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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot jazz's Avatar
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    Simulating ded. server offline and other questions...

    Hi @all,

    My first Post and here we go :

    I've been having various thoughts/ideas etc. about websites that I currently have and projects that I want to develop, I think a dedicated server is the way to go and for some ideas the only option. I still have reservations about plopping down $200 a month (rackspace.com) with little experience in *nix server configuration and administration.

    1. Is there anyway I can simulate a dedicated server offline?
    I've been running Slackware for approximately a year and compiled Apache, PHP etc. from source. So I have some experience. When I was first learning PHP/MySQL, it saved me a lot of time and money to be able to try things on my localserver first and then, when I was ready, upload everything to a host. I realize it is not the same thing to run Apache offline as it is to simulate a DNS, Mail Servers etc.!

    2. Control Panel Applications -- PLESK and co.
    I spent 5 hours yesterday reading old threads in this forum and webhosttalk.com. I noticed a lot of talk of these control panel apps. I had previously only heard of Webmin (shame on me!). I thought I was going to do everything from the command prompt and further my Linux skills. Is this suicide or worth the effort?

    My thought is that those control panels are just a graphic front-end. And to be dependent on that is like reverting back to windows. This is one reason why I run Slackware instead of Mandrake. (My personal philosophy: The long way is the short-cut.)

    3.Can I change some of the software on a dedicated host?
    I'm a member of another, smaller, programmer oriented message board. They have all strongly recommended against using Sendmail and Bind and instead using Postfix and tinyDNS. Would they allow me to do such a thing? It's another reason why I would like to simulate a dedicated server offline. (I have the RedHat 7.2 CD's in front of me! Since rackspace pre-installs it ).

    That is all,
    thank you for any advice or information.
    ciao
    The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.

    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict LiveTronix's Avatar
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    I got a dedicated server from Dialtone, they offer a control panel for the server admin to do the basics, mostly email, but i am figuring it out with no past expierience. I think you should do just fine if you've had a little experience and willing to learn.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Karl's Avatar
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    Hi,

    You sound like you've got a fair bit of *nix knowledge, so maybe the best option for you would be to build your own server and collocate it with a local ISP, that way you'll pay a cheaper monthly fee and you'll be able to change whatever you want on it - if you break it, then if it's with a local ISP it's not too far away to go fix it
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot jazz's Avatar
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    Alright thanks for your answers .
    ...so maybe the best option for you would be to build your own server and collocate it with a local ISP...
    I don't really understand the concept of collocation just yet. Collocation is where you buy a server instead of rent one, correct?
    If I understand it correctly, you can either buy a server from the hosting company or actually build a server and carry it over to their datacenter. Sounds okay. Except that hardware gets outdated, and that I cannot afford the cost of buying the hardware upfront.

    Any other suggestions on Question #1?

    thanks
    ciao
    The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.

    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

  5. #5
    Hi there! Owen's Avatar
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    Slightly off topic, but if you're looking to save some money, check out this company: http://www.tranxactglobal.com/servers.html

    There's been quite a bit of conversation around them at WebHostingTalk, mostly positive.

    You can run it locally... Just set the domain name you use in the hostsfile to point to localhost then you should be able to it. A DNS server is hard to simulate, but it is possible to make sure it runs, etc. After all, sometimes that's half the battle.

    Owen

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot jazz's Avatar
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    Hi Owen,
    Slightly off topic, but if you're looking to save some money, check out this company: http://www.tranxactglobal.com/servers.html
    Yeah I saw that, (BTW, I also posted my questions there ) only thing is I don't really know what their service is like (some posted that their performance is poor). I probably would not go with rackspace to start there prices aren't too good.

    But I am staring to realize that if you are going to do a lot of the Linux System Administration on your own you can save yourself a bundle and go with a non-managed solution (is this called "collocation"?). Like you mentioned -> TranXact etc. for about $99 with better specs in every category. We'll see how good they are in a few months.

    ciao
    Last edited by jazz; Mar 7, 2002 at 20:54.
    The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.

    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

  7. #7
    Hi there! Owen's Avatar
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    No, non-managed (regular dedicated) is a computer that you rent, but the company provides no support for (ie. you have to install all software.) They will provide support for hardware problems (ie dead harddrive). A managed server costs say $200 more a month and your ISP will help manage your server (ie install security upgrades and help with problems you have). Co-location (colo) is where you buy your own server and put it in a facility. It's the same as non-managed but it's your own computer. It's (a LOT) more expensive to start than dedicated but (at least slightly) cheaper in the long run. Be ware that most ISPs require 1u servers (a computer only ~2 1/4 inches tall) so the cases and some parts are more expensive.

    I have the same feeling as you about TransX. They seem to have a few problems, but not considerably more than RackShack.

    Hope this helps,
    Owen

  8. #8
    Hi there! Owen's Avatar
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    Oh, in regard to your second question, the Plesk, etc programs are mostly useful for resellers. It allows their customers to manage their own accounts. If you go to rackshack.net, they have online demos of both programs. Also, as I hear it, plesk really screws up (err... customizes) your system. Ensim isn't as bad.

    Actually, if you want to resell space, an easy-to-use program is a must. Otherwise you'll go crazy with demands for minor small changes. Webmin isn't satisfactory for your customers usage as it's too technical and error-prone.

    On question #3, you can do whatever you want to any of these servers. I'd stick with mainstream packages here, especially if you're not very experienced. The packages provided by (say Red Hat) are generally quite secure and pre-configured (as long as you stay on top of updates.) While you can go with less used software, IMHO it's not worth it. If a problem does occur, you have a MUCH smaller group of users so it's harder to get help. There's 10 million + websites that use BIND and sendmail (though postfix is quite common now too) so if there's a problem it will be fixed pronto. With the smaller software you'll be on your own to get an update, install, and configure it. With redhat, simply run up2date (via cron even) and in a few mins it's all up to date.

    Owen

  9. #9
    SitePoint Enthusiast bitserve's Avatar
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    Even if you're going to do colocation instead of a dedicated server, I would still recommend setting up your own development server at home.

    If your dedicated server is going to be running 7.2, then just get started installing it on your extra machine at home. Select the server install, and ask if you run into any problems.

    The server install should install apache, bind, and sendmail for you already. If you do choose to go with Plesk, it's going to replace your apache with it's own compile and your sendmail with qmail.

    Some of the other control panels will do similar things. Like Owen said, unless you'll be reselling space, you're right in steering clear of the control panels. They will just make it harder to learn and harder to keep it upgraded. Like you, I'd never heard of all the cpanels they mention at WHT, until I went there. I was familiar with webmin and Plesk, though.

    I personaly prefer qmail over sendmail. If your geek buddies want you to use postfix and tinydns, they should help you to manage it.

    I have a development machine right next to my desk. It's a machine that's configured exactly like our production machines, except it's only on my LAN. Soomething like this is going to be invaluable to you for testing things before you apply them to the production machine and for doing development on.
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