Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks – re-learning linux

One of the reasons that I have contemplated often the jump to a VPS for my web hosting was the freedom to do what I wanted. That was always balanced by a bit of fear that I might f*ck up my VPS linux installation.

I had played with linux often, in the past, but never seriously. It ran a firewall on my home network back when I had an ISDN line, and I had built some inside the firewall file servers with old RedHat linux. But that was child’s play. Going VPS means I am out there on the internet, and I am responsible to not mess it up.


I have been up and running for a month now, and nothing serious has happened. Fortunately, the VM is pretty well configured out of the box. I haven’t had any real issues with the box (apart from needing to restart Apache a couple of times). And I am enjoying “remembering/relearning” how to do the basic things again. I still am fearful that I will blow it in a big way, but by and large, as long as I keep it patched, and keep all the software I am running up to date I feel confident that I will be OK.

I still worry about a SHTF event, and I will be instituting a backup process on a weekly basis. But, so far, it has been a positive experience.

Groovin’ on my VPS – moved 2 websites

So, after a brief support interaction with my new hosting company, A Small Orange hosting is who I went with, and I haven’t been disappointed, I am up and life is good. I have learned how to use cPanel, and its companion WHM. Really slick tools, and really easy to use. I now have 4 domains setup, and have 3 more to move, and four subdomains. I have learnt a few things:

  • WordPress is really easy to move.  I moved my wife’s site no sweat. took about an hour, and I played with it before I re-jiggered the name servers. Easy peasy.
  • Joomla is less so easy. My main site is still hosed. Apparently there is a PHP setting that I need to figure out. Might be a good time to go from Joomla 2 to 3. But that hasn’t been painless so far. (FWIW there is dogshit for information on how to best make the transition on the web. Sigh). I can’t even get it moved to a local LAMP server and running. Something is hosed, not surprising, as I am constantly fucking with it, so I am sure I am the cause.
  • One of my joomla sites, a 3.1 moved really easy. Move all the files, backup the database, recreate the database, set the configuration, and BAM, it just worked.
  • I like having complete control of my MySQL instance. At Media temple I had exceeded my database account limit early on, so I had to use the same credentials/account for more than one database. A security risk.
  • My next main goal is to get my SSH keys generated and installed.

So far, I am digging on the new hosting, and I am really pleased with my hosting provider.

My goal is to first move all my hosting to my VPS, then cancel my hosting account on Media Temple. Then, as my domains come up for renewal, I will move them to another registrar. But I realized when I moved my main domain (tralfaz.org) that soon, Media Temple will begin to morph with GoDaddy, and move away from using tucows for registration. I will be long gone before that happens though.

Taking the plunge: Going VPS

Earlier this week, I learnt that my hosting provider, (MT) has been sold to GoDaddy. While they assured their customers that they would be independent, and that GoDaddy was trying to change their reputation, I know that it was just a matter of time before the douchebaggery of GoDaddy infected the ethos of MediaTemple.

I had used a shared hosting account that worked remarkably well. I have 9 domains and 5 active sites (and two test bed sites) on there, and have been pretty satisfied with performance, and extremely satisfied with their support. But I have gotten to a scale where being constrained by a normal hosting account was an annoyance. Several times I investigated the process to move to a VPS (virtual private server), and never took the plunge. Just too much effort.

The changes earlier this week pushed me over the edge. I have opened a VPS account at a smaller, highly recommended web host, A Small Orange. I am in the process of moving my main site, and getting all the bits and pieces set up the way I like. A few teething problems (like the DNS changes taking insanely long to propagate), and some incompatibilities in the PHP setup that I need to overcome, but in general I am satisfied.

Of course, I am a bit rusty on my unix mad skillz, so I am boning up on how to manage and configure a linux system. Fortunately out of the box, they set it up well, and it is pretty secure, so I am glad to inherit that state. The VPS uses the cPanel and WHM services to manage the bits and pieces, which is pretty standard, but foreign to me, so I am learning how to wrangle these tools (they are pretty damn slick though).

My goal for this weekend is to move my main site (which currently has a module that barfs, so I have to figure that out), and to get all the bits and pieces lined up. Should be fun. And I expect that performance will be better in the long run (or at least completely under my own control).