How to update and deploy WordPress as a Git submodule

WordPress 3.8.2, a security release, came out yesterday. Now, if you’re already on WordPress 3.8, your WordPress installation will most likely automatically update, but if you are using Git to manage WordPress as a submodule, and have auto-update disabled, you have to do that manually.

That said, it’s still super easy to do. It definitely outweighs not having a version control system.

Let’s look at the Git commands required to update WordPress from 3.8.1 to 3.8.2. Note that this will work for updating any version.

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Git error when switching branch after replacing directory with submodule

I’m working on updating several WordPress sites. Part of each site’s update includes converting the WordPress core and all frequently used plugins to Git submodules. While many recommend staying away from submodules all together, I’ve been using them for a while now and never had any issues, that is, until today. Luckily, it’s nothing severe, and in my case, pretty straight forward to fix (once you know the solution), but because the error didn’t make any sense, I’ve decided to document it here.

The main problem is that I’m unable to checkout the master branch after adding the submodules on the develop branch. Git complains with the following error:

error: The following untracked working tree files would be overwritten by checkout

That said, let’s look at the problem in detail and how we can solve it.

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Rewrite rule to bulk redirect domains using Apache’s RewriteMap

A component of the server migration I’m currently working on is to move all of the existing virtual host files. Unfortunately, they’re not all consistently setup, which makes them difficult to overview, and from past experience, difficult to manage.

There is also no easy way to tell which of them represent real sites, and which are purely for redirection. Some even have a document root, implying there may actually be a site there, but often I found only a single .htaccess file that redirected the domain to another site.

In a previous blog post, I proposed several guidelines to effectively manage virtual host files going forward, and one aspect of that, which I’ll talk about more deeply in this blog post, is how to organize and manage the redirects in bulk.

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Increase space on fixed VirtualBox VDI disk containing Windows 7 on Mac

I use VirtualBox on my Mac to have other operating systems at my disposal. One of my appliances contains a copy of Windows 7 with a fixed, 25GB disk. I’ve run out space and was looking for an easy way to increase it.

I came across the modifyhd command, which in theory let’s you increase the disk space, but it only works on dynamic disks. I opted for performance (fixed disk) when I set up the appliance, and this minor inconvenience is the price.

There are several tutorials out there, but many of them require third-party applications, either on the Mac or in Windows side. The thing is, even without those utilities, it’s fairly easy to increase your disk space.

What we’ll do is create a bigger disk, clone the contents from the small disk to the big disk, and then increase our Windows partition.

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Managing and organizing Apache virtual host files

I’m in the midst of building new servers, inventorying the existing ones, and creating a migration plan to move over anything that needs to make it over. This is the perfect time to look at the big picture and assess whether everything is implemented in the best way possible.

One of the items I’m reviewing are the virtual host files, and let me tell you, they’re a mess.

The permissions are all over the place, there doesn’t seem to be a clear naming convention, some virtual host files are purely redirects, and there are so many includes containing additional rules and rewrites, that according to the error logs, they’ve started stepping on each other’s toes (“Request exceeded the limit of 10 internal redirects due to probable configuration error”).

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