Plesk Obsidian Auto-Updates – the Beginning of a Short Releases Era

Plesk Obsidian short releases

Starting from Plesk Obsidian (major version 18), Plesk is moving away from long periods of time between major releases. Hence, taking the continuous delivery approach. Just like your mobile phone gets periodic updates, your Plesk server will also receive Plesk Obsidian auto-updates each month.

On July 8, we enabled the automatic updates for our Partners and introduced additional functionalities in Partner Central. Thus allowing us to schedule updates for specific days of the week. You can get more info in our partner auto-updates article here.

Automatic updates for the previous Plesk version (Onyx) became available for Partners earlier this year. And this resulted in the highest last version adoption growth in Plesk so far. From July to September 2019, the number of servers running Onyx 17.8 increased by 13% after activating automatic updates.

Plesk Servers by Version Distribution

Plesk server distribution

Short Releases in Plesk Obsidian

From Plesk Obsidian onwards, the release tiers used before – Early adopters, General release and Later adopter release – become obsolete. Starting from major version 18, Plesk will ship monthly updates to your Plesk server(s). The only supported version will be the major version 18. So, we will support the last minor version and the version preceding Plesk Obsidian, including of course, the major version itself. For more details, please refer to the Plesk Lifecycle Policy.

Weekly updates with patches and bug fixes are also a thing of the past. Because everything including new Obsidian features will come directly through the regular monthly updates.

Plesk Obsidian Auto-updates: Why Are We Doing This?

There are three main reasons behind the Plesk Obsidian Auto-updates decision:

  1. Delivering new features to our Partners will be faster and more regular.
  2. We’re going for simplified alignment with Plesk extensions development.
  3. We don’t want our Partners to worry about staying on the latest version.
    Once a Partner opted for an auto-update, their servers will automatically get on the latest updated version.

Coming Soon: New Controls in Partner Central & Plesk

Currently, in Partner Central, Partners can select the weekdays when Plesk can install automatic updates. Soon we’ll be adding further customization settings for updates scheduling.

Anything More to Know? (Frequently Asked Questions)

A: Yes, you can. However, we don’t recommend it because this way you don’t get any security updates and your Plesk server is unprotected. Plesk doesn’t accept any security-related claims in case of disabled auto-updates.
A: In Partner Central, you can select your choice of weekdays for updates installation. Please check our partner auto-updates article here for more details.
A: Your server will automatically update to the latest available Obsidian release. Be careful: Plesk does not recommend this scenario, because as you will skip several releases, updating through several Plesk versions might result in issues due to untested scenarios.

All the New Plesk Obsidian Features

Plesk’s evolution is an ongoing process since the dynamic hosting industry continues to change proactively. Cloud technologies keep revolutionizing the industry and IT professionals need help managing multiple environments and services more efficiently. Productivity, security and usability are key here and Plesk Obsidian is the timely solution. To help you better understand the level of improvements of the new Plesk version, here’s an overall view of new and updated Plesk Obsidian features. On Sep 25th 2019, Obsidian became RTM.

Advanced Monitoring & Grafana Extensions

Advanced Monitoring helps you stay in the loop regarding server and site availability. So you can get to the heart of any issues.

Since availability is key in the Obsidian release, usage is important because you want to react quick when resources become overstretched. Hence, you can now enable alerts to tell you if things like CPU, RAM, and Disk IO are becoming overburdened.

The new Grafana extension works hand in hand with Advanced Monitoring to chart info and stats in order to make them more understandable. The new Grafana charts supersede the old HealthMonitoring tool.

Moving Domains Between Subscriptions

For better security, it makes sense to separate your sites – but it’s also helpful to keep your staging and production sites apart. Now, Plesk Obsidian’s UI and CLI give anyone you choose the freedom to move domains between subscriptions. Just make sure that the target subscription has enough headroom to handle the added load, and you’re good to go.

Composer V2.0 – PHP Dependency Manager

Here are all the things you can do, or don’t need to do, with the new PHP dependency manager.

SSH access no longer needed for PHP composer

You can now run the full range of convenient PHP Composer actions, even without SSH access. It’s possible to set up environment variables, modify your composer.json and execute the Install and Update commands.

Dependencies – Just click to install and update

You can perform tests, run dependencies, or create a classmap. But what you won’t need to do is memorize all the commands and options to install them. Plesk Obsidian can handle this heavy load for you now.

Soon you won’t even need to stress about partially-updated dependencies taking down your production site. Test the latest updates until you’re sure dependencies are safe before pushing your site live.

Update dependencies when everything looks safe

Updating dependencies is a double-edged sword. It’s something you need to do to stay on top of security risks. But you also know it’s something that can break your website. Though minor updates pose less of a risk, major ones can bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.

So you’d be happy to know that you can now assess the potential risks right from the Obsidian interface. As they say – Forewarned is forearmed!

Get the correct PHP version automatically

Now your site will use the PHP version that composer.json specifies – automatically. Composer will run using the right PHP handler instead of the system default. Hence, the one the individual website uses. (There are plans to have Plesk be able to choose the appropriate PHP version and handler). Log in using SSH and type in the “php” command.

Improved File Manager UX

Now File Manager makes you even more productive thanks to mass upload and file search. You can upload and extract RAR, TAR, TAR.GZ, and TGZ archives.

Repair Kit: Self-repair Tool

Plesk Obsidian Repair Kit is a powerful self-repair tool, automatically detecting and resolving issues with Plesk or its related services. It lets you view a list of processes currently running on the server and filter them by domains and disable them. You can also see the total RAM, CPU, and Disk usage for all processes running on the server or for individual processes.

Soon it will be possible to use a list of MySQL queries and processes to discover why MySQL consumes excessive resources and which domain is to blame.

Server-side restrictions for Plesk Admins

Restricted Access mode lets you control which administrators get access to which server administration tools and settings. You’ll find it under the “Administration Tools” tab in both Power User and Service Provider views.

Control which tools, services, resources and settings your admins access while in Power User view, with Restricted Mode active. Just look under the “Hosting Tools” tab.

Essentially, you’re allowing your customers to have Plesk administrator access, without worrying about them wreaking havoc on critical and sensitive settings.

SSL It!

Make sure you keep your server protected around the clock via SSL/TLS certificates from leading, trusted certificate authorities, like Let’s Encrypt and DigiCert.

We’ll be adding support for more of these in future. In the meantime, here’s what you can use SSL It! for.

  • Buying, installing, and renewing certificates from a variety of CAs.
  • Securing your domain, webmail, the “www” subdomain, and as many aliases as you want. Get a clear view of what’s secured and what isn’t.
  • Automatically issuing, installing and renewing Let’s Encrypt certificates for domains secured with invalid certificates (self-signed, expired, or issued by a non-trusted CA.)
  • Managing HSTS, OCSP Stapling, and HTTP to HTTPS redirect.
  • Seeing the SSL/TLS status of the domain, subdomains, and domain aliases at a glance.
  • Getting an A+ rating from ssllabs.
  • Easily viewing SSL/TLS status via a small indicator on the Domain page.
  • Use the most up to date TLS versions and ciphers.

SNI for Mail Services

Keep your email conversations private, because you never know who may be spying in. You can simply secure SMTP, IMAP, and POP connections to your mail server with an SSL/TLS Certificate.

However, if you offer mail services for more than one domain, your users may have trouble with their mail clients. But you can fix this by using individual SSL/TLS certificates for each domain. Thanks to Plesk Obsidian and the SNI support provided by Postfix and MailEnable.

Personalized HTML Notifications

HTML-based email notifications help improve user experience. But they also keep you in control of your server and sites when you’re not logged into Plesk. You can read these HTML-formatted messages more easily than plain text.

Plus, the shared design makes messages more attractive and sets them apart visually from other correspondence. Use the Plesk default HTML templates or customize the look of your notifications with HTML formatting. There’s bold and italics, headers, numbered and bulleted lists, and more.

Backup Optimizations

We’ve reduced the free server disk space needed to back-up to Google, Amazon S3, FTP, and One Drive cloud storage. Now, restoring a subscription from a full server backup requires only additional free disk space equal to the subscription space. Instead of the full server backup.

Meanwhile, backing up the server to cloud storage only requires additional free disk space equal to that of two subscriptions. Rather than the entire server’s disk space. Hopefully, this has made operations faster on backups that are stored remotely. For example, you can now remove backups stored in the cloud four times quicker than before.

Revised Plesk UI and More Key Improvements

We’ve modernized the overall Plesk UI to address some of the UX shortfalls our users reported. Notice that the Plesk interface now looks more like plesk.com. There’s more to come – but for now we’ve improved the appearance and behavior of individual Plesk elements, colors and font sizes. Then, aligned all elements to a grid.

There have also been some key additions: 

  1. Precompiled PageSpeed:
    The PageSpeed module is now precompiled with NGINX.
  2. Automatic Restarts:
    Plesk services that crash on systemd-based Linux OSes (CentOS7, RHEL 7, Ubuntu 16.04/18.04, Debian 8/9) will now restart automatically. Apache graceful restart is now strong enough to be set as the default to reduce downtime for websites.
  3. Immediate Default Security:
    Secured by default: mod_security and fail2ban v0.10 are active straight away.
  4. Easier Plesk Access:
    Plesk entry point has been optimized for Clouds like Amazon and Digital Ocean. Access Plesk via https://<host-name-or-IP> without specifying the TCP port 8443.
  5. Default HTTP to HTTPS:
    Newly created websites have an SEO-friendly HTTP to HTTPS redirect enabled by default.
  6. PHP-FPM & Apache Tweaks:
    Services improvements will give you more reliability with restarts. PHP engines supplied with Plesk contain popular PHP extensions like sodium, exif, and fileinfo.

It is worth mentioning that, starting with Plesk Obsidian, Plesk is announcing a monthly release cycle in order to always deliver value through secure and stable software to our Partners and Customers. Once you upgraded to Plesk Obsidian and allowed automatic updates through Plesk Server settings, you will always and automatically be on the latest version of the software. See below a complete comparison between Onyx and Obsidian – the complete list of arguments about why to upgrade:

Plesk Onyx vs Plesk Obsidian

Plesk Onyx vs Plesk Obsidian INFOGRAPHIC

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