Definitely great for do-it-yourselfers
Using my own box with a reliable ISP would definitely be preferable to using a webhost, but short of that, I think Linode is definitely the way to go. In my limited experience with webhosts, Linode offers the best deal:
1. Separate from other servers on the 'node (not really, but so far a VM has made it separate enough)
2. No lag. The AJAX shell lags quite a bit, but ssh from either Putty (Windows ssh client) or from the shell in my Linux install works fast.
3. I really like being able to use another distro. I don't really like any of the distros offered by Linode, so being able to use another is great! I haven't prepared my distro yet, but once I do, I'll use it to replace the distro currently on the Linode
1. For all intensive purposes your Linode is your own machine. It's often referred to as a VDS (Virtual Dedicated Server). But yes you are still affected by other users. Granted even if you had a dedicated you'd still be affected by other users bandwidth usage.
2. Linode's responsiveness rocks! It's also worth noting that the AJAX shell is never meant for long term. It's more meant for emergencies and command line access from behind a firewall.
3. Being able to roll your own distro is pretty nice. I'm curious to know what distribution you're using since I can't imagine running one that isn't offered. Granted I only have Ubuntu/CentOS/Fedora experience.
Glad to see you're enjoying the service!
Ark has worked better for me than anything else. I even did a benchmark with it against Fedora, CentOS, Ubuntu (and some of it's derivatives, and a few based on it like Mint), and (awhile back) Mandriva. The only ones the came closest to Ark with performance were CentOS and Mandriva.
CentOS tends to be very outdated; the Ark webserver runs CentOS 5.5 (we're working on a switch to an Ark-based server), and I had to add a 3rd party repo to update php and apache to run the site because nothing supports the version of php in CentOS 5.x. I understand wanting to do as few upgrades as possible in order to maintain stability, but you do need to upgrade packages whenever necessary (this is actually Ark's policy – upgrade when needed, but otherwise keep things the same).
As far as Mandriva goes, I keep hearing about financial issues or something and I don't want to be forced to switch to another distro or maintain any packages if they disappear.
In general, though, Ark has a faster boot and login time and lagged the least in desktop use and sending website data across both wireless and wired. The worst were Ubuntu and it's derivatives and Fedora. Ubuntu didn't feel as responsive as the others, and things frequently crashed (I even got a few kernel panics opening some of the preinstalled apps, and all the hardware has fully-supported F\OSS drivers). Fedora would be a candidate if it weren't for it's outright slowness.
Specs on the test hardware:
2.4 GhZ Intel Pentium Dual Core
40GB hard disk with 2GB swap and the rest devoted to the distro's / partition (didn't partition further because it was for testing)
Intel graphics card
Realtek 10/100 Ethernet
Ralink Tech USB wireless (supported by the F\OSS driver without any proprietary blobs)
(edited to change an incorrect word)