How do people support their linode? Any recommendations?

Hi

I run a small web development company and provide hosting. Traditionally its been dedicated or VPS servers, with CPanel. The hosting providers provide support. So if Apache goes down and wont restart, they'll fix it. Etc.

I would like to move to cloud servers though. Dedicated and VPS scare me due to reliance on 1 server/system hardware. Linode have made it clear to me they dont provide any support like that. I am on my own. Other cloud providers I compared Linode to were the same (or offer too expensive support). We are a small company and cannot employ a Linux expert, we hardly ever need to do server stuff, just occasionally an issue may occur and we need to call on some sort of support. Our servers use Virtualmin to manage the web hosting accounts.

So I wondered what other people do? Anyone use a third party Linux support company, or generally go it alone? We are quite technical, I am familiar with Linux, happy in the shell, but there is likely to come a time I need to ask an expert to help.

Thanks

28 Replies

@Guspaz:

You've run into one of the dirty little secrets of the "cloud" industry: there's no actual definition or agreement of what "cloud" means.

There is, but nobody really references it because it's not sexy enough and makes too much sense.

Rackspace Cloud Servers, by your definition, are also not "cloud servers." I don't know what a "cloud server" is.

Well, first of all, Linode is not a cloud in the sense that you are talking about. You still technically are reliant on one system here at Linode since your VPS resides on a single machine.

That being said, I still trust good, high quality VPS providers (like Linode) more than most cloud providers because of reliability issues. When you have a large SAN setup, it provides a single point of failure for a lot of customers. I know of multiple cloud providers (namely Gigenet Cloud and VPS.net) who have had problems like this.

Ok now I'm a little more worried. I thought the whole point about a cloud server is a sort of distrubuted server so it does not rely on one hard disk etc. therefore hardware issues are less of an issue compared to a vps or dedicated.

I have several vps's already at the same price that do provide all the support I need. So I am now unsure why I would take a Linode out if it's just a vps without support??

But if I were to keep it, what do people usually do for support? Not all customers are Linux experts surely?

Thanks

Just re-read their website following your post and can see they are a vps provider. Doesn't say cloud servers. Must have got confused as I was looking into a few "cloud" servers providers including rackspace cloud servers. There's a lot of Rackspace v Linode posts online so thought they were like for like in a way.

So why would one go for an unmanaged vps when other providers provide managed at the same price? I'm having second thoughts now, I wanted a cloud server (my mistake though!).

> So why would one go for an unmanaged vps when other providers provide managed at the same price?

Quality and features. Quality of hardware, network, support. Features that someone like Linode provides in their control panel.

There are overpriced hosts, yes. There are hosts with terrible quality but really low prices as well. That's why you need to read lots of reviews about any host you're considering and possibly talk with someone who has experience with them and/or knows the jargon better.

@amityweb:

So why would one go for an unmanaged vps when other providers provide managed at the same price?
Huh? You can find a MANAGED TRUE VPS (i.e. XEN) 1024M Host with similar storage and xfer for $39.95/month - who and where?

I too was confused by how some of Linode's advertisements liberally use the term "cloud." In some ways, if you set things up properly with node balancers and multiple Linodes, you can get cloud-like services, and there certainly are multiple datacenters to choose from. However, you may be like me and many others who simply wish to have a stable, quality, yet affordable host with sufficient resources for what you need to do.

It was a little daunting to get my own VPS running, but if you have a good guide, it's not too bad, and there are helpful resources about how to keep things patched and secure. Is my server more secure than my old shared host? In some ways, I think it might be since they were very slow about upgrading software/OS. I've definitely appreciated the opportunity to learn and increased control to install and configure things how I wish, yet honestly, if I actually could have found a shared host with the same performance as Linode, I probably wouldn't bother with the extra hassle. However, that situation doesn't exist, so a VPS is the best fit for me now.

OK here's the background, might help… Previously I have been using EUKHost for VPSs. I've used then for years and they have provided excellent support for my VPS's and Dedicated's. I am sure their pricing and support would be matched by others, but here's the VPS prices: http://www.eukhost.com/vps-hosting.php. I am not "up" on server quality, so I cannot say whether they match Linode servers, only from experience the service, speed and support have been great.

But i wanted to use a "cloud" server. I compared EUKHost, Rackspace and Linode in a simple test, here's my blog about it http://www.amitywebsolutions.co.uk/blog … o-the-test">http://www.amitywebsolutions.co.uk/blog/premium-web-hosting-put-to-the-test. EUKHost was slower, and one of the reason for my move to the "cloud" was I wanted to find a faster server. Some previous customers of mine moved somewhere else and the same website was faster, so I needed to review my hosting service to provide a faster, premium hosting service for customers.

Linode (1Gb), Rackspace (1Gb) and EUKHost (2Gb) were head to head with speed, so I chose Linode due to slightly lower prices and the included bandwidth, and because I thought it was a cloud and not a VPS (which EUKHosts was).

So far I have been happy, BUT the support side of things prompted me to raise this post. EUKHost would provide support on their eNight Cloud servers (some come with Cpanel they would support that too). So I would have the security of knowing they will help with any urgent issues, like when the server goes down and I cant fix it. Their support really has been great. But with Linode there would be no support at all. With Rackspace I would need to pay more for the managed support.

I also wanted a "cloud" because I thought it would be safer than a VPS. For example, if a VPS hard drive fails the websites may go down, whereas I thought with Cloud it would be distributed so if a hard drive fails then another is used (but hen again maybe I am confusing RAID technology which can be in VPS and Cloud, with Cloud).

Since the "cloud" issue was raised, I have contacted Rackspace and they have the same setup. At least Linode say its a VPS, but Rackspace dont seem to. Their annoying chat box found a use and the support staff told me its a VPS with RAID. But if the main VPS server goes down the websites go down, so probably similar to Linode.

You've run into one of the dirty little secrets of the "cloud" industry: there's no actual definition or agreement of what "cloud" means.

Most people seem to agree that Amazon EC2 is a cloud hosting platform, but what about it differentiates it from something like Linode? Dynamic scalability/deployment? Linode has that. Pro-rated billing? Linode has that, although not as granular. Decoupled storage from processing elements? Linode doesn't directly offer that, although you can do the equivalent with additional linodes.

In reality, a cloud hosting platform is really just a VPS hosting platform, and how you qualify what features on top of that make it a cloud or not is up to you. Even EC2, which has EBS for network storage, still has local storage on the instance.

The proper approach is really to take precautions. Linode's servers are backed by RAID-10 which can survive a single hard-drive failure, and linodes can be migrated off a piece of hardware if it suffers from this or any other failure. Linode offers an automated backup solution, and backup images can be deployed nearly instantly as a new Linode (it takes a few minutes to copy the data to the new host). So even if you suffer a catastrophic failure (somebody rips the server out of the rack and throws it into the river), you can just deploy a new linode from your latest automated nightly backup.

Personally, we take a two-tiered backup solution. First, we have the automated Linode backups, from which we can deploy to a new host in a few minutes. The upside is the speed of recovery, the downside is that it lives in the same datacenter as the linode. For our second tier, we have an off-site incremental nightly backup that concentrates on just data files, and not system files. This is on a fast connection, so if somebody throws the entire New Jersey datacenter into the river, we can rebuild from that. It takes more time, because we need to deploy the OS again and then copy back over the config files and data, but since this is the second tier of backups, that's OK.

I don't think you'll find any cloud host that can survive complete host failure without any manual intervention. Even if 100% of your storage was on a SAN or something, you'd still need to manually spin up a new instance and point it at that.

From my research so far I have come to the conclusion that I wont get a cloud server as per my definition of cloud. It seems they are all scaleable VPSs, so therefore I can accept that. As long as I choose a VPS with RAID to avoid hard drive failures, then thats OK. And backups. We also take secondary backups to our office of websites (file backups and database dumps) using incremental rsync for the past 14 days (keep bandwidth down). The backup restore of Linode is a plus. So I think I am OK to proceed with the server like this.

So brings me back to my original question! There must be non-linux experts using Linodes. I am familiar with linux and happy to use the shell, no problem setting the server up, installing Virtualmin and a Firewall and configuring it etc. But I dont class myself as a Linux expert. I am sure there will come a time when some issue with Virtualmin/Apache/MySQL/etc. will cause it to go down and I wont know how to fix it.

So therefore what do the non-Linux experts do for support? Anyone know of third party companies that offer this support service? I contacted one over here in the UK but got no response yet, 24 hours later, which does not look good considering I may need emergency response.

One thing I THINK I feel good about, and thats ditching CPanel for Virtualmin. CPanel is great for admin, but seems many issues I get is because of it. Perhaps problems with the upgrade, or all the error emails I get are from Cpanel. I wonder if I will see less issues not having it, making a more stable server. I might be wrong though!

P.S. This forum is not sending me email notifications even though I subscribed to the topic.

@amityweb:

From my research so far I have come to the conclusion that I wont get a cloud server as per my definition of cloud. It seems they are all scaleable VPSs, so therefore I can accept that. As long as I choose a VPS with RAID to avoid hard drive failures, then thats OK. And backups. We also take secondary backups to our office of websites (file backups and database dumps) using incremental rsync for the past 14 days (keep bandwidth down). The backup restore of Linode is a plus. So I think I am OK to proceed with the server like this.

Even RAID isn't foolproof, but since you've got a good backup strategy, you already know that ;) Linode has on occasion suffered double-drive failures that took out a RAID array (in a 4-drive RAID-10 array, there is a 50% chance of surviving a two-drive failure, depending on which two drives fail), but that is to be expected when you've got ~2000 host machines. Statistically, some of those disks are going to fail, and odds or that it'll be a double failure in one machine on occasion. Large-scale applications know that disk failures are going to happen, and plan around it. It's interesting to see how large-scale applications handle it. Google just knocks the whole box out of their cloud and replaces it at their leisure. Netflix designed their caching servers to tolerate a bunch of failed drives and just leaves the machine in place until enough drives have failed. BackBlaze builds in enough redundancy that they do a pass once a week to replace all failed drives.

Getting back to your concept of a cloud, the concept does exist on an application level. You design the application to be redundant in terms of data (distributed databases, hot failovers, etc) and to tolerate machines randomly dropping out of the cloud. You need to specifically design your application around this, though, and it's not something easy or trivial. Netflix (which is hosted entirely on Amazon's EC2 platform) takes an interesting approach to this: they have a service that runs constantly which randomly kills machines in their cloud (reboots them without warning, I guess?) just to keep them on their toes. This forces them to design their systems to tolerate failure, they can't cheat on it.

@amityweb:

So brings me back to my original question! There must be non-linux experts using Linodes. I am familiar with linux and happy to use the shell, no problem setting the server up, installing Virtualmin and a Firewall and configuring it etc. But I dont class myself as a Linux expert. I am sure there will come a time when some issue with Virtualmin/Apache/MySQL/etc. will cause it to go down and I wont know how to fix it.

So therefore what do the non-Linux experts do for support? Anyone know of third party companies that offer this support service? I contacted one over here in the UK but got no response yet, 24 hours later, which does not look good considering I may need emergency response.

One thing I THINK I feel good about, and thats ditching CPanel for Virtualmin. CPanel is great for admin, but seems many issues I get is because of it. Perhaps problems with the upgrade, or all the error emails I get are from Cpanel. I wonder if I will see less issues not having it, making a more stable server. I might be wrong though!

P.S. This forum is not sending me email notifications even though I subscribed to the topic.

Linode intends to eventually offer such a service (they beta tested it a while back), but there was one that is commonly mentioned around here. vpsbuddy, I think it is?

Lots of great information in this thread.

I seem to have started a niche business doing the web hosting for clients who have a web designer who doesn't really like to handle annoying technical things. He can do "light" coding, but I cannot do much more than advanced HTML/CSS. Yet how we collaborate to do some delightfully fantastic sites in WordPress. I have a linux geek friend who I can call up if need be and he'll come over and I have an agreed upon hourly rate for his help. I've actually needed his help once.

I came to Linode after Hostgator shut down an entire account on my VPS for a single complaint from a bystander; in doing so, they deleted the home directory of that account containing 25 domains. The complaint was about 1 domain, that someone wanted to use, but did not have a trademark or legal right to make any other type of claim. In trying to restore a backup, we figured out due to a permissions error, they were never actually backing up any home directories for the past year. So they intentionally deleted my site, and have been nothing but grandstanding, obnoxious and resistant to help in any way. I'm not even clear how they couldn't just suspend the account without doing something tricky with the files like that. (I'm in NYC and they're in Texas, so I don't envision they will enjoy having to hire a lawyer to go to Manhattan to appear for them in Federal District Court, but that's the chance they seem to be willing to take.) This story has far more sinister elements to it but let me get back on topic…

I tried Linode and I'm not sure how far I could have really gotten with command line, so I went and purchased a cPanel license for $15/month. Well, let me say that I could not, could not, could not POSSIBLY be happier with my hosting than I am on Linode with cPanel. Except maybe now that you told me about Virtualmin I am desperate to try something I can actually be productive with that would cost less. I have a few IP's with a few SSL's installed, and I am zipping along. My sites are zippy and responsive. My clients didn't know I switched servers, it went through seamlessly.

The main reason I like using cPanel is that you can up and move from one cPanel host to another. I don't want people to feel locked in and I want them to feel empowered to up and move if need be. The secondary reason is that it is so easy to find people who have the most horrible problems with custom control panels. I personally did a simple upgrade of a site that Dreamhost insists requires VPS service and endured 6 weeks of the most horrible customer service - and they had chat at the time, now it's email only - over the site not working every single day. When we downgraded the service, they said "oh, we figured it out; it was a simple configuration error. Are you sure you wouldn't like to keep that extra service [that you didn't actually need but we forced you into]? I have seen many similar posts all over the internet re: Dreamhost where they could not figure out what was wrong with hosting services for months on end. I looked in to MediaTemple but also found lots of examples very easily of problems that simply could not be resolved for long periods of time and it was my educated guess that from the back and forth and the lack of resolution from the staff for these long periods of time that the staff simply could not figure out why something was so wrong and the custom software interfered with getting any resolution. Mind you I know these are 2 popular hosts and I am not saying they had a high number of problems but they had too high a number of never-got-resolved-after-months-and-months-of-hell problems. I have no idea if cPanel is considered any type of gold standard, but I have more resources available in their support and various other online forums. And that's the secondary line of support because frankly, I have had lots of cPanel accounts and never experienced anything like the horror of Dreamhost. And horror is an understatement. If cPanel bogs down my system in the end, it's so far been worth the cost for the reliability.

I already have Linux for Dummies, but if someone had Linux commands you'd need for being your own webhost for dummies, I'd like to get a copy of that. I am always looking for faster technology solutions, so I am going to be trying to learn more Linux so I can see how the same Linodes compare with and without cPanel.

Also if anyone has a benchmarking recommendation I'd love to hear about it.

Panels of any sort bastardize the OS, eat up resources, and basically add a obfuscating layer between you and your apps, so I would avoid them like the plague (of course I'm not in the business of hosting websites for other people so YMMV).

Things you might actually be looking for when you say "I want a cloud."

High Availability

Typically this is thought of as things breaking: hard drives crash, data centers catch on fire, Bubba's backhoe takes out 1,000 strands of underground fiber. Don't forget software faults, configuration errors, or non-physical human stupidity ("I forgot the WHERE clause on the DELETE FROM command I ran against the domain database - is that a problem?"). It really has little to do with whether you are using a "cloud" service. Most important is how your servers are configured and what points of failure they share. The devil is very much in the details, and there is no guarantee a cloud service will resist failure.

Dynamic Scalability

This is the ability to increase the resources available to your application when demand increases, or scale down when it decreases. On one end of the spectrum is a dedicated server (zero scalability); near the other end you would have Amazon EC2 autoscaling. Linode offers limited scalability, in that you can request to be migrated to a larger (or smaller) Linode. This is neither instant nor automatic. Another option would be to roll your own software which would create (or delete) Linodes using the API based on demand. You would still face the task of synchronizing the contents of each one.

Low Latency

If most of your users are in the UK, you'd want a Linode in London to reduce the time it takes data packets to travel to them. If they're in Japan, you'd want Tokyo. If your users are all over, it gets to be expensive buying a server in every city in the world. This is what a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is designed to solve. If you're Netflix or CNN, you might need one of these. If you're a guy with a blog, you probably don't.

High Performance

This is somewhat related to the scalability point above, as throwing extra resources at an application usually makes it run faster. Typically the limiting factor is the amount of money you're willing to spend, and has little or nothing to do with whether you're using a cloud service. Often, optimizations to software can dramatically increase performance without adding extra hardware.

> Except maybe now that you told me about Virtualmin I am desperate to try something I can actually be productive with that would cost less
I decided I did not want Cpanel mainly for cost… my Linodes will host fewer sites than my dedicated shared. I will cost them higher, a premium hosting service, but nevertheless after backup there is not much profit per server. CPanel license per server just eats into that profit again, and if I find some support staff, even more profit. The sort of customers I have are Ok to pay a bit more for premium hosting but not if its terribly expensive. So I needed a low cost/free control panel. I spent quite a bit of time researching and trying different control panels and Virtualmin seemed to do the trick very well indeed. Takes some time learning where things are compared to Cpanel but it seems to be able to handle it all.

If you use virtualmin install Virtualmin which will then install Webmin, rather than installing Webmin and then Virtualmin on top of that. It was so easy to install and configure http://www.virtualmin.com/documentation … /automated">http://www.virtualmin.com/documentation/installation/automated (this is a long page but it actually boils down to a few command lines).

> I have no idea if cPanel is considered any type of gold standard
Same here, except any server issues or email notifications I have seem to be CPanel related. I am hoping without Cpanel meddling with the server the server would perform better. All I want is a GUI to perform command line/config file changes (see next point)

> Panels of any sort bastardize the OS, eat up resources, and basically add a obfuscating layer between you and your apps, so I would avoid them like the plague (of course I'm not in the business of hosting websites for other people so YMMV).
I do agree with this first statement, but for a web development/hosting company, setting websites up via command line is a right royal pain in the backside… setting up virtual servers, mail, FTP or SSH/SFTP, databases, then SSL certificates maybe, with PCI compliance, firewall configurations. As stated above we are not Linux experts, nor are we large enough companies to employ an expert. We build websites, and we are experts at that, I dont then want to spend all day making a site live on the server. So thats where Virtualmin comes in, like Cpanel, in a few clicks it would ctreate all the necessary virtual hosts, databases, mail, ftp etc. So I do agree they eat up resources, other things, but they are a necessity in my mind, for us web developers who add sites to a server often, and manage email accounts and things like that. I would be happy with a lower resource usage control panel, but I could not find one as suitable as Virtualmin.

We are in a somewhat similar situation - we're creating websites, servers are a necessary evil :-)

Having gone from managed hosting to running our own servers (we use cPanel), we could never go back. It is obviously nice to have someone to call if things break, but a managed server is usually a very restricted environment. It is nice to have root access and the freedom to configure Linux / apache / php / MySQL exactly as we need it, but most importantly it allows us to implement our own server-wide backup solution. We use Linode's backup for disaster recovery purposes, but experience has taught us the hard way never to rely solely on the hosting provider for backups. On the managed servers this meant configuring backup on a per-account basis with various scripts and cron jobs, which was just too time-consuming.

We did run on a "true" cloud server at one point, but that experiment ended when we lost the server due to a backplane fault in the switch connecting the diskless servers with the storage network. If you go with a cloud server solution, you will want to examine the level of redundancy they provide very carefully to avoid this type of surprises.

We have a server with another provider that serves as a warm standby in case something happens to our Linode that we cannot fix quick enough ourselves. Linode support seems strictly limited to the hardware itself - a question we had about getting diskquotas to work with the CentOS kernel that Linode provides was rejected with a standard "this is not a manged service" response.

Tom

Panels provide a layer between you and the underlying system, which IMHO makes it a lot harder to fix things when they go wrong.

I am definitely not a Linux expert, but I manage to run my own mail and web server with multiple users. However, I am not trying to do anything complicated and usually manage to sort out most problems myself. These forums have been very helpful when I get stuck with something I can't work out for myself.

I would suggest getting the smallest available Linode and use it as a "play" system. Install and configure your own mail and web servers. You will end up breaking all sorts of things, but in the process you will end up with a stable and reliable system. More importantly, during this process you will learn how to fix most of the most common problems yourself and your system should be much more easily fixable than a broken cPanel system.

@hoopycat:

@Guspaz:

You've run into one of the dirty little secrets of the "cloud" industry: there's no actual definition or agreement of what "cloud" means.

There is, but nobody really references it because it's not sexy enough and makes too much sense.

Ah, but I don't have to agree with a foreign standards body as to their definition ;) They do look reasonable, however, and I'd point out that Linode meets every single one of the requirements NIST lists ;)

I have ISPConfig installed. It has a few drawbacks but for out of the box easy to configure it's pretty good and the community is pretty active. If you do go that way though, I highly suggest you install on a fresh Linode with just the OS installed. No stackscripts. Also, I have heard some minor issues with following the Linode tutorials. If you Google your Linux Distro, and ISPConfig it'll usually lead you to howtoforge with installation instructions from the authors. I use Ubuntu 12.04 and manage a couple of sites, a few email accounts, and for the hell of it I host my own domains.

I can't remember why I didn't choose ISPConfig… I dont think I got far enough to test it after trying Virtualmin.

Here is an interesting blog about Webmin vs Cpanel (Virtualmin install witll install Webmin) http://www.forlinux.co.uk/expertise/kno … s%20cPanel">http://www.forlinux.co.uk/expertise/knowledge-bank/Control%20panels%20-%20Webmin%20v's%20cPanel.

What I find reassuring for me is knowing Webmin does not change any system files, it is a completely separate system and so can also be uninstalled leaving all the config files intact and the sites still working, as opposed to Cpanel which heavily modifies the system (if what they report is true). Maybe this is why I get errors from Cpanel often due to its modification of system files. I much prefer leave the OS as it is, surely must be more stable.

Oh and as for support (the original question!), if you buy Virtualmin Pro then they provide support so that may be worth taking a look at, its not too expensive, but its per server. I need to ask them what this covers, if it is just Virtualmin, OR if they would extend it to other services installed by Virtualmin like Apache, MySQL issues etc. and even issues with the OS.

Although I dont like per server support plans, I have the opinion I should pay for time spent on problems not how many servers I have.

I have 2 small 'nodes, one I use Virtualmin (actually let it install everything but the base OS), the other I use ISPConfig. I'm not sure if I like one over the other yet- FWIW, I basically use them both for installation/configuration of websites much more than maintenance. I only turn webmin/virtualmin on when I need to use it, otherwise I stop it.

My biggest problem with panels is that they make it easier for me to break things, usually by hand editing a config file, though both panels I use are getting better/more tolerant.

Never thought about turning them off when not in use. That may be a good idea, it must claw back some tiny ounce of resources and increase security somewhere! Oh on the other hand, users need webmail access, and some clients have their own clients and need to manage Users, so maybe not a good idead for me after all. Maybe on some servers, will keep it in mind. Thanks

> What I find reassuring for me is knowing Webmin does not change any system files, it is a completely separate system and so can also be uninstalled leaving all the config files intact and the sites still working, as opposed to Cpanel which heavily modifies the system (if what they report is true). Maybe this is why I get errors from Cpanel often due to its modification of system files. I much prefer leave the OS as it is, surely must be more stable. One of the things I liked about ISPConfig is that it doesn't touch system files, obviously it changes Apache config files and the like. But if you want to uninstall ISPConfig, you just have to remove it's cron job and delete its directory. Then it won't bother you again. I think people have had some issues trying to install ISPConfig over a production site that is running already. That's when you're likely to run into problems. If you install ISPConfig and then add your web sites, email addresses, etc. you're good.

@peleus:

I'm currently looking into ISPConfig, is this something that's free by any chance?
Look harder.

The VERY first page on their website states it's "Open Source, transparent, free".

What part of that is unclear?

Great informative thread :)

My adventure with Linode started around three years ago when I need some proper hosting for running JIRA (a bug tracking system) for our company that was accessible outside our company's firewall.

Fast forward a year, and I thought I'd investigate about using another dedicated Linode to host all my domains, websites, emails, etc.

After a fair bit of researching, I decided to go with it and started an install of Ubuntu with adding ISPConfig on top. It took me a couple of days tinkering around getting it to work how I wanted using a proper SSL certificate provided by an authority, getting a nice version of roundcube working for all the different email accounts on the different domains, etc.

I've been running that now for about a year, have around a dozen websites hosted for myself and some friends. ISPConfig is great in that it allows different levels so I could have a "reseller" set up, but as I'm not a Linux expert and providing support isn't my forte (both in terms of time available and experience), I don't offer any real SLA with the services I provide. Having said that, it's been absolutely flawless and I've extended the services running to now also provide proxy so I can browse the BBC Iplayer when out of the country, and things like that.

I've found that provided you're careful with what you install, how you install it and of course document it properly, it's pretty much trouble-free. I do have backups running so if ever I really make a mess or something terrible happens, I have all the emails, websites, etc, available to restore.

I'm now contemplating upgrading to Ubuntu 14 LTS, and can't decide whether to go for the upgrade or do a full reinstall as there were a few addons I put on and didn't work and not sure they've been cleanly removed, so a bit of spring cleaning won't do any harm. I guess I always have the option of temporarily having a second Linode to play with, get it up and running and then flick the DNS switch when I'm happy…

All in all, I've tried to stick to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", just ensuring that security patches are frequently applied. I don't host anything super super super confidential, but of course want to keep it relatively safe and secure. I have had the odd question or two on the Linode forums and also on ISPConfig, but have always received great "free" support from the volunteers.

@peleus:

> Often, optimizations to software can dramatically increase performance without adding extra hardware.

That is true. But the tough part is to figure out which one to disable or remove.
About 5 years ago I had an app which was reaching capacity on the server it was running on. Jobs were taking longer and running into "start of day" so we pushed the start time earlier and tuned the code and tweaked and optimised and nursed it along; we probably got 20% more performance out of the code this way.

Then we were told our servers had to be decomm'd because they were too old (corporate policy). So we bought new ones… and our execution time dropped to a 1/3rd of what is was before. All that time and effort in code tuning could have been better spent elsewhere, just by buying a new server.

I've seen the same on linode; since the switch to SSDs some of my jobs are so so much faster that it means I don't need to try gaining that extra 20% speed.

On the other hand,I've also rewritten code to work 200% faster, and in one case got an order of magnitude improvement on large datasets (changed the O() order of the algorithm).

The trick is in knowing when to code optimise and when to throw hardware at the problem :-)

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