (hahah so many assumed mistakes).

So I uploaded those unedited web files back to the same dir on the new server….


DOH! hahaha That’s why you don’t skip Tom’s Step 4, but in my case I had no interest in creating these as they should already exist, at least unless the WordPress image has changed that (in this case so lucky, they didn’t) so all I had to do was figure out how to set the wordpress users password on the new DB to match that which is in the config.php…. so I opened config.php grabbed the wordpress users password, and found out about this trick by James Goodwin… 😀

However, I was able to load my new WordPress site, but it was still the default one, not mine with my posts, themes, plugins… what the… which brought me back to my “failed” DB import….

When WordPress gives you attitude you drop em like their hot, drop em like their hot…. but in this case WordPress is hot is I won’t drop it, but I will drop those useless databases So, since this was all just a test server anyway, I went back into the Adminer on the new server and simple selected both MySQL, and wordpress and clicked the drop button.

Then back into import, selected the same export SQL file… and…

and sure enough my site loaded with all my content, all my plugins, all my posts, and no more PHP warning!


Now this covers the manual work to move WordPress, however much like what Tom covered, the final touches of how the site is accessed (direct NAT, behind load balancers, etc) are all on you in order to complete the migration for public access.

In my case I’ll probably prepare this new VM with the exact same Private IP information just on a separate vSwitch, once it’s verified working 100% shutdown the old VM, swap the vSwitch connection to production, test, if good, delete old VM, if not change vSwitch ports and bring up old server.

Worse case delete both VMs, restore my original server from my Veeam backups.

*NOTE* I did experience one issue were I was unable to update WordPress or plugins after the migration. Turns out many posts point to the File System permissions (which I suspected) I checked my old WordPress instance vs my new one and noticed all the files under the physical path had different owner and grp (root on new vs www-data on old) so…

chown -R www-data:www-data /path/to/wordpress

After that updates worked without issue.

Zewwy has not one but two Epiphanies

The Story

Nothing goes better together than a couple moments of realization, and fine blog story. It was a fine brisk morning, on the shallow tides of the Canadian West… as the sun light gazed upon his glorious cheek… wait wait wait… wrong story telling.

The First Epiphany

First to get some reference see my blog post here on setting up OPNsense as a reverse proxy, in this case I had no authentication and my backend pool was a single server so nothing oo-lala going on here. I did however re-design my network to encompass my old dynamic IP for my static one. One itsy bitsy problem I’m restricted on physical adapters, which isn’t a big deal, with trunking and VLAN tagging and all that stuff… however, I am limited on public IP addresses, and the amount of ports that can listen on the standard ports… which is well one for one… If it wasn’t for security, host headers would solve this issue with ease at the application layer (the web server or load balancer) with the requirement of HTTPS there’s just one more hurdle to overcome… but with the introduction of TLS 1.2 (over ten years now, man time flys) we can use Server Name Indication (SNI) to provide individual certs for each host header being served. Mhmmm yeah.

This of course is not the epiphany… no no, it was simply how to get HAproxy plugin on OPNsense configured to use SNI. All the research I did, which wasn’t too much just some quick Googling… revealed that most configurations were manual via a conf file. Not that I have anything against that *cough Human error due to specialized syntax requirements*… it’s just that UIs are sort of good for these sort of things….

The light bulb on what to do didn’t click (my epiphany) till I read this blog post… from stuff-things.net … how original haha

It was this line when the light-bulb went off…

“All you need to do to enable SNI is to be give HAProxy multiple SSL certificates” also note the following he states… “In pass-through mode SSL, HAProxy doesn’t have a certificate because it’s not going to decrypt the traffic and that means it’s never going to see the Host header. Instead it needs to be told to wait for the SSL hello so it can sniff the SNI request and switch on that” this is a lil hint of the SSL inspection can of worms I’ll be touching on later. Also I was not able to specifically figure out how to configure pass-though SSL using SNI… Might be another post however at this time I don’t have a need for that type of configuration.

Sure enough, since I had multiple Certificates already created via the Let’s encrypt plugin… All I had to do was specify multiple certificates… then based on my “Rules/Actions/Conditions” (I used host based rules to trigger different backend pools) zewwy.ca -> WordPress and owa.zewwy.ca -> exchange server

and just like that I was getting proper certificates for each service, using unique certs… on OPNsense 19.1 and HAProxy Plugin, with alternative back-end services… now that’s some oo-lala.

My happiness was sort lived when a new issue presented it’self when I went to check my site via HTTPS:

The Second Epiphany

I let this go the first night as I accepted my SNI results as a victory. Even the next day this issue was already starting to bother me… and I wanted to know what the root of the issue was.

At first I started looking at the Chrome debug console… notice it complaining about some of the plugins I was using and that they were seem as unsafe

but the point is it was not the droids I was actually after… but it was the line (blocked:mixed-content) that set off the light bulb…

So since I was doing SNI on the SSL listener, but I I was specifying my “Rule/Action” that was pointing to my Backend Server that was using the normal HTTP real server. I however wanted to keep regular HTTP access open to my site not just for a HTTP->HTTPS redirect. I had however another listener available for exactly just that. At this point it was all just assumptions, even though from some post I read you can have a HTTPS load balancer hosting a web page over HTTPS while the back-end server is just HTTP. So Not sure on that one, but I figured I’d give it a shot.

So first I went back to my old blog post on getting HTTPS setup on my WordPress website but without the load balancer… turns out it was still working just fine!

Then I simply created a new physical server in HAProxy plugin,

created a new back-end Pool for my secure WordPress connection

created a new “Rule/Action” using my existing host header based condition

and applied it to my listener instead of the standard HTTP rule (Rules on the SSL listener shown in the first snippet):

Now when we access our site via HTTPS this time…

Clean baby clean! Next up some IDS rules and inspection to prevent brute force attempts, SQL injections… Cross site scripting.. yada yada, all the other dirty stuff hackers do. Also those 6 cookies, where did those come from? Maybe I’ll also be a cookie monster next post… who knows!

I hope you enjoyed my stories of “ah-ha moments”. Please share your stories in the comments. 😀

Secure a WordPress Site with HTTPS


Well it is slowly becoming a requirement, even for a site that simply shares content and has no portal or user information… such as my site… but may as well do it now since we can get certified certificates for free!!! Wooohoooo!

So doing a bit of research….


Securing WordPress

TurnKey SSL Certs

Let’s Encrypt!


TurnKey WordPress uses Debian… what version?

The Tasks

Alright so we are running Debian 8, let’s follow that cert-bot tut….

Let’s start by creating a snapshot, at this point I don’t exactly have backups running yet… I know I know… I was suppose to do Free Hypervisor Backup Part 3 where I redesign ghettoVCB’s script…. unfortunately I can only do so much and I have many projects on the run. I will get it to though, I promise!

Now with that out of the way, running Cert-Bot…
Then I ran into some errors… oopsies….

What happened?!?!
Well I was working through a lot of network redesign, and my public website, the very WordPress I was trying to get a certificate for,
had a NAT rule to get out to the internet, which is why the grabbing and running of the CertBot succeeded up until this point.
I didn’t create the NAT rule to allow HTTP traffic just yet as I was wanting to create this certificate first. Little did I know it was going to be a prerequisite
Anyway I had to update my Websites DNS record to point to my new public IP,
as well as create a NAT and security rule to allow my website to be accessible from the outside world…

I had to wait a while for DNS to replicate to other servers outside, specifically whichever ones Lets Encrypt servers use to locate and validate my requests from CertBot.
after making the changes, and waiting a while I attempted to access my website from the internet again,
it was failing and then I realized my mistake was in the security rule I defined. correcting my security rule, I could access my website.
running Certbot again…

Yay, and it listed all the virtual hosts hosted by my turnkey wordpress..

then created another NAT rule to hanndle https traffic… and then the security rule…

That was literally it! CertBot made it so easy! Yay that’s a first! 😀

Splitting WordPress Titles
Post Headers

I wanted to do this since I noticed my one header being really long and was unsightly… I decided to google this, like I google everything…

First one I found, I didn’t want to dink with code, I like coding but mostly PowerShell (If you haven’t noticed based on my categories)… Sorry you’re out!

Second one I found, I didn’t like cause it used a plugin… However there’s always something great to learn form the comments, specially “pessimists” *Cough* realists such as this great comment by “KRZYSIEK DRÓŻDŻ”

“Wow, you really need a plugin for that?

Why don’t you just insert tag? Installing million plugins, that aren’t doing anything really isn’t a good idea… Especially, if such plugin is not popular, so very few people have looked at/controlled it’s code (this plugin had 30 active installs).”

Made me gooo, waaaaaa that’s it? So sure enough I add <br> in my Title, and Bam! The Title is split on 2 lines, now that was easy. Thanks Krzysiek!

Looks like my third source basically does the same thing.