New Hosting Setup: Debian Virtual Private Server

If you’re reading this message, a DNS change has finally been relayed to your DNS client and you’re hitting this site on my new server.

After many minor problems hosting at home (mostly outages for various networking/power reasons) and not having enough bandwidth to survive being digg’ed or Slashdotted, I recently decided to seek a hosting plan which allowed me to have all of the control that I had by hosting my site at home, but none of the worries of connectivity, electricity, bandwidth, etc. Though I started out looking for a cheap dedicated server, I found that after an exhaustive amount of research I decided I was a better candidate for an unmanaged VPS (virtual private server). The main reasons I chose a VPS over a dedicated server were:

  • The servers that VPS’ are hosted on are typically quad CPU, dual core servers with large amounts of RAM, SCSI RAID, etc.
  • Given the hardware specs, the performance of a VPS is going to be better as long as they aren’t overloaded vs. a cheap dedicated server up to a certain point/depending on what your hosting requirements are.
  • Lower monthly cost than dedicated servers

Server virtualization has really been progressing by huge leaps and bounds within the past year or two, and VPS hosting plans are actually getting fairly ubiquitous at this point. Although VMWare and Windows Virtual Server are popular in the corporate space, it seems that most of the hosting providers use Virtuozzo.

Essentially I was looking for a plan which offered at least 512 MB of RAM, at least 20 GB of space, and had an unthrottled port of at least 100 GB of bandwidth per month which was not on an oversold network. Many hours of research, reading reviews, and looking at the various plans, I made the final decision of getting a plan with Future Hosting. Generally speaking, this was my criteria for finding a VPS provider:

  • Connected to a Tier 1 network
  • Bandwidth and servers not oversold
  • Reasonable pricing. I’m an individual just running a few personal sites and projects, not a company, so I’m a little more price sensitive than “5 9′s” sensitive.
  • Good support. I usually only need support for things outside of my control, but when this happens, you definitely want someone who can respond quickly.

So far the service has been rock solid, and the service has been nothing less than fantastic! While I was setting up the machine I regularly saw download speeds greater 900kB, so the bandwidth available is also very impressive. I’ve submitted several tickets during the setup and got literally instant responses if not resolutions. The only complaint I have (which is unrelated to Future Hosting itself) is that I’m stuck using Debian Linux rather than Ubuntu. At this point very few providers offer Ubuntu yet because apparently SWSoft does not yet offer a supported image of Ubuntu for Virtuozzo though it’s in the works. The good news is I’m slated to beta test a Ubuntu VPS soon, and hopefully I can get moved over to one later.

Admittedly it’s a little strange for me to be switching back to Linux from FreeBSD. When I originally started hosting my own sites from home circa 1998, I started off on a DEC Alpha Running RedHat 5.2. I quickly got tired of the dependency hell of Linux and switched to FreeBSD 3.x, and have stuck with it up until now. Now with apt-get (which is very much like the FreeBSD ports system) I no longer worry about the problems I used to have with Linux. My only gripe is that it seems like the packages for Debian are a bit outdated in general. I’ll be interested to see if things such as python 2.5 are already packaged into Ubuntu.

It’s late and I’ve been working on this for the better part of the evening so it’s time to wrap this post up, but I’ll try to get around to posting more about this if anyone is interested. I do still have a few things to move and/or configure, so hopefully there aren’t any major show stoppers happening at the moment. :)

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