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Installing WordPress 5.1.18 broke updating and installing new plugins

Jun. 05, 2024, under disturbing, really???, Web dev

Before adding new posts to my blog, I decided to upgrade WordPress on my server from 4.6.3 to 5.1.18.


My server is running PHP 5.3.8, so I cannot upgrade to 6.5.3. WordPress offered 5.1.18 as an alternative, but I had to manually install the update from the server’s command prompt because WordPress cannot do it internally. Not a problem, I am very familiar with Linux command line.

However, when I tried to update the plugins and themes, the connection type radiobutton was stuck on FTPS (SSL) – not a problem, since that’s the connection type I want to use. When I told it to proceed after entering my password, though, I got an error message stating

Failed to connect to SSH2 Server

WAIT! I didn’t ask for an SSH2 connection, and even if I wanted one, the radiobutton is stuck on FTPS! Why is WordPress trying to initiate an SSH2 connection when everything says it should NOT be doing that?

I found I had exactly the same problem trying to update the installed themes.

I set those problems aside because my objective here is to add some new posts to my blog.


I found every new paragraph is a new “block” – not that I wanted blocks in the first place, but OK, paragraphs can be blocks. I got three paragraphs written, and decided I wanted to change the color of some of the text in the second one. I selected the text by dragging out the range with my mouse cursor. When I went to the Color Settings and picked from the Text Color options, the entire paragraph changed color! This is NOT what I wanted to do. I deselected the color option, and went to edit the paragraph as HTML. I wrapped the selected text in a <span color=”#cdcd77″> directive, switched back to the visual editor – and there was no change. There was also no change when I previewed my post. Back in the editor window, I did something where an “invalid HTML” error appeared.

I deleted the entire paragraph block and retyped it. I figured perhaps I could look at the code when the whole paragraph is colored to see how I should set up my <span> directive. When I looked at the HTML after changing the color, I was horrified to see the <p> directive bounding the paragraph (inside the HTML comment <!– wp:paragraph –> directive added by the Department of Redundancy Department) had been changed to

<p class=”has-text-color has-luminous-vivid-amber-color”>

What? Is <p color=”#cdcd77″> really incomprehensible? (Further incendiary comments withheld…)

I turned to Google, trying to find ways to change the color of just a few words of text in a WordPress post. I found many references saying things like “select the text, use the controls in the toolbar” – but since the options aren’t present in the toolbar, that advice is totally useless.

I then discovered this horrific editor had been introduced in the 5.0 release of WordPress, but it’s possible to get the previous functionality restored by installing the Classic Editor plugin. Great!

but no, FOILED AGAIN!!

I went to the Add New option for the Plugins for my WordPress instance, and there was Classic Editor, right at the top of the list! Just click “Install Now” – and the dialog came up asking for the FTP credentials. This time when I hit the “Proceed” button, I didn’t even get an error message, the same dialog simply came back with the password field apparently filled in.

I thought that perhaps there was a file permissions problem on the server, so I added group write to everything in and under the wp-contents directory. That had no effect.

Again I turned to Google, looking for a way to install the Classic Editor plugin from the Linux command line, since it seems WordPress is now incapable of doing any updates from its GUI. However, I haven’t found anything resembling instructions for a manual installation of Classic Editor.

I guess I’m going to have to revert my WordPress installation to the state it was in before I wasted the day today by trying to do an update. I hope there weren’t any significant database changes, because I’d like to avoid having to reset the entire database system.

I’m glad I did a backup before starting the upgrade process!

This also doesn’t address the issue that Permalinks now ignore my Custom Format selection – an irritation at best.

All I wanted to do was write a couple of new blog posts…


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