GenXJamerican.com Moves to Amazon Lightsail

Before last year ended, I moved this blog off its EC2 instance running a too-old version of PHP to an Amazon Lightsail instance in a new region. The original rationale for hosting on EC2 was to have a project and a reason to do things in AWS other than whatever a certification course might teach. But having finally earned that AWS Certified Solution Architect Associate certification last spring (and paid more in hosting fees than a blog as small as this really merits), the switch to a simpler user experience and lower cost for hosting was overdue.

Lightsail made it simple to launch a single self-contained instance running the latest version of WordPress. The real work was getting that new instance to look like the old one. Getting my posts moved over wasn’t hard, since I make a regular habit of using Tools > Export > All Content from the dashboard to ensure I have a WordPress-compatible copy of my posts available. The theme I use however (Tropicana) recommends far more plugins than I remember when I first chose it. The Site Health widget nags you about using a persistent object cache, so I tried getting the W3 Total Cache plugin working. I kept seeing an error about FTP permissions that I couldn’t resolve so I got rid of the plugin and Site Health said the server response time was ok without it. Another plugin I got rid of was AMP. Something about how I had AMP configured was seemed to prevent the header image from loading properly. With AMP gone, everything worked as before. Akismet Anti-Spam and JetPack are probably the most important plugins of any WordPress install so I made sure to get those configured and running as soon as possible.

The last change I needed to make was the SSL certificate. The Lightsail blueprint for WordPress (the official image from Bitnami and Automattic) has a script which automatically generates certs using Let’s Encrypt. When the script didn’t work the first time (because I’d neglected to update my domain’s A record first), I went back and made that change then shut down the (now) old EC2 instance.

GenXJamerican 2.0 still needs some more changes. I used to have a separate blog just for photos, years ago when one of my best friends was hosting WordPress instances. The Social Slider Feed plugin lets you pull in content from Instagram and other social media sites, so I’ve added those to a Photos page. Once I figure out the photo gallery plugin, that should be the next update. I’ll also be looking into the ActivityPub and WebFinger plugins as part of my growing interest in Mastodon.