How to create an Apache-licenced Private WebPageTest setup, and get the Classic Interface

In my previous articles I took you through the process of setting up your own private WebPageTest, either via the AWS interface, or via Terraform infrastructure as code).

By default, this would create a Private WebPageTest instance that uses the latest code on the release branch of the official WPOFoundation github repo for WebPageTest.

new webpagetest ui

This is great if you like the newer UI (it’s not as up to date as the official site, which obviously evolves much faster), but it might not be what you want for a couple of reasons:

  1. You preferred the original, classic, WebPageTest UI, or
  2. You plan to monetise your private WebPageTest setup, which violates the release branch’s entry about “Noncompete” and “Competition”

Since WebPageTest existed loooong before Catchpoint bought it up, the original version of the code (the fully open source version) still exists, and has no such non-competition concerns. It does have a LICENSE file, but that just lists all the licenses associated with the other libraries WebPageTest uses.

By the way, the same is also true for the WebPageTest agent – master branch & release branch vs apache branch – so bear that in mind if you’re creating a competing product. Presumably this is what Speedcurve do, for example. (Apparently so!)

In this article I’ll show you how to tweak the previous private WebPageTest installation scripts and setup processes to use the apache branch, thus reverting to the “classic” UI, and freeing you up from non-competition concerns. (if you get rich because of this article, please buy me a coffee and hire me, thanks 😁)

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Automate Your WebPageTest Private Instance With Terraform: 2021 Edition

This article assumes you have an understanding of what Terraform is, what WebPageTest is and some AWS basics.

all the logos

Have you ever wanted to have your WebPageTest setup managed as infrastructure as code, so you can keep all those carefully tuned changes and custom settings in source control, ready to confidently and repeatedly destroy and rebuild at a whim?

Sure you have.

In this article I’ll show how to script the setup of your new WPT server, installing from a base OS, and configuring customisations – all within Terraform so you can easily rebuild it with a single command.

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Customized WebPageTest Lighthouse Results using a Custom Test Agent

In my recent article Eco Worriers: Saving the Planet, One Unoptimized Website at a Time for the fantastic annual Perf Planet advent calendar, I mentioned how I created a Private WebPageTest setup to use my own custom test agents, which were configured to use an extra Lighthouse plugin (The Green Web Foundation’s "greenhouse").

In this article I’ll show how to create custom WebPageTest agents, and how to configure your Private WebPageTest instance to use these instead of the default test agents.

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A Step by Step Guide to using Terraform to define an AutoScaling Private WebPageTest instance in code

Update: November 2021
This article is out of date; there are no longer WebPageTest Server AMIs, so you need to install WPT on a base OS. There is an updated article here Automate Your WebPageTest Private Instance With Terraform: 2021 Edition

WebPagetest Terraform

In a previous article I went through the steps needed to create your own private, autoscaling, WebPageTest setup in Amazon AWS. It wasn’t particularly complicated, but it was quite manual; I don’t like pointing and clicking in a GUI since I can’t easily put it in version control and run it again and again on demand.

Fortunately, whatever you create within AWS can be described using a language called CloudFormation which allows you to define your infrastructure as code.

Unfortunately it’s not easy to understand (in my opinion!) and I could never quite get my head around it, which annoyed me no end.

In this article I’ll show you how to use Terraform to define your private autoscaling WebPageTest setup in easily understandable infrastructure as code, enabling an effortless and reproducable web performance testing setup, which you can then fearlessly edit and improve!

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Unit Testing Powershell with Pester

I write a lot of Powershell these days; it’s my go-to language for quick jobs that need to interact with external systems, like an API, a DB, or the file system for example.

Nothing to configure, nothing to deploy, nothing to set up really; just hack a script together and run it. Perfect for one-off little tasks.

I’ve used it for all manner of things in my career so far, most notably for Azure automation back before Azure had decent automation in place. We’re talking pre-Resource Manager environment creation stuff.

I would tie together a suite of separate scripts which would individually:

  • create a Storage account,
  • get the key for the Storage account,
  • create a DB instance,
  • execute a DB initialisation script,
  • create a Service Bus,
  • execute a Service Bus initialisation script,
  • deploy Cloud Services,
  • start/stop/restart those services

Tie that lot together and I could spin up an entire environment easily.


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Setup StatsD and Graphite in one script

Trying to get this working over the past 6 months has almost driven me insane. However, thanks to this epic script as a starting point, my script below ACTUALLY WORKS (for me, on my machine, YMMV).

I can create a VM powershell-stylee and then ssh in to create this script, and execute it.

It results in a statsd endpoint which pushes metrics to the local Graphite (carbon) instance regularly. Good luck, let me know if it works for you too!

Checking if an email address exists using Powershell, Telnet, MX, and PONIES

(Ok, maybe not ponies.)

I’ve stolen and edited a fantastic telnet powershell function from here and am using it to directly telnet to an MX server and check for the existence of a user.

The edited powerful powershell generic telnet method is here:

Function Get-Telnet
{ Param (
[String[]]$Commands = @("helo hi"),
[string]$RemoteHost = "HostnameOrIPAddress",
[string]$Port = "25",
[int]$WaitTime = 1000
#Attach to the remote device, setup streaming requirements
$Socket = New-Object System.Net.Sockets.TcpClient($RemoteHost, $Port)
If ($Socket)
{ $Stream = $Socket.GetStream()
$Writer = New-Object System.IO.StreamWriter($Stream)
$Buffer = New-Object System.Byte[] 1024
$Encoding = New-Object System.Text.AsciiEncoding

#Now start issuing the commands
ForEach ($Command in $Commands)
Write-Host $Command
Start-Sleep -Milliseconds $WaitTime

$Result = ""
#Save all the results
{ $Read = $Stream.Read($Buffer, 0, 1024)
$Result += ($Encoding.GetString($Buffer, 0, $Read))
{ $Result = "Unable to connect to host: $($RemoteHost):$Port"

You call it by passing in a param array of commands, a host, and a delay time between each command being sent, e.g.:

Get-Telnet -RemoteHost "" -Commands "admin","password","terminal pager 0","show run" -WaitTime 1500

I’m only interested in hitting a mail server, so my commands are below.

  1. Start a session: “helo”
  2. Create a new email from a dummy user: “mail from: <[email protected]>”
  3. Set the recipient to the user we’re trying to validate: “rcpt to: <$email>”

If the user exists then the third command returns status code “250”; if not, the status code is “550” – this is all I’ll check for.

The script below will split an email address and get the domain, find out the MX record using Resolve-DnsName, then log on via telnet to the mail server and attempt to create a mail to that user, returning the results of all commands and checking for an occurrence of “550”.

(syntax highlighter is throwing a wobbly if I use an email address inside the code block, so imagine “” is “[email protected]”)
try {
$notexists = true

$email = Read-Host ‘Enter an email address to test’
$columns = $email -split ‘@’

$mx = (Resolve-DnsName -Type MX –Name $columns[1] -ea 0)
if ($mx -ne $null){
$notexists = (Get-Telnet -RemoteHost $mx.NameExchange[0] -Commands "helo","mail from: <>","rcpt to: <$email>" -WaitTime 500).Contains("550")

if ($notexists) {Write-Host "Doesn’t exist"}
else {Write-Host "Exists! "}
catch [system.exception] {
Write-Host $_.Exception.ToString()

The results might look something like this:



A helluva lot of mail servers will block this telnet connection! Therefore this is not a reliable method to get all existing users from a list of email addresses; it will result in a LOT of false negatives.

However, those that it returns as real users will certainly be real users.

Scripting a StatsD, MongoDB, ElasticSearch metrics server on Azure with Powershell

At Mailcloud I am constantly destroying and rebuilding environments (intentionally!), especially the performance test ones. I also need to gather oodles of metrics from these tests, and I have a simple script to create the VM and another to install all of the tools I need.

This article will cover using a simple Powershell script to create the Linux VM and then a slightly less simple bash script to install all the goodies. It’s not as complicated as it may look, and considering you can get something running in a matter of minutes from a couple of small scripts I think it’s pretty cool!

Stage 1, Creating the VM using Powershell

Set up the variables

# os configuration
# Get-AzureVMImage | Select ImageName
# I wanted an ubuntu 14.10 VM:
$ImageName = "b39f27a8b8c64d52b05eac6a62ebad85__Ubuntu-14_10-amd64-server-20140625-alpha1-en-us-30GB"

# account configuration
$ServiceName = "your-service-here"
$SubscriptionName= "your azure subscription name here"
$StorageAccount = "your storage account name here"
$Location = "your location here"

# vm configuration – setting up ssh keys is better, username/pwd is easier.
$user = "username"
$pwd = "p@ssword"

# ports
## ssh
$SSHPort = 53401 #set something specific for ssh else powershell generates a random one

## statsd
$StatsDInputPort = 1234
$StatsDAdminPort = 5678

## elasticsearch
$ElasticSearchPort = 12345

Get your Azure subscription info

Set-AzureSubscription -SubscriptionName $SubscriptionName `
-CurrentStorageAccountName $StorageAccount

Select-AzureSubscription -SubscriptionName $SubscriptionName

Create the VM

Change “Small” to one of the other valid instance sizes if you need to.

New-AzureVMConfig -Name $ServiceName -InstanceSize Small -ImageName $ImageName `

| Add-AzureProvisioningConfig –Linux -LinuxUser $user –Password $pwd -NoSSHEndpoint `

| New-AzureVM –ServiceName $ServiceName -Location $Location

Open the required ports and map them

Get-AzureVM -ServiceName $ServiceName -Name $ServiceName `
| Add-AzureEndpoint -Name "SSH" -LocalPort 22 -PublicPort $SSHPort -Protocol tcp `

| Add-AzureEndpoint -Name "StatsDInput" -LocalPort 8125 -PublicPort $StatsDInputPort -Protocol udp `

| Add-AzureEndpoint -Name "StatsDAdmin" -LocalPort 8126 -PublicPort $StatsDAdminPort -Protocol udp `

| Add-AzureEndpoint -Name "ElasticSearch" -LocalPort 9200 -PublicPort $ElasticSearchPort -Protocol tcp `

| Update-AzureVM

Write-Host "now run: ssh $ -p $SSHPort -l $user"

The whole script is in a gist here

Stage 1 complete

Now we have a shiny new VM running up in Azure, so let’s configure it for gathering metrics using a bash script.

Stage 2, Installing the metrics software

You could probably have the powershell script automatically upload and execute this, but it’s no big deal to SSH in, “sudo nano/vi” a new file, paste it in, chmod, and execute the below.

Set up the prerequisites

# Prerequisites
echo "#### Starting"
echo "#### apt-get updating and installing prereqs"
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install screen libexpat1-dev libicu-dev git build-essential curl -y

Install nodejs

# Node
echo "#### Installing node"
. ~/.bashrc
export "PATH=$HOME/local/bin:$PATH"
mkdir $HOME/local
mkdir $HOME/node-latest-install

pushd $HOME/node-latest-install
curl | tar xz -strip-components=1
./configure -prefix=~/local
make install

## the path isn’t always correct, so set up a symlink
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/nodejs /usr/bin/node

## nodemon
echo "#### npming nodemon"
sudo apt-get install npm -y
sudo npm install -g nodemon


Add StatsD

Here I’ve configured it to use mongo-statsd-backend as the only backend and not graphite. Configuring Graphite is a PAIN as you have to set up python and a web server and deal with all the permissions, etc. Gah.

# StatsD
echo "#### installing statsd"
pushd /opt
sudo git clone
cat >> /tmp/localConfig.js << EOF
port: 8125
, dumpMessages: true
, debug: true
, mongoHost: ‘localhost’
, mongoPort: 27017
, mongoMax: 2160
, mongoPrefix: true
, mongoName: ‘statsD’
, backends: [‘/opt/statsd/mongo-statsd-backend/lib/index.js’]

sudo cp /tmp/localConfig.js /opt/statsd/localConfig.js

Mongo and a patched mongo-statd-backend

You could use npm to install mongo-statsd-backend, but that version has a few pending pull requests to patch a couple of issues that mean it doesn’t work out of the box. As such, I use my own patched version and install from source.

# MongoDB
echo "#### installing mongodb"
sudo apt-key adv -keyserver hkp:// -recv 7F0CEB10
echo ‘deb dist 10gen’ | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mongodb.list
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install mongodb-org -y
sudo service mongod start
cd /opt/statsd

## Mongo Statsd backend – mongo-statsd-backend
## the version on npm has issues; use a patched version on github instead:
sudo git clone
cd mongo-statsd-backend
sudo npm install

Ready to start?

Let’s kick off a screen

# Start StatsD
screen nodemon /opt/statsd/stats.js /opt/statsd/localConfig.js

Fancy getting ElasticSearch in there too?

To pull down and install the java runtime, install ES and the es-head, kopf, and bigdesk plugins, add the below script just before you kick off the “screen” command.

# ElasticSearch
echo "#### installing elasticsearch"
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install default-jre default-jdk -y
elasticsearch/elasticsearch/elasticsearch-1.1.1.deb && sudo dpkg -i elasticsearch-1.1.1.deb
sudo update-rc.d elasticsearch defaults 95 10
sudo /etc/init.d/elasticsearch start

## Elasticsearch plugins
sudo /usr/share/elasticsearch/bin/plugin -install mobz/elasticsearch-head
sudo /usr/share/elasticsearch/bin/plugin -install lukas-vlcek/bigdesk

You can now browse to /_plugin/bigdesk (or the others) on the public $ElasticSearchPort port you configured in the powershell script to see your various ES web interfaces.

The whole script is in a gist here.

Stage 2 complete

I use StatsD to calculate a few bits of info around the processing of common tasks, in order to find those with max figures that are several standard deviations away from the average and highlight them as possible areas of concern.

I have an Azure Worker Role to pull azure diagnostics from table and blob storage and spew it into the Elasticsearch instance for easier searching; still figuring out how to get it looking pretty in a Grafana instance though – I’ll get there eventually.

Upload to Azure Blob Storage using Powershell

I needed to automate the process of uploading images to Azure blob storage recently, and found that using something like the excellent Azure Storage Explorer would not set the Content Type correctly (defaulting to “application/octetstream”). As such, here’s a little script to loop through a directory and do a basic check on extensions to set the content type for PNG or JPEG:

The magic is in Set-AzureStorageBlobContent.

Don’t forget to do the usual dance of calling the following!

These select your publish settings file, and set which subscription is the currently active one:

  • Import-AzurePublishSettingsFile
  • Set-AzureSubscription
  • Select-AzureSubscription


Actually, the Aug 2014 version of Azure Storage Explorer already sets the content type correctly upon upload. Oh well. Still a handy automation script though!

Getting past Powershell & SQL’s “Incorrect syntax near ‘GO’ ” message

Many a night have I bashed my head on the keyboard when seeing “Incorrect syntax near ‘GO'” come back from a powershell script trying to execute a batch SQL script.

After learning that “GO” is not actually SQL, and more of a SQL Server Management Studio “batch helper”, I quickly knocked together this powershell script to execute SQL batch scripts remotely. Fits nicely into an environment creation pipeline, so it does.


$batches = $Script -split "GO\r\n"

$SqlConnection = New-Object System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection
$SqlConnection.ConnectionString = "Server=$Server;Database=$DB;User ID=$user;Password=$Pwd;Trusted_Connection=False;Encrypt=True;Connection Timeout=30;"

foreach($batch in $batches)
    if ($batch.Trim() -ne ""){

        $SqlCmd = New-Object System.Data.SqlClient.SqlCommand
        $SqlCmd.CommandText = $batch
        $SqlCmd.Connection = $SqlConnection