Rebuilding My Site From Scratch

The last time I updated this site (as in the theme and the technology behind it) was way back in June 2006 with Version 3.0.

Things have changed a lot since then, and my skills have obviously improved a lot since then. I’m not those people that change themes often and leave them pretty much default, I like to build things from scratch and get things exactly how I want them before I move forwards. I’m rather obsessive when it comes to such things.

I cut my teeth with the whole thing back in April last year when I moved Darknet over to Linode on a custom setup.

I’ve also learnt a few more things since then, I’ve been looking around at the various hosting options recently, but the one that caught my eye was as they have VPS hosting running on SSD drives starting at only $12USD per quarter!

So I’ve started rebuilding this site over there, it’s lightning fast, so fast it makes my eyes bleed! There’s a LOT of stuff to move across (the munin setup, my private wiki and this hosting accounts holds about 8 domains right now.

I’ve build everything from scratch though with nginx/php-fpm/MySQL/APC/W3 Total Cache and lot’s of magic shell scripts.

I’ve also rebuilt the WordPress part from scratch (ditched all the plugins, emptied out most of the MySQL tables, cleaned up a lot etc) – and a whole new theme. It was rather unstable and well Apache just sucks doesn’t it.

I decided to build fresh using a Framework as I spent DAYS looking for a nice premium theme (Checked all the usual suspects, Elegant Themes, Woothemes, Theme Forest, Headlines etc etc) – but almost everything is a magazine theme – I just want something that looks like a blog.

In the end I went with Woothemes Canvas as I’m pretty familiar with Woothemes (done most client projects using that) and it’s a very powerful, flexible flamework to build a blog on. It provides a lot of functionality which I previously need plugins to achieve.

Woothemes Canvas

Once I’ve carried out my final testing and the DNS changes have propagated the new site should be live within the next few days.

On another note, do you remember the video in my previous post about the mysterious light? Well there’s another follow up report here:

Interesting eh?




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9 Responses to Rebuilding My Site From Scratch

  1. Danny Foo February 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

    Looks the same to me. Well, all that matters is performance since it was your objective. 🙂

    • ShaolinTiger February 26, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      You must be a ninja, how did you manage to see the new site?

      • Danny February 28, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

        LOL! Wasn’t this site always up previously? Or, was your post referencing to some other site?

        • ShaolinTiger February 28, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

          Haha when you saw it I hadn’t even switched the DNS over yet 😛 You should be able to see the new site now.

          • Danny March 1, 2013 at 4:10 am #

            Ah ha! And damn the site loads fast. Well, I guess besides the server config, as you mentioned, it’s also probably the type of stuff you have in the site. Imagine those site with camwhore pics and food porn. LOL! 😛

  2. David Wang February 28, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    The site is wicked fast! What would you say are the top things to do to make a WordPress site super fast? And are you using a CDN at all?

    • ShaolinTiger February 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

      Nope this is totally without CDN, seen as though the VPS is in Singapore and the latency to here is great and most of my audience is in Malaysia it’s not so necessary. And my pictures load from Flickr anyway. Top tips would be –

      • – Use nginx + php-fpm rather than Apache
      • – Make sure your MySQL is tuned properly (
      • – Use W3 Total Cache with Page Caching set to Disk Enhanced
      • – Make sure your PHP has APC enabled
      • – Monitor and tune accordingly (with something like Munin)
      • – Using a host with SSD helps too of course 🙂
      • David Wang February 28, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

        Ah, OAH is SG-based. Thanks for the tips. Could you also let me know how much server maintenance you do on a monthly basis? I played around with a VPS once, and it fell over because I didn’t rotate the logs. Never knew such a thing had to be done! Wondering if it’s worth my time learning how to do server admin…

        • ShaolinTiger February 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

          None pretty much after the initial tuning period, log rotation is done by default on most modern operating systems (except for some weird stuff like MongoDB). I automate most things like:

          • – Backups of DB and files are automated and stored off server automatically
          • – I don’t even keep access logs, only error logs, which are rotated
          • – Database optimization is run via a cron job
          • – Monitoring is automatic with Munin once it’s set up
          • – I keep the Munin page open most the time, so if someone goes orange (warning level) I can check it out and do something


          Other than that just tweak the settings now and then according to traffic levels. I prefer to automate things as much as possible (self healing scripts etc) – the power of sys admins 🙂