Archive for category Virtualization

Finally, A Real Hosting Account

I am so happy to finally get my wife’s sites ( and others) off of the hosting account!  It really didn’t seem all that bad, I mean, it did its job, but it sucked how they charged for everything, even having an email account looked to be billable.  I guess it is good to be able to quantify a service into an actual billable value, but it gets really annoying to have to worry about if you will have to pay extra for something as simple as an email account.

Her hosting was on a Linux system, and that was neat, but it was lacking a bit.  PHP was shown as version 4.x, though I am sure you could have had that changed to a version 5.x support, it said so in the help.  I had to enable SSH for her account so I could transfer them over here easily, and that for some reason required them to transfer the site to a different server.  What ever, I can live with that.  But they had to call me and give me a pin number to do it, and it can take up to 24 hours, this time it took only around an hour (guessing).  The server I found it on was running at a load of 5 at the time, and though responsive, it was a little sluggish when responding to any sort of IO request, and the transfer speed from this server to my hwVPS 2009 account was quite sad, it looked to be around 60 to 70 kilobits a second, and I do hope that was a specific bandwidth limit hosting set for SSH data, because for a website loading speed, that would just suck.

Thanks to BlueOnyx, setting up the accounts and users took a minimal amount of time, and I love our DNS management system.  By the end of the night yesterday, I had all but 3 domains fully setup with live websites and DNS settings for the new location.  I am moving away from anything using FTP, so I have SSH enabled which allows SFTP access, which seems to even be supported by Dreamweaver!  I simply used SCP to transfer all the site’s files to their respective places, and it went through perfectly!

With some custom hacks, I have IPv6 enabled for some of the sites on my VPS, and am going to setup a script that will automate that for me.  At the moment I have IPv6 connectivity through a / account, which allows me to run a IPv6 6in4 static tunnel.  I also modified dovecot, sendmail, and the rest of the software to run full dual stack.  It is not really needed yet, but it is neat seeing all of my server backups and connectivity showing up on the six0 interface graph on my Asus RT-N16 router (I love that thing!, with it running Toastman’s build of TomatoUSB).

Now she gets to deal with me for support, muahahahaha!  It is just really good to have the sites on a system and network I know I can trust!  I also have the comfort of knowing that she will not be charged for simple things like email accounts, and she will be getting good support from someone who knows what they are talking about.

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Loving My New hwVPS Account

I am settling in quite well with this hwVPS account I am using for hosting this very blog.  I have set it up with BlueOnyx on CentOS 5.3, and it is simply delightful.  As an employee, I could have picked any account size I wanted, but I stuck with the 512 MiB version with 1 3Ghz CPU, because I have no desire to waste resources, and I believe that will be more than adequate for my purposes, if not I can upgrade, too many people don’t get that .  It is a paravirtualized Xen domU running on some truly state of the art hardware, and setup in a state of the art way.  I am not saying it is not possible to be done by others, but I am saying that very few have the skill to get the performance out of the hardware like it is done here.  As it stands we are riding the edge of what Linux and Xen can do, and gleefully looking forward to patches and updates as the Linux kernel writers put them in the mainstream.  We are not bold enough to toss in untested code, stability is a priority.  So far, stability has been perfect for my installation.  Not a hiccup to mention so far, and it is at least nearing a month (July 14th) of existence.

I love Xen as a virtualization software.  It is as cut and dry as it gets, so in some aspects, and some applications, it may not have as big of an advantage as perhaps the software engineering marvel that was once called Virtuozzo, which has been taken over by an evil empire, which now call themselves Parallels.  I do not know its state now, but I did know at least some of the engineers involved in the creation, and they were a good passion full bunch of people driven to excellence, and now they, if they even exist today, are being cut short and corrupted by the lust for money and corporate power.  Their software started gleaming with passion, and excellence, but has been declining not too long after they started.  But anyway, back to my point.  In the beginning when Virtuozzo was in good hands, it allowed each VPS to use a templated operating system, that actually shared the same files in such a way that Linux could simply cache that one file set, and have it be used for all of the VPS instances, talk about totally nerd cool!  And another cool aspect of that setup, all of the VPS instances could mainly run off of one file set, that’s right, one 600 or so megabyte set of files for as many VPS instances as you could fit in your ram, which was in our case, back in the day, several hundred.  So in some aspects, that works well, people can have their own environment to muck up and destroy, or actually use, no one can crash the hardware, only their environment.  The downsides were the fine tuning of many complex memory types and resources, which could not always be used across the board with the broad uses customers had in mind for their VPS instances.  The other downside was that the instance would run many modified operating system files and packages, so that it could function correctly, so a yum update to the latest version of OS was not part of the deal, and keeping up to date with yum or the like was not possible for the end user.  If it were one piece of hardware, under the control of one person for a specific organized use, then that person would be able to do wonderful things, but in the real world of a hosting company, that is not the case.  That is where Xen comes in.  Even though the concepts are a little hard to grasp at times, and it is weird having the virtual environments so totally separate so you can not as easily spy on what they are doing or help them when something goes wrong, once you get the hang of it and enact some good policies so that you gain access to the domUs (the name of Xen’s virtual environments) if and when you need to, it works quite well.  The division of the hardware’s resources is much more solid, no sharing of memory as if they all ran off the same kernel and filesystem.  This solidity leads to predictability, which is a must have in planning the use of the resources.  It also seems that, for example, there are not any CPU over usage issues that can effect another domU in Xen.  With Xen, you can run a fully virtualized with the emulation of various devices, with various minimal hits in performance, or you can run at near 100% hardware performance with a paravirtualized OS by using various Xen specific drivers.  Most mainstream Linux distributions come with these Xen specific drivers, I believe even Windows has some drivers, even though they are considered unstable.

All the technical differences aside, it is just like I am using my own hosted hardware, with the added ability to restart or reboot my hwVPS, and watch the console if it ever has an issue.  I can update like any plain old Linux install should be able to do.  The big difference is that I have some major high end hardware backing my system, even a high end network attached storage system that allows my hwVPS to be transferred between 2 different pieces of hardware.  How much would I be paying a month?  In this case, it would be 45 dollars, which is really nothing compared to the actual costs associated with having that kind of hardware at your hands.  I think I will rant about the misperceptions of the general public later, along with their lofty expectations with hosting that are not actually covered by how much they pay, but they feel they are entitled to more because they are comparing with larger companies who are undercutting to gain a larger footing in the hosting industry and to stamp out other competition.

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