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File Wars: The Sysadmin Strikes Back


In case nobody noticed, my Web host has killed off Filespace. Apparently, one of my beta scripts took nearly 50% of CPU. This might be excusable, except that Filespace has apparently been stressing the server for months.

Something I never knew about, although the admin seems to think he's talked to me about it before last week. Oh well, at least he let me grab all the files that were uploaded since I restarted the site--I still had everything from before then, so I don't think any files were lost.

In any case, I don't think just getting another host is an option--I'll probably just run into the same problems. Since I can't afford to pay $75/month for half of a dedicated server, I'm now looking at self-hosting. This has three components:

1. Getting a better DSL line--128kbps upstream won't cut it.
2. Getting a server.
3. Getting some knowledge of how to administer Linux.

Each of these has their own complications.

The complication in #1 is time. It normally takes twenty days to get a small business DSL account, the next step up from consumer DSL. I'm hoping that the fact it's an upgrade will help. My parents will pay the difference--I'll be canceling my Web hosting reseller account, so on balance they'll be saving $5/month. (Mom pays for the hosting account as remuneration for small, monthly updates to her Web site.)

The complication in #2 is money. I'm estimating it'll cost about $300; basically, I'll be buying new components and turning most of them into a new PC, leaving my current PC as the server. (Hard drives and cases will probably keep their current uses, though.) This means doing some sort of work. Mom has an idea to do authors' sites for cheap--they'll pay a few bucks a month for hosting on the server, as well as paying for the initial site and for updates. But it might not take off, in which case I'll have to get a real job, possibly doing grunt tech work at my father's office.

#3's complication is experience. Although I've used Linux on web servers for years, I've never administered it. I've never successfully set up a Linux distribution, let alone secured it and run Web sites off of it (although all my attempts were years ago, and usually stopped when I tried to interface with Windows machines or enable sound). It is, of course, quite a useful set of skills to learn, but I'd rather not learn things the hard way. Thus, any tips from those of you who have done such things before are much appreciated, especially titles of good books I can buy.

Some of you probably think I should just give up and not restart Filespace. And I probably should. Except...

I dunno. Maybe it's that my users put trust in me by uploading stuff to my server, and I want to honor that trust; maybe it's just because I'm stubborn. But whatever the reason, something in me refuses to give up. It's hard to explain, partly because I don't completely understand it.

In any case, if it is within my ability to see it happen, Filespace is down but not out.


( Read 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2004 10:16 am (UTC)
I just stuck the the Debian CD in and it set up everything. apt-get is fairly easy to use, and the config files for apache are fairly simple too. Course, I'm not really sure how secure my webserver is, but it works ^_^;;
Jan. 2nd, 2004 02:01 pm (UTC)
holy wars
I will put forward the suggestion of an X-less instance of Slackware (mirror). Despite various warnings, I find that running Slack-current is rel'tivly hassle-free.
Jan. 2nd, 2004 02:14 pm (UTC)
Re: holy wars
|\|0!!!!!!!1111111111111one!!!!!!1 Slackware 5|_|(|<20|25, Debian ownz j00.........errrrr....I mean, whatever works ^_^;; Just suggesting Debian cause it seems to work well for me
Jan. 2nd, 2004 11:41 am (UTC)
What did the beta script do? What was its purpose?
Jan. 2nd, 2004 06:36 pm (UTC)
Two things:

Mom has an idea to do authors' sites for cheap--they'll pay a few bucks a month for hosting on the server, as well as paying for the initial site and for updates. But it might not take off, in which case I'll have to get a real job, possibly doing grunt tech work at my father's office.

If you count me as an author (hah!) I'd pay, depending on what I can. I am trying to start on original fiction; I'm still not sure about dumping everything on Lights' server or not until I actually get things set up, as most of what I have is still fanfic/MT-related stuffs.

Two, funny how this comes when I was considering getting you a Perl programmer's dictionary from a bookstore... heh. Anyway, good luck with stuff. *hugs the resident hacker/near-admin*
Jan. 2nd, 2004 09:35 pm (UTC)
First of all, I'm able to upload avi/sigs for the time being for people who need it, so that should help in the short term. Depending on how many people require help I might have to start turning people down, but at least I should be able to give some help. The MT AIM community get priority on this one.

Regarding a dedicatd server, would it be feasable to lower the cost per person to reasonable levels by having a server shared between several people? (Hell, I'd be interested in affordable webspace that supports php and subdomains for tsmr.net)
How to set up such a server I'm not too sure about yet, but learning that aspect of linux is on my to do list too, and if other options are still being problematic a short distance down the line I may be able to help out there.
Jan. 3rd, 2004 05:39 am (UTC)
A couple of Linux pointers for you.

I'd choose RedHat as the distro. Why? Because plenty of others do. There's a lot of support out there for it and there's always someone to ask. In my experience it's highly customisable and it just works. The new Fedora open source release is out now.

Your indispensible app to add is called Webmin. It allows you to administer most of the services via a web browser interface. Tricky stuff like setting up Samba (for talking to Windoze boxes) and Apache is made a whole lot easier with this tool. I wouldn't set up a Linux box without it.

Now, I'm hardly Mr Linux Guru, but I've set up servers with Linux and it's quite do-able. You, Brent, shouldn't have any trouble at all. (Well, not much anyway).

As to finding info, the online Howto documents are usually pretty good. [generic advice] There's also a lot of books out there on just this sort of thing. Go to your local computer bookstore and flick through a few to find one that suits you. [/generic advice]

Finally, good luck.
( Read 7 comments — Leave a comment )