How to Get Troubled Server Applications Fixed

Picture this.  You wake up one morning to several text messages, emails, and even voice mail messages all saying essentially the same thing.  Something is wrong with your dedicated server.  It could be something small, like a single web-based tool that is not functioning properly, or something huge like an Apache crash.  Either way, you need to find a way to fix it.

The first thing to do is try to get the application running again.  In the case of a service like Apache or MySQL, it may be as simple as restarting the daemon with something like:

/etc/init.d/mysql restart

For web applications, you may need to delve a little deeper into the code if something has suddenly gone wrong.  Most applications keep logs of activities.  You should check all of your logs, including those for the server operating system, to see if you can find the problem and check for possible exploits of vulnerabilities.

In some cases, you may find the problem and discover that it is an actual bug or malfunction in the software.  To get it fixed, you will need to do the following:

  1. Check for later versions of the software to see if the issue has been fixed.  You can read what is called a changelog to look at all of the software’s bug fixes since the last version.
  2. If you installed the software through your distribution’s package repository, confirm that it is not a problem with that specific package rather than the software itself.
  3. For commercial software, contact the vendor and invoke whatever rights to technical support you have.  Otherwise, you may have to pay for additional support.
  4. For free and open source software, check current bug reports to see if your problem has already been addressed.  There may even be a temporary workaround.  If not, file a bug report and send it to the developer.
  5. Even if you file a bug report, you should still contact the developer for a possible solution to get the software up and running properly as soon as possible.  You may also be able to pay the developer for immediate support.

There is no magic wand for fixing software, but most developers are willing to fix problems, especially if they affect a lot of people.