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> Looking for a new ISP, Should we choose MDH or Expandable-VPS?
Brett Lee
  Posted: Apr 3 2004, 01:10 PM
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We're looking for a new ISP because our current one just stopped providing ssh access. Most of our maintenance tasks are automated via scripts, so we can't live with out ssh.

Let me describe how our site works, and hopefully somebody can then suggest whether MDH or Expandable-VPS hosting or something else is the better choice for us.

The unsecured part of our web site requires PHP 4, Perl (cgi), cookies, access to our database (which is currently MySQL) and a decent chunk of the file system, cron jobs, sendmail, and the ability to run htdig (for searching). On our current ISP, we had to compile htdig on their server in order to get it to run.

The secure part of our web site requires all that plus SSL and compatibility with the Perl interface to VeriSign's PayFlow Pro package. (Our e-commerce package is home grown, written in Perl.) VeriSign currently provides one version for RedHat 9 and one version for everything else ("libc6 / glibc2 / ELF kernels 2.0.36 and above" is their exact wording).

The feature matrix says that MDH is not "instantly upgradable." What is the time frame for upgrading? If we start with RedHat 9 and later want to upgrade to Fedora, how long would it take? Which OS would you recommend we start with? (RedHat 9 is almost out the door already.)

What are the "Guaranteed minimums on system resources" and the "RedHat Development Tools" provided by the X-VPS plan?

Would we be responsible for setting up the OS, Perl, SSL, MySQL, etc? Would we be responsible for installing security patches and upgrades?

Thanks for your help!
Brett
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andy
Posted: Apr 3 2004, 02:05 PM
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Group: Advantagecom Staff
Posts: 4,340
Member No.: 9
Joined: 12-July 02



QUOTE
The feature matrix says that MDH is not "instantly upgradable." What is the time frame for upgrading? If we start with RedHat 9 and later want to upgrade to Fedora, how long would it take?


By "instantly upgradeable", we mean to a larger plan of the same type on the same server, which, of course, means the OS would remain the same. The MDH account is not instantly upgradeable because it requires a human to make the settings changes necessary to have the larger account. The time frame for that is usually same business day, with the emphasis on *business day* (no weekends or holidays). There is only one OS available for MDH accounts. It is currently RedHat 7.1, though that may change in the future as we add more MDH servers.

For VPS plans, it is important to note that they are only instantly upgradeable when you're not changing OS versions. As one would expect, there is no feasible way to upgrade from one OS to another instantly. For our purposes we would consider that a "sideways" move and not an upgrade since you're not increasing the resources available on your account. To change operating systems, you would need to order a new account with the newer OS and move all of your files between accounts, which is not always an easy task.

Most people find that it takes a few days to get everything moved from one VPS to another when they are changing OS's.

QUOTE
Which OS would you recommend we start with? (RedHat 9 is almost out the door already.)


That depends entirely on how you use your account. If the software you use is relatively static (unchanging), then I would choose whichever one best supports the software you're using today.

However, if the software you're using is in a constant state of development by someone other than yourself and you like installing the latest versions as they become available, then you will want the newest possible operating system, which is Fedora Core 1 at the present time.

One element that must be considered is that while Red Hat 9 may almost be an "unsupported" operating system by Red Hat, that doesn't mean it is obsolete. It just means you can't buy a support contract for it and Red Hat won't be developing its own software updates for it any longer. Most updates to Red Hat Linux come from users and not Red Hat. Rarely does Red Hat contribute any updates to the core services that the OS usually runs (Apache, sendmail, bind, etc.). Those are projects that are maintained separately from the OS, almost without exception. An interesting footnote is that Fedora Core is completely unsupported by Red Hat and started out that way, but that hasn't halted development on it. Contrary to popular belief, Red Hat (the company) doesn't rule the Linux roost. They just pluck the fruits of the open source community and charge money for it.

Another element to consider is that to a certain extent, the older distributions of Linux tend to be more stable since the installed user base has identified and resolved almost all bugs. Newer distributions of Linux offer newer software, slightly different features, and a host of undiscovered bugs due to the newer software.

I've probably just added more complexity to your OS decision, but it is only fair that you know what you are choosing.

If it were me and I was concerned about stability and bugs, I would choose Red Hat 9. If I were primarily concerned about running the latest software, I would choose Fedora Core 1. Overall, we currently recommend Red Hat 9 more than Fedora Core 1 since our primary OS focus at this company is stability and reliability. At the present time, it also is more widely supported by software vendors.

QUOTE
What are the "Guaranteed minimums on system resources" and the "RedHat Development Tools" provided by the X-VPS plan?


The guaranteed minimums are for things like vmpages, cpu units, disk inodes, and various other intangible OS resources. Most people don't need to be concerned with it, but a programmer developing new software might need to know specifically what resources they have available to them. If you have a question about a specific resource, I'll be glad to address it, but there are too many different resources for which we define guarantees and limits to provide any kind of useful answer to that part of your question.

The development tools are a full suite of compilers, libraries, and headers that are what you would find when selecting a "development machine" install of Red Hat Linux on a PC. Most people find that if they are compiling software of any kind, they need the development tools to do so.

QUOTE
Would we be responsible for setting up the OS, Perl, SSL, MySQL, etc? Would we be responsible for installing security patches and upgrades?


On an MDH account: No, no, no, no, no, and no. wink2.gif The whole point of a "shared" server is that we manage the server part of things for you. All you have to do is use the hosting account. Of course, since it has to serve a wide variety of needs from different clients, a certain amount of flexibility in the programming environment is sacrificed to service the needs of the largest number of customers on that server.

On a VPS account:
  • The OS is automatically installed by the automated system when you place your order.
  • Perl is automatically installed as part of the OS.
  • SSL is installed automatically if you select it from the application list during your order or you can always add it later from the control panel with just a few clicks.
  • MySQL is installed automatically if you select it from the application list during your order or you can always add it later from the control panel with just a few clicks. Databases are easy to setup from the control panel.
  • For other applications, it depends on the application. Some are available for easy setup through the control panel and some are not. If it's in the application list you see in the plan description, it only takes a few clicks from the control panel to setup that application.
  • Security patches are made available for automated install, but you still have to select whether or not you want to receive notifications for them and you still have to install the patch with a few clicks in the control panel for it to be applied. Some security patches are urgent enough that we don't give you a choice and install them for you.
  • Application version upgrades occasionally become available. If you have selected to receive notifications, the system will tell you when they do become available and you can choose to install them or not at your leisure with a few clicks in the control panel.


For you, based on the information you've provided in this post, I'd recommend an X-VPS with Red Hat 9. Be sure to select the "System Administrator" and "Workgroup Administrator" control panels if you don't plan on installing a control panel of your own. They'll make most server management tasks web based and super easy.


--------------------
Sincerely,
Andrew Kinney
CTO, Advantagecom Networks

Please do not private message me. My regular management duties preclude responding to every customer that sends me a support issue. Instead, post on the forum or contact tech support.
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Brett Lee
Posted: Apr 7 2004, 08:28 PM
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Thanks for the helpful answers! We've signed up.

One question: I assume we need PHP installed in order to use PHP scripts on our web site? (It's an extra $1 per month, so I just want to check wink2.gif
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andy
Posted: Apr 8 2004, 07:39 AM
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Group: Advantagecom Staff
Posts: 4,340
Member No.: 9
Joined: 12-July 02



QUOTE
One question: I assume we need PHP installed in order to use PHP scripts on our web site?

Yes, that's correct.


--------------------
Sincerely,
Andrew Kinney
CTO, Advantagecom Networks

Please do not private message me. My regular management duties preclude responding to every customer that sends me a support issue. Instead, post on the forum or contact tech support.
PMUsers Website
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