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Internet, Miscellaneous, Software, Technology

Move complete… I hope

July 11th, 2007 by Jeff | 1 Core Dump

If you’re seeing this post, then welcome to the new server! Our new host is Slicehost, a small hosting service that caters specifically to online developers. I have to say that so far, I’m pretty impressed. I had a few bumpy points getting SSH started and the initial setup was so bare-bones I had to install a ton of packages just to get functional (including fundamentals like tar and which), but it’s moving a lot faster than the old site sitting behind the cable modem.

Slicehost does one thing that I think is really pretty slick, especially from a hard-core geek’s point of view: Unlike most web hosts who give you a little sandbox to play in and tie your hands on what you can and cannot do, the “slicers” give you your own virtual server with root access. That’s right, you have the keys to the virtual kingdom. That means you decide what gets installed on your box, from the Linux distro (no other OSes are supported at the moment, but they do offer several distros) to the individual server applications. Want a LAMP box? You got it. Prefer Fedora to Ubuntu? (Me! Me!) Here you go. You decide what gets installed. The caveat to such permissiveness, of course, is that if you screw it up, it’s your own darn fault. That’s okay, though, because your virtual server shouldn’t affect anyone else sharing the box and you can rebuild your “slice” at any time, wiping it clean and restoring it to its original pristine state. Pay a nominal extra fee and you’ve got backup snapshots that you can also restore in the case of catastrophic failure.

One thing to watch out for is the waiting list. They appear to allocate hardware dynamically based on their current user base (keeping some servers in reserve for redundancy) and then purchase new machines based on their projected demand. If you sign up for the smallest package with the minimum prepayment plan, you could be looking at several weeks of wait time. However, if you’re willing to pay a little more in advance, you’ll be moved up the list. I decided to prepay for six months instead of three and was told I’d have my “slice” in “less than a week.” I ended up getting it in a few hours. Yep, that’s technically less than a week.

Initial annoyances (I’m not sure I’d call them complaints):

  • It appears something was up with their Fedora repository. My initial setup did not include the SSH package, and since that’s the only remote access package installed by default (telnet and FTP are rightly left in the bit bucket) , I couldn’t log on. I contacted their support site and got a response in about an hour or so. Unfortunately, it was already getting late, so I couldn’t stay up to see if the fix they gave would work. However, I was able to log in licketty split this morning with no problems. (I then took the opportunity to lock the box down tight; this site proved quite helpful in that regard.) A small part of me cringes inside, wondering what might happen if I have to rebuild my slice and this repository isn’t working again….
  • While it’s great that they give you a clean slate to work with, they really give you a clean slate. As mentioned above, some things you just take for granted on a *NIX box like tar and gzip were nowhere to be found. I think it’s fine that I have to install MySQL, Apache, and PHP on my own; not everybody’s going to use those and they may have a database, Web server, or scripting environment they prefer over those options. But no tar? No gzip? Not even which? I lost track of how many seemingly fundamental packages I had to install, stuff I just naturally expected to be there. Not a major complaint, mind you, but an annoyance, as it took far longer to get the system to the point that I could actually function than it did to get the blog moved.

All in all, though, I think I’m going to like this new home. If you’re interested in checking them out, click the link in the first paragraph and poke around. If you decide to sign up, though, come back here and click my referral link. A little kickback is always nice. 😉

Of course, now that we’ve moved, commenting should be re-enabled. If you created an account before the move, it should have been ported over. (The internal user ID numbers got switched around, but since no one was able to post after I switched to WordPress, I don’t think that really matters.) Feel free to log in and make sure your account is accessible.

Feed readers: Please update your feed links now. You’ll find the new RSS and Atom links in the “Feed Me” section of the sidebar. Remember, the old “domain:port” URLs will no longer work.

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