As we finally got our web hosting clients migrated to using cloud services for communication (read: Google Apps) and more flexible publishing environments for web hosting (read: WordPress), I was left with a decent monthly expense for a Linux box that only served to scratch my itch for occasional tinkering. Even I can admit that this would have been a poor use of funds had I allowed it to go on for too long, so I backed-up the server, and closed a ServerBeach account that had been active since 2004.
Being responsible felt good, but I still had that nagging desire to play at the command-line on occasion…and a real need from time-to-time to do something I only know how to do with thinking with my Linux brain. Whatever would I do? In looking at my hosted options, I considered Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, and several others. At the end of the day, I settled on Linode, with offerings that were affordable, reliable, flexible, and very fast.
For $20/month, I was up and running with a 2 GB Linode with 2 GB of RAM, 2 CPU cores, 48 GB of SSD storage, 3 TB of transfer/month, 40 Gbit network in, and 250 Mbit network out. An extra $5/month adds flexible, automatic backups to that. I had my choice of distributions, including Arch Linux 2013.06, CentOS 6.5, Debian 7.4, Fedora 20, Gentoo 2013-11-26, openSUSE 13.1, Slackware 14.1, and several flavors of Ubuntu up to 14.04 LTS. The latter is what I chose, although I must admit, it wasn’t an easy decision (I love them all).
I think the thing that impressed me most as I walked through the Linode “Getting Started” pages was that they have taken the time to document things in a simple, elegant way that is easy to follow for the novice, and a really good punch-list for the expert. Things like how to connect to your host over SSH, creating a new user, securing the machine, adding a web server, and configuring DNS so you can access the box by name on the Internet were all clearly documented. In addition to the ease-of-use and great documentation, the claims of speed were not exaggerated. This has proven to be the fastest cloud-based server I have used thus far, and by that I mean faster than anything I’ve used from AWS at three times the cost.
I’d be lying if I tried to tell you I don’t still have physical Linux hosts running in my house…and I even have virtual machines on my laptop via VMware Workstation. The trouble with all of them is that they are not accessible on the Internet, and therefore, from my tablet when I’m not toting my laptop. They also are ill-equipped (mostly because of that lack of direct accessibility on the Internet) to run continuous services, like an Icecast server (which I’ll likely blog more about later). When I want to hack (and I mean this in the “good” connotation of this word), investigate something new, or broadcast Internet radio, a service like Linode provides an affordable platform that is a no-brainer option…perfect for me. 🙂