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Wed, 17 Apr 2013

VPSs, Nagios, .com domains

My revenues have been between $900 and $1425 over the past four months, so in January I decided to splurge and get VPS instances from two providers.

I read online about what people thought. A lot of people liked Linode so I went with them. For $20 a month I get 2 TB outbound transfer, 24 gigs of storage, a priority CPU and a share of eight others, and 1 gig of RAM. In January that was 512MB of RAM and 200 gigs of transfer, but there has been competition in the VPS space.

Rackspace seemed popular as well. People were less enthused, but it was deemed OK. So I got a VPS with them. With the lowest price "cloud server" you get 20 gigs disk, 1 virtual CPU, and 512MB RAM. Pricing is $16.06 a month but does not include traffic. With 32-33 gigs going out it is $20 a month. I send out less than 1 gig a month so I am charged around $16.18. Of course, these policies determine how I use the servers. I served 33 gigs of data from Linode in March.

I'm running Debian 6.0 on both servers. I run Debian because - what else am I going to run? I've worked with Debian since Vincent Yesue introduced Debian to me back in the mid 1990s. I'm familiar with it. I run Ubuntu on my desktop so I'm familiar with dpkg. I could run Fedora or CentOS (can't afford Red Hat at this stage) but Debian seemed fine enough.

I decided to set up a Nagios instance on my desktop and watch Dreamhost, Bluehost, Rackspace and Linode. I knew how flaky Dreamhost was, now I really know. Any how, I've been slowly shifting everything to the VPSs.

I run BIND 8 on both VPSs for primary and secondary DNS. I also run Apache on both VPSs. Rackspace is the front end web site. Linode I use for serving epub files, and also to handle search queries. So I run MySQL on Linode as well.

Last week, Nagios said Linode was slow. So I began culling down memory usage on Apache, BIND and MySQL. Nagios still said it was slow. So I began timing web page gets from other locations, and Linode was fine. The connection from my ISP to Linode was just slow for a few hours. It's probably better I tuned it any how.

I had some domain name ideas while doing this, so I signed up with Namecheap and got some domain names. I will probably be holding most of my domain names there hence forth. The number of dot com names registered are in the hundreds of millions. It keeps going up. I remember back in 1996 when names like proof.com were still unregistered, I missed snapping that up by a few days. Someone just e-mailed me offering to sell me a domain name for $350,000.

So I saw some a domain I wanted expiring. I used snapnames.com to scoop it up. And I got it. So now I have bookmarkflood.com. Most of the domains I have are either connected to books or bookmarks.

I want to improve my programming knowledge, more specifically Java, more specifically Android. But programming in general as well. Besides, Android is not all about Java - a lot of what I've been doing with Android has been C and C++ apps using the NDK. Or server side programs - usually Perl so far.

I've been reading Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. I have been taking my time to go through it. Right now I am on section 1.2.3.

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Fri, 14 Dec 2012

Amazon EC2, Bluehost, Dreamhost

Dreamhost
I have been hosting on Dreamhost since 2005. For a $10 a month web hosting service, I have been happy.

Actually, I seem to have been grandfathered in with the monthly $10 rate. I started with a one-year plan in 2005 then moved to monthly. I pay monthly - $10 a month. It appears the monthly rate is now $11 a month with a $50 setup fee. Yearly is $10 a month, two-year is $9 a month.

Problems over the years...NTP was off by a little on my host, but an e-mail to support fixed that. A few times the host was completely unreachable - web servers down, not reachable by ssh. An e-mail fixed that. Sometimes my web logs would become unreadable or stop rotating, an e-mail would fix that.

The main problem I have faced is load averages. I have seen over two hour periods the 15 minute load average staying above 200 - peaking at 261. This on a machine with 4 processor cores. Of course, the machine slows to an absolute crawl when this happens. I have limited access to their machine's /proc directory, so I have no idea what causes these surges. I would say high load averages are my main concern with Dreamhost. As I type, the 15-minute load average is over 18. The machine has 4 processor cores. This has been a problem on Dreamhost since I signed on - in 2005.

One disconcerting thing with Dreamhost is it seems the concern has gone down from the techs over the years. In 2005 and 2006, support jumped on problems. As time went on, support does not respond to high load issues, or tells me factually incorrect information about what a load average is. When I can't access my web logs the way I have for years, but doing a cat, the message is more or less "just live with it" (thankfully, I can once again cat my web logs).

Bluehost
I just signed up with Bluehost in October. I opened the account for the use of one of my Android apps. Which might sound expensive for one app, but that app makes enough every four days to pay for a year's worth of Bluehost service.

With Dreamhost, html directories are all separate, which I like. With bluehost, they're all piled on top of one another, which I dislike.

Bluehost also does not let me run cron jobs. You have to go to the web interface and schedule jobs. I understand in a sense, why they do this, they don't want my account tied to the machine, but if you're going to virtualize scheduled jobs to the web, why not try to virtualize cron as well? I mean, this problem was solved with Unix in the 1970s, why are we going backwards?

I served out 23 gigs worth of files via Bluehost in November without much complaint, so so far, so good.

Amazon EC2

I wanted to pull some epub's from Gutenberg.org. So I signed up with EC2. They make a small credit card withdrawal and also call your phone and you have to type a PIN. In less than an hour, I was all signed up. I spun up a free micro-server on US East and connected to Gutenberg. IP blocked on the first try! Obviously someone before me). So I terminated that instance. So I spun up one from a non-US location. Success! I pulled down a few hundred epub's. Now I'm up to date. I sent an e-mail to Gutenberg.org a month ago and never heard back.

Anyhow, EC2 seemed cool. I have heard people talk about how cheap web hosting (and databases, and application servers) is getting, but I didn't really get how cheap. Or understand how easy it is to dial up an account from a small web server to one handling many hits. EC2's pay for what you use service, with reasonable prices, works great for me. I'm sure I will be looking more at it in the future.

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