WordPress 3.3, and what to do when Automatic Update fails

by steve on December 29, 2011

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Hey kids! From the official WordPress site:

The latest and greatest version of the WordPress software — 3.3, named “Sonny” in honor of the great jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt — is immediately available for download or update inside your WordPress dashboard.

If you go here, you can see a nifty video summarizing what’s in the new version.

Let’s say you go into your WordPress admin and it tells you that it wants your web server hostname and password before it can do the update.  You enter that stuff in, WordPress download a zip file and then gives you a message like:

Could not create directory: /my/path/web/wp-content/upgrade/wordpress-3.tmp

Now what?  The WordPress Codex has some information on this right here, including how to do a manual upgrade.

Possibly there’s ownership issues – the apache user has to be able to write to your WordPress files.  If you have some command-line skills you can look at the output from ps to figure out which is the right user:

ps auxw | grep -E apache

And then you can go to the root of your WordPress site and change owner of the files with a command like this

sudo chown -R apache_username *

After that, the automatic upgrade should work.  However, you may need to chown the files back to your user name to get editing permission back.  Doing this is a hack – in a more perfect world you’d go and learn enough about UNIX permissions to set everything correctly in the first place.  But will get you going in the meantime.

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