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5.3. HTTP request fails

The error message in Status Report is: 'HTTP request status Fails' Your system or network configuration does not allow Drupal to access web pages, resulting in reduced functionality. This could be due to your webserver configuration or PHP settings, and should be resolved in order to download information about available updates, fetch aggregator feeds, sign in via OpenID, or use other network-dependent services."
The workaround to eliminate the error message is to add the following line in /etc/drupal7/default/settings.php:
$conf['drupal_http_request_fails'] = FALSE;